How to Choose a Home Builder
When you have a vision for your home, you want to trust that the builder you choose will bring it to life. But, when making such an important decision, how do you know which builder will best fit your unique needs?
As we prepare to build our dream home in Medford, Oregon, I’ve already come to appreciate the necessity of a GOOD builder who knows what they are doing. And a builder who will put YOU first.
So how did we find and sign our own AMAZING builder (which we just did this last week!)? I’m about to share the ins and outs of the process, including pre-interviews, in person interviews, and the questions you absolutely NEED to ask so you know exactly how to choose a home builder that’s best for you!
**This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Privacy & Disclosure Policy for more information.**
SHOP THIS POST + HOME BUILDING RESOURCES
How to Choose A Home Builder – Pre Interview on the Phone
Pre interviewing several builders is the first step to ensuring you end up choosing the right building company for you. We are lucky to have my Dad spearheading this part of the process – he is a contractor himself and knows a TON about the industry. He used to work for Home Depot, and even designed the kitchens of some famous Hollywood folks!
So needless to say, he knows what he’s doing!
He got on the phone with 6 or 7 different companies, and asked them the first round of questions to get a better idea of whether they would be right for us.
- How many years have you been in business?
- How many homes have your built?
- Are you licensed (where), and insured?
- What sort of new home warranty do you offer?
- When and how can I make changes or upgrades throughout the building process?
- Do all decisions need to be finalized before construction begins?
- What features are standard in the homes you build?
- Do you only build from existing floor plans, or can I provide my own? Or do you have an in house architect?
- What are the energy saving features of the homes you build?
- Who will be overseeing the construction? How do I contact them?
- What is your process for inspections throughout construction?
- I want to build a home that is X square feet. How long will that take approximately?
- How and when will the final cost of the home be determined?
- Can I view a current project you are working on? [Homes in the works are a great way to check for workmanship and material quality]
- Do you build model homes I can tour? If not, can you help me make an appointment to tour a home you built for another customer?
- Can you provide me with references or testimonials from previous clients?
Now, obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, and on the flip side he did not ask all of these questions in every phone interview.
Many times, he would tell the builders that we were looking to build a multi generational home in the ballpark of 4,500 to 5,000 square feet, and that would be the end of the conversation.
Why? Because many builders were not willing to build over 3,000 square feet. Some builders were fairly new, and given the add ons we want to this house (solar, passive cooling/heating, an overall smart house if you will), that just wasn’t going to be a good fit, either.
You can get a lot of insight as well from not only the answers to these questions, but also the tone of voice in the response.
Is the builder hesitating? Are they wishy washy? If so – probably not a good fit. Also take note of how long it takes these companies to call you back to schedule a phone call. If you’re already annoyed at a delay in response time, chances are you’ll be even MORE annoyed during the build process. Habits in one area (lack of response to potential customer inquiries) generally bleed over into others (not responding to you during the build itself).
How to Choose A Home Builder – In Person Interview
Once my Dad had discussed our project on the phone with 6 or 7 companies, we narrowed it down to 3, and set up in person meetings with them all over the course of a week.
These interviews all went really well and we actually liked each company we met with. Why? Because my Dad had already pre-vetted several builders and we met with only those who already seemed like a good fit. AKA – save yourself the time of in person meetings and do your due diligence with pre interviews on the phone! Thank me later!
In person meetings are important for two reasons:
ONE. Get any other questions answers you may have left out in the pre-interview, or that have come up in your mind since.
TWO. Do you VIBE with these people. A builder might look great on paper. They might say all the right things. But if you don’t get a good VIBE…. it’s a no from me!
That actually happened with our second meeting. The builder was nice, confident, and experienced. But I got a bad vibe. He seemed cocky and egotistical to me, which was a big red waving flag saying “I’m going to suck to work with.” He was far more experienced than the first builders we met with, yet I would have wanted to choose the less experienced, NICER people who I vibed with better. Bad call? Maybe? But if the entire process of building my home is going to be a headache because the builder is an egomaniac (exaggeration for emphasis), I’m not about that life!
Before we get into the builder we ultimately chose, let’s tackle a few more questions you’ll definitely want to ask:
- Do you have any financing options or do we need to handle that through the bank: [some builders actually handle the financing for you, so this is a good question to ask]
- If you do not have an in house architect, do you have any recommendations for one locally?
- Do you have experience building a basement? (we wanted a basement, so this was an important question for us]
- This is our preferred timeline… does that sound like something that will work for you?
- For all you content creators out there, this one is IMPORTANT: If I can source my own materials/products (i.e. flooring, tile, light fixtures, etc), is that acceptable to you? Or do I need to get everything through you?
All of these questions are important. But again, it’s not an exhaustive list. Be sure you are going into these meetings prepared with any other questions that may be important to YOU and your situation.
Question 5 was a biggee for me. Why? Because it’s very possible I might have the privilege of working with a flooring company (or tile company, etc) for our new build, which could knock THOUSANDS of dollars off the price for us. I don’t take this privilege lightly, and am so blessed that this blog and my Instagram have allowed me to do this!
That said, Mr. Cocky from Interview 2? He was 0% cool with me sourcing literally anything. Another red flag screaming “I’ll be sourcing everything for you and marking it up so I can make money.” Obviously, the builders want to make money. EVERYONE – you, me, your Aunt Matilda – wants to make money. But this was a blatant “I care more about me than I care about you”moment. And I wasn’t here for it.
The other two builders we met with were cool with me sourcing products, so that was a big factor in our decision.
Ultimately, the third builder we met with, Asher Homes based in Ashland, OR, was the epitome of what we were looking for. (Btw, Asher Homes has not one clue I am writing this post, nor do I even think they know this blog exists! :P)
The meeting was lovely and we felt at ease immediately. Asher was also the most PREPARED of all the builders we met with in person. They presented us with paper documentation (something the other 2 builders did not), that broke down the entire process of working with them, from retainer, to design, to overall cost, to permitting, etc etc).
I love me some good organization, as do my husband and parents. Asher was also the most advanced when it came to actual building techniques, energy ratings, solar, and other smart home upgrades. A lot of these things were actually non-negotiables for them – they are mindful of the planet and are really building homes for the future. HUGE win.
SHOP THIS POST + HOME BUILDING RESOURCES
Something to note: Asher was not the least expensive of the three. But you know what they say right… NEVER choose the least expensive option when it comes to a builder or contractor! For us, the added cost is covering the peace of mind and ease of process that will come with working with them – worth every penny if you ask me!
And so, we signed with them this past week, and the ball is LITERALLY rolling now! The fact that we are actually, truly, building our dream home on the most beautiful piece of land is BONKERS. We are so so grateful and I cannot wait to share more of the process with you!
Next up will hopefully be some DESIGN PLANS! We have already communicated with Asher some basic floor plans that we’d like modified to fit our needs. And y’allllll… it’s going to be SO. STINKING. GOOD!
I hope this post on how to choose a home builder for your own dream home was helpful. Whether you are building now or in the future, save this post on Pinterest to come back to it later! Any questions for me? Leave them below!
Until next time!