There are several important factors that go into knowing how to choose a home builder so that you’re able make the right decision.
Let us start by saying that this is not a “why you need to hire us” article. We know we’re not the home builder for everyone nor is every potential client suited for what we do. That said, we believe that at the very least we can help get you started in your search for the best home builder that’s right for you.
How to Choose a Home Builder
Making the decision to build a home is a huge life event and probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make. It’s at the same time exciting, scary, and overwhelming. You’ll undoubtedly entertain an endless list of questions that include things like budget, location, floor plans, and finally, who you’ll hire to build your new home.
Define Your Needs
We all need something different depending on the stage of life we’re in. For example, a couple nearing retirement may consider a one-story ranch style house to avoid using steps everyday. On the other hand, parents with middle-school-aged kids could desire a two- or three-story house with bedrooms spaced as far apart as possible.
What do you want the landscape to look like? Perhaps you’d like a big back yard to plant a garden, watch your kids play, and create ample room for a dog kennel. Or maybe you’re over landscaping and prefer something small that requires little upkeep.
A good home building company will go out of their way to make sure all your needs and wants are met. Together, they will work with you to find the perfect location and create a floor plan that suits you. Many companies, especially custom home builders, can take your thoughts and ideas and turn them into a blueprint. Of course, this can only be done through the builder’s experience, which we’ll talk about later.
Determine Your Budget
Your budget is going to be a large factor in the type of house you build and where you build it. Fortunately, if you have good credit, getting preapproved for a construction mortgage is pretty easy. A mortgage lender can help you determine your budget, which will in turn confirm your financial credibility when it comes time to choose a home builder. Furthermore, an experienced home builder can help further shape your plan depending on your budget. Their years in business will have given them a firm knowledge of the banking industry and loan programs, as well as relationships with lenders they trust who will treat you right.
Select a Location
Where would you like to build? Not only is choosing the greater region important, but also the exact neighborhood. Consider where you work and where you want your kids to go to school. What do you like to do in your free time? Is it important to have restaurants and shopping nearby? Or would you rather never see your neighbors? Once you’ve chosen the general area, a good home builder should be able to provide you with the piece of property that fits with the answers to the previous questions.
How to Choose a Home Builder
Once you’ve defined your needs and selected a location that falls within your budget, you can strategically begin to put together a list of potential builders. Even if you’re familiar with or have lived in the area where you’ve decided to build, research is paramount. There will be some aspects that allow you to quickly nix some companies from the list. For example, if you’re wanting to build custom, tract builders would not qualify.
Those that remain will require a vetting process. Be ready to gather testimonials, both online and word of mouth; check out portfolios, warranty programs, and take walk throughs. Eventually, do a sit-down interview with the builders themselves. You’ll know in the first 10 minutes whether it’s going to be a good working relationship.
Word of Mouth
No matter what product or service a company provides, they will never find a stronger marketing tool than word of mouth. Seek out current customers of home builders in your area and ask. Most of the time, local real estate agents will be able to assist you with this. If they’ve worked with a lot of builders, they’ll be able to give you some insight as well as provide a few references. Shoot, if a builder isn’t shy about giving you names of past clients, that speaks volumes! You’ll likely find that folks who’ve just built their own home are happy to share their experience.
The Value of Experience
You can’t discount experience. Many reputable home building companies have probably been around for at least a decade. But, at the same time, don’t overlook the fact that an experienced builder may be behind a brand new company. Regardless, find seasoned veterans who have built the type of home you want many times over.
Check Out Portfolios
Those seasoned veterans will have a nice portfolio. If they build a couple hundred tract houses per year yet you’re looking for a fully custom home, you should probably drop them from the list. If you like stone and they only build with brick, move on. While most builders have a variety of designs and styles in their portfolios, focus on those whose work is most closely aligned with your desires.
A builder who involves you in nearly every step of the home building process clearly has nothing to hide. Seek out these builders who look to you as a partner and value your thoughts along the way. On the flip side, great builders appreciate loyalty and won’t take lightly your trust in them to deliver what they’ve promised.
There’s a stigma among construction companies that once your warranty runs out, usually after 30 days, you’ll never get in touch with the builder again. That’s why talking to previous customers is so important in case the language on the builder’s website is not totally clear. If you find a home builder that offers a one-year warranty, then you know they stand behind the value of their work. And there’s a lot of value in that.
Depending on what life stage you’re in, you may be building your first home or your last. If it’s the former, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll need to sell it. You may outgrow the house or have to move because of your job. That’s why it’s so important to know before you buy or build that the house is going to have a great resale value.
A lot of the resale value will depend on the area in which the house is in, but also be sure to look for builders whose houses hold and maintain their value. When you see a home that’s five, seven, even 10 years old, yet looks nearly new, then you’ve found a quality builder. Furthermore, if you see a real estate agent’s ad that calls out a builder by name, it’s likely due to the fact that the agent respects the builder’s work. Most real estate agents pride themselves on reputation and will only mention a builder by name if they are exceptional in what they do.
Take a Tour
Take a tour of a recently completed house. Or, if possible, see about touring an occupied dwelling. This is one of the most important steps in that there is no substitute to seeing the finished product. Here, you can get a feel for the quality of the home. Not only will you learn about the builder, you’ll also see amenities and styles you may want to include in your own home. If your short list includes a custom home builder, you can make notes of certain things you’d like for them to include.
While not every builder joins the Home Builders Association (HBA), their involvement in such an organization can help show that the builder is committed to their local community. More important is what they’ve done to directly benefit local schools, churches, and other public places. For example, we’re very proud of our hometown, Athens, Alabama. When Athens High School needed help raising money, we built a house pro bono that we then sold and donated all the profits to the school. That money helped with several improvements that have enhanced the students’ overall experience.
It’s not just the owner or CEO who makes the company what it is. The team surrounding the leader is just as important. If every single employee takes interest and is dedicated to making your dream a reality, then you’ve chosen the right home builder. Our door is always open. So if we can answer any questions or help you in the home building process, please don’t hesitate to reach out.