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Having a home built is a monumental task. There’s always concern about whether or not your vision is shared by the builder. Let’s face it; it’s not like you can return it if you have your receipt.

Choosing a builder is the first and most important step in building a home. So, what should people look for in a builder?

“A good place to start is the Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana,” offers Vicky Gadd, executive director. “We have a directory of builders on our website. Home Builders Association members sign a code of ethics and have a strong commitment to building high-quality homes. They are also members of the Indiana Builders Association and the National Association of Builders.”

Cory Kreith, owner of CK Building and Design Corporation, has been a member of the Home Builders Association since his business was founded. “It’s important for buyers to make sure their builder is a member,” he says. “Membership means a certain level of credibility. I mean, why wouldn’t a builder join?”

In addition to accreditations, Gadd points out other benefits. “Being a member of the Indiana and National Associations gives builders access to education and information about innovative building techniques and designs, as well as the best building practices,” she says.

Kreith suggests that buyers do some homework regarding what it is that they want. “Buyers should sit down and talk through their priorities,” he says. “If they have a list of needs and wants, they might want to prioritize them in case they have to make choices based on affordability. If you can’t have it all, make sure you get what you really need.”

Builders frequently offer floor plans. Some can be modified, others not so much. Communication with the builder is critical. “Make sure you choose a builder that builds the type of home you are looking for,” Gadd says. “Some builders like to build from a few preferred floor plans and others build custom houses based on your preferences. Also, ask the builder to review and explain the home warranty offered. It is also helpful to get a few references from recent customers.”

Kreith uses software that allows him to build a 3D image of the home before a brick is laid. “Customers can look at the simulated model and determine if it looks on the screen like it did in their mind,” he says. “It helps eliminate a lot of problems.”

Buyers need to find a comfort level when choosing a builder. “It’s a good idea to interview two or three builders when deciding on the one that is right for you,” Gadd says. “Ask a lot of questions and give them as much information as possible about your design preferences.”

How can you tell if something is amiss?

“Review the home warranty provided, and check references from recent customers to look for red flags,” Gadd suggests. “Drive through neighborhoods where the builder has built. Ask those outside if they will share information about their experience with the builder.”