Companies That Build Homes: What to Look For and What to Avoid
When you select a home builder, you’re choosing to trust someone with one of your most important investments.
In addition to the financial investment, you’ll be investing months of your time into the build process. Your builder will also be responsible for creating a safe home that your family can enjoy for years to come.
Finding the right person to put that much faith in can be a bit overwhelming.
You know you want a builder who appreciates the importance of the task at hand and has the necessary experience to do quality work in a timely manner.
But how do you know which building company you can really trust?
You’ll likely start with internet research and ask for referrals from friends and neighbors, which is a great way to begin. Your next step will be meeting your top candidates and getting to know them a little better.
As you discuss your project with potential builders, pay close attention to these four key areas: Communication, Quality, Professionalism, and Compatibility.
If the builder is able to impress you in all four categories, chances are they can deliver the beautiful new home you’re looking for with a minimum of fuss.
Communication: Before You Begin the Project
When the builder presents an estimate to you, it should be extremely detailed, listing brands to be used and fully outlining the entire scope of work. You should be able to look it over and clearly see what is included, as well as what is not.
AVOID: Be wary of one-page estimates that leave too much to the imagination. Each builder should provide a set of plans and a list with every detail. Without those items, you can’t make an accurate comparison and the numbers mean nothing.
When you set up an initial meeting with a potential builder, pay close attention to their communication.
- If you leave a message with their office, do they get back to you in a timely manner?
- Are they on time for the meeting itself?
- Do they tell you when you should expect an estimate and do they get it to you on time?
These early communications set an important precedent. If you find a builder difficult to get a hold of now, chances are the situation is not going to improve once the build is underway.
The builder should also set clear expectations about how they will communicate with you throughout the project. For example, at Premier, we’ve developed an online project management tool so you can keep track of the status of the project and get in touch with us throughout. We’ve found this to be a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page.
As you meet with builders, you’ll want to find someone who easily picks up on your vision and can converse with you about it, make helpful suggestions, and develop your ideas in a thoughtful way. They should be able to give detailed responses to your questions and help alleviate any concerns you bring up.
Quality: What Kind of Homes Does Your Builder Create?
As you look over your estimate, pay attention to what brands and materials your builder will be using. You want a home that will be functional and beautiful for years to come.
AVOID: Builders who always use the least-expensive option. Cheaper materials may save you money now but you’ll find that they end up costing you in the end.
When you build with Premier, our baseline includes quality materials like Andersen windows and a solid mahogany front door, which other building companies might consider “upgrades” or “add-ons.” However, in our opinion, any initial savings you get from lesser materials are not worth it in the long run.
Since your home is an investment, you’ll want to consider what it will be worth when the project is complete. Will you be getting exactly what you paid for or is your investment already beginning to pay off?
One of the things we are most proud of at Premier is our “Instant Equity” program.
Our experience and precision in creating estimates enable us to make a a promise: When you move into the custom home we built for you, it will already be worth at least $125,000 more than what you paid for it.
We love knowing that your new home is already working for you before you even start living in it.
Trust: Selecting a Partner for One of Your Most Important Investments
This is probably the only custom home you’ll ever build. It’s a significant investment and you’re going to need good people on your team.
Make an assessment as to whether your builder is showing up for meetings prepared, organized, and ready to get down to business. They should speak knowledgeably about what permits will be required for your project and how to obtain them.
You’ll also want to do your research and confirm that they are insured and licensed, specifically in the state you’re planning to build in. A good builder will be more than happy to provide you proof of both.
However, one thing you might not have considered is whether or not your builder will be using subcontractors who are fully licensed and insured.
You know the old adage about a chain only being as strong as its weakest link? Everyone working on your home should be meeting basic professional standards.
AVOID: Builders who do not require licensed and insured subcontractors. You’d be surprised how many builders do not require this.
Your builder should also be able to provide references from previous clients. When you speak to those clients, don’t just ask them if they’re happy with the final results, ask them about the process. Did they find the builder easy to communicate with? Did the project run on time?
The reality is this: You won’t be there to watch every nail go in and oversee every detail. You need to be able to trust your builder.
Compatibility: Finding the Right Fit
You may find a builder who is a consummate professional and has done great, quality work in the past. That still may not mean they’re the right person for your project.
As you search for that perfect fit, take a look at the builder’s previous work. The builder should be able to set up a site visit for a past or current project, or at the very least give you detailed information and photographs from other projects.
Does their work match your aesthetic? Has the builder done projects like yours before? Just because they build beautiful homes generally does not mean they are the right person to build your dream home if what you have in mind is unlike anything they’ve done before.
You should also work with someone who has experience working in the area in which you want to build.
That way, you know they are familiar with local codes and laws and have relationships with area vendors and permitting organizations, which will help your project run more efficiently.
Finally, keep in mind that your builder is a person you are trusting with a major investment, as well as someone you’ll be speaking to on a regular basis for several months. Do you feel comfortable with them? Do you trust them?
AVOID: Working with a builder who isn’t a good fit when it comes to style, personality and experience.
Planning a new home build is such an exciting time. You deserve to be able to lean into that excitement, not be stressed out as you second-guess your builder or struggle to get in touch with them.
Ask the right questions upfront, know your expectations going in, and you’ll be able to select a builder who makes building your dream home the fun and inspiring project it ought to be.
Are you planning a custom home build in the Westfield, New Jersey area? Give us a call and let’s talk further about the many ways Premier makes the build process as easy and transparent as possible.
“ I can’t say enough good things about what a great experience this has been…”