Picking a builder

I’ve talked a lot about the experience we think everyone should have when they decide to build a custom home. What I haven’t talked a lot about is how important picking your builder is. It’s probably the single most important decision you’ll make and its not an easy one.

Obviously I’m somewhat biased since I’d like to work with you to build your new home, but the questions you should ask any builder really should be, the same ones I’d expect you would ask me as you do your due diligence. Here’s the short list:

  1. How many homes has the builder built ? – this is a critical question, because you want to work with a builder who’s built a lot of homes. Experience counts and builders who’ve been at it for a long time know what to look out for, know how to solve small problems before they become big ones and that can save you time and money. At a minimum ask your builder for references and talk with the people he or she has worked for. The key question is would they work with the builder again.
  1. What type of relationship does the builder have with suppliers and sub-contactors? – long standing relationships with reputable suppliers and sub-contractors are critical to the quality and speed of the work that gets done. We’ve been working with the same top level suppliers and sub-contractors for decades. We know the quality of their work, because we’ve seen a lot of it and they know our work because they’ve worked along side of us for years.
  1. How good a listener is the builder? – it may seem obvious but effective communications between you and your builder is essential to building your home. Your builder needs to be a good listener – he or she needs to understand your goals and more important pick up on your concerns early in the process and as the work. You can usually find out how good a listener a builder is the first time you sit down with them, but it helps when you go through your reference checks to ask people the builder has worked how good a listener he or she is
  1. It needs to feel right – in the end successful builder/client relationships are based on trust and usually trust is a matter of instinct. If something doesn’t feel right when you sit down the first time to talk with a builder pay attention. In the same vein when you talk to references spend some time talking about the kind of relationship the buyer and the builder created over time.

If the answers your get from your builder and the references he or she provides you with are positive you’re probably on the right track.