Choosing the Right Builder
Custom building your own home can be the biggest, and best decision of your life. It can also be the most costly and most frustrating decision you will ever make. The experience depends largely on your choice of builder, yet many people make that choice on a whim, on cost or on a recommendation. There's no "right" answer when choosing a builder, but there is a way to make the process easier by following the checklist below. It will assist you follow a path to your right builder ... the one right for you and your building project.
Do your research
Internet? Yellow Pages? Local paper? There are almost as many ways to find a builder as there are homes to be built. The obvious sources are a good start, but smart researchers step outside the usual avenues and speak to the people who really know - the builders themselves.
Interview the Builder
Don't just meet the builder. Treat the meeting like an job interview. After all, it's a major transaction and agreement you are entering into. Come prepared to the interview with a clear idea of your expectations, your budget and your timeframe - then ask detailed questions about how the builder will meet them. The issues you should cover are:
Visit Builder's Projects
Every good custom builder will have a portfolio of properties to show you - but don't stop there. Ask to visit homes under construction, or recently completed (allowing for the privacy of the owners). While not every builder will be able to take you through many completed houses (after all - they are being lived in!) any good builder should be able to provide you with written references and a list of satisfied customers to whom you can talk.
Ask for References
Satisfied clients are a good sign, good trade relationships are a great sign! A quality custom builder will have strong connections with contractors, suppliers and lenders. Speaking to these people will give you a true picture whether the builder will deliver on time, budget and high quality.