How to Choose a Good Custom Home Builder
Finding a custom home builder can be as easy as asking people around you. If there are some good ones in your area, you will probably hear people talking about them. Otherwise, check with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or any other similar association. Or do it the traditional way by looking up prospects in your yellow pages or asking your town office for referrals.
Narrowing Down Your List of Choices
Before choosing a custom home builder, it’s good to speak to several prospects. There are three goals you want to happen during all this interviewing.
First off, make the builder understand exactly the type of home you want, and find out what kind of experience they have with similar projects or with projects in your target area.
Second, ask for more information regarding his professional experience. The NAHB recommends knowing the following about your prospects:
> Permanent business address (this usually indicates stability)
> Reputation with suppliers and banks in the community
> Length and quality of industry experience
The NAHB reports it takes 3-5 years for custom home builders to gain ground in the industry; thus, the longer their business experience, the more capable they are of financing a home construction and the more likely they will stay around after completing a project.
> Better Business Bureau ratings and record
> Workers compensation and general liability insurance coverage (make sure they can back this up with proof)
> Feedback of former clients (request for client references)
The third goal you’d like to work on is building rapport with your prospects. Obviously, this will be quite crucial. It can be excruciating to be forced to work with a builder you dislike.
Asking for Quotes
As soon as you have all the above information, you should be able to zero in on two or three names. This is always better than just having one prospect so you can compare them and see who’s best. You can even tell these builders that you’re actually comparing their estimates. To compete for your business, they may even give you a lower estimate while maintaining the same quality.
However, you really have to spend time collecting estimates. You must be sure that your budget is just right for your needs – not too much that you’ll be spending unnecessarily, but not too small that quality will be compromised.
Of course, the builder of your choice should have all the important information they need to prepare an accurate estimate. Lastly, do understand that no matter how good your builder is with estimates or which estimate you actually approved, there will always be at least a 10% overrun because of incidental expenses, such as change orders, can never be totally avoided.