If you’ve decided you’re going to build a custom home rather than buying an existing one, the process of getting started can be intimidating. When you buy an existing home, you know what you’re getting. When you’re going to do a custom build, there is a lot of uncertainty.
One of the first things you have to do is choose a home builder.
The following are some of the things you should generally know about choosing a builder and tips to help you along the way.
What Is a Home Builder?
The term home builder is a broad one. It can refer to any contractor who builds residential housing, but there are subcategories within the larger category of a home builder.
There are home builders for hire. This means that you hire a company, and they have a team of professionals who work in-house. The team manages every aspect of the project, and you get a turnkey final result.
Another option is to hire a general contractor. A general contractor will hire people and manage them. They will ultimately build your home. A general contractor is also responsible for getting materials and permits.
You might have your own architect design your home, and then you would hire a general contractor to build it.
When you hire a general contractor, you would typically sign an agreement that would include a fee of up to 20% of the cost of the project, which would cover your contractor’s services.
Then, there’s the option to hire project managers or a construction management company. They may hire subcontractors and get materials, and they’ll charge a fee for overseeing the process.
Choosing The Right Builder
Now that you have a general idea of the types of homebuilders, how do you start choosing the best one for your project?
• Know your niche. When you’re building a home, think about your budget, the size, and the style. You want to look for a company that specializes in the niche that your home will fall into. For example, if you’re building a custom starter home, you’re not going to hire a company specializing in luxury properties.
• Before you start talking to any builders, have a list of the most important things to you and a clear idea of what you want.
• As you’re comparing contractors, you want to ask to see examples of their work. You’ll also want to know how long they’ve been in business.
• Online reviews can give you some valuable information about contractors.
• Check the credentials of builders. This includes state licensing, and you want to make sure they have updated insurance.
• Does the builder offer a warranty?
• You should visit a builder’s recently built homes in person, and if possible, take a tour, although this might not always be an option.
What to Ask Builders
You should interview at least several builders. Before you do this, as was touched on above, you do need to have an idea of what your expectations and anticipated timeline are.
Some specific questions you should ask include whether or not they’re happy to provide references and if they guarantee their work. You’ll need to talk about how allowances are determined, the type of materials they use, such as copper or plastic plumbing, and once you decide on a builder, every detail of what you agree upon needs to be in writing.
When potential builders give you references, you should actually call them. Along with clients, references should include vendors and subcontractors.
If you have no idea where to start as far as finding someone, begin with your local home builder’s association. That organization can give you a list of builders who work in your area.
You might also be able to get help from local real estate agents, friends, or relatives who have worked with a builder.