Picking a Builder
Picking a builder is HARD. This is someone who can control what you are trying to spend your life in. This is someone who can either work with you and explain things or leave you in the dark because you have no idea what everything means. This is someone who can answer their phone when they call or make you wonder why you are paying them. On top of everything, everyone has a different price...a different amount they expect to make on the project.
For our project, I called just about everyone I could think of-friends, phone book ads, and even people that were building houses in an area that we liked. You get what about what you would expect. Some answer, some take days to respond, or some don't call you back at all. Then, some of the ones that do get back to you are booked for months or even years. So here you are, ready to build a house, you've talked to the bank, and you have to pick a builder that fits your timeline, budget, and one that you feel comfortable with.
It's not easy.
So here are some things that eventually helped us decide who would help us build our dream house.
1) Prompt Communication
We don't know a lot about building. Our builders are already doing a great job with communication. They call us back within an hour (if they don't pick up the phone on the first call), and I usually get a daily phone call keeping us in the loop with what is going on. I takes a lot of wondering/worrying/stressing off your plate because.... let's be honest.....we really don't know everything that goes on to get a house built, and we appreciate being informed.
2) Attentive to Our Wants and Plans
This is crucial as so many builders looked at our plans and pictures we had and thought we wanted magazine quality houses. I mean...we would LOVE a magazine quality, Joanna Gaines quality home, but that is not in the budget. Understanding the style we want, listening to our plans, dreams and goals, and "getting" our budget is super important to us. Our builders are doing a great job with this right now. For example, our original plans didn't include a garage because we were going to have to add it in later for finance reasons. However, we were able to add in a garage later in the planning phase. Due to the lay of the land, adding a garage meant loosing the window over the kitchen sink. We were really bummed about that, because it meant no window in the kitchen now. We had a designer making the plans, multiple people looking at the plans, and we stared at the plans for weeks trying to figure out how we were going to sneak in a window in our kitchen. Then, we showed the builders the plans, told them our dilemma and found us a solution within minutes. Thank you guys!! Sarah gets her window!
(meaning that they didn't talk down to us and really put the entire process in "average man" terms)
We are only months into our build, but I have already learned terms I never knew and will probably never use again after this process is over. I am the type of person that if you start explaining something and I do not know, I am going to stop you and ask. You will find builders that will explain what they mean and then find ones that don't. It works the other way too like when you are trying to explain something, you aren't using official terminology, and your need to get your builder to figure out what you mean. I want to have a real conversation with someone and make sure everyone is on the same page. You have to find who you are comfortable talking with.
4) Budget Conscious
Sarah and I are pinching pennies to make this home build happen. We come from jobs with average pay. We are super fortunate that we were given the land to build on, because none of this would be possible without that beautiful blessing. We have a budget. It is small, and that is scary. We have to be REALLY careful with this entire process because we have very little buffer room when it comes to the budget. We cannot afford to not watch the money. The builders that we ended up picking understand this and know that if something comes in way more expensive then they have to find another way. They take the time to call around, take bids, and explain to us who we are going with and why. Some builders have a couple set of house plans that they want to use as they know what it will cost and the profit margin and I respect that but when talking about a custom home, it doesn't always have to be outrageously priced.
If you are looking to build a home then these are our quick tips for picking a builder! Go with your gut, and do your research! :)