If you’re about to start building a home, chances are it is something that you’ve been planning and dreaming about for quite some time. It can be a very long and stressful process, but it’s also an exciting time as you see your dream home take shape before your eyes.
Choosing the wrong builder can rob you of that joy and excitement and cause you nothing but headaches and regret. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest projects that you’ll ever undertake in your life, so spend some time researching to find the right builder for the job.
Getting Bids and Estimates
Remember, this is a huge undertaking. Even if a builder or building company comes very highly recommended, you need to get bids from at least three firms. And make sure that you read each bid very carefully. If one is drastically lower, closely examine all the fine print. You may find that the bid doesn’t include certain things you require. A bid that looks too good to be true could indicate a company that isn’t on the up-and-up as well.
You may also want to consider having a lawyer review the bids, especially if this is your first time building a home. A lawyer can check for loopholes and solve potential problems before they become actual headaches.
Also make sure that you know the difference between an estimate and an actual bid. An estimate is a much looser figure, in which the builder employs a lot of guesswork and assumptions. Of course, experienced builders can often provide very accurate estimates, but there is still a chance your final cost could vary greatly from the estimated cost.
Before you select a building firm based on its bid or estimate, do some research to make sure the company is qualified.
It can feel awkward to request proof of a builder’s qualifications and certifications, but builders pay for their licenses and credentials and they do it so that they can prove to customers that they’re trustworthy and qualified. Never be shy about asking a builder to show you his professional certifications.
The first thing to check is the builder’s state licenses. Next ask about their liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage. If you hire builders who are unlicensed or uninsured, you could be held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur on your home-building site. Something like that could derail your entire building project. Check with the local Home Builders Association to see if the company is a member as well.
Believe it or not, experts advise that you should verify the building firm’s address and phone number. Pay a visit to the company’s office, examine the premises, and meet the staff. This will tell you a lot about the firm. In this day and age, most builders carry cell phones and might have you get a hold of them that way, but be suspicious of building companies that don’t have business lines or brick-and-mortar offices.
Don’t hesitate to ask for references either. Ask for the names and contact information of a few people who have used the company previously. Be sure to follow through: Actually call or write to the previous clients and ask them their overall impressions of the builder. Ask if there were any problems, and if so, how the builder handled them. Close the conversation by asking about their satisfaction with their new home.
Finally, before you ultimately select your builder, check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against them. One or two don’t mean that a company is bad, especially if they’ve been in business a long time, but be leery of builders with more than one complaint per two years of operation. Next, check with your city building department to see if there have been any complaints filed with them. Lastly, visit the county clerk to make sure there are no civil suits against the builder.
Making a Final Choice
Once you’ve thoroughly investigated a company and accepted a bid, make sure you get a contract. Before you sign the contract, you should take it to a lawyer and have him or her examine it carefully.
Make sure you’re satisfied with all of the terms before you sign. You can always ask to renegotiate the terms before you make an official agreement, but afterwards, you’re stuck with the terms as outlined in the contract.
The most common concerns are cost and duration of the project. You must understand that building a home is a large undertaking and many problems can arise that will end up costing extra money or making the project take longer than estimated. Does your firm typically go over budget? This is another important reason to ask and investigate references.
Building your dream home can be exciting and wonderful, but it can also be fraught with challenges. When you take the time to choose a builder who is qualified, honest, and trustworthy, the process will go much more smoothly, and you’ll sleep much more soundly at night. It’s worth the effort!