Choosing a Builder
This probably sounds obvious, but one of the most important steps in
home building is choosing the right builder.
To choose wisely, make sure you:
- Ask your real estate agent if the builder has a good reputation
for being fair during and after the building process. No new home
construction goes perfectly. Something will need to be fixed after you
have moved in. Find out from your real estate agent if your builder is
reliable. If he doesn't know, ask him to do some research.
- Ask the builder if he has ever been associated with a builder that
filed for bankruptcy. Oftentimes, builders file for bankruptcy, stranding
their home buyers, and start up under a new name.
- Ask for references, and then call them. You'll want to talk to
people who are currently living in a home your builder has
constructed. Ask them many questions. Give them time to answer. Ask
open-ended questions and ask for examples.
- Talk to the developer. Ask him whom his best builders are.
- Look at as many of his spec homes as you can. Look closely at the
walls and woodwork. Is it quality craftsmanship?
- Tour some of his homes that are under construction. Visit them
more than once. Does he use quality materials? Is the worksite clean?
Talk to some of the foremen for his sub-contractors. What do they
think of him? Is he easy to work with? Does he demand high quality?
- Pray for wisdom.
If a builder is well liked by homeowners, real estate agents, developers, and his sub-contractors, chances are good that you will enjoy
building a home with him.
You better shop around
Before you choose a home builder, you need to look at a lot of homes
from different builders. After you have looked at about 25-50 homes,
you will start getting used to what the current trends are. Let me give
you some examples. Almost every new custom home in Dallas has:
- a media room
- granite countertops
- wood floors (often hand-scraped)
- brushed nickel fixtures
- a wood-paneled study
- pre-wire for sound and computer network
- a 12-SEER air conditioner
- Faux painting
You need to decide which of the current trends are important to you
and find a builder who can accommodate.
Spec homes are homes that a builder constructs without a customer.
Oftentimes they are show-homes that are built to display the builder's
craftsmanship and attract new customers. Sometimes they are built in
anticipation of customers that have not shown up yet. Sometimes they are
used as offices until the final home in the development is built.
Spec homes are great for potential customers because they give you
the opportunity to evaluate the care and detail that go into the home
building process. If a builder has a poor paint job on a show home, how
much care will he put into building your home?
Spec homes can be deceptive, however. Sometimes the finish-out
in them can greatly exceed what the builder considers to be
standard. For example, almost every spec home will have crown
molding, but not all builders consider crown molding a standard
option included in the base price. Ask the builder what his
base package includes. Walk a spec home with him and ask what
is considered an upgrade.
For example, right now most of the new homes in Dallas have brushed
nickel plumbing fixtures and door handles. Is that standard or an
upgrade? Most custom homes in Dallas have wooden windows downstairs and
aluminum upstairs. Is that standard or an upgrade? Most homes have 10
foot ceilings with 8 foot doors downstairs and 9 foot ceilings with 6
foot 8 inch doors upstairs. Is that standard or an upgrade?
These comments might sound contradictory to the concept of a custom home.
With a true custom home, every detail can be customized by the buyer.
However, it is still true that when you are quoted a price based upon a
floor plan, it will include certain standards or specs. You need to know
what those are.