How to Find the Right Homebuilder
You wouldn’t choose a doctor, babysitter or car mechanic without any background research, so why should you skimp on researching your homebuilder? Looking into homebuilders’ pasts can save time and massive repair bills in the future.
A list of builders can be found on move.com, the National Association of Home Builders’ home listing website, or through your local homebuilders’ association at nahb.org/findanhba, including the greater Atlanta chapter. Consumers looking in the Atlanta area can search for homes built by specific homebuilders on the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association website. Narrow down your choices with these steps to make sure you are working with a reputable, reliable and reasonably priced builder.
Check government records
The first step in narrowing down your selection is making sure everyone has proper licensing. Each state can provide documentation of a builder’s license and insurance. The way to obtain this information varies from state to state and can include searching on a state’s government website or contacting a state office of consumer protection or attorney general. For a more detailed background check, a county courthouse can provide records of any lawsuits involving a builder that you’re thinking of working with.
After you’ve narrowed down the pool of builders you are interested in, talk to some of their customers to gain a better insight of what kind of builder you’re looking at. Geoff Graham, founder of GuildQuality, which implements customer satisfaction surveys for 600 homebuilders, says a big builder should be able to provide you a list of at least 50 customers. Call several of these references and ask questions about the builder’s professionalism, speed and quality of work.
Visit the builders’ homes
Other homes built by the same builder will be an example of what is to come. Take advantage of open homes sponsored by the builder in the area and scrutinize the handiwork. The NAHB recommends paying close attention particularly to the quality of cabinetry, carpeting, trimwork and paint.
Talk to the Builder
Real Estate MSN suggests meeting with the builder before you agree to hire him or her. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. A builder that is willing to take time the time to prove his or her credentials and educate the consumer is worth investing in. Real Estate MSN also recommends asking the builder if you can look at previous customer satisfaction surveys and take a tour of another unit that is under development. Check to see if the builder keeps their construction sites clean, organized and safe.
Also talk to the subcontractors who work with builders for a behind-the-scenes look at the labor. “Subcontractors (such as drywall crews, painters, foundation crews or framing crew) will know who takes short cuts and who builds a quality house,” according to home-building-ideas.com. “Subcontractors can also tell you who pays their bills on time and who treats them fairly.”
It is time-consuming to do the necessary research to get the right builder for your home. But it’s one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make and well worth the time to find the right builder for you.