Now that you’ve chosen the ideal area or community where you want to live, it’s time to choose a builder. The end product is probably foremost on your mind, and that’s important, but also consider that you will be working closely with this home builder for several months. In addition to a beautiful and quality finished product, you also want someone who communicates clearly, is organized, responsive, and attentive to detail.
The following tips are meant to help guide you as you choose a builder for your new house. Remember, you can find an overview of this and the other 6 steps to building a home in the first article in this series, “The 7-Step Process to Building a Home: An Overview.”
Discover Your Options
Your first step for choosing a new home builder is to discover who your options are in the area where you want to build.
- Search online. A simple online search will quickly let you know what builders are available in the area, the lifestyle they are targeting, and available floor plans, all of which will help you choose. Master planned communities will typically list the builders in their community on their website. At Terrain, for example, you can learn more about each of the five builders through the Terrain website: Century Communities,
D.R. Horton, Richmond American,
Taylor Morrison, and TRI Pointe Homes.
- Search in person. In addition to online research, it’s also a good idea to drive around the area where you’d like to build and look for signs. You may have already done this while you were deciding on a location. If so, you probably noticed builder signs and sales offices. If you can’t remember who you saw, go back and take note.
- Work your network. Lastly, you can also talk to realtors, friends, and family for their recommendations. Realtors with a wide client base will have a pulse on the experiences of working with various builders. Friends and family are sure to offer their opinions if they have been through the home building process, and they may also connect you with acquaintances who have worked with builders.
Narrow the List
Now that you know which home builders are in the area, you can start to narrow down the list for your choice by looking at two simple but crucial factors: floor plans and pricing.
- Floor plans. Take time to visit the builder websites and find out what floor plans they offer. Compare this to your wish list and eliminate any builders who don’t offer the number of bedrooms you’re looking for, or the option for a finished basement, or a large enough yard. Every person’s list will be different, but you should always take the time to find out in advance if builders offer what you need rather than making any assumptions.
- Pricing. Finances are the ultimate reality check. Even if a builder has the perfect floor plan for your lifestyle, if the price is too high there’s no need to waste time going any further. Floor plans come with a base price, which is the lowest possible amount you will pay for the home. Many different factors contribute to the final price, including appliance packages, finishes, upgrades, and options. You can look at spec homes to see what some of the final prices look like, as well as check recent sales (although in those cases you won’t be privy to knowing exactly what options were selected).
Put on Your Research Hat
You’ve narrowed the list of potential builders. Now it’s time to dig deeper. Before making a final decision as to who you’ll entrust to build your home, we recommend that you do the following:
- Tour model homes. Looking at a floor plan on paper is one thing, but walking through the house and experiencing the flow of the rooms and the size of the space is altogether different. Take pictures and make note of what you like and don’t like about each model so you can easily
recall them later. They will run together in your mind after the fact.
- Ask questions. If you are on a tour, be sure to come prepared with a list of questions for the Sales Specialist. Or you can always pick up the phone and call the Sales Office when new questions occur to you. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) offers a great list of questions to ask your home builder.
- Hit the road. Once again, it’s time to get out and get up close to your potential new home and neighborhood. Drive the streets or better yet take a walk and look for opportunities to talk to residents. They are your best resource for getting firsthand knowledge and opinions about what it’s like to work with a home builder.
Deciding which builder to work with is a fun step in the home building process. There are many reputable and reliable builders out there offering smart, modern homes—that you get to help create! Just remember to investigate all of your options, narrow the list by price and floor plan, and then dig deeper to find out which builder is the best fit for you.
Now that you’ve read this article, we hope you feel more prepared—and excited!—to begin. Next time, we’ll look at the next step in the home building process: choosing and reserving a homesite.