Building your dream home can and should be a wonderful and rewarding experience. It can also turn into a nightmare – we’ve all heard stories.
In today’s highly competitive market, you’ll find very few builders who are in the business for their own short-term gain over customer satisfaction. During the boom years this was certainly a problem, and there have been recent warnings that these people may be slowly infiltrating the market as it rebounds. Consider asking how long a builder has been working in the local market as your very first question.
That being said, there are many experienced general contractors who build good, quality homes for you to choose from in our area. After all, that pretty much sums up what most people are looking for in a builder, as well as what most reputable builders aim to continually provide. So, how do you really learn about the experience and quality of a particular builder?
The Spring Showcase of Homes this weekend and next is a great place to do some homework. Seeing a representative sample of a builder’s work is always important. Even better, you have the chance to compare the work of a few different builders. While some builders work exclusively in specific new home communities that typically target one or more general price points, others also build on the site of your choice and often build homes across a wider range of prices.
Just keep in mind that options and upgrades may or may not be included in the price of a home you are touring. If they are, then your personal selections can obviously affect the price one way or the other. If they are not, find out how much it would cost to add those that appeal to you.
At many of the homes, you’ll also have the opportunity to meet the builder or a long-standing representative right then and there. That way, you can see first hand who might possibly be entrusted with one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime. Then, if you like what you see and think the builder could be someone you would like to work with, request a few references.
It’s important to know if people who were once in the same position as you are now are happy with their home. If they believe the price was reasonable, and the result was what they anticipated. Whether or not they were well informed throughout the entire process, and if problems occurred, how they were handled. What about customer service and any warranty issues after the home was complete?
It’s also a good idea to seek out a few professional references such as architects, banks, subcontractors and suppliers in order to get the full picture of how a builder does business.
From there, you’ll also want to know about the process of selecting a home site, designing your new home, making selections, determining the budget and how disbursements are paid, what happens if you make changes along the way and, of course, the schedule including when the home is expected to be complete.