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How to Choose the Perfect Home Builder - A Beginner’s Guide for First-Time Home Buyers!

Do you remember buying your first car? Many of us who bought our first vehicle had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  We had to make lists, do our research, and ask questions before opening our wallets and making an investment. The same is true when choosing a home builder. It’s time for research all over again, but don’t worry since we’ve done the hard work for you.

If this is your first time cruising real estate agencies and researching home building and owning costs, we understand that you may feel completely lost. In order to assist you in this seemingly broad and impossible task, we have compiled a list of recommendations for you to review before making the final selection for your home builder.

How to Choose the Perfect Home Builder

Intro to the Home Builder Selection Process!

Before you begin to get overwhelmed try following these six easy steps:

  1. Make a List- Make a list of possible home builders in the area. Discuss your options with family, friends, and co-workers, who are already homeowners. You can also utilize Google if you aren’t familiar with the names of any companies and read reviews. Consider both big and small businesses. Don’t forget to check your local newspaper for contact information for real estate agencies, what companies are available in your areas, and what styles of homes local companies build.
  2. Do the Research- One of the most important steps in selecting a homebuilder is doing the research. Once you have your list of potential home builders, read more about each home builder, visit their housing developments, and review customer feedback including everything from accolades to critical complaints.
  3. Compare Prices, Services, and Quality- Use whatever works to help you remember your options, such as an old notebook or an Excel spreadsheet when comparing companies. Consider what amenities you may want to include and whether or not those amenities will be included in the price. Make sure they have at least a one-year warranty on the house.
  4. Ask questions… a lot of them! - Once you’ve “done your homework” it’s time to start asking questions to each builder that you are considering. Since there are almost endless questions to ask a potential building company, we’ll review questions you should ask later in the article.

 

Hint: Find out if you can visit communities that the company has built, and see inside model homes. You can visit communities built by the developer by yourself and ask local homeowners if they are satisfied with their home. Homeowners will usually be the first one to tell you if there was or is a problem in the construction of the home or the design. Also, ask about the company’s history and experience! You have the right to know everything about the company because you are making a personal and financial investment in your future and their company.

 

  1. Compare again - After you’ve asked all your big questions, consider your priorities again as well as what company is cost-effective without sacrificing the quality of your home. Think about the quality of the materials that the builder uses, any hidden costs, proximity to schools, hospitals, and your place of work, as well as property taxes.
  2. Make a decision! – Of course, after comparing everything, it’s time to make a careful decision!

 

What Should You Ask a Building Firm?

The questions that you should ask a building company are almost endless, but to make it easy for you start with reading our recommended question list below.

 

  1. Ask About the Company.
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many homes and or developments have you built?
  • What is your reputation?
  • May I view customer reports and references?
  • Are you insured and licensed properly?
  • What materials do you use and at what cost?
  • What kind of warranty do you offer and for how long is it valid?
  • What services will you provide during and after completion of my new home?
  • Do I work directly with you during the building process or a third party? For an example building process, click here.
  • Also: If you have a realtor, ask if the company will work with your realtor.

 

  1. Ask About the Location.
  • What are the estimated property taxes?
  • How close is the location of my desired home to important amenities and emergency services such as hospitals, Urgent Care facilities, schools, community centers, and places of worship (if applicable)?
  • What is the quality of the local schools?
  • What is your company’s future development plans for the neighborhood where I want to build?
  • If I buy my own land can your company build on my land?

 

  1. Ask About Amenities and Fees.
  • What features can be changed from the standard home and at what cost?
  • Are there additional fees if a problem occurs during building? Any other hidden fees?
  • Does your fee include landscaping?
  • Can I request changes to floor plans, such as location and size of rooms, large closets, and or number and location of windows?
  • Also: Ask about what specific features you want such as fancy moldings and energy efficient lighting and appliances, also if the builder supplies those features.

 

The Final Steps

Once you’ve made your lists, completed your research, compared prices, quality, value, and services, and gone on several home visits, it’s time to consider what works for you. Ask yourself what aspects of your new home are you willing to pay a little extra for and what company is the best fit. Take your time, negotiate, and ask for quotes from at least 3 companies. Don’t forget to have fun in the process, take photos, and talk to family and friends what they like and don’t like about their homes. It’s not every day that you build a new home!

 

Elizabeth is on the content team for Dynasty Partners, which builds high quality, architecturally rich homes with innovated designs. She enjoys decorating homes, hiking, hanging out with her family, and volunteering at the animal shelter in Des Moines, Iowa.

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