5 Things to Look for in Custom House Builders
Choosing a custom home builder can be an exciting but daunting process. After all, a major home renovation or complete home construction is a significant investment, and you want to make sure you choose a design/build firm that will deliver on time, on budget, and on everything agreed to.
Here are five things to think about when when you're evaluating custom house builders.
1. Think experience.
This may seem obvious, but anyone can put out a shingle or build a website and "be in business." When it comes to renovating or building custom homes, you want to make sure you're working with someone who has deep experience. Find out how long the firm has been in business. Review their project portfolio and make sure there are plenty of projects featured that will be similar to yours (e.g. additions, complete kitchen renovations, etc). Ask for references and be sure to talk to them.
2. Think objective third parties.
Of course, when you ask for references, a design/build firm will only give you the names of happy customers. This makes sense. Which is why you need to take it a step further and see what professional organizations the firm belongs to. Membership to organizations, such as The National Association of Home Builders, often require a certain level of skill and/or time in business (in other words, not just anyone can join). Be sure to do some vetting. Note: Hebert Design Build is a member of the NAHB and Rhode Island Builders Association.
3. Think communication.
Effective communication is key, and not just when the crew finally breaks ground. In fact, we think your early communication experiences with a design/build firm will tell you a lot about the company and the way it operates. How do people answer the phone? Do they sound friendly or bothered? How promptly are your calls and emails returned? Are early deadlines met (e.g. does the firm get you the proposal when it says it will)?
4. Think price, but with an important caveat.
The lowest bid isn't always the best bid. Remember, you get what you pay for. Be cautious of any bids that are unusually low -- if it's too good to be true, it probably is. If you get an unusually low bid from a firm, but you like everything else about the firm, then be up front and let them know they've come in low, go over every item in detail, and ask questions and make sure you're on the same page.
5. Think explicit contracts.
Gone are the days when you could do business with a handshake. A detailed contract is essential, the word "detailed" being key. It should be clear, specific, and complete.
Download our complete handy checklist of what to look for when choosing a builder or remodeler by clicking on the button below.