This series will suggest some of the basic steps to follow as you begin down the path toward home ownership.

Step 2 – Choosing a Home Builder

You’ve done about as much homework as you can do on your own, and you think you have a pretty good idea of what your new house should look and feel like. Now it’s time to decide who you want to build your new home.  So, how do you go about looking for a home builder?  Well, it’s a little like looking for a good restaurant.  You start by finding one that’s been around awhile, and has a full parking lot at meal time.  It’s a pretty good bet they’ve got good food and good service.  The same goes for finding a builder.  Chances are those companies that are firmly established in your community and are usually busy are probably a good place to start.

Interview – The best way to get started is to narrow your search down to about three choices, and talk to all of them. This “interview” process will allow you to find out how they handle things like plan designs, budgets, contracts and permits.  How well do they stick to proposed schedules?  Who do they use as subcontractors?  How are changes handled during construction?  How well do they stand behind their product, even after their warranties have expired?  It’s very important that you feel a level of comfort and trust with your builder in these areas.  It can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and one that is stressful, expensive, and full of unpleasant surprises.

Building Trust – Our last chapter stressed the importance of being fully able to explain your vision to those who are there to help you. The flip side of that, however, is to make sure that you find someone who is truly willing to listen and to care about what you’re trying to accomplish.  The building industry is full of people who find it easier to try to convince you of their vision, than who want to be convinced of yours.  While you’ll be asking your share of questions, pay close attention to how many are being asked of you.  If a builder doesn’t ask you a lot of questions, he may not be very interested in your vision.  Does he ask to see your building site?  A good home builder will go to your building site very early on the relationship, to determine the best design for the house, and to get the “lay of the land” as it pertains to utility installation, the driveway, and the creation of an accurate budget.  Be wary of those builders who simply throw out a cost per square foot price, but don’t take the appropriate amount of time with all the details that are necessary to provide an accurate budget.

Other Opinions – You should also get other people’s opinions of your potential choice. Check with others who have used them to build their home.  Call your local home builders association and ask them for their opinions.  Visit open houses and Home Parades to get a first-hand view of their craftsmanship and quality.

The “Main Point” You’re about to spend a lot of money, and you need to be very comfortable with the people you’ll be working with. Make sure they’re trustworthy.  Make sure they’re skilled in their trade, attentive to detail, and make sure they’re capable of bringing your vision to life.