You may know couples who say the process of building or renovating a home put a strain on their relationship. Yes, high home costs, unforeseen issues, problem-solving, and constant decision-making can put couples at odds, but you may also know people who don’t seem to suffer from the building process at all. They even enjoy it.
How is that possible? How can you make the process of building a home a time of happiness and excitement rather than a time of stress and heartache?
The most important step is choosing the right builder. Here are ways you can find a quality and reliable builder you can trust so that building your next home is smooth, rewarding, and enjoyable – like it should be.
Select a Builder Who is Licensed, Insured, and Bonded
If listing requirements for your builder, these three traits should sit firmly at the top. Building a home is expensive and time-consuming, and issues arise along the way. Your builder should be insured and bonded to cover issues when they arise; otherwise, they may refuse responsibility for them, and you may be stuck with the bill. Those costs can go beyond construction costs to include injuries to visitors on the property.
Choosing a licensed builder means you gain a knowledgeable builder with access to a quality workforce for a smooth, timely, and cost-effective build. You also get a safer and higher quality build and pass inspections easier. You can even get a better construction loan if the builder is licensed.
For insurance, look for builders that carry:
Employers’ liability insurance
Public liability insurance
Contract works insurance
Building guarantees and warranties
The builder should provide you with the bond numbers, certificates, and their full policies but also check with those institutions to ensure they are in place and up to date. For licensing, you can check your state’s licensing board for general contractors.
Choose a Builder with Prior Experience
Unfortunately, anyone can say they are a home builder, but one with a long history in the business knows how to spot and navigate issues and reduce delays. Plus, more experienced builders often produce higher-quality builds and have easier access to needed materials thanks to their ongoing business with vendors.
A builder with long experience also hires reliable, high-quality workers and subcontractors because these workers can trust the builder to bring ongoing work.
Consider a Local Builder
A local builder with ongoing experience in your area has special knowledge that benefits you. They know the area’s permitting process, how to navigate the local geology, and how to build for local weather conditions. They may even know how to build in specific developments. You also benefit from other perks, like an improved understanding of a particular part of town and what the local school system is like. They may even know future development plans in the area that may be a factor in your final decision.
Hiring locally also benefits your local economy. You are putting money in the pocket of a local resident, and that person pays other local team members, subcontractors, and owners of local building materials.
You can find builders in your area by contacting your local home builders’ association.
Have a List of Potential Builders
Shopping for builders gets you better acquainted with the quality of work in the marketplace. You also find builders you communicate well with. Communication is key during home construction, so the better you can talk back and forth and ask questions, the better the entire building process will go.
Some aspects to look for during your search are how each company works. Not all work the same. Some may specialize in commercial properties, and others may specialize in residential. Some builders are also better at specific home designs than others. If you find a builder that specializes in your ideal home type, you also gain quality contacts who know how to work with your builder toward your design in terms of aesthetics and materials.
Review Each Contract Carefully
Knowing the details of your contract is crucial regardless if your builder is new or established. You will learn what financial issues you could face so that you are prepared.
You will benefit from understanding the specifics of contracts beforehand so that you know how and where to negotiate. Though a contract may appear standard, a generic contract isn’t required and can be changed for each job (though some elements may be a no-go for negotiation). You can rework a contract to ensure you aren’t taking on excessive amounts of liability. When you shop multiple builders, you can also compare contracts to find one that works best for you.
Keep an especially close eye on aspects like change orders, payments, warranties, and how you provide payments. Ask lots of questions and take your time to avoid missing important details hidden in the fine print.
Tour Home Models
Home builders know that the best way to see the quality of their work is to tour their completed homes. Prioritize builders who have a tour home or prior clients willing to let you tour their property. During your visit, look closely at every detail, including the cabinetry, trim, tile, flooring, and finishes.
Know Standard Building Pricing in Your Area
Research current building rates so that your potential builder doesn’t know you are green in the process. It benefits you and them. Housing pricing continues to rise, which means many builders know that you can profit from the resale, but their building costs should remain fair for the current market. If you see you are overpaying, talk to them about it. Occasionally, overpricing can be related to something relevant, such as rush costs, but if you have a general understanding of costs, you open the door for negotiation while keeping the builder from continuing to overprice, such as during change orders.
Ask for References
Ask for multiple references from a potential builder and contact them to gain a clear story of their experiences. Again, ask plenty of questions. If possible, go beyond by asking other homeowners who were not on the list. The more people you talk to, the better you will understand what you may face. The information you learn can be quite valuable. For instance, a builder could have a history of long builds or running over budgets.
You also learn a lot of positive traits of quality builders. Owners who have had good experiences are happy to talk about them.
Ask People You Trust
You can find quality builders by asking your friends, family, and people whose homes you admire. Also, be sure to check with architects, interior designers, and real estate agents. People who work in these professions have their reputations to consider. They know which builders are reliable and deliver well for their clients.
Leave No Stones Unturned
A home is the single largest investment most people make in their lives, so don’t leave anything to chance. Keep talking with potential builders and ask plenty of questions before you hire. Even an insignificant answer can lead to a broader discussion on things you will be happy later to know.
You can ask questions about every aspect of a build. Examples include costs of materials selections and landscaping, design options including upgrades or downgrades, and information about building in a particular development, such as homeowners’ association obligations and dues. Some builders even offer financing that may be worth knowing, so keep those conversations going.