Avoid the Home-Building Nightmare!

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Six Tips For Making Your Construction Experience Rewarding.

Are there some simple steps prospective custom-home-buyers can employ to assure their building process is rewarding?

Most unhappy new homeowners could have avoided a lot of headaches, had they taken the time to do some research and footwork when reviewing local builders. Following some simple guidelines could turn your home-building process into a delight, instead of a disaster.

Take the time to:

Ask for former client names. This is the single most important step. Tell your prospective builder that you want a list of his last four clients. Then follow up, ask about their building experience with the contractor, and if they would be willing to allow you a walk-through of their home. If their building process went well, chances are they will be singing his praises.

Check your community’s local building board to see if your builder is known to them and if he has any record of code infractions.

Ask your builder if he has recently participated in litigation with former clients. Just because he has, doesn’t mean he’s not a quality builder, but if there have been a number of lawsuits – it should send up a red flag.

A concrete bid is fine, and in areas where builders are putting up hundreds of homes a year – it’s a necessity. But, if you live in a smaller community and your builder has excellent references, you might consider asking him for an Estimated Project Budget. This will tell you how much money is allotted for each stage of the home: plumbing, wiring, roofing, siding, flooring, etc. It’s easier to make a decision to give up those expensive tiles on the roof, if you understand you will then be able to afford a designer kitchen.

Don’t assume you can save thousands if you do some of the work yourself. Many contractors will allow homeowners to take part in the building process by painting, providing job clean-up, and other simple tasks, but it won’t lower your cost appreciably. You are worth exactly what an unskilled laborer is worth. So figure your hours at the local going rate – it might not be in your best interest to take on the work.

Check the local and State licensing boards, if available, to see if your builder is a member. It won’t mean that he is a quality builder; it will only mean that he pays his dues to belong. But it suggests he has ‘put down some roots’ that indicate his commitment to the community.

If you take the time and make the effort to educate yourself about the building process, and check out your contractor thoroughly, odds are you’ll be very satisfied with the building experience and will enjoy your new home for years to come.

Adam Smyth