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Finding the right builder for your custom home is the key to a successful project – and a lifetime of happiness in your new space. Researching potential candidates can be a lengthy process and can yield a long list of results. However, after shortening the list of custom home builders to create your dream home, you’ll probably still have more than one candidate.

The best time to meet with them face-to-face is before or very soon after you begin the design phase with your architect, so that you can interview them and find out who will be the best fit. Having a builder on the team means that your home’s design and your budget will exist in harmony all through the building process, but there are plenty of other benefits too.

Once your list of possible custom home contractors is narrowed down to 2 or 3, these questions will help you single out which builder will be the ideal partner for your dream custom home design.

What is your experience building the specific style and quality of the home that I have in mind?

Each house style has its own unique challenges and you should feel confident that your builder has experience with the style of your future house. They shouldn’t be trying new things and going crazy experimenting with your house, and should instead be drawing from a deep well of knowledge that they’ve gained from past projects that had similar goals.

How closely do you collaborate with my interior designer and architect?

collaborate with designer

You should pick a builder that values a partnership with your interior designer and architect first and foremost. Additionally, that partnership must be collaborative. If you’re informed that their relationship with your builder and interior designer will be one-sided, this is not the builder for you! A collaborative partnership will mean that unnecessary tensions, extra costs, and schedule delays can be avoided. It also shows you how well the builder will communicate with you. If they are reticent to share ideas with other designers, they’ll probably be reluctant to share details with their clients.

How do you ensure that your budgets are accurate? Please tell me about your estimating process.

You need to be sure that the builder has an extremely thorough estimating process. Preliminary estimates should be based on current market pricing and also historical hard costs. This provides confidence in their experience and knowledge.

After plans and specs are finalized, their detailed budget estimate should mostly be based on hard bids from the subcontractors and vendors in their network.

You should feel assured that there will be multiple bids secured from subcontractors of a high quality, and that the builder will examine the bids to ensure that they’re comprehensive.

How long will producing an estimate take?

Primary estimates can be provided quite quickly, sometimes it only takes a week. Detailed budget estimates can take around 3-4 weeks. If the builder says that it will take longer than that, make sure that they tell you why. It could be because your custom home design is particularly difficult or complex, or it could be because they currently have a lot on their plate. This is a massive sign for you to choose from your other custom home contractors, because if this builder is busy, your home won’t get enough attention.

Who is going to be assigned to this project, and how often will this project have direct supervision?

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While in the early design phase, the builder probably won’t be able to tell you for sure because construction will likely be months from when you’re asking. However, posing this question upfront will let you know what their project teams look like (for example: whether they only have a construction manager or if they have both a construction manager and a project manager) and how much their project teams have going on at any point in time.

How will you deal with questions and concerns whilst construction is underway?

While there are bound to be bumps in the construction process, asking this question is really to help you get a better idea of how the builder will deal with, communicate, and handle the situation. You need to know that they will value your input and concerns. If you’re the type that likes to monitor, you’ll want to know whether or not you can keep track of the process. Their answer should show you that they communicate, are efficient, accountable, and organized.

A great bonus is if they say that they will set up regular meetings with you!

If there are unforeseen conditions or changes to the design that rack up an extra cost, what is the process that follows?

When it comes to building a custom home (especially a high-end one), there is the likelihood of a change order because these projects are very complex. The builder should have a system for dealing with changes; documenting them, presenting costs options, and then upon your approval, implementing those changes in an efficient way.

How long do you think this project will take and how will you handle challenges to stay on schedule?

The answer will of course depend on how large and complex your home is, but the answer is usually somewhere around 10-24 months. What you would like to learn from asking this question is how well the builder has organized their systems and processes. You’ll find out how much experience their team has, how diligently they update the project’s schedule, and how proactive they are when dealing with problems before they even arise.

Are your contracts fixed-price or cost-plus?

The builder should allow you to pick the type of contract that you feel most comfortable with, as well as explain your options to you in depth.

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Can you give me examples of any building methods or materials that you specifically prefer to use and why that is?

From their answer, you should be able to gauge their depth of knowledge, expertise, and what their minimum standard of quality is. Follow-up questions can also help you to see how patient and thorough they are when explaining things to you. Additionally, you can learn about your most eco-friendly options and decide how green you want to go.

May I please have a sample budget, contract, and warranty?

budgetThe builder should be able to give you these resources, if not at your meeting, soon after. You should also ask about their warranty process for after you move in.

Can I have a few references, most preferably one past and one current client?

The builder should be able to get this for you. The only hesitation should be if they need to take time to contact their homeowners for permission; any other hesitation is a major red flag.

Finding the Right Custom Home Builder for Navigating the Process

Most importantly, take your time when evaluating your custom home builder. With so much excitement around the process and at the prospect of beginning your new life, it can be easy to settle. Choosing the best candidate will ensure your success and happiness for years to come.

Get in touch with us for any and all other questions! We’re happy to help you on the way to your dream home. You can also check us out on Houzz or Google.

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