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House Builders


Choosing a good home builder is probably the most important decision you'll make when building your house. A good house builder may be able to build a good home even if the materials aren't the best. An inferior house builder might build a bad home even when given top quality materials. It's important you hire a good home builder. Probably no other decision will impact the quality of your house more than the builder you hire.

Here are some ideas on how to find good house builders.

 Ask Non-Competitors for Advice

Professionals usually know who the best people are in related industries. However, when asking for advice, only ask people who aren't being paid a commission, otherwise the people they recommend might be whomever they get the best commission from.

Ask Subcontractors for Advice

Talk with subcontractors who work with many builders. Ask them who the best home builders are. Subcontractors (such as drywall crews, painters, foundation crews, or framing crews) will know who takes short cuts and who builds a quality house. Subcontractors can also tell you who pays their bills on time and who treats them fairly.

 Ask Builders for Advice

Builders are very knowledgeable about who are good builders. If you find a builder who is too busy to build your home or who does build the type of home you want then ask him what other contractors he would recommend..

 Ask Suppliers for Advice

People at building supply stores can tell you which builders are better. Keep in mind that building professionals often shop at stores more geared towards the builder.

 Ask Building Inspectors for Advice

Local building inspectors review the work of many builders to be sure building codes are followed. Inspectors can give you a good idea of who the best builders in town are. Also, if you go to your city (or county's) building office, you may be able to look up inspection reports for homes that a builder has built in the past.

Talk With Friends and Coworkers

People who have built houses can tell you if they liked working with the builder, if they were treated fair, and if the builder met their expectations.

Contact Better Business Bureau

Your local Better Business Bureau may be able to tell you if a builder has had a complaint. However, sometimes the Better Business Bureaus only tracks records for people who are members of the Bureau. If a business chooses not to be a member, then the BBB might not maintain a record on them. If a complaint has been filed, it doesn't mean you should rule out the builder. See if the complaint was resolved satisfactorily. Also, see if the frequency of complaints is higher than other builders.

Check with Your Utility Company

Some utility companies will give you reports of a home's utility usage. There may be a small fee for these reports. Utility reports can help you see which builders build more energy efficient homes.

Local Building Trade Association

Most areas have associations of homebuilders. The trade associations can provide general information and may help you find a builder based on your needs.

Look at the Builder's Work

Naturally you will want to look at work the builder has done. It's a good idea to look at recent homes built by the builder and at homes they built about 3 years ago. The newer homes will give you an idea of the type of work the builder currently does. The older homes will give you an idea of how well the builder's workmanship holds up over time.

Ask Builder for a Sample Contract and Specifications List

Most builders have sample contracts and specifications they use when building a house. It's a good idea to request this information early on when interviewing a builder. You should see if the contract seems to have a lot of loopholes to limit the builder's responsibility. Also, check to see if the contract or specifications are vague. Sometimes the contract and specification can give you an idea about the honesty and integrity of the builder.

Look at Work in Progress

Look at homes that are under various stages of construction. Besides looking at the work look at the work environment. Is the work site sloppy and dirty? Are materials organized or scattered? Are the tools and equipment well maintained? Are building materials covered and protected from the weather?

Look at Who the Builder Hires

Look at the people who work for the builder. A builder's choice of employees or suppliers can say a great deal about the builder. Does the builder's suppliers offer quality products? Does the builder's crews seem professional? Is there adequate supervision of the work crews? Ask the builder which subcontractors will work on your home. Subcontractors have a big influence on how your home turns out. It may be a good idea to look into the work and reputation of the subcontractors.

Listen to the Questions a Builder Asks You

Better builders tend to be more thorough. They will ask more questions, request more details and avoid making assumptions. Successful projects require good understanding and pre-planning. The questions a builder asks you can help you determine if the builder is a good planner.

Ask the Builder Questions

Communication is important. Asking questions helps you see if the builder is patient and willing to help. It also shows if they are a good listener. They should not avoid answering your questions. If they aren't sure about the answer to a question, a good builder will tell you they aren't sure of the answer and they will call you back after they find out the answer.

Work Capacity

If a builder is building more houses then they can handle then it may take longer to complete the homes. Also, there may be less supervision or shortcuts taken to try to finish the current workload. Try not to hire a builder who is too busy to do a good job on your home.

Promptness

How fast does the builder return your calls? Does he show up on time for meetings? Does he frequently cancel meetings? If the builder doesn't respect your time before you hire him, then chances are you'll have more scheduling or deadline problems if you hire him. If the builder is too busy then he may not have enough time to properly build your home.

Referrals

Before hiring a builder, ask them for referrals. Ask for referrals from recent customers as well as customers who built 3 to 5 years ago.

Bankruptcy

If a builder has recently gone through bankruptcy or is currently going through bankruptcy then this is a strike against them. If a builder does work for you and declares bankruptcy then you may become liable for paying the subcontractors or suppliers who did work on your home (even if you already paid the builder for that work). People who have bad credit will have more difficulty finding good suppliers or subcontractors.

Hire the Right Kind of Builder

Hire someone who builds houses similar to the type of home you want. For example, if you want a luxury home then hire a custom builder. If you want a starter home, work with builders who specialize on starter homes. A custom builder could build you a good starter house, however you'll probably have to pay more for the work because the custom builder may have more experience and skills. There's no need to hire someone with more skills than necessary because you'll end up paying more to get similar work done.

Contractors License

Most states require contractors to be licensed. You can ask the builder to see their license and can also verify the license with your Local State License Board.

Contractors Insurance

Ask your builder for proof of insurance. They should have builder's risk insurance. Also, if the builder has other employees, ask if they have workman's compensation. Workman’s compensation is usually required by law. If a builder is not insured then you may be liable for any accidents that occur on your property.

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