Before Meeting a Custom Builder, Do These 5 Things

Before Meeting a Custom Builder, Do These 5 Things

After weeks of research, you've finally narrowed your list of potential home builders. The next step? Meet with the candidates you've chosen. The builder you choose will become your partner for the next year, so it is important to pick someone you trust who has the right qualifications.

Here are five things to accomplish in/before your first meeting:

1. Research local builders.

Refine your builder list. Before you meet with a builder, be sure to view their online portfolio and drive by some of their houses. See what you like and what you don't like about their work. Have they built homes that are similar in size and style to what you want? How do their homes look after 10+ years? Ask the builder details about a specific project (e.g., time, costs, challenges, things they do differently) and be prepared to point out features you want incorporated in your home.

2. Ask questions.

Meeting with a builder for the first time can be an overwhelming experience. Bring a list of questions such as:

  • How long does it take to prepare an estimate?
  • Who will be in charge of our project, and how often will we meet?
  • Do you strive to build energy efficient homes?
  • Do you use sustainable, long-lasting building materials?
  • View other questions to ask and prepare for your meetings by downloading this builder interview checklist.

3. Show and tell.

If you've been surfing Houzz for inspiration, this is a great time to show the builder what you've found. Bringing actual visuals of what you want in your home will help your builder and designer get a sense of what details you want early in the process. The process of sharing visuals will also help determine if the builder is capable of sharing your vision.

4. Ask for references.

Every established builder will be able to provide references from past clients. Several weeks before the meeting, ask for at least three references — aim for one old and two new — and be sure to check them. Ask these customers about the home's durability as well as the builder's communication methods, response times, and ability to provide realistic estimates and stay within budget.

5. Ask to take a tour (or three).

Though beautiful photos in portfolios may be appealing, it is essential to see the builder's craftsmanship in person before moving forward. Ask to see both a recently constructed home as well as one that has been standing for a few years. Pay attention to the details and look for any obvious moisture damage such as water stains on ceilings and cracked paint or flooring. Ask the owners what they learned through the experience and what the builder could have done differently.

Building a custom home is an exciting process. Like any big decision in life, it's helpful to consider options. Meet with several builders before you make your final decision. This will help you determine both what you want and need in a builder.

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