How to Choose the Right Home Builder

Selecting the right home Builder for your needs and the type of new home you seek is one of the most important decisions you’ll make in your home buying process.

Fortunately, there are some proven ways to speed up the research and selection process and to help ensure that you find a quality builder who’s a good match to construct your new home.

10 Ways to Choose the Right Home Builder

1. Define your needs. What size, type and price range of home do you need?2. Experience counts. While every builder was once a new builder, experience matters.3. Are past buyers satisfied? Ask for – and check – references from past home buyers.4. Verify the builder is licensed and adequately insured.5. Is there a design fit? Does this builder have expertise in the style of home you seek?6. Warranty and service. How does this builder stack up for each?7. Resale value. Have past homes from this builder maintained or increased value?8. Industry involvement. Is the builder a member of the local or state Home Builder’s Association or Authority?9. Tour model homes or customer homes. There’s absolutely no substitute for this step. 10. Look for signs of quality in workmanship, materials and practices when you visit the display homes.

Here’s a bit more detail on each step above:

Define your needs: The building materials, trade contractors and even the building process itself can differ greatly by type and price of home. Look for a fit here. Then, be ready to make sacrifices, as it isn’t always easy finding a home that meets all the criteria to be your dream home. 

Experience counts: Every home builder (including the most experienced and well-regarded Builders today) once built their first home. And many new home builders were started by experienced veterans of other builders. Don’t overly discount a new builder – especially if their team includes seasoned pros – but do look for strong experience overall and in the type of home you seek.

Are past home buyers satisfied? Many builders offer customer references and referrals. If not, ask. And in either case, follow up. A few great questions to ask: Would you buy another home from this builder? Or recommend them to close friends or family? And don’t forget to ask for the key reasons why a past home buyer would or would not recommend a builder.

Is the builder licensed and insured? Make sure that you work with a licensed builder. Ask about the insurance that the builder and his or her trade contractors carry. Make sure that they and you are covered during the building process.

Is there a design fit? A builder whose entire portfolio consists of contemporary homes may not be the best fit for that highly traditional home you seek – and vice-versa. While many builders have expertise in a variety of design styles and architectural details, in general, look for a builder whose work includes at least some examples of the style of home you want.

Warranty and service: Look for a structural warranty on the home itself, ideally transferable to a new owner should you sell. Also look for a builder who provides prompt and courteous service under warranty and who takes time to explain the proper maintenance and care that any home needs.

Resale Value: Good reputations follow good builders, among homeowners and Real Estate Agents. Look for builders whose homes tend to hold or maintain their value. Look for Real Estate Agents adverts that specifically mention the name of a builder for a home for sale that’s now five or seven years old. That Agent clearly sees the builder’s brand name as a big plus.

Industry Involvement: Not every good builder chooses to join their local Home Builder Association, so don’t place too much emphasis on this. However, your builder should be a registered member of your State Authority.  

Visit display homes and/or homes this builder built for past buyers: Once you’ve narrowed down a list of prospective builders using the criteria above, this is the most important step. Nothing substitutes for inspecting a home built by a builder on your short list. It can be a furnished and decorated display home that’s open to the public. Or, it can be a home the builder constructed for a past buyer that you visit by appointment. In either case, pay careful attention to the look, feel and quality of the home.

Look for signs of quality: Look for signs of quality construction and attention to detail when you visit the homes. Also consider the building products that a builder uses. Are they brands with well-earned reputations for quality? What about the homes under construction you passed on the way to the completed display home? Were there signs of care and attention?

Lastly, look for the quality of people who work for the builder: Did the builder’s employees show sincere interest in you and your needs? Did they listen carefully? Did they provide good answers to your questions? Were they courteous, prompt and professional in your interactions with them in the display home, sales center or builder’s office?

With the ten steps above, you’ll be well on your way to selecting a good builder who’s a good fit for you, your needs, and the new home you’ll build together.  Good luck and go ahead and build your dream home!