Many analogies have been used to describe the professional builder: the conductor of an orchestra, the ship captain, and even a general executing a military campaign. The point is that the builder is the one who must coordinate the innumerable players and products needed to transform a set of two-dimensional drawings into a finished home. The builder has to ensure that everything happens when it’s supposed to and that the result is exactly what the clients envisioned.
Ideally, this responsibility begins well before the first shovel breaks ground. One advantage to choosing a builder early in the design process is that the builder can make sure the home can be built most efficiently and cost-effectively. Bringing on a builder at this early stage can yield significant cost savings.
Once the plans are complete, the builder must work with local zoning and code authorities to secure the proper permits. Professional builders have a thorough understanding of building codes and good working relationships with local authorities. This is another big plus to hiring a pro: the building department is likely to scrutinize more closely a permit application submitted by a homeowner, or even by a small building company, than one submitted by an established professional contractor with a reputation for solid management and quality work.
Professional builders also have close relationships with quality subcontractors. And because the builder is a source of ongoing work for those contractors, prices offered to the builder will likely be less than prices offered to anyone else. Once the project is underway, the builder’s management skills make a difference. These skills include:
They keep the job on schedule by ensuring that all workers and materials show up at exactly the right time. Construction timetables can change quite often, with causes that range from bad weather to late deliveries. The time and organization required for the builder to constantly adjust everyone’s schedules is something homeowners seldom see. In addition, they oversee the job to guarantee that all trades deliver quality work. The builder knows enough about each specific trade and has a good relationship with each subcontractor to make sure things get done right. For example, if it’s too cold to pour a concrete slab, the builder will have the knowledge and authority to put it on hold even if the concrete contractor is tempted to move ahead.
It was solving and preventing problems. A new custom home is an extremely complex undertaking with a million things that can go wrong—and that will go wrong without a skilled and experienced person in the lead. Having a professional builder in charge of solving problems takes a lot of stress off the homeowners.
What Makes a Good Homebuilder?
Good homebuilderChances are, by the time you’re ready to pick a home builder for your custom home project, you’ve already put months of thought and planning into this project. From daydreaming about exactly what your perfect home looks like to answer the logistical questions of where you might build this dream home (and what it might cost)! Now, you need someone to take all of your ideas and plans and turn them into reality. It’s such a huge decision, one of the first and most important decisions you will make throughout this entire process. Building a custom home is a big investment, and you are going to be spending potentially months in a close partnership with these people as you work on a complex and emotionally resonant project. The builder you choose will affect every aspect of your home building experience, not to mention the quality and durability of the final home.
Qualities to Look for in a Homebuilder
Choosing a great home builder can be daunting. There are so many builders out there, with a huge range of experience levels, portfolios, and working styles, and (especially if you’ve never been through the building process before) it’s not always easy to separate the good from the dubious. So, where do you start? There are certain vital qualities that the best homebuilders share. If you can identify a builder that embodies all of these qualities, you can be sure that you and your project are in good hands.
Available and Willing to Be Your Adviser During the Design Phase
A good home builder should be more than willing to come on board to consult long before ground is broken on your project. This is an opportunity to get practical advice and guidance at a crucial stage. Having an expert builder who is willing to partner with you and your architect can help you make sure that your dream design and your real-world budget stay in sync. Probably most importantly, they can use their many years of practical experience to resolve potential constructability issues before the plans for your home are complete so that you don’t end up having to go through a costly redesign at the last minute. They can also bring unique design ideas to the process and speak up about any cost-saving opportunities and value-engineering possibilities they observe as the design develops. Finally, they’ve seen what’s worked in previous projects and can apply that wisdom to yours.
Trustworthy and Service-oriented
The homeowner/homebuilder relationship is (or should be) a close one. You’re collaborators on a very personal project, and the builder you choose should show genuine commitment and desire to be your trusted advocate through the entire journey. They need to care about your home as if they were building it for their family, and they need to handle your resources with as much respect and responsibility as if they were their own. So how do you know when you’ve found a builder like this? Above all, they will take the time to ask questions. They will listen to what’s important to you and then adopt those priorities. The only plan that should be on that construction site is yours: your builder should be acting as your proxy at all times. If you can trust your home builder, you are safe from ending up as another cautionary construction tale.
Experienced and Knowledgeable
The uncomfortable truth is that anybody can be a builder. On the plus side, that means there are many opportunities out there for young, enthusiastic, hardworking teams to get into this wonderful business. On the negative side, it means that there are not many protections out there for potential homeowners. This is the source of most of those unfortunate construction horror stories we’ve all heard. Building a home is a big investment of time, money, and emotion, and on a project of this magnitude, you don’t want to be anybody’s guinea pig.
There is a lot about custom homebuilding that can only be learned by experience—the more experienced, the better:
- You want a builder with a long history of happy customers and beautiful homes behind them.
- A builder who has been in business for decades is usually doing something right.
- So many years of building homes generally mean a diverse portfolio, which lets you know that they can deal with any type of construction. It also means that when problems crop up (and no project is ever 100% problem-free), an experienced builder will be able to solve them quickly and effectively because they’ve pretty much seen it all before.
- You also want a strong and experienced team.
The construction managers on-site and the project managers back at the office both have vital and equally important roles to play when it comes to ensuring that your home is built on time and budget.
Hand in hand with experience goes a proven track record. Your chosen builder should have a stellar reputation with past clients and past collaborators. Healthy relationships are the lifeblood of the custom home construction business. In addition, a quality home builder should be part of a strong network, with a robust contact list of reliable subcontractors and vendors, which will keep your project moving and ensure that all work and finishes are completed to the highest standard.
Responsive and Transparent
Just like any relationship in life, communication between you and your home builder has to be high quality and effective if you’re going to get anywhere. Every exchange you have with a potential homebuilder should be open, positive, and professional. They should encourage you to ask as many questions as you can think of, and then they should answer them in a patient, thorough, and timely way. If they can communicate in this manner now, it’s a good sign that they’ll do this throughout construction, too. Transparency and honesty are also key ingredients to any good relationship, and that’s what you should feel from your builder. They should be willing and able to give you accurate updates whenever you need them, and they should be open to scheduling regular site visits with you.
Quality-focused and Detail-oriented
There should be no cutting corners in the construction. You need to find a home builder with quality standards that match or exceed your own. Nothing should get by your builder at any stage of the process. At the start, they should analyze your architectural and engineering plans so that any potential issues can be resolved before construction even begins. That spares you the cost of work that has to be re-done or mistakes that have to be fixed. A good builder stays up-to-date with the best building methods and materials and won’t budge on quality, which means a higher-performing and longer-lasting home for you.
Organized Systems and Processes
The organization is everything in this business. A custom home building project is immensely complex, with hundreds of variables that need to be managed. Your homebuilder is like the conductor of a vast orchestra, ensuring that everyone moves in time and tune. Solid systems and processes from start to finish are required for an efficient schedule and effective budget monitoring. Here are just a few of the vital processes your home builder should be able to handle:
- Bidding Process: For a comprehensive and accurate budget, your builder must ensure that proposals from subcontractors and suppliers are systematically and thoroughly vetted.
- Pre-Construction Process: Pre-construction paperwork is key to a smooth construction start: they need a defined system and checklist to ensure permitting and approvals are handled efficiently and nothing falls through the cracks.
- Design Selections Coordination: There are dozens if not hundreds of small decisions for you to make as your house is built. They need to have a way to help you make design selections in time, so the schedule is not delayed.
- Construction: Project meetings and the project schedule must be systematically monitored to ensure effective scheduling of subcontractors and to prevent miscommunications and delays.
- custom home front door
Committed to You During the Warranty Phase and Beyond
Your builder’s commitment to you and your home should not end the day you move in. A generous warranty agreement is a sign that they are willing to stand by their work. You should be looking for at least a 1-year warranty on all materials and workmanship, a 5-year warranty on mechanicals, and a 10-year warranty on the house’s structural integrity. However, we also think that warranty coverage is only the beginning. Attitude matters, too. They should be happy to hear from you and willing to deal with warranty claims efficiently, effectively, and with good humour. Even when the warranty phase ends, you should feel comfortable calling them up with questions and concerns. A truly invested builder should be a life-long resource and partner for you and your family.
8 Reasons to Choose New Home Construction
Peace of Mind
Buying a new construction home can offer increased peace of mind. You see your home being built and know everything from the foundation to frame is new. However, when purchasing a resale, there is uncertainty about what the inspection may uncover, causing added stress up to settlement and beyond.
One of the main benefits of buying a new construction home is that EVERYTHING is new. Everything in the home is new and less likely to need repairs from the appliances to heating and cooling systems to the windows and the roof. Taking care of home repairs requires time and can be costly. In addition, new home construction offers a low maintenance lifestyle that allows you to spend more time doing the things you love.
Increased Energy Efficiency
Energy-efficient homes offer benefits to both the homeowner and the environment. Homes built today are subject to much stricter standards for energy efficiency than previously built homes. Energy-efficient features, such as an airtight building envelope, properly installed insulation and Energy Star windows and doors, can help improve comfort in the home and significantly reduce your utility bills. In addition to saving money, homes built using the best green building practices minimize the impact on the environment.
Ability to Personalize
Even if you aren’t purchasing a custom home, most builders offer the opportunity to personalize home features. Personalization may include structural options such as the number of bedrooms and baths and/or selections options such as upgraded appliances, finish choices and more. If you prefer to have your home customized before moving in, then new home construction may be the right choice for you.
New Homes Offer Improved Air Quality
New homes may offer superior indoor air quality versus older homes, resulting in a healthier home environment. Elements that improve indoor air quality include an airtight and watertight building envelope, properly installed building wrap, air sealant and insulation and the use of low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and carpet. Check with your builder to see if the company provides these air quality improvement features.
Offers the Latest “Smart” Home Technology
If you love the latest technology and want your home to include “smart” features, new construction may be a better option for you. Building a new home offers the ability to include sophisticated wiring that may be needed for advanced home technology, including security monitoring, lighting control systems and sound.
Includes Builder’s Warranty
Purchasing a new construction home can reduce the stress of potential home repairs covered under the builder’s warranty. A builder’s warranty typically includes features such as appliances, fixtures, materials, workmanship and structure. If you are concerned about unexpected home repair costs, then new home construction may be the better option for you. However, be sure you understand what items may be excluded from the the warranty and what can cause a warranty to become void.
Wider Buying Time frame Options
New home builders typically offer more buying time frame options than if you are purchasing an existing home. Buying time frames may range from immediate to next year. Perhaps you need more time to prepare your current home for sale but want to lock in a low-interest rate. Purchasing new construction allows you to lock in an interest rate today while providing more time to prepare for your move.
After reading this, you may be feeling that new construction is the right fit for you. If so, you likely have a new set of questions. For example, how long does it take to build a home? How do I choose and select options for my home? What is the difference between structural and finish options? You’ll find the answers to all of these questions and more in our Comprehensive Guide to Purchasing a New Construction Home – full of tips, comparisons, helpful resources and more to help you through the process.