Why choosing the best new home builder matters
After all the hard work, its finally time to realize the largest milestone in home ownership that exists, the adventure of designing and building the custom home that not only has all the attributes you've always dreamed of, but also designed to fit your families lifestyle and needs perfectly. While designing and and choosing the materials that give the home it's character is commonly known as the most exciting yet stressful phase of the new home build, watching the new custom home come together as its being built is commonly the most exhilarating and surreal experience of the entire project.
But just as the build is the most exhilarating it is also the most important, and can be difficult if one is not armed with the proper information in order to "vet" your new home builder. Afrer this guide you'll practically be able to mark off a checklist when it comes to deciding on the best custom home builder for you.
Choosing a professional and reputable builder is paramount to the immediate success and longevity of your project and it is well worth the time invested to find the right one for you. After all, this is the home and the neighborhood you will be making all those great memories of watching the grand kids running down the halls, sharing laughs with family and friends during holiday dinners, and throwing legendary barbecue's.
With that in mind, one thing is sure, not all home builders and custom homes are created equal, we believe very strongly that you should be well informed about how to pick the best builder that fits your needs and wants. This decision will affect your overall happiness, and finances, not only today but well into the future as well.
To help you successfully choose the best home builder for you we have compiled a short guide filled with tips to successfully navigate the three main checklists. This guide is intended to more than just inform you of the basics but also provide very insightful and accurate information, along with very helpful resources such as the "Contractors License Checker" where you can check the current status of every contractor's license in the State of California before you even meet them.
WHERE TO FIND A QUALIFIED BUILDER
REPUTABLE REALTORS: With years of experience working within the local new custom home market, they usually have a good understanding of their local new custom market and can offer some of the best referrals. (https://www.nar.realtor/membership)
THE LOCAL CHAPTER OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF HOME BUILDERS: They can provide a list of local builders and their contact information. (https://www.nahb.org/)
ONLINE SEARCHES: Internet searches and the builder's website can help you identify local builders and get a feel for their mission, building style, years of experience, and the quality of their work. However it is important to identify the difference between biased paid for advertisements and SEO activity rankings vs a highly qualified builder's actual website. Are they informing you, or selling you. "Paid for" sites usually have titles such as "top builders in Sacramento," and have links to multiple builders within the websites. These sites are rarely objective and the top spots often go to the highest bidder. Remember your looking for the best fit for you, not the one who spent the most on advertising. However it will allow you to check their contractor's license number for its current status, their number of years of experience, along with a record of certain California Licensing non-compliance issues.
LOCAL LENDERS: Lenders have a strong point of being a great source to find out whether or not a certain builder is usually on time and within budget. The lender can also offer quality references for your project. (https://www.namb.org)
FRIENDS AND FAMILY: They are a good reference to ask if they have had any dealings with general contractors that went well great for them.
TIPS ON CHOOSING A BUILDER
CHECK LICENSING AND CERTIFICATIONS: Is the first thing you should do. Most states require a license or certification which can be checked for their current status. Also check what state the license is from, many are not transferable from state to state. In California you can check a California license status at the following link. Again feel free to be proactive and check our license, general contractor's license # 466092. (https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx)
EXPERIENCE: How many years of experience does the builder have? The custom home industry is one that requires continuous learning on a multitude of levels. Not all homes are created equal and experience is often the difference between a great home and an average home. And sometimes future unforeseen costs.
REVIEW THE BUILDERS REPUTATION: Look online at sites like "Angies list" and review the builders reputation, bur again remember the more reviews probably means the more advertising money spent, which doesn't constitute the best. I good way to really find out about their qualifications is to ask for a reference list of prior people they have done work for. (https://www.angieslist.com)
PROJECT TRACK RECORD: Does the builder have a history of doing projects of the same size and scope of yours. Experience matters.
COMMUNICATION ABILITIES: Be sure to make sure that you and the builder communicate clearly with each other to avoid mistakes.
PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES: Does he have professional references and do they speak well about the builder. Does he have a good reputation among industry professionals. This ties into the "reputation" tips which were given earlier.
INFLATED MARKETS DO NOT ALWAYS MEAN INFLATED BUILDING PRICES: Just because a market is inflated does not mean that the building the house is more (however the lot cost is probably inflated). It may be the same cost to build in a deflated market in terms of material and labor costs as a inflated market. If the property costs are up and building costs are down you should see a stronger R.O.I. and vice versa. Is the builder being fair with the building costs? Getting more than one bid is suggested.
DO THEY SPECIALIZE IN CUSTOM HOMES: Do they specialize in custom homes or speculative homes? A builder who specializes in speculative homes may not be as customer friendly and as willing to adapt to customer changes as a custom builder who regularly works with their clients.
WARRANTY: Do they offer a warranty on their work? Is it either average length or more length than the local custom market, if it's not, do you want someone building your house who is not willing to stand behind their work?
ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS: Does the builder seem to have an organized manor about him? After all, that is his job and you certainly do not want a disorganized builder building your dream home.
ASK QUESTIONS: Don't be afraid to ask questions and expect him to have a swift confident answer. If they do not know it is perfectly acceptable for him to let you know the answer as soon as he has researched the answer. If a builder does not follow up at a later date with the answer or circumstances surrounding the question, than I would avoid him/her.
WILL THEY COLLABORATE: Is he willing to work with your designer during the design phase or is he a little over controlling?
10 RED FLAGS
1. The builder requires a larger than average down payment before the start of the work has begun.
2. The price is too far below bids from other builders. If it looks to good to be true, it probably is.
3. There is no written contract or there is a poorly written contract.
4. There is heavy reliance on allowances in the final bid, making the final estimate anything but final
5. Builder is unwilling to show you his general liability insurance
6. High pressure sales tactics are employed, a quality professional knows that it's a considerable decision.
7. Builder gives a non-detailed lump sum as a estimate
8. Builder will not provide list of sub-contractors
9. Lack of connection to the community you live in
10. Unclear work history