How to Choose a Home Builder You Can Trust
Building a new home can be a very lucrative and rewarding investment — provided that you choose the right home builder to handle the job. These tips will help you clarify your home building goals and find the best home builder to entrust with your project.
Deciding what to build
Before you can choose a home builder, you need to have a clear picture of what type of home you want. Much like doctors who specialize in different types of medicine, home builders also specialize in building certain types of homes.
First decide which type of home you need: condo, townhouse, or single-family.
Then determine whether you want a custom home or a production home. Custom homes are typically one-of-a-kind single-family residences built on land the client owns. Because every aspect of a custom home is unique, a custom home is typically a higher-end home. Custom home builders also tend to build just a few (typically under 25) homes per year because each project is so different.
Production home builders, on the other hand, usually build a large volume of homes. These builders typically build new homes on land that they own and offer buyers the option to pick from several stock floor plans. Production builders construct homes in every price range from starter homes to luxury homes.
Finding home builders
Once you’ve decided what type of home to build, compile a list of potential builders. There are several ways to find home builders in your area:
Contact your local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders.
Get referrals from real estate agents, friends, and family. Someone who has dealt directly with a home builder can give you good advice on things to consider when you choose a builder yourself.
Browse the real estate section of your local newspaper or pick up local home design magazines. You’ll get an idea of what’s available, the price you can expect to pay, and find out which home builders are active in your area.
Make note of home builders who construct appealing homes within your price range.
A home builder is someone you’ll have to work with closely for an extended period of time — usually several months to a year or more between construction and the warranty phase. So it’s important to do your homework and look for a builder who’s reliable.
When you check credentials, look for the following:
Experience: Look for a builder who has a large portfolio of residences like the one you want to build.
A good BBB rating: Check the Better Business Bureau’s website to make sure your home builder doesn’t have an excessive amount of complaints.
Affiliations and rewards: Has the builder received special certifications, industry awards, or membership in professional associations?
Permanent business address: A permanent business address and good record with local banks and suppliers indicate that a home builder has a stable, successful business.
Look for a builder who has been in business for at least three to five years. It usually takes a business that amount of time become financially sound. Your home builder’s financial stability is important because you need to know that he’ll be around to finish your construction and then handle any issues that pop up later.
When you’re sure that a home builder has both a stable business and the expertise to build your new home, interview him. Ask about his current projects and have him provide references.
Be sure to follow up with the builder’s references because these clients can attest to the builder’s strengths and weaknesses. Ask the clients if they are happy with their new home. Were there any problems with the home? How quickly were problems fixed? Be sure that a home builder will be responsive to your inquiries.
The final step in choosing a trustworthy home builder should be to examine his work firsthand. Have the builder take you on a tour of a recently completed home or model home. Look at the quality of construction features and the durability of building materials. Look at every detail and ask the builder plenty of questions to get a good idea of what to expect from the home building process.
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