Real Estate Tips: Finding the Right Builder for You


By Mike LaRuffa

So you want to build a custom home? This is a multi-part series that will cover topics such as choosing a builder, architect and home site, going from plans to final price and finally what to anticipate during the construction process. First, I’ll help you select a builder. I think this is the most important step given that your builder will be a knowledgeable partner that can assist with the selection of your home selection and lot. Finding the right builder is no different from any other major decision you would make…
  • Do your homework and ask lots of questions.
  • Visit custom home developments and talk with the on-site reps
    • They can fill you in on who are the builders in the community and what differentiates them from each other.
  • Talk with friends and acquaintances that have built and ask them what they think of their builder.
  • Ask your favorite Realtor to recommend a builder that they have worked with in the past.
  •  Do a search for the builder online and see what comes up.
    • Visit their website, view past projects, see the styles of homes they have built and learn more about their history.
    • You may also find blogs or other pro and con views that have been posted by past customers.
  • Amid all this research, make sure they have their contractor’s license and are not operating under someone else’s…that is a real red flag and may mean that they have had past problems. 
One of the most dependable research techniques is to speak with past customers. I would suggest not only talking to customers that were recommended by the builder but also ones that were not so you get a balanced opinion. Ask if the builder was pleasant to work with, were they accessible, were they flexible on making changes, how was their quality, did they meet their time lines and did they stay within budget? While price and budget play an important part they are not the only factor in your decision. Remember you are entering a relationship that may last for a couple of years. Your ability to discuss your opinions, feelings, views and changes in a comfortable setting will be invaluable. That said you still want to ensure that the builder you select has a track record of delivering homes within the budget you’ve agreed upon. The final piece of the puzzle is checking the financial stability of your builder. Don’t be shy about asking the builder for bank references, if they are reputable they will be more than happy to provide them. In today’s economy the construction financing will probably be secured through you in the form of a construction to permanent loan. The money will be doled out to the builder in stages, so you want to be sure that they are being good stewards of the funds and are paying their contractors and suppliers! We will touch on some of the pit falls that can occur later in the series. Come back and see us soon when we will talk about selecting a home site and your architect!