Choosing the right builder can be one of the first big decisions you have to make when starting the building process. If you are building a spec home, normally there is one builder that builds up the houses in that community. Which has it’s advantages and disadvantages. It makes the process of finding a builder easier, but you might not like that particular builder. Choosing a builder for building a custom home is a little more complicated. So I wanted to create a blog post specific to this topic!
Shopping Around when Choosing a Builder
When you start shopping around for a builder, there are many things to consider. Two of the major choices to consider are if that builder is within your budget, and if they are someone you can work with for the next 9 months or so.
Let’s start with how to go about looking for builders around your area. Personally, I think the best way to find a good builder is to ask others that have recently built with that builder. Word of mouth is a great way to really get good feedback about builders. Of course, if they have any type of website, or social media is another good way. But authentic and informative feedback comes best from personal experience. Most websites or social media accounts for builders want positive feedback to display.
When talking to someone who just built with that builder will be able to give you insight on what it was really like to build with that person. It is a good way to get an idea on what you will be working with throughout your building process. You might get some negative feedback, which is also valuable to you, because then you know what to avoid!
Questions to Ask
Listing some good questions you might want to consider asking your builders!
- Do they work with a specific architect, or are they open using anyone?
- Have they built a home similar to the style and design of home you want?
- What is your price per sq. ft. and how do you determine that price to make it as accurate as possible?
- How long does it take for you to create your estimated bid?
- How long does it take to build a home like we want?
- If we have a sub contractor we want to use that is different from yours, would you be okay with that?
- Do you have a one year fix and touch ups warranty?
- Will it be only you we are working with, or is there an assistant we will be working with too?
- What is the best way to keep everyone involved and communicating? We don’t want any miscommunications.
- Will there be regular meetings scheduled, or will they only be done upon request?
- How do you determine the builders fee? Is it a fixed fee, or is it a cost plus fee?
Comparing Builders to Builders
Now, it’s important to compare a few different builders. Try not to go for the first one you meet! They might be a good fit, but it is always a good idea to check out other builders to see if there might be a better fit! When comparing builders to builders you want to keep in mind that you are going to get what you pay for. You can chose the best builder in the city, but you are most likely going to pay some of the top prices.
You will want to meet with each builder face to face, or at least zoom, so you can get a good first impression of each builder you meet with. This will help you get a feel for them as a builder, information about the subcontractors they work with, building processes, estimated time frame, and if you feel like they would be a good communicator. Communication is KEY when you are building! Not only between you and your builder, but also you and your spouse!
It is also nice to actually see your builders work! Ask if you can see a current project they are working on and a recent completed home they built. This is almost like a “portfolio” if you think about it. It gives you an true visual of their work!
How do you Know if a Builder is Within your Budget?
Builders usually give estimates of their price per square foot. The price per square foot varies depending on your location. Our home is probably worth twice as much, or more if we built it in California. It’s good to get quotes from different builders to see the price range of several builders.
Calculating your budget is simple. Take your square footage on your house plans, and then you multiply it by the price per square foot. This gives you a good estimate of what it would cost to build a house.
To make sure your builder can give you an accurate price per sq. ft. then it’s a good idea to have a general outline of your house plan, that includes the square footage. Also try to give him some of the big design or features you want to include in your home.
We let our builder know that we wanted to have about 2,300- 2,400 sq. footage to give him a good estimate of what we plan to build. We also told him the major things that make cost differences, like we originally wanted brick on the lower part of the house (we decided to just do board and batten), and board and batten everywhere else. I let him know I wanted vaulted ceilings in the living & dining area, and that I wanted wood beams. There would be lots of brick accents, and shiplap throughout the house. We also told him we wanted LVP flooring and solid wood double doors. All these details helped him give us a better sq. ft. price.
I could tell you what it cost to build our house, or I what the builder told us the price per square foot was estimated to be, but in all honesty, that won’t help you! The economy is completely different now, then it was when we were building. Lumber prices have almost gone up 80% since we built! Not only that, but builders prices vary all around the united states. They can even vary with in local areas. The prices around my small town varied from $115- $145. Now I’m sure the prices vary from $130-$175 per sq. ft.
Builders Gotta get Paid, too!
There are different ways that builders determine how they get paid to build. Our builder had a set, or fixed, fee of what he was going to get paid. It was about $25,000. My parents recently built and they used a different builder. His fee was based on a percentage of the overall cost to build the home, and I think their builders fee was about $50,000-$60,000. Of course their house cost more to build than ours, but if we would have used the same builder as them, our builders fee would have been more that that set fee we paid. So keep in mind that builders get paid differently and you want to see if they will work with you on that!
Choosing a Builder that is Not too Hot, Not too Cold, but Just Right!
Yes, I just compared choosing the right builder to Goldie Locks and the Three Bears but it’s kind of true though! You will find builders that are too over the top, and only want to do things their way. You will find builders that don’t get involved much, and scoot by each house barely meeting the needs of their clients. Eventually, you will find a builder that is just right for you!
Hoping this covers questions you might have about deciding on how to chose the right builder! After you chose your builder, you are just one step closer to creating your dream home! As always, leave a comment below if you have any questions! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog emails, so you don’t miss out on any upcoming posts! I also talked a little about this on my Instagram #building 101 series. I talked about this a while ago, but you can find it saved on my highlights!