We’re going to discuss 3 key points about picking a home builder. They are- why it’s so important to pick a good builder, how people choose a bad builder, and tips on how to pick a good builder.
Why is it so important to find a good builder?
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to find a good home builder. The builder is the life blood to your build. They will have the most influence and impact on your home build. And think what they are responsible for, one of the biggest purchases and investments of your life. So you want to pick someone that will give you a good experience and build the home you expect.
To help us really see that picking a good home builder is not to be taken lightly, let’s talk a little about the builder’s role and what they do.
First, their job includes having direct control of the entire build process, from getting permits, to managing subcontractors, to paying invoices, to handling delays, to oversight of the quality, and to even making sure there is a portable bathroom on the jobsite.
Now to produce a house efficiently and with quality standards, they must have a system in place, from beginning to end. And, as a big part of the quality aspect, a good builder has quality subcontractors and has cultivated a strong working relationship with them.
Also, the builder needs to have a certain set of skills and characteristics. These include being a great communicator, organizer, and problem solver, along with being trustworthy and honest.
Knowing just a few of the things it takes to be a builder, helps us to see that there is an immense amount involved in building a quality home successfully. So, don’t assume that picking any builder will do. You want to make the necessary effort to find the best builder that you can afford.
How do so many people pick the wrong builder?
The answer to this question is one of three possibilities.
1. They assume the builder is well qualified to do their job.
2. They don’t realize the importance of having a well qualified builder.
Or 3. They realize the importance of having a qualified builder, but they don’t know how to get a good one.
Picking a good home builder can’t be left to chance. You can’t assume they are qualified or that you didn’t know any better. There’s too much at stake. You have to be proactive to make sure you get one that’s qualified and that fits your needs.
How to Pick a Good Home Builder
To help you learn some of the basics of how to pick a qualified builder, let’s consider some tips. Now, before we get started, if you’re looking for a comprehensive, detailed guide that will help you through the process of picking a good builder, I have a series of guides available. These guides include a questionnaire to ask your builder candidates, with over 100 possible questions. If you want to check them out, just go to our Getabuilder page, and find one that fits your needs.
So let’s get into this, how do you pick a good builder? Basically, picking a good builder is a 3 step process- find, interview, and vet builders. They are all important, but the last 2 steps are critical.
One of the most obvious ways to find builders is to search the internet. This method can get you a list of builders, but it doesn’t mean they are good candidates. They may even have reviews. But are those reviews trustworthy? It’s easy to get people to give a good review for a small incentive, so I would be leery of these reviews.
I believe the best builder candidates come from referrals. Now when I talk about referrals, there are different kinds of referrals. The first type of referral comes from the builders actual customers. You can talk with these customers directly and ask them about their experience with the builder. The problem is that the referrals the builder gives you are the ones they want you to talk with, the ones they know are happy and will say nice things about them. So, once again be a little leery here.
Another type of referral is from family and friends. Think of people you know that have either had a house built or, maybe, know of someone that had a house built. These types of referrals can be an excellent source, because they will give you their honest opinion.
Referrals can also come from the suppliers and other companies that work with builders. They know various builders and can recommend some to you. Just look up some of the lumber, plumbing, and electrical companies and ask.
These are just a few ways to find your builders. The point here is to build yourself a list of potential builders. While your building your list, find out some preliminary information about them to determine if they might fit what you’re looking for in a builder. Then decide if you want to learn more about them.
The next step is to interview the builders that made first cut, the ones you think are worth the time. This step is one of the most neglected of the process, but it is critical, as we mentioned earlier. The problem is that it takes a lot of work to properly interview a builder. You need to learn what questions to ask. You can’t just ask the builder several questions and then think that you got what you needed to find out if they are the right builder for you.
You need a long list of specific, rigorous, and probing questions. What are some things you want to find out? Ask them about their experience, organization skills, programs, contracts/agreements, how they handle problems, pricing, how they charge, options, allowances, what is included and excluded, meetings, and walk-throughs. Don’t be afraid to ask anything. Remember this is one of your biggest purchases. You want to make sure that you get what you expect in your build. So, no question is too dumb. In fact, asking a lot of questions helps you to see the builder’s character and how they’ll treat you. For example, will they be kind and respectful, or will they get frustrated at your questions and your lack of knowledge on certain aspects of building a home?
The next part is the vetting process. Vetting your builder is verifying everything they told you and researching them thoroughly. If you haven’t checked with other customers yet, now is the time to do so. Try to find and talk to customers that aren’t referrals from them personally. Remember, the referrals they give you are the ones they want you to know about, who will talk them up. Another way to vet the builder is by checking legal records for lawsuits, judgements. Also, check business filings from the city, county, and state to see how long they’ve been in business. Another great way to vet them is to go to their current builds and examine their homes at various stages of construction. Look at the homes during framing, after drywall, and when the finishes are being installed. This will help you to see how they run their builds, the quality of materials, and the caliber of work that goes into their homes.
Yes, building a home is an exciting journey, but it can also be stressful. If you pick a good home builder, they will make the experience better, less stressful, and they will get you a quality home.
If you would like help picking a builder, check out our Getabuilder guides. I have put my years of homebuilding experience and knowledge into this series to help others find the best builder, a builder right for them. Have a great journey building your home!