Building New? How to Find a Builder That’s Right for You

So you’ve opted for a newly constructed home vs. a preowned home. You’re now faced with the decision of who will build your home. Your home builder will be responsible for creating what is most likely one of your largest investments, which undoubtedly makes this decision very important. Lucky for you, many homeowners have walked the same path. Similar to any decision-making process, choosing a home builder begins with asking the right questions. This information will help you prepare for and evaluate prospective home builders. By asking these questions, you’ll get the answers and information you need to confidently choose a home builder that’s right for you.

What are your needs and preferences?

It’s never too early to start brainstorming the details of your future home and financial situation. Clearly identifying your vision will help you more confidently choose a builder that best aligns with your interests. So try to nail down and articulate your preferences as clearly as possible — as early as possible.

Of course, before you start nailing down the details, you’ll want to make sure your finances align with your dream home.

Many homeowners have false evaluations of planning the details of their home, and accidentally either disregard or overshoot their budget. It’s important to take the time to understand and plan both the short and long-term details of your finances. Some lenders, like Atlantic Bay, offer construction loans, which allows for financing options from the construction phase through the permanent mortgage after your home is built. Getting a conditional approval from a mortgage banker is a great way to see what you can afford. Begin by going through the following questions to help you identify your home needs

  • What’s your budget?

  • Where would you prefer to live?

  • Do you have any preferences regarding the neighborhood/community?

  • Do you have any preferred styles of homes? Any styles you don’t like?

  • What size home do you want?

  • Is there a floor plan that you already have in mind?

  • Are there any floor plan details that are a “must-have?”

  • Are there any materials that you prefer to be used? Any you would not like used?

  • Are there construction features that you prefer? Any you’d like to avoid?

  • Is there a style of landscaping that you prefer? Any you’d like to avoid?

Who are the home builders in your area?

Once you have identified your preferences, it’s time to identify the list of prospective home builders that you’ll make your choice from. Researching online is a good place to start. You can check out the National Association of Home Buildings website for a list of qualified builders in your area. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to search and verify, as well. Another helpful source for identifying local builders are suppliers. For example, let’s say you have a unique vision for your master bathroom, and would like it to feature a particular material (e.g., tile, granite, ceramic, etc.). Try contacting the supplier of that particular material, and ask if they recommend a local builder that has experience working with that material. Once you identify prospective builders that service your area, research details like price range, home styles, and floor plan options.

Which home builder is the best match?

Now it’s time to match your needs with an appropriate builder. It’s a good idea to interview both the home builder as well as homeowners who’ve worked with the builder you’re evaluating. You want to walk away knowing what each builder has to offer, their style of work, and the overall experience they provide during the home building process. It’s important to not only assess the work of the home builder, but your compatibility together as a team. You and your home builder will be working together for several months, therefore it’s imperative you have a healthy working relationship. Make sure your builder not only understands, but respects and supports your needs. Remember, you’re trusting your home builder with one of your largest investments. The questions below are a great place to start when evaluating a prospective builder and the homeowners of their completed homes. If possible, it’s also a great idea to ask a few homeowners about their experience. Here are some sample questions.

  • How would you rate your experience with this builder?

  • How long did it take for your home to be completed?

  • Did the builder meet deadline expectations?

  • Did you have any issues during your home building process?

  • If so, how quickly were these issues resolved?

  • Would you use this builder again?

After interviewing both home builder and homeowners, be sure to tour several homes constructed by each prospective builder. While touring the homes, keep an eye out for the construction quality (e.g., cabinetry, carpeting, seals, trim work, paint, etc.) — especially those that match your desires. Choosing a home builder can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. But don’t worry, your time and energy will help you confidently build your dream home.