How to Choose a Home Builder

The home builder you choose can make or break your house, quite literally. Building or renovating a home can be quite stressful but by choosing the right contractor for the job, you can save yourself tonnes of tedious work and neverending coordination.

As a homeowner thinking of renovating or rebuilding a house, “how to choose a home builder” should perhaps be the first question in your mind (along with what decor and design should your house have). Choosing a home builder can help you get the professional help you need to ensure that all material, labour and logistic aspects of the project fit your future home. Since there are various aspects involved in building a home, choosing the right home builder can help ensure that all these aspects are coordinated with each other.

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If you have been scratching your head and calling thousands of contractors only to be disappointed, take a step back and read this article. The first thing you should know is that choosing the right team for this job is pretty much like conducting an intense session of interviews. But when you know all the right things to do, you will find the right home contractor. In this article, we will cover all the important things you need to know before you set out to finalize the company you will hire to build your dream house. While pros and cons lists and other elimination methods can be helpful in bringing you to this decision, as a smart home-builder, you should always have some preliminary checklist before you set out to finalize your home builder.

Here is all that you should look for before hiring custom home builder for this project:

Can You Afford the Build?

Making sure you have enough funds to support your home building and home renovation project is the first and foremost question that you must ask yourself. The budget you calculate should always include miscellaneous expenditures as well as emergency expenditures. This will help you stay prepared for unplanned expenditures. The right home builder contractor can give you a proper estimate or a proposal and help you plan finances early on with in-house budget calculating techniques.

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Identify Your Needs

Every homeowner has unique needs specific to their own lifestyle and style aspirations. While the actual work is done by the builder, the homeowner should always be involved in the process. Depending on the project, you may decide to live on the construction site while the construction is happening or closer to the construction site. Depending on this, you will need a contractor that can give you regular updates on the status of your projects or ensure construction while keeping in mind your day to day living. Moreover, if you are building your home from the scratch, you will need a contractor who has tie-ups with electrical, plumbing and HVAC technicians. Knowing your needs as a homeowner helps you identify the right contractor for the job. In fact, the right contractor will also help you identify your needs and ensure that they are being met.

Be Clear About What You Want

Communication is the key to the successful completion of every project. The same stands for building your home. There should be transparent communication between you and your contractor wherein your needs should be communicated clearly. If you are searching for a custom home builder, you are at an advantage as the home will be built keeping in mind your own unique needs. Whether it is in terms of the structure, style or the way of working, you must convey your expectations clearly. While there is a contract that states the expectations clearly, you can also have an SLA (Service Level Agreement) that covers what mode of communication is preferred by the two parties, what theme has been chosen, what catalogues to consider for style inspiration etc.

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Look for Experience

When you decide on building your custom home, it is important to hire a company that has a solid portfolio and years of experience in completing projects smoothly. Experience makes the contractor credible. You should also ensure that the contractor has the training and experience specific to the kind of home you are planning to build. Whether it is a condo-renovation, a house, a basement apartment or a second story addition, you should ensure that the contractor you choose has proven experience in building homes like yours. If you are looking to build a commercial property instead, make sure that the contractor has a good track record of building offices and retail spaces.

Licensing & Insurance

It is very important to give your home building project to a licensed and insured contractor only. Given the investment involved in building your home, it is important to hire an insured and licensed builder to safeguard your investment. There are various licenses and insurances that you should check for before hiring a contractor. This includes Builder’s Risk Insurance, General Liability and Worker’s Compensation. These licenses may or may not be necessary depending on the area you are residing in. However, it is important to ensure that the contractor is insured against any kind of atrocities.

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Warranties

Many materials go into building a home and in certain intervals of time, your home might need repair or replacements. It is important to be clear about material and service warranty and what are the clauses behind these warranties. The warranty period ranges from 1 to 10 years. Make sure you have a warranty card or agreement before the construction begins.

Talk to Experts

While it is always advised to do so, talking to experts does not necessarily mean talking to someone who has been in this business. You can also speak to your friends and family members who have recently undergone a home building process. If you reach out to a contractor, you can also ask for expert advice. A good builder would always be open to offer expertise even before the hiring has been finalised. Expert advice should be taken at the architectural phase rather than later phases of building your home.

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Home Builder Search – Tips when Searching Online

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  • If you have approved a custom home contractor online, you must ensure that the construction contract has been vetted by a lawyer or a legal entity. This will keep you informed about your rights as a homeowner just in case there are conflicts between you and the contractor. This will also ensure that the deliverables and duties of both the parties are legally acknowledged.
  • Just checking the website of the home builder is not enough. You must also check social media pages of the contractors and check for Google reviews. This helps you make a list of credible contractors who are known in the business.
  • Ensure that their website mentions the traders they engage with for your services. While building your custom home, a lot of aspects need to be taken care of before the actual building.
  • To reach out to home builders online, you can either call and book a face to face meeting or fill the contact form online to receive a response from them. A good home builder will have a quick response rate.

Interview Your Top 2-3 Home Builders Choices

This may be the final screening process before you find the winner out of your filtered choices. It is very important to run your shortlisted home builders through a rapid fire of questions. An interview leads to survival of the fittest and it is still the best way to hire the right hand for the job. Interviewing the contractor becomes more important when you have found the contractor online. While most online searches land on legitimate companies, it is always better to rule out the possibility of a scam. An interview helps you in doing so. While making a list of interview questions, you must make sure you

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What to Ask a Home Builder?

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Once you shortlist 2-3 candidates, you must make a list of interview questions. At initial or finalising stage, you must ask the homebuilder the following questions:

  • Will you help receiving necessary permits for the home building project?
  • What is the estimated completion date?
  • Are there any financing options that you offer?
  • Will you hire quality tradespeople?
  • Will you assign a project manager to my home building project?
  • Will you build an energy efficient home for me?
  • What are some material brands/companies that you use in your construction?
  • How many construction workers will be assigned to my project?
  • Can you show me some of your completed projects in person?

  • Have you had conflicts in the past? How do you resolve conflicts?
  • (In case of a home renovation project) How do you plan to work in order to cause minimum disturbances as me and my family would be living in the house while it renovates.
  • Would you provide assistance in choosing home finishings and furnishings once the building project is completed?
  • What is included in your home building services and what is not?
  • Are you committed towards taking on this project?
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Now that you know how to choose a custom home builder, get ready to shortlist design ideas and flip through catalogs! Call your chosen home contractor for the best design ideas.