Choosing Custom Home Builders: 7 Important Factors to Consider
You have options when it comes to building your dream home. Custom home builders may seem comparable from a distance but tend to operate on very different levels when it comes to quality and communication. Not choosing the right company for the project could be frustrating at best and disastrous at worst.
On the other hand, choosing the right custom home builder for your project makes all the difference in the world. A great builder can make the project rewarding and exciting, start to finish, and relieve some of the headaches and stress that may come along the way.
Here are some things to look for when looking for custom home builders, as well as a couple things to avoid.
What to Look for in Custom Home Builders
Reputation & Recommendations
Incredible builders have equally incredible reputations. Good word of mouth makes or breaks any custom home industry professional, so look for custom home builders whose reputations precede them positively.
Ask friends and family for referrals. You likely have at least one or two real estate professionals in your friends or contact list. Reach out to them – especially if they are in the area you’re going to build – and see what they say. Industry professionals rely heavily on their networks.
Only choose a custom home builder that has a solid reputation, even if you are planning to build a style of home that is new to you both. It is better to go with a reputable builder that has a history of excellence than a builder no one recommends. If you’re at a loss for recommendations, great builders are sometimes featured in magazines, books, or news articles. So, you could search for information in those places, too.
Accreditation & Association
Home builders typically belong to one or more industry associations that provide credentials and industry education on an ongoing basis. Look for local and national associations when you’re considering various custom home builders. Also, consider if they have been given any special awards or accreditation.
You can also look to these home builder associations, such as the National Association of Home Builders, to provide referrals for local companies. When choosing custom home builders in New York there are other national and state associations to consider including the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and the New York State Builders Association.
Local associations are excellent places to find builders, as well. These associations know the area and the builders in it. The local home builder association for Long Island is the Long Island Builders Institute.
Types of Homes & Price Range
Custom home builders tend to specialize in certain types of homes and specific locations. Because of this, they also generally work within certain price ranges. You can find various home projects in the real estate section of local newspapers, or online.
When shopping around or when asking for referrals, try to get a sense of the price ranges of projects for each builder. You can usually determine this by looking at some of the homes they’ve built in the past. You’ll be better off knowing in advance if homes are well out of your price range.
The thing that sets one custom home builder apart from the rest is communication. Don’t settle on a builder just by looking at their past homes. You can’t get a sense of how well that project went unless you talk to them and ask a lot of questions. To help you, the NAHB put together a list of great questions to ask.
Really listen to the answers that you’re getting. Consider whether or not the office staff is communicative and helpful.
Get a sense of the company culture. Above all, go with a builder you can trust.
Quality & Value
Go out and actually look at the homes built by any company you’re considering. If possible, look at two or three. The NAHB recommends that you also try to connect with the homeowner and ask about their experience with the builder. Another way of doing that is to read reviews and personal recommendations or quotes from the builder’s’ previous clients.
– When viewing and evaluating the homes, look for quality materials and sound construction.
– Ask homeowners if they like the home and are happy with it. Listen to their responses.
– Look for features that you are interested in. Bring a list with you and try to find evidence that at least some of those features are in these homes.
What to Avoid
Over-Promising & Under-Delivering
Don’t wait until after you’ve already started working with a builder to find out that they over promise and under deliver. This is a sign of poor project management.
There’s a way you can get a sense for this while you’re in the interview stage.
– Ask them how many of their projects are completed on time. If they don’t give a clear answer, dig deeper to find out what their design process is like and how they build.
– Listen for clues. A strong, experienced builder will probably tell you exactly how they manage client expectations and ensure projects are on time and within budget.
– Trust your instincts. You probably have a sense of whether or not something sounds too good to be true. Quality custom home builders will not lie or exaggerate just to get your business. Find a builder who will tell you the truth, even when it is difficult to hear.
Avoid builders with unrealistic timelines. Projects don’t always go as planned. Weather considerations, holidays, and unexpected issues come up all the time. If the timeline seems too short, ask questions. This is the point when you will find out how the builders choose vendors and contracting companies. No one should be cutting corners. If they say they have ways of getting projects done more quickly, ask them how.
The last thing you want is to be surprised – in a negative way – about a project’s timeline. Choosing custom home builders that are a Design-Build Firm like Plum Builders Inc. may help alleviate some of the uncertainty since both design and build are handled by the same company.
Final Note: Be wary of cost-cutting and extra savings. Custom homes have a value that extends beyond their price tag. Avoid builders who go out of their way to make a deal, as that is very uncommon in this industry among reputable builders.
If you are looking for an exceptional custom home builder, connect with us today for a consultation.