Top 7 Tips for Choosing a Custom Home Builder

Home builder showing house plans to happy looking couple

Building your dream home may involve a couple more steps than purchasing an existing home. With an already constructed home, you may not have the chance to pick the builder, materials to use, and the design. But when you build a custom home, you have complete freedom in choosing every element that goes into the construction.

Before you sign on the dotted line, one of the essential considerations you must make during this process is choosing a custom home builder. Not any builder will do.

Here, we give you some useful tips to pick the right builder.

1. License and Certification

Many aspiring homeowners discover halfway through the construction process that their builder is unlicensed. It could have grave consequences if the project does not go the right way. And given the amount you are investing in the building, it is prudent that you check their license and registration.

One excellent method to pick a competent custom home builder is to get some references from your friends and family. You can also start your research at the local home builders association.

If you can gather information from your local real estate agent, that would help a great deal, too. Also, go on sites like Yelp or Google reviews and Facebook or other social media to find what people are saying about them.

2. Construction property

Customs homes are generally built on the property, belonging to the buyer. If your builder is showing you some half-built model home on their site, it is not a custom home. It may just be an off-the-shelf production home with a little room for customization. So, if you plan to build a 100% custom home, start it from scratch.

Besides, you can check out the builder’s spec home by visiting an ongoing construction. They may include many standard features in the base pricing, while some don’t. So, make sure that the amenities you see in the model home come with the finished product. Be clear about the pricing and safety measures at the site.

3. Warranty and Inspection

Read the fine print properly, especially when it comes to the warranties. Some sketchy builders provide a third-party warranty for considerable value and time. But when it is time to claim, you will be surprised to know the structural warranty has tens of exclusions.

Likewise, some builders may push for getting the construction inspected by someone of their choosing. But when the builder is the one engaging the inspector, how fair can their report be? You need to get clear communication about all these matters before the project starts.

4. Subcontractors and Suppliers

Find out if the builder is hiring skilled craftsmen for the job. Or, are they just picking random laborers working on daily wages, from a local gathering place? Compared to production builders, the custom builder has a qualified team of designers, architects, and subcontractors. They may be regularly using their services for several construction projects.

Speak to the builder’s local supply houses, subcontractors, and crew to learn more about their relationships. Without a good rapport, they may not stick with them for long. Or, the dissatisfied crew may create issues for you. Does the builder pay them on time? If not, it may be difficult to get timely supplies, and the project gets delayed.

5. Building Codes

When the builder agrees to add all the features you like at a low price, you may suspect that something is wrong. They may be cutting corners to meet your budget. Meaning, they may use quasi-knowledgeable tradesmen or hire the lowest bidders for work.

The outcome will be just as bad. They may not stick to the local building codes, partly because they may not be aware. Or, they mold the local regulations to their requirements, in a process known as selective code enforcement. The city inspectors enforce the adopted codes to some extent but turn a blind eye to some portions.

6. Recognitions

While accreditations and getting listed on the Better Business Bureau may be legit, do not go with face value for the so-called “Builder of the Year” awards. Most of these titles are bogus or are awarded by local magazines. Your builder may have paid them an advertising fee to appear on their “Top 10” list.

And then there are subsidiary companies or unrecognized builder organizations, which have no real value. They exist only to promote their members. If you believe such phony awards and titles, you may be looking at a botched ended product.

7. Building Sites

When you wish to see your dream come true, you would want to add all the possible amenities in the home. You may wish for a large garage, open floor plan, luxurious master suite, and a spacious kitchen. Most home buying public take pride in their outdoor facilities, too, namely, a swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, lounge area, etc. So, you choose a massive site to build your home.

But when the builder promises the moon within your budget, it is a problem. The reality and homebuilding sectors have witnessed a significant collapse recently. Besides, high spikes in the costs of construction materials and their shortage put a damper on building projects. So, they may be offering you land that is unsuitable for urban construction, in addition to using substandard construction techniques.

Conclusion

If in any of the above steps during your research, you feel like the builder is not being honest with you, look elsewhere. In the end, your project can go smoothly only when you can establish honest communication lines.

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