HIRING A BUILDER
Choosing a builder for your custom home is a decision that you should approach carefully. After all, this is the construction of the home you may live in for the rest of your life. The quality of your home will be remembered long after the price is forgotten. You should do you homework, investigate, ask questions and consider carefully before selecting your builder.
A good builder should understand your vision for the project and oversee every aspect from budget to design. A successful builder should have the top contacts in sub contractors and suppliers. Take the time to evaluate the builder’s competence, communication, reputation, professionalism and experience. Home building is an intensely personal and emotional experience and you need to feel comfortable with the builder you select.
An established builder probably has an extensive client list. Ask each builder that you interview for references. Follow up with past clients regarding their satisfaction during the process and with the final product. Use the reference list to your advantage by taking the time to drive by a few locations to look at the work in person.
Comparing proposals isn’t easy when you’re comparing apples and oranges. There are several particulars that can influence the overall cost of your project so be careful when comparing quotes. Remember that if the bid sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Keep in mind that the cost of something does not always equal the quality. Quality workmanship is vital to your home. It is important that products and materials are installed properly. Poor workmanship, improper installation or shoddy application, of a door for example, will diminish its quality regardless of the price of the door.
Ensure that you and your builder are both clear with the details of the project by having your contract in writing. Read the contract carefully and don’t sign it until you have compared other bids and you are sure that you understand the terms. A well written contract is the best way to prevent problems. It should spell out expectations for the project and the final product. A quality proposal should specify the scope of work with description of the work to be done, materials to be used and total cost of the project.
Some builders can provide you with a comprehensive Estimated Cost Breakdown which includes particular costs of construction like foundation, lumber, framing, plumbing, heating, electrical and painting to ensure accurate bidding (none over, none under). The contract needs to equal the added total cost breakdown.
AVOID COMMON PROBLEMS
Be sure that the builder is familiar with your area locally because construction is especially regional now with the variations in codes, practices, weather patterns and other factors. For example, a beach home might require 6 nails per shingle while a home several miles inland may only require 3 nails.
Choose a builder who is financially stable. They will be more likely to remain in business during the lifetime of your home and also while your new home is still under warranty.
Check to make sure that your building contractor carries both workmen’s compensation and general liability insurance because without it you (as the homeowner) are at risk. Do not hesitate to ask the builder for proof of insurance. Check that your builder is licensed or bonded in Delaware or Maryland. Check with the local builder’s association or call the Better Business Bureau to find out if there are any complaints. These are both great resources when looking for the history of a builder.
Remember that some warranties may be different when product is installed by a certified professional. Ask the builder what industry associations they belong to such as the ESBA (Eastern Shore Builder’s Association).