How To Choose The Right Home Builder
If the words “modern,” “custom,” and “move-in ready” appear on your wish list, you might be the ideal client for a new construction home. Whether you buy a pre-built new construction home or design something custom from the ground up, there are a ton of preferred perks that come with owning a newly built home. When your new home search begins, you’ll want to select the right home builder. Not all are the same, and the right fit for you will depend on the type of home you want, your budget, their level of expertise, and more. Here’s what you can do to narrow down your selection process, and nail down the perfect partner.
Define your needs
Most builders specialize in a certain structure type, size, or price range. To find the right builder, you’ll want to define what you are looking for in a home. Think about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need now and in the future. What style of home do you want (Colonial, Spanish, cottage, contemporary, etc.)? Then find examples of homes in the style that you like. You should also identify the budget you have for the project. You can do so quickly and easily by getting preapproved online.
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Custom Build vs. Production Build
When selecting a builder, you’ll want to consider which type of new construction you’d like to pursue: fully custom or production. The decision between the two types will boil down to how much you’d like to contribute to the overall design process.
A production builder designs neighborhood of homes based on a library of floor plans with the opportunity to personalize set features of the home like flooring, exterior finishes, or countertops. A production build is the best match for a buyer that wants a brand new home without taking on the work of choosing all of the home’s design elements.
A custom build gives the buyer the freedom to fully design the home from the ground up with guidance from their builder. There are no limits (outside of the budget and standard regulations) on the location of the home, materials selected to design the house, or overall layout/design of the floor plan.
Building custom will ensure that you get precisely what you want, but there are a few downsides. Custom builds offer a bit more uncertainty when it comes to budget and timeline. You must have good faith and trust in your selected builder if you choose this route.
Make a list of builders
Once you have a good idea of what you want in your new house, make a list of builders who meet your criteria. You can find builders to add to your list by:
- Asking people you know (friends, family, colleagues, real estate agents, etc.)
- Contacting your local chapter of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) for a list of builders in your area.
- Looking for contact information at current build sites
- Performing online searches; aside from Google, sites like Houzz, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List curate lists of builders by location, often with contact information and user reviews.
In this step, don’t be too exclusive. Add as many builders as you can find in your area who look like a good fit.
Narrow down your list
Once you have a list, you’re going to want to narrow it down. To do so, research each builder a bit. Look at their website, their reviews, and anything else you can find online to learn about them. You want a builder that’s a good fit for your budget, needs, and personal preferences, so look for those with a resume of projects similar to the scale and detail of yours. Also, check their track record. Try to get down to a shortlist of three builders.
Visit model homes
Once you’ve chosen a few potential builders that you like, be sure to visit their model homes to see samples of their work in-person. Pay close attention to the quality of their work and materials used in their homes. Ask yourself:
- Do the design features match your style?
- Are the subcontractors professional, experienced, knowledgeable?
- What do the job sites look like? Do you see any signs of safety issues?
- Do the floor plans meet your needs in terms of space and preferred layout?
- Does the builder execute with close attention to detail, or are there items that look rushed/incomplete?
Conduct interviews with potential builders
While visiting model home sites, try to set up a time to interview the builder or the real estate agent representing the builder. What questions should you ask? Here’s a list to keep on hand.
- May I see proof of the required licensing and insurance for home building in this area?
- How long have you been in business?
- How many homes have you built?
- What kinds of materials do you use for construction?
- Could you give me three references for past clients?
- How can I maximize my resale value?
- What fees will be charged?
- Do you specialize in a particular type or style of build?
- What is the projected cost? How do you determine the cost?
- Are there warranties on the home? What do the warranties cover, and will they transfer to me?
- What kind of timeline do you estimate?
- How do you qualify the competency of the subcontractors who will be working on my house?
- What is included in your cost?
- How do you handle challenges and delays?
- What are common problems we may encounter, and how do you advise we overcome them?
Make sure you get the specifics so you can compare your options. You should be able to get sample documents that illustrate a builder’s methods and processes such as a sample contract, budget, warranty, construction schedule, and draw request.
Make a decision
Once you’ve thoroughly vetted the builders, compare their offerings side-by-side to find the one that best suits your needs.
If you’re ready to go down the path of building your home, a great place to start is figuring out your budget. OVM can help you get started with our online app. You can apply online, upload your documents, and get an answer sooner rather than later. Then, you can proceed with shopping around for a home builder. If you need help or have a question at any point along the way, the team at OVM is standing by, ready to help.