News & Information

What should you look for in a residential custom builder?

May 18, 2017

Choosing the right builder is one of the most critical decisions you will make in the home building process. You want the construction process to be a good experience. Read on for guiding principles of what to look for in a professional builder. Ultimately, you and your builder will build the home together!

  • Define your needs in the new home so the builder can evaluate them. Be clear with your expectations for the build. Buyers who provide organized lists, images, and details not only find the experience to run more smoothly, they set the builder up for more success as well.
  • Verify (where required) that the builder is licensed and carries insurance. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of people who have hired a builder only to be completely taken advantage of and worse, who have experienced great financial loss.
  • Experience counts. You want a builder with experience – a builder who has built homes before yours.
  • Tour homes completed by the builder. This is a must and one of the most crucial steps! Look for signs of workmanship and quality of materials when you tour the builder’s homes. Call a past home buyer and set up an appointment to tour the home, and ask the homeowner if you may take photos while you’re there. Pay attention to the style of the home and the quality while you are in it. There is no substitute for this step!  Get out there and tour the builder’s homes – it’s fun!
  • Does this builder fit your design needs? Does the builder have experience in your design preferences? Ask the builder for a design portfolio so you can see if the majority of homes are traditional or modern. Usually builders have expertise in various types of architecture and styles, but if you want a traditional home, yet only see modern homes presented in the portfolio, ask the builder if he feels confident and capable of building a traditional home, and vice-versa.
  • Industry involvement. Is the builder a member of the local Home Builder’s Association (if there is one)? Is the builder current on industry trends?
  • Ask for references from past home buyers. Talk to them. Are they satisfied? Would they would recommend the builder to friends and family? Ask if they would build or buy another home from the builder.
  • A good builder has control over the project and good working relationship with the subcontractors and tradesmen. A successful builder employs the right people and right number of people. Look for a builder who maintains control and a strong relationship with his subcontractors and tradesmen. This way there is no confusion or blurred lines at the job site. When a builder has control over the project and workers who respect him, you can leave the day-to-day details of the project to him!
  • Good subcontractors. The quality of people who work for the builder is important. Do the subcontractors show interest in you and your needs?  Do they listen to you?  Do they provide appropriate answers to your questions? When they are uncertain of the answer do they offer to call the builder?  Can they reach the builder easily?  Do they have use and access to necessary materials to complete the project?
  • Clear and specific information during the bidding process. The building contract matters. You need to know what’s included and what’s not. A good contract sets out all the “what ifs”- like what if the work takes longer than agreed, what if there are changes along the way? The builder should demonstrate an ability to communicate clearly on expected timetables, and be very organized.

If you choose to work with Dunbar Builders, we think that you’ll be pleased with the choice you made. Contact us if you’d like to get the process started!