7 Tips for Choosing a Custom Home Builder
Hiring a custom home builder can be one of the biggest personal transactions that you make. All builders promise great things, but you need the one who will deliver results that thrill you every day.
Use these tips to find the best builder for your project.
1. Make a List of Possible Builders
A high-value transaction like building a custom home in Florida demands that you shop around. You not only need to find a capable and qualified company but one that is a good fit for your vision.
A good place to start is the local home builders' association in the region where you want to build. This office can provide you with a list of builders working in the area.
Additional places to find builders are:
- Local print publications with real estate sections
- Ads on real estate websites
- Local home shows
- Open houses at new housing developments
If you know anyone who has already built a custom home in your target area, then they could supply a referral. Word of mouth is how good home builders develop their reputations.
2. Decide the Broad Strokes of Your Custom Build
Although you'll have many details to work out going forward, you need to know generally what type of home you want to start off with. This information lets you match a home builder's core strengths with the project.
For example, a tract home builder that is trying to expand into semi-custom or custom building might not have the expertise to deal directly with clients. Such a company is accustomed to building homes with similar floor plans and materials.
Variation of talent is present among accomplished custom builders. Some might be great at asphalt shingle roofs but do a mediocre job with tile roofs. If you're planning on marble flooring, you'll want someone skilled at working with stone materials.
In this day and age, demand is rising for features like solar panels or emergency generators. As you investigate builders, be sure to discuss their experience with any specialty features like this that you want.
3. Questions to Ask When You Meet With Builders
Don't be shy about asking numerous questions. You're interviewing each company for a high-paying job, and you need to dig into their qualifications.
Important questions to ask include:
- What is your experience building this type of home?
- Are you familiar with the building codes and regulations in this location?
- Can you provide me with your business licensing and insurance credentials?
- Can I see your portfolio of homes?
- Where do you source your materials from?
- Who are your subcontractors?
Do not accept vague answers. Insist that the company representative provide meaningful answers, such as giving examples of building codes.
A home builder should be eager to present you with a work portfolio. They might have a show model available that lets you inspect their work with various materials and overall construction quality.
A builder could also have a reference list of prior clients. You might be able to see their homes from the street or even contact them directly.
Builders tend to use the same suppliers over and over. By getting a supplier list, you can follow up with those companies. They might have information to share about how long they've had a business relationship with the builder. Ask if the builder's account is in good standing at the moment. A company behind on its bills is a red flag.
You can also expect a builder to work with some subcontractors, particularly for heating and cooling, foundations, or electrical. Ideally, a builder works with a consistent stable of subcontractors.
A company that hires whoever is available at any given time or someone on the cheap might struggle with quality control. You're looking for a company with established subcontractor relationships who's willing to share those company names. Feel free to vet those subcontractors as well because they will be performing essential work.
4. Get Thorough Cost Estimates
As you whittle down candidates to your short list, the time has come to get into cost details. At this point, you should have selected most construction and finishing materials. Now you can ask for cost estimates for the quantities of materials needed.
These numbers could shift in the future. Many construction materials are commodities vulnerable to global supply issues beyond your or the builder's control. Even so, an estimate should put you in the ballpark of cost. You'll also need this information to arrange for financing.
5. Follow Up on References
Reputable home builders value their reputation and strive to achieve total client satisfaction. Even if a problem comes up, a good builder makes it right with the client.
Talking to prior clients will reveal insights about workmanship and customer service. People are generally happy to talk about what they love or complain about disappointing issues.
Let these questions guide your conversation:
- Are you satisfied with construction quality?
- Was everything built in compliance with code?
- Was the company responsive to your questions?
- Did the job get done on time?
6. Establish a Timeline for Job Completion
People in the construction trade struggle with all kinds of issues that can put them behind schedule from the weather to equipment breakdowns. This makes pinning them down on completion dates difficult.
What you need to do is get, in writing, a construction contract with a realistic deadline. Because things can happen that are not your fault or the builder's fault, a good contract includes a process for accommodating delays.
For example, if a supply shipment delay means a builder cannot meet a completion deadline, then you and the builder would execute an amendment that acknowledges the problem and sets a new deadline.
Do not enter into a contract that does not impose reasonable deadlines and a way to recognize problems that can come up during a complex project. Otherwise, you don't have a solid way to hold a company accountable. In that situation, a builder might ignore your demands and focus on other projects.
7. Confirm Licensing and Insurance
You should check to see that a builder has licenses in good standing. A licensing agency might also provide access to official complaints made against a company.
While confirming licensing, you can check on the company's insurance policy. Make sure it is active and ask what the policy limits are and how it protects clients.
Build Your Florida Dream Home at Bella Collina
The 1,900-acre private golf community at Bella Collina offers you an amazing place to build a custom home. We're located about 30 minutes west of Orlando. A green landscape and sparkling blue lakes surround our luxury community that includes top amenities for an active lifestyle.
We have relationships with multiple home builders who can create stunning homes. Our builders include:
- Toll Brothers
- Vogel Building Group
- Davila Custom Homes
- Drewes Construction
- AR Homes
- Dream Finders Homes
- Primo Homes
- Cam Bradford
- McNally Homes
We're eager to answer your questions about building at Bella Collina. Contact us today to get started.