Finding the Right Custom Home Builder for You
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 the directory of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or any other home builders’ 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. 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, 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 suppliers and banks in the community
> Length and depth of experience in business
The NAHB says home builders usually take 3-5 years to establish themselves in the industry; hence, the longer they’ve been around, the more likely they can finance a custom home and stay around after a project is completed.
> Better Business Bureau 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. This is going to be rather crucial obviously. Working with a builder you dislike can be very frustrating.
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 these builders that you’re actually comparing their estimates. Usually, they will compete for your business and give you a cheaper estimate without changes in quality.
Collecting estimates though is something you really have to take your time with. 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.