Have you ever dreamt of designing and building your own home? Do you have Pinterest boards filled with ideas? Do you look at homes and think, I would have done that differently? Building a home certainly isn’t easy, but it’s also not as lofty of a goal as you might think. The most important step is hiring the right builder – of which there are many.
Keep These 7 Tips in Mind When Choosing and Working With the Perfect Builder
If you aren’t familiar with the home building process, then you probably think choosing a builder is like choosing any other home service provider – like a plumber, painter, or handyman – but this is a serious misconception. There’s a huge difference between hiring the right builder and hiring a builder.
An average or below-average builder will make your life a living nightmare. You’ll spend every waking minute worried about money, design choices, execution, timing, and more. The right builder, on the other hand, will follow your instructions, anticipate your needs, care for your budget, and do everything within his power to get your project done on time.
Not sure how to pick out the right builder, or what to do once you hire a builder? The following tips will help:
1. Make a List of Potential Builders
The first step is to make a list of potential builders. You can find builders via a number of methods, including:
- Online research
- Referrals from friends and neighbors
- Local home builders’ associations
- Local real estate agents
Be liberal with your list at first. Try to get a master list of all possible builders. Once you have this list, you can start to whittle away at it.
2. Do Some Research
Your initial list of builders might have 15 or 20 names on it. You’ll want to trim this down to just three to five realistic options as quickly as possible.
These days, it’s fairly easy to perform due diligence on a builder online. Not only do builders have their own websites and digital portfolios, but there are a number of review websites that independently rate builders. Be sure to check these out.
3. Ask the Right Questions
Once you have a short list of builders and know a little bit about each of them, you’ll want to get some more detailed information. The best place to start is by actually calling the builder and setting up an informal meeting. You can learn a lot in just 15 or 20 minutes.
In your meeting with potential builders, ask for a list of homes and subdivisions that they’ve built over the years. This allows you to drive around and see what their work looks like in person. Preferably, drive by on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon when homeowners are likely to be outside doing chores.
“Introduce yourself and say you are considering buying a home from the builder who built their home,” the National Association of Home Builders suggests. “Talk to several owners, and try to get a random sample of opinions. The more people you talk with, the more accurate an impression of a builder you are likely to get.”
4. Get Some Bids
As in most professions, builders set their own prices and compete with other builders for business. If you’re only getting a quote from one builder, how do you know whether or not they’re offering a fair price?
“I would generally send a project out to four or five builders for pricing,” Hugo Tugman writes for Houzz. “This involves the builder in a great deal of work, and it’s just not fair, in my opinion, to go to more than five. However, when the prices come back, it’s not at all unusual for them to vary between the highest and lowest by 100 percent or more, so it’s well worth going to at least three or four.”
5. Use Your Gut
Once you’ve gathered referrals, credentials, and bids, it’s time to make a decision. Sometimes the choice will be obvious, while other times you’ll have two or three that seem like good choices. In the latter situation, use your gut.
What does your intuition tell you? Who can you see yourself working with over the next 8-14 months? Does one seem more transparent than the others? When combined with strategic due diligence, your gut will help you choose the right builder.
6. Let the Builder Take Charge
You’re going to feel the desire to micromanage the building process and scrutinize every little detail, but this will drive you crazy. You chose your builder for a reason, so let them get to work.
“While an independent architect or project manager can play an important role acting as an expert to look after your interests, keeping an eye on progress and quality, it’s important that the builder is allowed to run the project on a day-to-day basis,” Tugman explains. “If not, there can be blurred responsibility if things go wrong. So choose a builder who’s professional and let that person do his or her job.”
7. Check-In, But Don’t Stress
It’s important that you get control of yourself and avoid overstepping. You want to be involved in the actual building process, but you shouldn’t stress out over every little thing.
If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up driving by on the way to work, during your lunch break, and on the way home from work…every single day. In order to prevent this sort of behavior, create a schedule. For example, you might check-in on Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. During these check-ins, you’re simply looking at the big picture to make sure everything is on track.
Work With Green Residential
While we aren’t in the business of building homes, we are in the business of helping homeowners buy and sell. If you need assistance selling your existing home and buying a new property that will allow you to build a custom home, please don’t hesitate to contact Green Residential. We’d be happy to get things moving in the right direction.