Have you searched high and low for the perfect home, but cannot find EXACTLY what you desire in resale? It’s time to build! But where do you start? What are the steps to building a home? Are your custom building or using builder plans? Who is going to build your house?!
There are many decisions to be made in the process of building a home. Price, design, financing, finding a neighbourhood and lot that is available, and most importantly, finding a builder with whom you work well, in addition to trusting him. Once you make your decision on a specific builder, they will often assist with the other steps involved, as many builders have a “full service” build program in place. The question is, how does a consumer “screen” a builder and feel confident and prepared for a smooth journey into homebuilding?
There are several ways to search for a builder. We suggest using ALL of these search methods. Don’t simply stop after your first search but complete your due diligence before committing to anyone. Building a house is a big decision that will have a long term impact on you and your family.
Building a new house is stressful enough, but choosing the wrong builder makes the process even more nerve-racking. Finding a good builder is one of the most important steps in completing your new home, but many people aren’t even sure where to begin the search for a builder. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best home builders selection to make your house a dream come true.
If you’re in the market for a new home, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Whether you are buying a condo, a townhouse, a house in a subdivision or a custom-built house, you want to know that you are buying a good quality home from a reputable builder. Here are some tips to help you choose a builder.
How to Choose a Home Builder
Start in the Right Place
The National Association of Home Builders recommends that consumers contact the local association of home builders association to obtain a list of member builders. The association offers a list of local home builders groups on their website, or you can check the Parade of Homes website to search for a builder. If you are in contact with a local real estate agent, ask her for a list of reputable dealers. Finally, ask neighbours whose homes have been built in the last four or five years about their builder and if they are happy with the job he did.
Although it is important to hire a builder who is qualified, the last thing you want to do is pay more than is necessary. Gather quotes from the list of builders you’ve collected. Make sure you understand what is included in each quote. Does the builder include cleanup of the job site and finish work, such as landscaping in the overall cost? Also, similar materials should be listed for both quotes, including any included appliances, kitchen cabinets, flooring and windows.
Consider the Builder’s Specialty
You wouldn’t hire a heating and cooling specialist to install your plumbing or a plumber to replace your roof, so don’t hire a commercial builder to create a 1400-square-foot ranch home. Ask the builder about other projects he’s worked on that are similar to yours. Find out if he has pictures and if you can speak to those homeowners about his work.
Research Your Top Three Builders
Narrow down the choices to three builders you might like to use. Do your homework on these builders. The National Association of Home Builders suggests contacting other people the builder has completed homes for and asking questions like if the project was completed on time and budget and if there were any major issues. Also, visit the Better Business Bureau website to see if any complaints have been filed against the builder and if they were resolved.
Suppose a builder has completed 30 houses similar to yours. In that case, he is more likely to anticipate and resolve the common issues that arise with building a new home than a builder who has only one other home under his belt. Find out how many houses your builder has completed and the sizes of those projects.
Make a List of Possible Builders
Once you have thought about the type of house you want, you can create a list of potential builders.
- Contact your local home builders’ association to obtain a list of builders who construct homes in your area.
- Look in the real estate section of your local newspaper for builders and projects. Looking through the ads and reading the articles can help you to learn which builders are active in your area, the types of homes they are building and the prices you can expect to pay. Make a list of builders who build the type of home you’re looking for in your price range.
- Local real estate agents may also be able to help you in your search.
- Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Ask about builders they have dealt with directly, or ask them for names of acquaintances who have recently had a good experience with a builder.
Do Your Homework
When you have a list of potential builders, it’s time to start asking lots of questions — of both the potential builders and the owners of their homes.
- Interview potential home builders to get the answers to all the questions you have. Here is a list of questions to ask builders.
- Then, visit a builder’s recently built homes and subdivisions—drive-by on a Saturday morning when homeowners may be outside doing chores or errands. Please introduce yourself and say you are considering buying a home from the builder who built their home. Talk to several owners, and try to get a random sample of opinions. The more people you talk with, the more accurate an impression of a builder you are likely to get.
- Some questions to ask homeowners include: Are you happy with your home? If you had any problems, were they fixed promptly and properly? Would you buy another home from this builder?
- Usually, people tell you if they are pleased with their homes. And if they are not, they’ll probably want to tell you why.
At the very least, drive by and see if the homes are visually appealing.
When you talk to builders and homeowners, take along a notebook to record the information you find and your impressions about specific builders and homes. Doing so will help you to make comparisons later.
Shop for Quality and Value
Look at new homes whenever you can. Home shows and open houses sponsored by builders are good opportunities to look at homes. Model homes and houses displayed in home shows are often furnished to give you ideas for using the space. You may also ask a builder to see unfurnished homes.
When examining a home, look at the quality of the construction features. Inspect the quality of the cabinetry, carpeting, trim work and paint. Ask the builder or the builder’s representative a lot of questions. Get as many specifics as possible. If you receive the answers verbally rather than in writing, take notes. Never hesitate to ask a question. What seems like an insignificant question might yield an important answer.
Finding a Home Builder
In Today’s Marketplace, We Are Fortunate To Have Internet Shopping Available.
One of the first places many people use to begin their research for homes (or anything else!) is the computer. Start by looking for local builders that come up in a simple google search. Typically, builders will have their website and maybe advertising somewhere else on the internet. You may find testimonials or reviews on their site or even third-party review sites. Search for specific neighbourhoods or cities you are interested in. Homebuilders may be found through a neighbourhood search as many times they purchase large quantities of lots in newly developing subdivisions.
Take Advantage Of Your State And Local Home Builders Associations.
Most builders are members of their state and local home builders association. This is another avenue to explore. Call the association and ask if they would recommend any of the local builders and find out more about their commitment to the community. Are those builders involved, have they had any complaints from previous homeowners, what neighbourhoods are builders building in, are there any classes being offered to home buyers that will help to educate you?
Ask Your Friends And Family!
Do you know anyone else that has built a home? Sometimes, our best (or worst) opportunity to hear about a builder is through friends and family. Is there someone at work that just went through a gruelling process? Maybe a cousin recently worked with an amazing builder? These experiences weigh heavy when considering the builder for you. Ask your contacts for the pros and cons of their home builder and building process.
Reach out to the state licensing board. It would help if you were certain that your builder of choice is a licensed, Class A home builder. You also want to be assured that he has not had prior violations or complaints.
Talk Directly With Your Real Estate Professional.
Local Realtors have experience with many of the builders in their area. They will help educate you, give you direction to neighbourhoods and will commit to serving you in the process of the sale. Additionally, their expertise and assistance in this transaction can be most beneficial as they will become your best advocate in negotiating and see you through to the closing table.
Ask Past Buyers About Their Experiences With A Specific Builder.
Whether it’s neighbours in a new subdivision or a list of buyers that the builder has given you as testimonials, do not hesitate to call on these people as references. This is another important method in considering the reputation of the builder to whom you are getting ready to invest.
Contact Home Warranty Companies And Speak With Your Regional Sales Director.
These companies have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to builders that comply with state requirements and have good reputations from happy homeowners. Where else would a buyer call in to complain if they had a bad experience? The builders that are members of home warranty companies have been screened before being accepted to the program, typically from a financial and building quality standpoint. The warranty company has reviewed a builders creditworthiness and experience prior to approving membership. Looking for home builders? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered.
Questions to Ask When Building a New Home
In addition to the 15 questions you should ask any contractor, you should also cover the list of questions below when building a new home. Many of them can be asked over the phone, while others are best for an in-person site visit.
- Will you provide references? Ask for references from customers, vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors. Call every single one.
- Do you guarantee your work? Building codes don’t always cover everything important to you like downspout drains that can lead to wet basements. Ask your builder what happens if their work isn’t up to your standards, even if it passes inspection.
- How will you determine allowances? To prevent you from spending thousands of dollars out of pocket for fixtures and finishes, the contractor needs to set allowances in line with your price point from the start.
- What type of wood do you use? Different types of wood have different strengths and applications. Using the wrong species can lead to structural problems. Engineered wood is the standard. Steel framing is another, a more expensive option typically reserved for commercial applications.
- Do you use copper or plastic plumbing? There are advantages and disadvantages to each material. For example, copper is more likely to burst in freezing temperatures. Make sure they give you reasons for the option they suggest.
- How do you case your windows? Do they offer only a standard, flat option, or will they allow you to select a custom, extended windowsill?
- How do you size your steel beams? Custom beams can mean fewer posts in the basement or a more open floor plan. Their response should indicate they are knowledgeable and open to those options.
- How do you design a garage? Is it heated square footage? Does it feature installation? Do you offer hot- and cold-water hookups? Do you require a post in a large garage? These features require expertise and the willingness of the contractor to do the work.
- Will you hire an expert to install tile? Tile is a difficult and expensive option, so you need to be sure the right person installs showers and drains. Otherwise, they may leak.
- What kind of warranty do you offer? Ask about term length, what it covers, and exclusions.
- Can I get that in writing? From warranty terms to discounts, every detail of your agreement should be in your contract.
Once you’ve found your builder
Once you have finally found a builder that seems right, there are many things to consider before agreeing to hire them. Use our checklist before you give them the job to make sure you are comfortable with the new working relationship.
Proof Of Reliability
Has your builder completed previous building work to the required standard, on time and within the agreed budget?
Good timekeeping, once arrangements have been made, is also a sign of reliability. And remember: builders should only be paid for the hours worked. You won’t want to pay someone who knocks off early and still charges you for a full day’s labour.
Ask the builder for references from previous work – and follow these up with a phone call to the relevant householder if necessary. Make sure, too, that the builder has the correct experience and qualifications to take on the task. At MJS Construction Group, we offer a wide range of home builders Melbourne.
Agree To Costs
Make sure as well that you’re paying just for the builder you have chosen and not for sub-contractors (unless agreed), as otherwise, this could have an impact on the final bill.
Ask about VAT, and make sure you know where the builder is buying his materials from for the job. If it suits you to do so, pay for work either in stages as it’s completed, or pay for the whole job in a final settlement after completion. Always ask for receipts and keep a written record throughout the work.
Make certain the builder is fully, and correctly, insured for the job. You don’t want to be left high and dry should things go wrong – so it’s wise to check your insurance policies too.
Agree with your builder how long the job will take, to minimise disruption and any chance of spiralling costs.
Make sure from the start that the work your builder undertakes complies with local council regulations. You may need to ask a council official to make an inspection.
Cautiously approach a builder who does not meet all of the criteria for which you are looking. If they are asking for excessive deposits, upfront, beware. If they are not financially stable, beware. If you run into any red flags while doing your research, beware. Make sure that your commitment is secure before investing. Trust your gut and continue searching until you find the home builder that leaves you with a feeling of confidence and excitement in your decision to build a new home.