Finding the Right Custom Home Builder for You
Finding a custom home builder can be as easy as asking people around you. If there’s a good one in your area, most probably, you will hear about them. Otherwise, check the website of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), where they have a searchable directory. Or the old-fashioned way should do – checking your yellow pages or visiting your town office and asking for referrals.
Narrowing Down Your Prospects
Before choosing a custom home builder, it’s good to speak to several prospects. There are three things you want to accomplish during the interview process.
First of all, tell the builder what exact type of home you’d like him to make for you, and ask him how much experience he has with similar projects and in the area you want your home to be built.
Second, ask him about his general experience as a custom home builder. According to the NAHB, these are the things you should know about your prospects:
> Permanent business location (having one is a sign of stability)
> Reputation among suppliers and banks in the area
> Breadth and length of industry experience
According to the NAHB, it often takes 3 to 5 years before home builders can establish themselves and their business; therefore, the longer they’ve been in the trade, the greater their ability to finance a home and remain after a home is built.
> Record at the Better Business Bureau
> Level of workers compensation and general liability insurance (always ask for proof of insurance)
> Feedback of former clients (request for client references)
The third goal you’d like to work on is building rapport with your prospects. This is going to be rather crucial obviously. It can be excruciating to be forced to work with a builder you dislike.
Asking for Quotes
Once you have collected all the information stated above, you should be able to narrow down your choices to two or three builders. This is much better than having a single prospect for reasons of comparison. You can even tell your prospects that you’re comparing their estimates. Usually, they will compete for your business and give you a cheaper estimate without changes in 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.
Certainly, you should provide your chosen builder all the information they need to come up with a valid or accurate estimate. Finally, you should also understand that regardless of the estimate you approve, you should expect at least a 10% overrun because of various incidentals, such as change orders, that may come up.