How to Find a Good Custom Home Builder
Finding a custom home builder is sometimes a matter of asking people for recommendations. 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.
Trimming Down Your List of Prospects
It’s good to interview several prospects before choosing the right builder for you. Aim for three things 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, you’d like to know more about his general experience as a home builder. The NAHB recommends knowing the following about your prospects:
> Permanent physical office location (this is usually a sign of stabiilty)
> Reputation with local suppliers and banks
> Length and depth of experience in business
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 record
> Level of workers compensation and general liability insurance (always ask for proof of insurance)
> Feedback from former customers (ask 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
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 be honest with them and tell them you’re comparing their quotes. They will compete for your business and you may end up with a cheaper quote for the same quality.
However, collecting estimates is something you really have to spend time for. You have to be sure that your budget is just enough – not too small that results will be compromised, and not too big that you’ll be wasting money on unnecessary things.
Of course, the builder of your choice should have all the important information they need to prepare an accurate estimate. Lastly, note that whatever budget you approve, you should always expect at least a 10% overrun, given that incidentals (for example, change orders) can never be completely avoided.