It’s official: you’ve decided to go with a custom build for your next home. You want to make sure everything that goes into your new home is a good fit—and that starts by making sure the custom home builder you choose is a good fit for you.
You’re probably wondering, “Where should I look for prospective builders?” “What should I look for when choosing a custom home builder?” “What questions should I ask builders before signing a contract?”
Here are some tips for finding and choosing the best custom home builder near you.
Researching custom home builders near you
It’s time to make a list of what is important to you in the home building process. Keep these things in mind as you do your research.
Simply going online and searching for “custom home builders near me” can lead to an overwhelming list of candidates. Instead, start by asking fellow custom homeowners, homebuilding supply vendors or real estate professionals for recommendations.
See a newer-build home that you like as you drive by? Take note of the address and request public records for the local town or county clerks to find the builder associated with the home.
Once you have a list of builders and need to narrow it down, compare them or make a pro/con list that highlights which ones meet your list of standards.
- Examine online portfolio galleries and testimonials
- Tour demo homes
- Investigate licenses
Most states or localities have resources to look up a contractor’s license or litigation records. The Better Business Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and local licensing boards all have public records you can access to investigate potential home builders. Here in Virginia, we have online resources for contractors and consumers to help your search.
Once you have your list narrowed down, it’s time to meet with the candidates and see if they are a good fit. Remember, you will be working very closely with this person—it’s important that you are comfortable with them so they can thoroughly get to know you and your home-building vision.
Interviewing potential home builders
You’ve done the research and know what is important to you in choosing a custom home builder. Interviewing builders one-on-one allows you to see if they are a good personality fit and how their answers compare with others.
Questions for custom home builders:
1. How closely do you work with architects and designers?
Why is it important to ask this? The answer will show the builder’s ability to collaborate effectively with other professionals, ensuring a seamless integration of design and construction, and minimizing potential conflicts and delays.
2. I’d like to learn about your estimating process. How long does it take to produce an estimate and how do you ensure your budgets are accurate?
Why is it important to ask this? This will shed light on the builder’s efficiency and accuracy in cost estimation, indicating their level of transparency and ability to complete projects within the agreed-upon budget.
3. Who will be assigned to my project and how often will my project be under direct supervision?
Why is it important to ask this? Understanding their supervisory structure provides insights into their level of oversight and quality control throughout the construction process.
4. How will questions and concerns be addressed during construction?
Why is it important to ask this? A builder’s communication process and responsiveness demonstrate their ability to address issues promptly and transparently—with client satisfaction at the heart of the project.
5. What is the process in the event of changes to the design or unforeseen conditions that result in extra cost?
Why is it important to ask this? Builders should have a clear process to manage unexpected situations with transparency and prevent budget overruns.
6. How long do you anticipate the construction will take and how do you mitigate challenges to staying on schedule?
Why is it important to ask this? This will give you an idea of a builder’s project planning skills, experience, and ability to meet deadlines. They should have a proactive approach to managing potential obstacles and maintaining a timely construction schedule.
7. Do you offer an open book pricing model?
Why is it important to ask this? There is a difference in pricing models across the building industry, some of which benefit the builder more than you. You want to have complete cost and risk transparency all the way through so that you are managing the final cost of your new home build.
8. What specific building methods or materials do you prefer to use and why?
Why is it important to ask this? Your builder should be an expert when it comes to materials and methods—their answer will allow you to assess their commitment to quality, sustainability, energy efficiency, and ensure they align with your preferences and requirements.
9. Can you provide me with a sample contract, budget, and warranty?
Why is it important to ask this? These documents enable you to review the builder’s contractual terms, budget breakdown, and warranty coverage—and demonstrate transparency in communication.
10. How often can we schedule site visits?
Why is it important to ask this? Setting expectations at the beginning for the frequency of site visits is critical so you can actively participate in—but not hamper—the construction process, monitor progress, and address any concerns promptly.
Ask all potential builders the same questions during your interviews so you can compare them uniformly later. From there, use your analytical skills and intuition to choose the right custom home builder for you.
We welcome all these questions and more as we get to know our clients. Contact us to discuss your custom home building dreams today.