Choosing a contractor to build your new custom home is a big decision, and it can be an intimidating one if you have never done it before. Like with any other major moment in life, it makes sense to evaluate a few different options before you choose the path ahead. Comparing multiple builders will give you the perspective you need to decide which one is the best fit for your project.
You have to consider many factors when building a custom house: what you want in a home, what responsibilities are yours during the building process, and—of course—how much you have available to spend. There’s a lot to juggle, and the process can be stressful at times, even in the smoothest of building projects. So the better your contractor is, the more enjoyable your experience will be. Working with a knowledgeable, reliable builder helps ensure that you get a quality home built on a predictable timeline and within your budget.
Since it’s not likely that you have a crystal ball, we have outlined some of the key factors to evaluate when determining which contractor is the best for building your new custom home.
Budget: Get Bang for Your Buck
Every building project has a budget, and the best builders have a strong track record of staying within it. Whether your budget is big or small, you want to get the most for your money and be sure that you are getting what you pay for.
Here are some questions to ask potential contractors:
What were the budgets of some of your most recent projects?
If a builder typically works on projects with significantly higher budgets than yours, they might not be a good fit even if they’re an excellent contractor. Every builder has different overhead costs and profit goals, which is one reason the exact same home could have very different pricing from builder to builder. Understanding a builder’s typical project mix will help you find the right match.
What steps will you take to ensure that my project stays within the budget?
Staying within the budget can be achieved through careful coordination, efficient processes, strong supplier relationships, and a range of other practices. A cost-conscious builder will be able to tell you what steps they take to monitor and control costs so that you can reach your budget goals. Remember, even if you have a higher budget, you want to stay within it.
What will happen if the project goes over budget even if I don’t make any changes?
Even a well-coordinated building project can come with surprises. A run of foul weather, unavailability of a specific material, an increase in material costs, or a labor shortage can influence the cost of building a new home. Many of these situations are completely out of your control, so it’s important to understand the consequences of any unexpected circumstances. Of course, it’s also important to understand how the costs might increase if you decide to make changes after a certain point in the design and build process.
What is included in your pricing?
Comparing builder pricing is notoriously difficult because every contractor uses their own estimating systems. It’s important to take a close look at each estimate to determine exactly what is included and what is not. You might find that the contractor with the highest estimate includes site development, permitting, and other costs that another builder did not have in their pricing. Don’t assume that you can make an apples-to-apples comparison—and ask each builder to explain their estimate if it’s not clear what’s included.
Do you guarantee your pricing?
Some builders guarantee their pricing for a period of time after an estimate has been delivered. If they don’t do this, you could be in for a nasty surprise if the material and labor costs change between the time when you receive the estimate and when the project actually starts.
Design: Get the Layout That Fits Your Lifestyle
Building to a budget starts with design. When building a new home, you have several design options ranging from a stock plan to a full custom home with an architect. Of course, there are plenty of options in between, including customizing existing plans to suit your needs.
Questions to ask potential contractors:
Do you have a library of floor plans?
Part of finding the right builder is ensuring they can build the style of home you want with the layout and features that match your lifestyle. Unless you’re planning to work with an architect before you hire a builder, a floor plan library is a good place to start. This allows you to see the range of styles and layouts that are possible with each builder.
Do you offer custom design services?
If you find a stock plan you truly love in the floor plan library, you might not need custom design services. However, many people find a stock plan that is almost what they want, but not quite. Some builders offer only stock plans, some allow limited customization, and others give you total freedom. Of course, each of these options comes with a different cost, so it’s important to understand how your budget influences your design options.
Who does the design work?
Although some builders also have design skills, it’s rare to find an individual who truly excels at both. Contractors who work closely with design professionals or companies that have dedicated design departments are more likely to provide the level of service and quality that you want in a new custom home.
What are the costs associated with design?
Some builders include the cost of customization in their overall price, while others charge you for design services in addition to the cost of the house. There is nothing wrong with either approach, but it’s important to understand each builder’s model so you can factor the costs into your budget.
Process: Understand What’s Involved
There is no single correct way to build a custom home, which is why different builders use different processes. This might range from just coordinating other subcontractors to do the work to full turnkey services. Where you want to be on this spectrum depends on your budget and how much you want to participate in the homebuilding process. The more you can do yourself, the lower your costs will be and the more equity you will have in your home. Of course, if you’re not interested in participating in the building process or don’t have the time, it’s important to be on the same page with your contractor before starting the project.
Questions to ask potential contractors:
What are my responsibilities as the homeowner?
If you’ve never built a new custom home, you might not be aware of the many steps involved beyond just constructing a house. You have to go through permitting processes with state and local authorities, set up utility connections at the site, and prepare the property for construction. Find out how much the builder does and how much they expect you to do so that the expectations are clear at the outset.
Do I get to decide how much I participate in the building process?
There might be some tasks that you’re willing to take on and others you are not. Talk to potential builders about what you would rather not do and be sure you understand the associated costs of the work you want them to do.
How much guidance do you provide about my responsibilities?
If you’ve never secured a building permit or reviewed estimates for site clearing, you might feel a little overwhelmed. The learning curve can be steep, and some builders leave it up to you to navigate the process on your own. Others have dedicated staff who will guide you through each step in the process, providing valuable knowledge that will save you time and energy when you’re building a new home.
Adair Homes: Custom Home Contractors
If you’re considering building a new custom home in the Pacific Northwest or Arizona, put Adair Homes on your list of potential contractors. We’re known for building quality homes on a budget, and our unique process allows you to generate instant equity. Our Home Ownership Counselors will answer any questions you have, and not just during the sales process. Along with our construction superintendents, they’re available every step of the way to help you on your path to home ownership.
Contact your local branch office today to learn more about customizing one of our floor plans to suit your needs. Whether you’re building your first home, planning for retirement, or growing your investment property portfolio, you can rely on us. We’ll even help you find land with our trusted Realtor partners and secure financing through our sister company, Alliance Financial Services.