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How to choose the right custom builder for you

It is an exciting process to build your own home, and even more exciting when you choose a custom home built just as you like. It’s important to find the right builder who will make your dreams reality.

When you decide to build a custom home, it is important to have a trusted partner serving as your custom home builder. The wrong decision can turn your home building dream into a nightmare. But the right decision can offer you ideas and an experience that you likely never thought were possible.

Here are some helpful ideas to help make it easier to choose the right custom builder for you.

Start your search

Begin the journey of building your new home by asking for help. Talk to friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors and real estate experts about their building experiences. Focus on any information they can provide about custom builders in your area. The idea is to use referrals as a way to develop a list of custom builders to consider. The information also might help create a list of builders you should avoid. This is how to choose the right custom builder for your budget.

Do your research

You should also research options online for custom builders. Be specific in your searches, using geographic references to focus on builders in your area and special terms such as “award winning” and “best builders” to identify options that might include online reviews.

Once you’ve created a list of prospective custom builders, dig more into those to help narrow your choices to two or three. As you start to choose the right custom builder for you, think about how others who have hired the builder rate their work. Are they regarded well among other builders? Research their experience, the amount of time they have built homes in the community, the type of homes they’ve built, how large an operation they are, whether they have faced lawsuits or had clashes with local building authorities.

Reach out

Now you’re ready to talk directly to the builders on your list. A good way to test how responsive they are is to call their office or reach out to them on their website. How responsive are they to that first contact? Are they professional and helpful when they respond?

You will want to interview your top three choices. This is an important part of the process. Ask to meet the builder in person and to visit one of their completed homes and one under construction to see their work for yourself. This in-person meeting will give you a sense of how the builder communicates, how engaged their team is with you, and how willing the builder is to discuss the process and ideas with you.

The site visits will help you understand more about the builder’s construction methods, quality of work and the level of involvement the builder has with the construction teams.

Ask for references

After you have met with the builder and their team, ask them for references from other homeowners they have served. An important part of this process is the builder’s reaction. If they hesitate, that is a red flag. You also want to make sure to contact the references for their insights into the process. What was their experience like? Any regrets? What do they wish they had known before starting the process? What were the biggest challenges they had to overcome in the process? The idea here is to identify any concerns that may be a bigger problem for you than they were for the reference provided.

When to choose

You want to select your builder as soon as possible in the process. They can work more closely with your architect and your designer to ensure everyone is on the same page. This is the stage where you will develop your overall budget, so it is important to have the builder in those conversations to offer insights that can spare you wasted money and stress later in the project. Make sure your builder produces an initial estimate that includes cost-saving ideas and options to consider.

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