How to Hire the Right Custom Home Builder

It is easy to shop the existing inventory of mass-produced new homes. They’ll often be very similar to the existing housing stock in an area. If you don’t like current trends such as open floorplans or faux stone floors, you’re out of luck or stuck paying to renovate your new home. The best solution is to custom build a home, so that it is just the way you want it. Here are a few tips on how to hire the right custom home builder.


Decide the Where, When, and What of Your Custom Home Project

Where are you going to build the house? This is important to determine prior to talking with potential home builders. You don’t want to waste time consulting with someone who says your project is outside of their service area.

When do you want to start work, and when would you like to move in? Some custom home builders have a wide-open schedule, while others may or may not be able to fit you in.


What type of house do you want? There are firms that specialize in building farmhouses, while others will build custom homes that match the strict rules that govern construction in historic districts. If you want a custom-built home that’s similar to the existing homes in the area, you could opt for semi-custom builders. Their limited customization options let you personalize the home more than if you’re designing it from scratch, and it may lower the cost and speed up the process. On the other hand, fully custom home builders never build two homes that are same. They’ll generally work from your plans and specifications or those provided by an architect. It is then your responsibility to come up with a workable floorplan.

Start by Learning about Local Home Builders

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has a list of home builders in the country. You can narrow the list down by looking for local custom homebuilders. For example, if you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, look for a Dallas custom home builder. This has a number of benefits: you would be working with local architects and craftspeople, and you can get a better feel for their reputation, because almost all of their customers are local. A side benefit of this approach is that you can almost certainly visit custom homes they’ve built and gauge the quality of their work yourself. This is also a good way to create a list of potential homebuilders so that you can do additional research.


Vet the Homebuilder

This is harder to do with small custom homebuilders than semi-custom home builders and large-scale builders. However, you want to know how closely they adhere to your plan, and you need to verify that they don’t cut corners in order to make their deadlines. On the other hand, mass produced homes aren’t problem-free either. One example of this can be found in the 100,000 homes built between 2004 and 2007 using toxic Chinese drywall.


Talk to Their Former Customers

Your home is the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. You can’t afford for the project to go over budget, and projects that go past the planned completion date often cost you in other ways. How do you know that the home builder will complete things on time and on schedule? Talk to their former customers. Did they finish everything within a week or two of the planned move-in date, barring unforeseen issues? Did the home builder communicate with the customer, letting them know when there were delays or asking their advice regarding potential solutions to problems?


Don’t limit your inquiries to people happy with their new home. Talk to customers who hired the builder two and three years ago. They’ve had time to discover problems, and you want to know about these sorts of things. Finally, don’t forget to always ask about the quality of the materials and workmanship.


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