How to Choose the Right Home Builder

Custom home building comes with a lot of tough decisions. One of the most important? Choosing the right home builder. Unlike hiring, say, a residential architect, every person building a custom home must select a home builder.

There are thousands around the country who have the ability to build your dream home, but you should not limit your decision to just those who offer the bare minimum. Selecting a home builder is a very personal decision. As a result, you should speak with several builders to ensure a perfect fit.

When you sit down with them, ask the following questions.


Does the builder come with a team?

Most people don’t know what to expect from the custom home building process. If a builder comes with a team or several close contacts, you’ll immediately broaden the number of resources available during construction.


How long has the builder been working?

Home construction has changed dramatically in the past ten years—fewer people are building custom homes. If your builder has been in business for ten or more years, they’ll understand the history and trends behind custom home construction. This is evidence of a strong company with a good product.


Are there home plans I can choose from, or should I hire a residential architect?

Some builders will provide homeowners with a gallery of plans to choose from, while others require individuals to hire architects to do the designing process. If a builder offers the former, ask about flexibility and the ability to make changes to original plans.


Where is the builder allowed to build?

If you want your home to be in a certain part of town or within a certain school district, be up-front about your needs. If a builder is not able to work in a specific area, move to the next candidate.


The answers to these questions will determine which builder best fits your project. However, you should also be aware of how the person or company makes you feel.

Does it seem like they have good ideas and design creativity? Will you be comfortable contacting them most days for the next six months?

In the end, choosing a builder is about choosing a personal connection. Don’t rush this decision and carefully consider every option.


Closing and Moving In to Your New Home

The only moment truly better than finding – or building, as the case may be – your dream home is actually reaching the closing date and then moving all of your stuff into your new home, the place that you are going to set down some roots and build some memories with your loved ones and your family.

Of course, before you get an opportunity to spend even a single night in your new home there are plenty of things you’re going to want to have covered. You’re going to want to make sure that you are as prepared for the move as possible, that you have all of your ducks in a row, and that you are able to transition into your new home as effortlessly as possible. To help make your transition as easy as humanly possible, you’ll want to punch out this quick checklist so that you can really rock ‘n roll!


Make sure you have copies of all your important housing documents and that they are safe and sound.

Immediately after the actual closing itself has concluded, you’re going to want to make three copies of all of your critical housing documents. You’ll want to keep the original set in a safety deposit box at a bank you know you can trust, you’ll want to keep a set at home (ideally in your office inside of a fireproof and waterproof safe) so that you can review the information when necessary, and you want to have a third set that you can let your home insurance providers “borrow” while they review the pertinent details and set you up with your coverage.

Swapout any old locks and reset any key codes.

As a general rule, if you’re moving into a home that has already had an owner or two, you’ll want to swapout all of the old locks for brand-new ones so that you can guarantee that you don’t have to worry about a complete and total stranger effortlessly accessing your home with a set of keys when you aren’t around.

It’s a good idea to make sure that your contractor has provided you with all sets of keys that you have given when they were building or renovating your home, and even some people that have built brand-new construction choose to completely swapout the locks just to make sure that they don’t have any security issues to worry about in the future.

You’ll want to do the same thing with any digital locks and key codes that need to be taken care of, too.

Have professionals come in and clean everything before you move your stuff in.

The best time to clean your brand-new home is right before you move all of your stuff in, so it is a good idea to call in the professionals and have them clean from top to bottom so that your new home is ready to go when you have the movers come in.

This will really help you feel at home, especially once you get all of your window dressings, draperies, rugs, and other home decor items in. If you can hold off on the professional cleaners until you have the basics of your home decor set up and ready to go, all the better – as you’ll be able to move in your bigger furniture and all your “stuff” later and will be able to start off your new life in your new home on the right foot!


Dealing with a Builder or General Contractor

Working with legitimate professionals that are going to be building your home and bringing your dream to life is never quite as simple or as straightforward as many of us imagine this process to be – particularly if we haven’t gone through it all that much (if ever) in the past.

There are a couple of different things you can do, however, to make this process go a lot smoother right out of the gate and all the way to the finish line.

Keeping open lines of communication is everything, and while you’ll have to rely on your builder and your contractor to keep you apprised of any changes, any emergencies, or any unforeseen circumstances, you’ll also want to do your fair share of the heavy lifting keeping the project on track in moving towards the milestones that you have mutually agreed upon.


Outline your expectations for crystal-clear communication right away.

One of the most important things you can do to guarantee clear and open lines of communication are maintained throughout the entirety of the project is to outline these expectations right off the bat.

It’s really easy to have a completely different set of expectations for how you should communicate, when you should communicate, and how often you and your contractor or builder should actually get together to keep the project on track than your contractor and your builder – and that’s when things really start to run right off the rails.

If you’d like to have weekly conference calls with your builder or your contractor and any of the critical sub-contractors, you’re going to want to make sure that you outline that in advance. If you’d rather handle the majority of your communication with email so that you can keep better track of everything that has been said and have a better “paper trail”, that something that you want to communicate as well.

A lot of frustration can be avoided by outlining how you like to communicate with your contractor builder initially than just hoping that they are going to “get it” all on their own and communicate with you the way that you hoped they would have all along.

Take advantage of project management software and tools.

Project management software, especially cloud-based software that allows for everyone to have their own excess, their own platform to communicate, and their own tools to and resources and keep the project moving in the right direction can be a huge benefit to you and your builder/contractor as long as you both buy in to using the platform moving forward.

Oftentimes, builders and contractors will use this kind of software in these kinds of tools in-house but may be able to create an account for their clients with more limited access than their employees. This will help you stay abreast of all the updates, all the changes, and all the work that is being put into moving towards the finish line without ever feeling as though you are stepping on the toes of your contractor along the way.

At the end of the day, communication remains a two-way street and you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure that you are doing everything you can to make this contractor/client relationship work.


Designing Your Home

Designing your dream home is one of the most exciting processes you’ll ever go through, simply because you’ll be able to paint a perfect picture of the home you’ve always dreamed about living and have legitimate professionals bring that dream to life!

At the same time, this is of the kind of process that too terribly many people go through all that often in their lives (if they are lucky enough to go through it once).

You’ll want to be sure that you really knock this process right out of the park, and aside from working with the best home designers in your local area (or working with the best of the best regardless of where they may physically be located) you’ll want to be sure that you make the most of the tips and tricks we highlight for you below.


Look closely into the portfolio of the designers and architects you’re working with.

When you are designing your dream home, you need to be sure that you are working with designers and architects that are capable of bringing your dreams to life – and that means working with experts that have a track record and a history of creating the kinds of homes that you’ve always wanted to live in.

Some designers and architects are able to create amazing projects across a variety of different styles and aesthetics, but others have “wheelhouse” styles that they really knock right out of the park. These are the kinds of architects and designers you’ll want to work with, experts that have experience working with the kinds of homes in the kinds of materials that you want implemented in your project.

Do your research and bring plenty of examples to design meetings.

The more “legwork” you can do for your designers and your architects as far as design inspiration and examples are concerned, the better off you are going to be and the faster your project is going to move.

Look into home magazine, jump online, dive headfirst into the world of Pinterest (with a lifeline, off course – it’s easy to get lost in all that inspiration), and bring all kinds of Instagram posts that show exactly the kinds of elements you want implemented in your home for your designers and your architects to work off of.

Try and paint as accurate a picture as you can with your words and your descriptions, but don’t hesitate to fall back on inspiration from other home and design elements that you’ve fallen in love with.

Don’t be shy about speaking out regarding any of the details you aren’t in love with.

At the end of the day, the odds are pretty good that your initial home design project is going to go through a number of different iterations. Regardless of how experienced and how highly recommended your designers and architects are, the nature of this project is that they are going to lay down “Bones” that you’ll want to shift, maneuver, and adjust or completely omit sometimes.

Appreciate the process for everything it is – a process, first and foremost – and never be shy about speaking out regarding any details you may not be in love with. This is your dream home, after all.


Find a Builder and Location

Successfully pulling off the construction of your dream home can be a real headache and hassle if you let things snowball on you.

Believe me, I would know. Not only is my husband a bathroom remodeler, but my best friend has owned a couple of fixer-upper homes and so I was no stranger to the DIY approach to renovating and flipping homes. It’s not like designing a home from scratch is stress-free—not with the weight of a 200 decisions to make in a single day. But I always still felt like tackling a brand-new home construction project would be a walk in the park compared to dealing with somebody else’s mistakes when they built a home 50 years or more ago!

But perhaps that’s only because I always take my time to find the a trusted builder with a perfect location for my new home. Even still, I made a ton of mistakes, especially my first time out. Hopefully you’ll be able to use the inside information below to avoid making the kinds of mistakes I made in the past but won’t ever make again!


Work only with 100% legitimate contractors.

But know that finding the right builder is a bit of a dance, for sure. For starters, you’re going to find all kinds of professionals in the local area more than ready and more than willing to offer their help and their services when you’re talking about building a brand-new home. Unfortunately, all of them are going to promise the moon and the stars when it comes to results, track record, and price – but most of them aren’t going to be able to meet the lofty expectations they set up.

You’ll want to look into several different builders, starting with only the best that have been recommended to you and then digging deeper into their background online as well as off. As for client testimonials, case studies, and referrals, ask for details about their license, their insurance, and they are business history, and generally dive into all the information that they have provided you while independently verifying it on your own.

You’re going to end up spending a few hundred thousand dollars on a new home construction project. This isn’t something you can afford to roll the dice with.

Never sign on the dotted line until you’ve read every letter of the contract.

Even working with the best of the best in your local area isn’t going to guarantee that you wind up with your dream home on budget and ahead of schedule.

You need to be sure that you have everything you want – and I mean EVERYTHING you want – poured in concrete on your contract, with absolutely no wiggle room, no weasel words, and no ambiguity.

You also need to be sure that there aren’t any surprises hidden throughout your contract. You’ll want to pay close attention to the fine print, you’ll want to go over every single word in the contract, and you may even want to have a lawyer browse the paperwork before you sign on the dotted line just to be sure that you have all of your bases covered.

This will definitely help you when it comes time to find the right builder for your dream home!