By Daniel Boylan, President of DLB Custom Homes Inc.
For many looking to build a home, the task of finding a builder that understands your goals and what you are looking for can be overwhelming. We all want a builder that provides a high quality product, on time and at a fair price. Many people don’t know where to start, and unfortunately end up dissatisfied with their experience. We believe that choosing a builder that fits your needs will make all the difference in the world. Here are some tips we recommend for selecting a builder.
Don’t make price the bottom line
We understand that price and budget are extremely important when selecting a builder. However selecting a builder solely on price can sometimes be a “rabbit hole”. Many times builders will under estimate a project, just to get the work – then hit clients up with “add-ons” and change orders. Or even worse, the old adage “You get what you pay for” will rear its ugly head, and you could have a home built with shoddy product and workmanship.
References – Don’t limit to clients; reach out to their subcontractors
All builders have a list of client references. Don’t be afraid to ask for a list of past clients you can contact directly. Also, you might want to consider asking for subcontractor references as well. Many times you will be able to figure out if a builder is good, based on the response from their sub-contractors; do they pay their bills, do they provide a safe working environment, are they trustworthy, have they established long-term professional relationships?
Get Realistic Expectations
Think about what the builder is telling you. Does it sound realistic, or is it a simple “yes, of course” to all of your questions. This is another area to question past clients. Did the builder meet their expectations? If the completion cost exceeded the expectation, what was the cause(s)? Did the builder run into several “unexpected overruns,” or did the client simply make numerous changes/additions along the way (perhaps due to choice, or simply thought these items were included in the original expectation). Also, can you count on the builder to be there for you after project completion—to fix items as needed?
Registrar of Contractors
It is very important to check with your local authority to substantiate the builder. Most states have a registrar of contractors that will let you know if the builder’s license is in good standing, and if there are any past complaints or issues with the builder.
Understand the Builder’s Core Competencies
Many builders will tell you they can “do it all” when in reality they can’t. Make sure that you understand the full breadth of the builder’s capabilities and experience. Does the builder you are considering meet the criteria of the project? What is their background – both educational and professional experience? Ask them to explain their process, define various phases of development and outline how they get from concept to completion. Starting your project with the right builder will pay dividends.
Get To Know the Builder
Before you meet with the builder, research as much as you can about the builder so that you are prepared. Use the meeting to discuss your goals for a new home and discuss budgets – but also use the meeting to determine if the builder shares the same values, and more importantly if you like the builder and feel you can work with them through the entire project duration
Builder Check List:
- Experience – Don’t just look at the number of years building, be sure to review the type of projects and how many.
- Realistic Expectations – What is the quality of construction, materials and products used in their estimates and past projects – does it match your expectations?
- Core services – What services can the builder provide or facilitate to ensure your project is successful?
- Communication – How well does the builder communicate? Are there processes for providing project status updates? How often and is it consistent?
- References – not just past clients, but ask if you can contact partners, vendors and subcontractors as well.
- Registrar of Contractors – It is very important to check you your local agency to determine if there are complaints against the builder.
- Timeliness – There are many factors that can delay completion of a project. Find out the builders record for completing projects on time.