Selecting a Builder
Selecting a Builder
As you start your search for a quality builder, we recommend the following steps be followed:
Making the Right Choice
Investigate the list of builders you have compiled and are considering. Make sure the company is a member of your local home builders association or building industry association and accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Members of these associations subscribe to a code of ethics. Ask past clients of builders you are considering the following questions:
- Did the builder communicate well with you and were there any misunderstandings?
- Were the subcontractors comfortable to work with?
- How pleased were you with the quality of work as it was completed?
- Did the builder fulfill the contract on time?
- Were there cost overruns and how were they handled?
- Did the builder follow through in a timely manner after the close of the loan to finalize any remaining details?
- Was the builder ethical and were you satisfied with the builder’s business practices?
When getting from multiple builders, it is important to remember the lowest bid isn’t necessarily the best bid. If you have a bid that seams to good to be true, that is a warning sign that something is missing in the proposal. All builders’ bids should be based on the same criteria: specifications, quality of materials, etc. Check out a business at the Better Business Bureau for further references on the builder you have selected. One of the best things you can do is check references for past work. A reputable builder should provide you with a list of references complete with contact information, business licenses, and full insurance certificates for general liability, worker’s compensation, and commercial auto. If a contractor tells you that they don’t need insurance or that they are exempt - watch out! You will be assuming the risk of their work!
Warranties and Services After the Sale
An important criterion for selecting a builder is the warranty provided on the home. Most reputable builders back their own warranties on workmanship and materials typically for one year. One problem with going with the lowest bid, is that often these companies go out of business leaving you with no warranty. Even if a builder tells you that they provide a “lifetime warranty”, the warranty is really only as good as the ability of the company to remain in business. Make sure you choose a company that performs a lot of work in your area and is a professional builder that will be there to back up your warranty. Many contractors use shortcuts in materials and building practices to win a job at all costs. In the end, the bitterness of cheap quality lasts longer than the sweetness of a cheap deal. Another important consideration is what kind of contract do you have? Did the builder take the time to prepare a professional proposal and contract? Is your proposal a guaranteed price agreement, or will you end up with a stack of cost overruns because your low bidder didn’t factor in all of his costs? Make sure you understand all of these points before you sign the contract.
Be Prepared for the Final Walk-Through
Once your home is completed, you and the builder or his representative will walk through the home noting all items that need to be completed, fixed or altered. Make sure you and the builder keep a complete list noting all the same items. Don’t be alarmed it you find a few things not up to your standard. A completed home is the sum of many individual mechanical operations and many materials. It isn’t unusual for small things to be amiss. The builder should give you a projected date of completion for corrections.
The final step is to close, move in, and enjoy your new home or addition!