Building a custom home is the largest purchase most people will make in their lifetime, and choosing the best custom home builder is essential to the project’s success. The role of a custom home builder is as much to advocate for the homeowner as it is to collaborate with the design team. Since homebuilding is a process that takes several months, it’s important that you the buyer feel there is trust and clear communication on the part of the builder. If you have a location and have set your budget for the project, you are ready to shop builders; read the following tips on how to find a custom home builder without losing your mind.
Consider your resources
If you have already hired a designer, they are the best asset at your disposal for beginning your search. Your design professional likely has first hand experience working with builders and will know their construction qualities, communication styles, and business reputations. You could also check with your lender or realtor, if they are familiar with the custom home market in your locale. You can contact the National Association of Home Builders for a list of qualified local builders. Internet searches can identify builders in your area, and some sites may be equipped with ratings & feedback from prior customers. And, certainly, you could ask friends and acquaintances who have completed custom home projects for referrals.
Shop the candidates
Shopping for a well-qualified home builder is easy when you know what to look for to accommodate your project. The right builder for you will need to have the available time, an interest in your project, and experience in working with homeowners. You want a custom home builder whose primarily focused on building custom homes rather than speculative homes, so that their services are tailored to your needs. When considering builders, ask about their current projects and their track record with projects of similar scale and detail to yours. They should also be able to provide you client references. You want to get the sense that the builder you are considering has done this sort of thing before.
Work the schedule
When you talk to prospective builders, ask what kind of schedule you would be looking at for your project. Know that building a custom home usually takes a minimum of 6 months and that the schedule will be weather-dependent. Additionally, steps must be taken before the home can even be framed, such as installing the plumbing and electric up to city code. A builder promising a time frame for completion that is only a few weeks or months should be considered a red flag, no matter how tempting it may seem. In the case of custom home building, it’s better the project be completed properly then quickly.
Communication is key
Again, you need to be comfortable with how a builder communicates with you. You should not feel pressured or talked down to at any junction. You are trusting an expert to build your home, and that expert ought to be able to take the time to explain their process in layman’s terms. You should have access to the construction site. You should feel your questions are welcome, and that they being answered in a timely and respectful manner. If you get the sense that the builder is more or less communicative than you would like, take note, and consider moving on. You do not want to enter into a building contract with a builder whose communication is irksome.
Remember, you’re trying to find a collaborative building partner who will be your advocate. Take your time, be specific in what you want, and ask questions.