What to Look For In A Custom Home Builder

Not sure where to start with a builder?
You’re not alone if you’re unsure

Saying ‘choosing the right builder for your home is an important decision’ is an understatement. It is vital you decide the right one that can navigate along with you throughout the building process. It isn’t all fun and games so make sure you hire the company that has the experience, the customer service, and the skills necessary to give you exactly what you want. If you are unsure of where to start our “Top 8 Custom Home Builders in Austin” page is an excellent place to begin looking for reputable builders, we recommend you take a look there. They are some of the top companies that we feel share those qualities we look for in our own custom home builder. They have experience, customer testimonials, and plenty of awards that match their hard work and dedication.

Here are 8 thing to stay away from when looking for a custom home builder

  • Large down payments before starting the construction
    • This is kind of obvious – you don’t want to give someone a large sum of money before they do any work. Installments should be small and in higher increments as the project goes on, unless you two can reach a different agreement.
  • No contracts
    • The last thing you want is to be standing in the middle of your beautiful home and then have to worry about the dreaded “he said she said” situation. Get everything, and we mean everything, you can in writing. Don’t trust someone because they were nice and made you laugh a few times in their pitch. When it comes down to it business is business and they are doing this to put food on the table for their family. This goes without saying but when you get a contract…read it.
  • Refusal to provide an estimate
    • This goes hand in hand with acquiring a contract. If they don’t provide you an estimate a skeevy builder can jack up the price at the end and surprise you.
  • Little or vague past experience
    • A great custom home builder should be experienced and happy to provide you with customer testimonials. Of course you may run across the occasional builder who is just starting out but they should provide you with previous experience (previous employers and references from other companies that can vouch for them). Either way, play it safe and contact all of their references, you should be asking for 5-7 and take a look at their past projects
  • A “too good to be true” price
    • Never walk into a meeting with a builder uninformed. If you have a partner that you are going to live with in this home then you should have somewhat of an idea of what you two want. There is too much info online to not have done some research as to what you are looking for, and what you can afford. Take a look at other homes that are similar to the one you plan on living in and use zillow.com and figure out the price range. That way, when you hear the estimate for your home you know if someone is trying to sell you on a low price point, or charge too much for your home.
  • Unable to provide references
    • If someone doesn’t have a good relationship with their previous companies or, even worse, customers, you need to find out why. Only by speaking with that person will you get the reason why something went sour in that relationship. Hey, maybe the customer was too demanding and unrealistic in their expectations. In some instances it isn’t always the builders fault. However they should be able to give you references and explain why something went wrong.
  • Downplaying importance of certificates, permits, and licensing

    • If they don’t have the correct permits and licensing this is a huge red flag for someone looking to make a quick buck off of you. Any serious builder will have all the necessary documentation at hand ready to show you. Don’t let them tell you that you need to acquire the permits either, that is part of their job. Here is some info about building permits in Austin – http://www.austintexas.gov/department/building-permits
  • High pressure sales tactics
    Angry customer
    Don’t let anyone pressure you into choosing them! It’s your decision so take your time
    • Buying a home is a huge decision in people’s lives. There is no reason for a potential builder to be pushing you to make a decision. There are a ton of factors that go into buying a new house: finances, the location, nearby businesses, schools, etc. It can take as much as a few months to decide if it’s the right fit for the family you envision in the future. Don’t let someone pressure you into making the wrong choice.

Unsure of what to look for in a custom home builder? Click here for the full guide, but here are some good questions to start with when first speaking with a potential contractor:

Talking to potential builder
You should feel comfortable to call your builder and ask about anything on your mind
  • Do you specialize in custom built homes?
  • Were your previous contract estimates accurate?
  • How will you determine the price of my custom home?
  • Do you have references I can contact?
  • What is the best way to get in touch with you when I have questions?

Environmentally conscious? Check out our Going Green page with plenty of tips to help out every homeowner!