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How to Choose a Custom Home Builder

Building a new home is one of the most exciting times in your life, and it also represents a big financial investment. There are hundreds of home builders out there so how do you know which one to choose? And since you are interested in choosing a custom home builder, your decision is a bit different than that of someone who is selecting a spec home builder. A good place to start the decision making process is to define “What is a custom home builder?” Then once you are clear on what a custom home builder can do for you, you can move forward in the selection process.

A custom home builder is just what the name implies: A home construction expert that specializes in building homes that are customized to your specific requirements. You will have a lot of advantages working with a custom home builder vs. buying a spec home that’s already built. You will get to select the floor plan and customize it to meet your needs, right down to the countertops and the drawer pulls. Your custom home builder will help you with site inspection and selection, choosing and customizing your floor plan, and more. A reliable custom home builder is a professional that you can count on to guide you through every stage of the home building process right up until your move in day.

So how do you choose the right custom home builder for you? Consider these tips to aid in your selection process:

– Ask real estate agents for recommendations. They will know builders in your area and be able to steer you to trusted custom home builders.

– Check the builder’s references. Marilyn Lewis’ article “8 Ways to Check Up on Your Builder” on MSN Real Estate can help you get started with which references to check so you can do a thorough background investigation. This step in your decision process is really important. Take the time to check with multiple references for each builder you are interested in. Ideally try and find references that are recent and who have a similar floor plan to the one you are selecting. Beyond selecting a builder who you think is capable of building your home, ask each of the references what kind of relationship they had with the builder. Was the builder friendly, accessible and responsive to questions and concerns? A builder who is easy to work with will help make the homebuilding process go much more smoothly.

– Look for a proven track record.

– Get a comprehensive price quote. Make sure you get an itemized estimate spelling out where every dollar is going to be spent and not filled with a lot of “allowances” for additional expenses.

– Be sure to ask a lot of questions. When you have narrowed down your choices, don’t be afraid to get all of your questions answered. One important question you will want to ask is which parts of the home are standard and which parts are customizable. It will vary from builder to builder so get the answer to this question so you can make accurate comparisons.

– Visit design centers to get a feel for how your builder handles the home building process. Talk with builders’ design specialists to see how responsive they are to your needs. Some home builders offer online house plan customization tools. Ask your builder if his website provides this service and try it out to customize your home plan.

– Check on warranties. Ask about how the builder “makes it right” if you find something wrong in your home’s construction. Is there a specific “total house” warranty? How long is it good for and what does it cover? Ask about warranties for each of the homes’ systems as well.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) encourages consumers to ask questions when selecting a builder and offers a list of tips to help you with your search:. The NAHB also recommends that you contact your local home building association for more information on builders in your area.

You may have waited years to finally be able to build the home of your dreams. Your new custom home will be as unique as you are and it’s important to find the right custom home builder who can make your dreams a reality. By taking a little time to ask questions, check references and shop around you can help make the homebuilding process a positive and pleasant experience.