We’ve all heard horror stories of building new home. The joke is that “if your marriage can survive building a new home, it can survive anything”. Over the years, we’ve built many homes for great people. For some, it was their first home, and for others it was their retirement home.
I’ve learned that building a new home can be fun and relatively stress free, if a person has these two components: If they have chosen a good builder, and if they are a good buyer.
Top Ten Signs of a Good Builder:
They have experience. There are too many ‘fly-by-nights’ in any business. You’ll never go wrong going with an established builder who has “been there, done that.” In fact, I often times get asked by new buyers to give them a really good deal. I always respond by saying, “I can do better than that, I’ll do a great job!” Always check their building experience and their track record to see if what you are asking has been done before, and if it was done well.
- They have experience.
There are too many ‘fly-by-nights’ in any business. You’ll never go wrong going with an established builder who has “been there, done that.” In fact, I often times get asked by new buyers to give them a really good deal. I always respond by saying, “I can do better than that, I’ll do a great job!” Always check their building experience and their track record to see if what you are asking has been done before, and if it was done well.
- They are flexible.
When building a custom home you should get what you want. That’s why you’re building a new custom home; to make it how YOU want it. Make sure you have all of your specifications spelled out – from the type of exterior finishes, to the final details on the interior. Does your builder allow your input on interior finishes, colors and allowances? Make sure you can do “change orders” if you want to, and find out how they are handled beforehand.
- They warranty their work.
The difference between a good builder and a bad builder is that a good builder takes care of the problem. There will always be things that come up during construction, as well as adjustments after completion. However, you’ll quickly find you have no problems if your builder warranties his work. Check out your builder’s reputation and warranty. Make sure it’s in writing. Check with past clients on how your builder backs his work.
- They clearly spell out what’s included.
I try to always remind clients “it’s more important to know what is not included than what is included.” Any such questions should be resolved before you start. You should have a clear set of house building plans, a detailed specification sheet with styles and allowances and a scaled site plan; all of which should be signed by you and your builder.
- They have clear communication for you, from beginning to end.
You should always have someone to go to for answers to questions or for concerns. You should have clear-cut guidelines communicated to you from the start-up, through the construction, to the final walk-through and closing. There should be time line communication from your builder explaining what’s needed before a certain process is initiated and what is to be expected in change orders. A good builder has clear communication between his subcontractors, vendors and superintendents. Experienced builders use the same high quality people over and over, which eliminates many problems.
- They provide quality.
It’s true that you get what you pay for, however, it really doesn’t cost any more to have it done right. Quality is a by-product of demanding a good job from yourself, your venders and your subcontractors. Clear communication insures you will receive the product you set out to build. Your builder and builder’s subs should never compromise quality for time. Although we all want it done today, I often remind clients “that if it takes us a week longer to do it right, they’ll be glad in the long run.” You should also know if your builder provides high quality energy savings in their homes. These kinds of quality items will pay for themselves over and over.
- They use a good lender.
I often explain to potential buyers that the most frustrating part about buying or building a home isn’t the building process – it’s the financing. Does your builder have good preferred lenders that you can use and that will give you priority service? They not only will work well with you, but they will get things done for you and your builder as they know his process and visa-versa. Regardless, never start building or buying without first getting approvals and all your financial questions answered up front.
- They understand timelines.
A good builder ensures that things are scheduled properly and in order, in the scheduled time. Otherwise, your home could take forever – and that hurts when you’re paying the interest bill. He should have a scheduled start date and scheduled completion date. He should be able to give you a schedule of what will occur during the course of construction, so that you can monitor the progress. These are critical signs of a good builder.
- They belong to a credible builder’s association.
With continuing education you can be assured that he’s keeping up on the latest technology in home building.
- They provide value.
Keep in mind that just because a home is less expensive than another it doesn’t mean it’s a better value. Likewise, a more expensive home does not necessarily assure higher quality. There’s always someone doing it for less. A common mistake many buyers make is using square footage cost as their measurement of value. Square footage price can be so misleading when you are talking about styles, specialty items, options, garage sizes, porches, etc. Real value is determined only if you receive the home you really wanted. You can be assured that Brighton Builders provides these and more, with each of our clients. However, there are other good builders to choose from as well – and if you’ll follow these suggestions you’ll not go wrong. Also, you’ll be well on your way to having a great building experience.