If you're in the market for a new home, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Here are some tips to help you choose a builder:
Make a list of all the builders
Once you have thought about the type of house you want, you can create a list of potential builders.
- Contact your local home builders' association to obtain a list of builders who construct homes in your area. You can find your local HBA at nahb.org/findanhba.
- Look in the social media for builders and projects in your area. Looking through the ads and reading the articles can help you to learn which builders are active in your area, the types of homes they are building and the prices you can expect to pay. Make a list of builders who build the type of home you're looking for in your price range.
- Local real estate agents may also be able to help you in your search. As the agents know how you can trust in the area.
- Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Ask about builders they have dealt with directly, or ask them for names of acquaintances who have recently had a good experience with a builder.
Do the groundwork
Now that you have a list of potential builders, it's time to start asking lots of questions — of both the potential builders and the owners of their homes.
- Here is a list of questions to ask builders:
- Can the builder give you references of recent clients?
- Is the builder open about the finances of the project?
- How much "customizing" can be done versus standard features? (Does the builder go the extra mile with sourcing the correct finishes?)
- Is the quote the actual cost of the project?
- Are there any additional fees other than what has been quoted for?
- Will there be a homeowners’ association? If so, what will the dues cost and what do they cover?
- Does the price include landscaping?
- Is the builder VAT registered? (has to be)
- Is the builder registered with the following bodies: NHBRC, MBA, CIDB and BIBC?
- Does the builder help you every step of the way?
- Is the building contract a proper document and can you have a copy to go through?
- Then, visit a builder's recently built homes and subdivisions. Talk to several owners, and try to get a random sample of opinions. The more people you talk with, the more accurate an impression of a builder you are likely to get.
- Some questions to ask homeowners include: Are you happy with your home? If you had any problems, were they fixed promptly and properly? Would y5ou recommended this builder?
- When you talk to builders and homeowners, take along a notebook to record the information you find and your personal impressions about specific builders and homes. Doing so will help you to make comparisons later.
Look at the detail
Look at new homes whenever you can. Model homes and houses displayed in home shows are often furnished to give you ideas for using the space.
When examining a home, look at the quality of the construction features. Inspect the quality of the cabinetry, flooring, trim work, paint, plaster ext. Ask the builder or the builder's representative a lot of questions. Get as many specifics as possible. If you receive the answers verbally rather than in writing, take notes. Never hesitate to ask a question. What seems like an insignificant question might yield an important answer.
Make an informed decision
If you get more than one quote for your project, make sure you compare apples to apples. Don't take the sum total and compare prices. Some builders include items which the other don't. Don't always go with the cheapest builder, you might end up with half a house.