There are a number of ways to pick your home builder. I personally recommend asking first for personal referrals first and foremost. You can go to friends and family members, local social media groups, or you can even reach out to your local Home Builder’s Association for a list of local builders.
What should you consider when picking a builder?
Your price range/budget – knowing your budget going in can be a strong determining factor in which builder you choose. If you’re trying to build an economy home for around $100,000 then the builder who builds custom homes in the $700+ price range may not be a great fit for you. This isn’t because they can’t build the home, it has to do with their contacts, their subs, and the budgets within which they can accomplish certain jobs. Feel free to discuss this with the builders you’re interviewing.
The style of home - I found out very quick that builders have their own style and specific types of “product” they offer. For some home builders, they specialize in Eco-friendly homes that may cost more per square foot, but have a lower cost of ownership over time. Some may specialize in certain styles or quality. Ask them to show you the types of homes they have built recently, and if there’s anything they can show you that’s a few years old.
Location - Understanding your location and the complexities that may coincide with local ordinances can help you prevent delays. The more a builder understands the local community, the easier they can predict timelines & the easier they can educate you in the process. Check with your local Home Builder’s Association – Click Here for the Athens Area Home Builder’s Association.
References (recent and 5-10 years + ) – One of the most powerful sources of information is word of mouth. The more personal testimonials you can get from different people, the better you can feel about your builder. I would ask the builder for references, but I would also ask around your community. It’s important to talk to past clients AS WELL AS their suppliers and subs. Ask for these references and CALL. It’s important to know your builder is up to date on paying subs and suppliers on time. This is just to protect your investment, and to make sure you have a reputable builder.
Longevity in the field - Has your economy crashed lately? What did your builder do while the market was down? Personally? I wanted a builder who survived and thrived during that down market. It shows their strong leadership and their ability to run smart businesses and not over extend themselves. It also means they probably had their character and integrity challenged a few times along the way, and they made the right choice. Tough markets have a way of weeding out those who just ride the wave of success.
Their track record with staying on time and in budget - Let’s be real… there will be delays. Whether it’s bad weather, delays with permits, supplies being out of stock, someone getting sick etc. But to know that your builder sets realistic expectations could mean saved money and time when it comes to storage, moving and other expenses.
Their finances & insurance – Perhaps the MOST important criteria for choosing a builder is their financial solvency. Making sure they have the proper insurance and that they do not have any negative accounts or lawsuits against them could be your most important research. Ask for their references, and CALL them.
Pricing Style – There are 2 ways that builders create estimates for new construction. One is Fixed Price, the other is Cost Plus.
- Fixed price is where the builder gives you an estimate and sticks to the estimated price no matter what the cost. The positive here is predictability. The negative is that the client does not have input or control on the quality of product or the profitability spread (a builder could choose to buy cheaper products to increase their profitability).
- Cost Plus is when the builder takes the exact cost of building and adds their fee for managing the contract on top. What makes this scenario favorable is that the client knows exactly what quality of materials and labor is going into their construction – allows more client control of the bottom line. The negative is that when the client goes over budget… they are responsible for the difference.
Once you’ve picked a builder, the next step is to pick a plan & a lender. For me, picking the plan was one of the hardest things to do. See more HERE.
Thank you for following my blog, I hope that this information is helpful to you in your building process. Building a home in Athens or Northeast Georgia can be one of the most rewarding experiences – just be prepared to earn the reward :-)
Want more information about building a home that’s not answered in these blogs? Reach out to me directly!