Choosing to build a new home is only the very beginning of the process. And unfortunately, one of the hardest things to do is your next step, which is to choose the right builder for your new dream home. Once you’ve chosen a builder and have the design nailed down, the rest of it comes easily. Well okay, there are always kinks in the road, but you know what you need to do to get to the end product. Choosing a builder sets up the road to the end product, though, which means you need to be extremely careful with this step. Let’s review some of the best ways to find a great builder for you and your new home.
First, do your homework
The Rolling Stones said it best when they sang, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you get what you need! Building a house will automatically mean some compromises from the bouncy castle or treehouse of your childhood dreams. But there is always a question of how much you should compromise and how much you should stick firm to your home design plans. Doing as much research as possible before you even engage with builders is so important to having a full picture, and finding the perfect builder for you.
The best way to do this is to prepare a building brief for your project. Now, we know, this might sound a bit overwhelming for anyone who hasn’t trained in building or construction, but we’re not asking you to complete a detailed blueprint or architectural design. Instead, try and write out a general structure of a brief, including some of the most important details that we’ll go through below.
- Priorities: What room do you need completed first? Are you hoping to have a house foundation constructed and completed so you can live in that first, while the rest of the house is being completed?
- Cost: This is an extremely important one for you as the client. Setting firm boundaries, within reason, and without the pressure of a builder there to inflate your costs, is super important. It can be so easy to give in to the upselling of an architect when you’re looking at these grand, amazing plans, so try and nail down a solid budget before you even start looking for builders.
- Other technical requirements: Is a walk-in closet a must, and an open floor plan? Do you want to ensure there’s space for an outdoor dining area once all is said and built? All of these details will help you not only choose a builder by what they have done, but will help you communicate better once you have chosen a builder.
Here are some more things to think about adding in to your brief.
Check their designs first
We can’t stress this enough – how can you expect to find a great builder for you if you don’t know what their style is? Think about commissioning a self portrait from a painter whose work you’ve never seen. Perhaps you are expecting a realism portrait that resembles an Edward Hopper, but you instead get a Cubist portrait resembling some of Picasso’s more “out there” work! While this might be a bit of a dramatic metaphor, it’s really important that you know the style of your builder to know if it will fit your wishes.
If you’re still struggling with types of designs, wait to look for a builder until you’ve nailed it down. To help you decide, think about floor plans, i.e. open versus traditional. Take a drive around your city and suburbs to look at the styles of homes to get some ideas of what you like. Consider weather and sun patterns in your decision as well, as some home styles incorporate light in better than others, and some are more sleek in windy areas.
Look into their contacts and agents
All builders will have contacts and people they tend to work with on projects. While the building company may not directly employ plumbers or commercial roofing specialists, for example, they will have contractors that they will hire on to complete your home build. We recommend reaching out or researching these outside contractors as well as the builder so you know what you’re signing up for. Remember that smaller building companies will likely handle most of the work themselves and hire few, if any, outside contractors.
Transparency is key
Your builder should be transparent with you from the beginning, even right from the initial meeting and bidding process. They should be able to answer all of your questions right from the first meeting, and present you with a timeline that’s actually realistic. Promises that seem too good to be true probably are in this case, unfortunately.
When you begin looking for builders, ask them if they’ll give you a tour of previous work they’ve done. While it might not always be possible, especially if there’s people living in the homes, they should at least be willing to provide you with plenty of pictures, videos and blueprints and plans to show off their work. Be wary of builders who are hesitant about showing off what they’ve done.
Communication should be open and easy
Similar to transparency, communication is vital for this relationship. Look for clues in your initial meeting that communication is good or bad with the builder. Do they answer emails quickly? Were they flexible with meeting with you, and were up front from the beginning? While it’s not an exact science, if a builder is not answering your questions quickly or getting back to you right away, it can be a sign they will be the same when working on your building project.
While you might not be able to build that epic treehouse that you wanted when you were 10, you still have the opportunity to create something special, provided you’ve found the right builder. With these few steps, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect one for you.