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SCROGGS BLOG // 9 Tips for Choosing a Custom Home Builder

If you’re thinking about building a new home, you’re probably wondering how to select custom home builder companies that can bring your vision to life and build the home you’ve been dreaming about.

Building a home is likely one of the biggest investments you will ever make, so you want to find the perfect custom home builder.

So, how do you find the right builder?

Here are nine tips for choosing a custom home builder for your dream home.

1.      Look for Experience

Just anybody can call themselves a custom home builder, but it takes experience to do the job right.  You want to work with an experienced home builder that’s honed their craft over the years.  This will improve the efficiency of the building process of the quality of the workmanship.

You trying to figure out how to select custom builder companies, you also want to make sure they have experienced with the type of home you want. For example, some custom builders specialized in a specific style, such as traditional.  If you are looking for a more contemporary home design, you may need to find a custom builder with more experience in that area.

2.      Check out Previous Jobs

As you begin to narrow down your search for a custom home builder, you will want to see their work firsthand.  Some builders will have model homes while others may provide references from previous customers.  Either way, you will want to check out their past work and examine the quality yourself.

3.      Talk to Homeowners

If possible, talk to the homeowners living in the homes your prospective custom home builder built.  This will provide you with an independent assessment from people that are making the same choice you are making now. Talk to several owners and get a sample of opinions.  The more people you talk to, the more accurate assessment you can make.

4.      Check Reputation and Reviews

Besides references, you will want to check the online reputation and reviews for any custom home builder you are considering, including:

Check Licensing, Bonding, and Insurance

You also want to make sure that any contractor you work with is properly licensed.  Check the State Licensing Board for General Contractors to make sure.

A bond helps protect you in case of disruptions to losses because a contractor does not complete a project or fails to deliver on its promises.  Ask for a contractor bond number and certification.

Custom home builders should also carry liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance.  Liability insurance covers situations where workers damage your property while workers’ comp will provide coverage if a worker is injured on the job.  Ask for a certificate of insurance and check with their insurance carrier to make sure they are current.

5.      Review the Standard Contract

Ask to see a copy of the custom home builder’s contract. You want to make sure you review the terms of the agreement carefully to avoid any surprises.

There are different types of contracts, including:

  • Fixed-price contracts: also known as lump-sum contracts, this is the most common type of contract and will detail the product along with billing milestones. With a fixed-price contract, you know exactly how much the project will cost barring any change orders.
  • Cost-plus contracts: also known as a cost-reimbursable contract, buyers are charged for the cost of the work and materials plus a fee. Costs will vary depending on material prices and prevailing wages

Many custom home builders use the cost-plus pricing because projects and materials are unique so bids are based on actual labor and materials.

Depending on the builder and what you’re looking for in a custom home, there are other financial arrangements as well.  You need to make sure you understand the pricing and the terms, including the fine print.

6.      Understand the Fine Points

The fine print really is important.  You need to know what a builder’s responsibilities are and how the project will proceed.  This includes things such as:

  • Permitting
  • Progress payments
  • Change orders
  • Delays
  • Warranties

7.      Know What’s Not Included

Building a custom home is an exciting project.  It’s easy to get caught up in that excitement and focus on what’s included in your build.  However, it’s also important to know what’s not included.  For example, unless it’s spelled out in your contract, there may be additional costs for landscaping, appliances, utility connections, and other items.

Find out upfront what you are responsible for and make sure to build them into your budgeting.

8.      Ask who will do the work

Almost every contractor will use subcontractors and tradespeople to complete some aspects of building projects.  That’s a good thing as they are likely specialists in their areas, such as plumbers, electricians, or HVAC companies.

You want to know who is doing the work on your home.  The best custom home builders tend to build relationships with groups of subcontractors who work with them on an ongoing basis.  Because of this relationship, subcontractors know they need to do a great job if they want to continue to get work from the builder.  This also provides more consistent quality from home to home.

9.      Don’t Rely Solely on Price

It can be tempting to go with the lowest price you can find, but when you’re building a custom home, you should also choose quality first.  A low-price bid may be an indicator of:

  • Incomplete proposals, such as leaving out important parts of the project and upselling change orders later
  • Inexperienced builders that aren’t aware of the true costs of building custom homes
  • Low-quality material that will leave you unhappy with the quality
  • Contractors that are going out of business and may not be around to back up any warranty issues that surface.

It’s true for most things in life.  You get what you pay for. 

How to Select a Custom Home Builder

Following these nine tips for choosing a custom home builder will help you figure how to select a custom home builder for your dream home.

Scroggs Construction is an experienced builder that specializes in home remolding and custom home builds and one of the only design-build firms in the Asheville, NC area. Contact the team at Scroggs Construction today for a free initial estimate.