A Guide to Hiring a Custom Home Builder

Whether this is your first time hiring a custom home builder or you have prior experience, this is a step you want to complete only after doing sufficient research and evaluation. The home builder you select will be your key to meeting your budget, on time and with the high quality end result you expect.

This short, helpful guide will give you the insight you need to hire the best custom home builder for your job.

Understand the Home Builder’s Role

Your first step is to fully grasp your selected’ home builder’s responsibilities. Here is a list of responsibilities you will rely on your new builder to oversee:

  • Develop a realistic budget.
  • Negotiate fair costs for materials, supplies and labor.
  • Verify that delivered materials and supplies are up to standards.
  • Ensure all required permits are obtained.
  • Ensure all inspections, certifications and approvals are obtained.
  • Work with designers, inspectors, local governing bodies and other official parties as needed to facilitate the building process.
  • Resolve any disputes, issues or delays.
  • Monitor cost, project scope and timeline throughout.
  • Train the new owner (you!) on everything your new home will need in terms of maintenance, warranties and operation.


Signs You Have Found the Right Home Builder

The home builder you select will have a mix of certain attributes that lend themselves well to your project outcome. Here is a list of what to look for:

  • Current open similar projects.
  • Past project roster that includes demonstrated familiarity with what you want.
  • Positive testimonials (both from the builder’s list of contacts and your own independent research).
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the custom home building industry.
  • Excellent communications, business and management skills (for people, budgets and projects).
  • Resources to provide for your needs (including, as applicable, referrals to designers and other home building experts).
  • Sufficient time and availability to make your project a priority!


What Your Builder Must Offer You

The best way to determine whether the builder you are interviewing may be a good fit is to review the resources offered to facilitate your project. You should be provided with all of the following as applicable:

  • A sample budget you can use as a guide.
  • A sample timeline you can use as a guide.
  • Instructions for how to obtain and use financing.
  • Samples of the builder’s change order request forms and a description of the process.
  • A sample new home warranty and explanation of benefits.
  • Instructions on how the lien release (waiver) process will work once you have made payment in full.
  • Instructions on how the builder requires payment to be made, how your payments will be tracked and logged and what the invoice looks like.
  • An overview of what occurs during your final training (operations, maintenance).
  • Referrals to other past or current clients (ideally both) you can speak with.
  • A list of current in-progress/completed properties for you to view.

The absence of documentation or process of any of the above can be viewed as a potential “red flag” that the builder may not be a good choice for your needs.

Before Making Your Final Selection

Finally, be sure you have checked your builder’s credentials with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB), your State Contractor’s Board, the builder’s insurer (verify Workers Compensation and General Liability policies are current), suppliers and contractor licensing agencies in other states where the builder has worked.

By making these final checks, you can feel confident that you are selecting a reliable, trustworthy and knowledgeable custom home builder.

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