Thinking of building your dream home? Or investing in a major renovation? You have several important decisions ahead of you: where you're going to build it, what type of home you want, the square footage you want, and many more.
Perhaps the most critical choice you'll make is the contractor. Choose the right contractor and you're more than likely to be thrilled with your new home - and with the process. But if you choose the wrong one, it could end up being a nightmare.
The best way to get the process started is to ask for referrals from your real estate agent, friends, neighbors or family. You can also get names of contractors by observing construction sites in your area or by contacting the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce.
Inspect contractors' work. Go through some of the homes they've built if possible. Any reputable builder will provide names of past customers. Contact them and learn the answers to these important questions:
- Did the contractors hold to the original quoted price or did they add costs that you hadn't discussed?
- Was the work completed on schedule?
- Did they complete "punch-list" items? (Issues that come up on the final inspection)
You should interview multiple builders. What to look for during the interview:
- Do they show up on time and prepared? Are they respectful?
- Do they know what they're doing? Do they clearly understand what you're telling them? Do they fully understand local building codes? Know who's responsible for securing building permits?
- Are their estimates within your budget? Do they offer suggestions to improve on the design or selections to stay within the budget?
- Do they have worker's compensation and liability insurance? How long will they warrant their work? (It should be a minimum of one year.)
- The lowest estimate isn't necessarily your best option. Weigh this against other factors: the contractor's reputation, your own observations, experiences of other customers.