How to choose a home builder - Part Two of a Series

Home Builder with 219-465-8352

In late April I started a series on choosing your new home builder.  How do I choose a New Home Builder? First in a series.  We had some fun discussing questions that a consumer can ask to try and differentiate between the trustworthy home builders and those that fall into possible problems.

Today I move to QUALITY of CONSTRUCTIONFloorplan quality of construction

First let me say that some of the best posts over at Home Builders of America (Active Rain Group) have been by member David Britt.  He has posted numerous times on specific quality of construction issues: Wood, Metal or Vinyl?  and Building a New Home: Tankless Water Heaters and Building a New Home: Hottest Trend

David, thanks for the very detailed posts, you are really becoming the group leader for our niche.

But my specialty is really not the sticks and bricks, or concrete and mortar, my specific QUALITY of CONSTRUCTION specialty is all about communication.  Most every home builder in the United States uses the same type of concrete, same type of cabinets, same type of lumber, same type of roof shingles.  We buy from the same suppliers, we build using the same kinds of labor ... we are all very very similar in our sticks, bricks, and labor.

So what really makes QUALITY?  And, how do you know if the home builder you are talking to about your dream home is really committed?

Theory:  Quality of Construction is less about the sticks and the bricks, and more about the methods of communication by and between the hew home builder and the new home buyer.

Some practical measurements:

  • Does your new home builder pay for and give you a 10 year new home warranty, insured by an outside entity?
  • Does your new home builder give you a new home maintenance manual, one that outlines the distinct and measurable differences between your responsibilities as new home buyer, and the builder's responsibilities for warranty.  This is the key battle ground, the key place that home buyers and home builders come to blows!

When I read posts here on Active Rain, or on outside blogs, by new home buyers that are mad at their new home builder, almost without exception the key battle is over who is responsible for common problems.  For example:

  • Who is responsible for settling soils in yard?  First year?  Year five?  Year ten?
  • Who is responsible for trees that die? 
  • Who is responsible for repainting a wall when a nail pop occurs?
  • Who is responsible for concrete small cracks?  Large cracks?  What's the difference?
  • Who is responsible for creaks in floors?
  • Who is responsible for siding that buckles or even dislodges?
  • And 100's more questions like this.

Now for the record, there is no "right" answer to these questions.  If the home builder doesn't know the answers, assume that the home buyer is responsible and factor that into your decision.  Assuming that the home builder will take care of things is like assuming that a parachute will function before jumping.

Our own company has labored to nail down these fine distinctions between buyer and builder.  It is not easy, and our current manual is in excess of 200 pages of details.  Still we have communication problems, still we struggle to make sure that our word is our bond.

If you are talking to a home builder that hasn't even started this process, quality is not a focus.  If you are talking to a home builder who suggests that you are responsible for your own maintenance, quality is a focus but you now know the lines of responsibility.  You may disagree, but you know, that's the key.  Choose wisely.




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Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
Steve, excellent questions to ask. I have book-marked to study later. Off to our ShowCase of Homes this week.
Jun 17, 2007 03:15 AM #1
Paula Henry
Home to Indy Team @ HomeSmart Realty Group - Avon, IN
Realtor - Indianapolis Real Estate - 317-605-4174
A homebuilder who backs his work with a warranty beyond the first year should be applauded! Many put homes up so fast, they would not dare to address the finer details of the warranty you have mentioned here.
Jun 17, 2007 03:27 AM #2
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro

Steve:  Like Missy I have bookmarked for later study.  I'm so glad I responded on part 1 so I knew part 2 was coming out.  GREAT INFORMATION!!

Jun 17, 2007 04:55 AM #3
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon
Steve - this is wonderful - I am also bookmarking it thanks for sharing
Jun 17, 2007 03:58 PM #4
Steve Dalton
219-465-8352 - Valparaiso, IN
Northwest Indiana Home Builder

Missy, Paula, Marchel and Thesa ... thanks for noticing.  I often get asked by friends, relatives and even real estate professionals "How do we choose a home builder"

So, when I get the chance, I'm trying to run a series on good ways to make that all-important decision.  You are all too kind, as I write I'm having to remind myself to do the very things I'm recommending the customer require!  Good reminders for me too.

Jun 17, 2007 04:04 PM #5
Jamie Mladenoff

Paula makes a great point.  Make sure the builder has a warranty.  Better yet, make sure a 3rd party warranty is willing to stand behind them.  3rd party warranties screen builders.  They want builders that do not have issues.  Also, in today's economy many builders have gone out of business.  If a third party warranty is utilized, then the financial stability of the builder does not have to be a concern.  Financial stability of builders today should be an area of concern for any potential homebuyer. 


Full Disclosure:  I currently work for a 3rd party builder warranty company.  Majority of builders who apply to our program are not approved into our warranty program.  If the builder is a member of Quality Builders Warranty, you can be sure that the builder has been thoroughly screened.

Aug 19, 2010 04:01 PM #6
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Steve Dalton

Northwest Indiana Home Builder
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