5 Things To Do To Choose The Right Huntsville Home Builders
So you’re going to build a new home. Exciting stuff! Now when I say “going to build a new home,” if you’re like most of us, that means you are going to hire a home builder or general contractor to do the job for you. Why would you want to do it any other way? Beyond the extraordinary amount of time involved in doing the construction, I’m not sure I’d want to live in a house I built entirely myself. My skills are in project management and communications, not excavation, carpentry, plumbing, masonry… Well, you get the picture. My motto, when I can afford to stick to it, is “Leave it to the professionals!”
Now it’s time to start the process of choosing a home builder for your project. From all of the builders available in the area where you are going to build your home, obviously, you want to find the one builder who you believe will do the best job for you. Choosing a builder is a five step process. Each step in the process narrows down the list of candidates.
Step 1 – Assemble a List of Candidate Builders
The first step is to assemble your list of candidate builders. Cast a wide net at this point. Use all of the resources available to you to find builders – recommendations of folks you know, word-of-mouth, online searching, home shows, and trade organizations. At this stage, exclude builders who are obvious poor fits for whatever reason such as reputation, geography, and the types of homes they build.
Step 2 – Do Background Checks
The second step is to find out what you can about the home builders on your list through some legwork and investigation. Do your research to help you narrow down the field before you conduct lengthy one-on-one interviews with the best candidates. The goal here is to narrow your list to 3-5 home builders.
There is a great deal of information you can gather about a builder without ever having to talk to him.
Check on his reputation at the Better Business Bureau and talk to other people in the community who have dealings with him. Run an online credit check of the builder to gauge the financial stability of his business. At the county courthouse determine if there are any past, current, or pending court actions against the builder. The county building department ought to be able to tell you about licensing requirements and any complaints filed against the builder locally.
Step 3 – Interview the Builders
The third step is to interview the builders on your pared-down list of candidates. Conduct an in-person interview of each builder with a prepared list of questions that will help you learn about each builder’s relevant experience, the longevity and financial stability of his business, the duration and quality of his relationship with his subcontractors, his insurance coverage, the status of his builder’s license, and his home building boilerplate contract. The interview also allows you to get a good sense of whether the builder has a personality type with which you can work well. Finally, but very importantly, get 3-5 former client references from each builder.
Step 4 – Check References
The fourth step is to check the references of the remaining 1-3 builders on your list by contacting their former clients personally and interviewing them briefly. Again, prepare ahead of time with a list of questions to ask them in a face-to-face meeting or over the phone. You won’t get better feedback about a builder than what you get from the folks whose houses he built. You ask questions aimed at understanding how satisfied a builder’s former clients were with various aspects of the project – the quality of the work, how easy the builder was to work with, cost management practices, adherence to the long-term schedule, problem resolution, builder responsiveness, and respecting the contract. What you’d most like to find out is: Would they hire him again?
Step 5 – Negotiate a Home Building Contract
The fifth and final step is to enter into a contract with the builder with whom you’ve chosen to work. This may not seem like a true step in the selection of a builder, but, believe me, it’s a critical step in the process. This step will help confirm whether or not you’ve made a good choice. It’s like a litmus test for builder-owner compatibility.
Builders and owners want different things from a contract. The builder wants to protect his business and minimize his liability exposure while trying to meet your needs as his client. You want the builder to be financially successful while making sure your expectations for the desired features that you want included in your home, quality of materials and workmanship, and cost predictability are clearly spelled out. These are not incompatible goals, but it will likely take some work to get it all committed to paper in a way that satisfies everyone. Contract negotiations don’t have to be adversarial, but they can be stressful since both parties are defending their own best interests and trying to reach a compromise with someone they barely know. If you can come out on the other side of contract negotiations with both a signed contract and a builder you still want as your general contractor, you’ve found yourself a winner.
Those are my five recommended steps for choosing a Huntsville Home Builder. While there are no guarantees in life, following these steps can better assure that you’ll ultimately be more satisfied when the builder hands over the keys to your new home. Enjoy the journey.