Picking Your Builder

Building a house can be exhilarating, but for many people the process push them to new level of stress. Buyers are spending a lot of money and are accustom to instant gratification. Building a home take time and for some they won’t see the final results for as long as two years.

Although industry experts may disagree, I see three types of builders in the industry 1) Custom Builder, 2) Boutique Builder and 3) The Tract Builder. Custom builders typical will build homes one at a time and the owner will have direct involvement in each one. Boutique builders will do several homes at a time. The builder may have a site supervisor who monitors the job. Tract builders are the Centex, Pulte and Standard Pacific. They typically build homes in large tracts and can offer more home for less than the custom or boutique builders.

Edginess and big egos begin to make the whole enterprise sound horrible. Homeowners just need to invest the time to find a competent builder with whom they feel comfortable. They’ll have some rough spots, but if there’s trust and rapport between both parties they’ll get through it and someday even laugh about some of the things that happened.

Checking a builder’s qualifications is essential, you are investing time and money with this individual and there should be no doubt in your mind about them. Buyers should talk to at least three previous clients and visit their houses. Doing a credit check is also a good idea as there has been more than one builder whose has gone bankrupt during a project. Any builder who is aboveboard should be willing to tell you the name of his banker.

It may take you several months to find the right builder.

In the course of construction, the owner’s anxiety level typically goes up and down. In many cases the cause of distress is standard construction procedure. Having an established plan of communication with the builder can relieve a lot of stress. Most builders spend there days on the job managing the site and cannot spend time hand holding the client. Having an agreement that the builder will call you back within 12 or 24 hours, can make life easier for both parties.

Many builders will limit a clients access to the site and this is normally done for insurance reasons. There are stair holes you can fall through, nails and debris underfoot. Things can fall on you. The average construction worker can work around these things, but builder take on a lot of liability letting a client crawl through the site unsupervised.

Talk with your builder about when you can visit the site. The buyer doesn’t always like to hear that, but the builders priority is attending to the construction, not squiring customers around and explaining what’s been done in the past week.

Owners also get upset when they see an imperfect installation, for example a kitchen cabinet door that is not hung correctly and won’t shut properly. They don’t realize that these minor glitches are common in home building. Most clients don’t realize that builder is seeing those issue also and will correct them well before the final walkthrough. There’s about 45,000 parts in a 4,000-square-foot house and 80 to 100 subcontractors and suppliers. In the beginning of the job ignore the small stuff and concentrate on the larger items. As you get closer to the final walkthrough, look at more detail issues.