6 Things to Look for in a Homebuilder

Friday, December 8, 2017

A contractor showing construction plans to the home owners

So, you're going to build a home! What an exciting time! Before you get started, you'll need to find a builder you like. That's because your lender will usually want you to have a builder in mind before you apply for a construction loan. This will allow your lender to look into your builder's background, see if they've successfully completed similar projects, and give them an estimate for how much you'll actually need to borrow to complete the construction. 

Good References 

If you were applying for a job, you would be expected to provide references. It's no different for your home builder. Be sure to ask for contact information for some of your builder's most recent projects. When you call the reference ask:

  • Did the project finish on time?
  • Did the project come in on schedule?
  • Were there any communication issues throughout the project?
  • Were there any other concerns you had with the builder?

Experience with the Type of Home You Want

Not all new homes are built the same way. Before you talk to a home builder, you'll want to decide what type of new construction you're interested in. You'll find different builders specialize in different types of homes. Be sure you choose a builder that has experience building the type of home you choose and is able to give you references for those projects. 

Custom homes: In a truly custom home you have complete control over everything from the floorplan to the finishes. In this situation, you'll work with both a home builder and an architect to get the home you want within the budget you have. 

Spec homes: You might see these homes being built in an older, established neighborhood that isn't made up of tract homes. In this situation, the builder has already bought the land and committed to building a home. They may finish the home before they sell it, or they may sell it during the process. If you buy this type of home before it's finished, you'll likely have more flexibility in choosing finishes and other options. However, it's unlikely you'll be able to drastically influence the floorplan since the builder will have already committed to one when they decided to build the home. 

Tract/Production homes: You'll see this type of home when a new development is being built. Typically the builder has already bought all the land and has a handful of floorplans that they're willing to build in that neighborhood. Your home is "custom" in the sense that you can choose your floorplan and you can choose from a number of finishes and other options, but you won't be able to drastically change the way the home is laid out. 

They Have the Options You Want

If a big screened in porch with an overhead fan and a cable hookup is high up on your list of priorities for your home, be sure you ask your home builder if that's an option that you're able to get? This is especially important if you're going with a spec or tract home since that type of option might be outside the realm of what the builder is able to do in that area. 

Good Communication Skills 

Communication is extremely important when you're working with a home builder. You want to know that they will get back to you promptly and can use the communication method you prefer. So, if your job won't allow you to take phone calls at work, but you can answer emails all day, you'll need to find a home builder who is willing to communicate via email when important issues come up. Be sure to note any communication issues you have before you start working together so that you can get them ironed out if you choose to go forward with that builder. 

They Have a License 

Depending on where you live, your home builder might be legally required to be licensed before they're they're able to start a building project. In South Carolina, residential home builders are licensed by the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. You can verify your builder is licensed thought their licensure look up

They Have a Way for You to Inspect Their Work

A home builder won't want you underfoot every second they're working. That would be dangerous and unproductive. But they should have a way for you to regularly see how the build is progressing, to ask any questions you have about the build, and to point out any pieces of the work that aren't up to your standards. Look for a builder who is willing to let you come to the build site at a frequency that you both feel comfortable with. This will help keep you and your builder on the same page and communicating throughout the project.