Building a home is a considerable investment. Protect your investment by evaluating new home builders carefully before entering into a construction contract.
Compile a list of possible contractors to evaluate. The National Association of Home Builders maintains a database of home builders and associations. Visit their website at nahb.org, and request a list of local companies and contractors. Read the real estate section of a local newspaper to find builders active in the area. Many reputable local companies rely strongly on word-of-mouth testimonials for future business, so ask people you know for recommendations. Real estate agents will also have information on contractors.
Good home builders share several key characteristics. Consider experience, reputation, communication and results when deciding who will build your future home.
Look for an established builder who has at least seven years of experience. Working with a contractor who has a long-term presence in the community reduces your chances of unpleasant surprises later in the process.
Seek out companies with good reputations. Reliable construction leads to satisfied customers, so ask potential builders for references from past clients. If previous customers are willing to speak with you, ask if they experienced problems. Find out the nature of difficulties with the builder himself and how he resolved them. Regarding issues with the home, did the builder fix them quickly and correctly? If the builder has model homes or open houses you may visit, look through the homes carefully. Examine flooring, cabinetry, paint and trim. Talk to the builder about what you do and don’t like, and about options for your home.
Licensure verifies builders meet certain minimum requirements. Contractors must be licensed to build homes, and any subcontractors they use must be licensed or certified. Ask for verification of a company’s license.
Investigate their status with the Better Business Bureau’s website for further information on reliability. A strong history of complaints with the Better Business Bureau may indicate a concerning pattern. Inquire about their membership in professional associations and if they have received any awards.
The challenges of home construction necessitate clear and open communication between builder and customer. Meet with three to five of the top candidates. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Evaluate not only their concrete qualifications, but also their willingness to sit down with you and address all your questions. The best new home builders will happily discuss all aspects of the project until both parties are comfortable.