When you build a new house or undertake a major home renovation, you spend a lot of time with builders and contractors. How can you be sure you’re getting the best person for the job?
Hiring a builder is not only a big investment of money—it’s also a huge investment of trust. You want to feel confident that the person you hire is capable, honest, and reliable. That’s a tall order, especially if your knowledge of home construction is fairly limited. You don’t know how long it takes to build a house. You don’t know what the latest and best building materials are. You don’t know how to wire a house or install a heating system or, literally, put a roof over your head!
You’re going to depend on your builder to know how to do all of that stuff. Or, more precisely, you’re going to depend on your builder to know how to hire all the various tradespeople who know how to do all of that stuff.
So how can you know that a builder is a professional you can truly rely upon to make the myriad decisions that will result in the successful completion of your dream home? Get ready to do a little research on finding a builder you can trust.
- Ask people you trust for recommendations. You can go to the Internet, where services such as Angie’s List or Home Advisor provide guidance at the click of a mouse. That might be a good place to start, but don’t end your inquiries there. Actually talking to someone who has worked with a builder improves your odds of getting answers to the questions that are most important to you and your particular situation.
- Get references. You’re hiring someone to build a house, which makes you a de facto employer. Don’t sign a contract until you have checked your potential employee’s work history. You probably don’t want to do business with a builder who carelessly divulges confidential information about his clients. But if a builder can’t provide the names and contact information of a couple of previous satisfied customers, that could be a red flag.
- Interview more than one builder. This is especially important if you’re building a house for the first time. You need someone who will take the time to answer all of your questions—and you will have a lot of questions! You’re going to have a long-term relationship with the person you choose. Find a builder who has the time and patience to fully listen to and discuss your concerns.
- Make sure your builder knows the area. Constructing a house in Vermont or New Hampshire is not the same as constructing a house in Florida or California. Where you build can determine some of the most important features of your house. Do you need a basement, or can you get away with a slab foundation? Shingle or metal roof? Brick or vinyl exterior? You need a builder who knows what’s best for your area, which is not to be confused with what’s least expensive.