If we learn anything from the story of the Three Little Pigs, it’s that your home must be built on a solid foundation. Well, we all know that a house of straw or sticks is no good and comparatively a house of bricks is sturdy and won’t be easily blown down by a wolf.

But when you’re in the market for a place to hang your hat, there are a lot more things that you must take into consideration than just the basic materials of the structure of your would-be home. And if you’re building a brand-new home from scratch, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is to selecting a home builder.

Out of all the purchases you’ll make in your life, your house has to be at the top of that list in importance. So how will know if your home is in good hands or not?

The first step to selecting the right home builder is to research the various networks of contractors. The vast World Wide Web is a great way to get in touch with different contractors and compare rates and reputations. You want to use a resource that only has the most experienced and professionally trained contractors in its database. Contracting firms will screen the many contenders for the title of “home builder” so that you don’t have to deal with any bad apples.

Note, if a contractor doesn’t have membership to the NARI, or the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, then you’re likely dealing with a bad apple. Members of NARI have agreed to a special code of ethics and are certified professionals.

Once you’ve determined that the basic credentials of the home builder are all there, you then can look a bit further.

What business does this home builder work at? What are his or her contacts and other industry associations? Answering these questions can help you size up the contractor. A contractor may look good on paper but if they are employed by a company that is not well-established, you have good reason to be skeptical and should probably move onto the next candidate.

In addition to checking out the contractor’s employer, you also should check to make sure he or she is licensed with the local and state government. (This is not always required, however.) Additionally, all good home builders will be fully insured.

By now, maybe you’ve narrowed down your choices and found a few contractors who seem appealing. Your job is not over however. Use a consumer watchdog agency to mull over your options once again. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to use – as you can be informed about whether the home builder in question has had a history of complaints or penalties or on the contrary, has a squeaky clean reputation.

Still, you’re not quite ready to decide upon a contractor yet! You need to have a one-on-one, face-to-face chat with the home builder. This is your chance to grill him or her; don’t be afraid to. After all, he or she will be constructing the home you may live in for the rest of your life. You have to make sure the contractor is not only qualified for the job, but also that he or she understands your personal needs as a home buyer.

When selecting a home builder, what questions should you ask? You can ask more involved questions about what you’ve already researched, for example you may inquire about the contractor’s place of employment and personal track record. But you want to also make sure to ask specific questions about the construction process. How long will it take before the house is ready for move-in? How many crew members will be on hand? Etc.

Treat this meeting as a job interview. Moreover, just as an employer would ask for references from a wannabe employee, you should do the same for your home builder! But where should these references come from? Well, they shouldn’t come from the contractor’s best friend, mom, or the head of his or her business. Instead, you should ask for the contact information of the home builder’s former clients. Then you can ask those clients what, if any, problems they ran into.

When you finally pick out a home builder, you should feel 100% sure about your decision. The process of selecting a contractor is certainly a long and tedious one – but it cannot be overlooked. Fortunately, it’s a process you will not regret taking seriously! Consumers read reviews and comparison shop for the most insignificant, inexpensive products. So why shouldn’t they do the same for a contractor who is going to build their home?

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