Building a new home can be an exciting process. Choosing your favorite community, the best lot, your dream plan and then selecting every little detail. Not only do I have a background in new home construction with a top Texas home builder, I also went through the building process recently and had both good and bad experiences. I was asked by a friend how they should choose which builder to go with … Can you say loaded question?
Many people fail to realize that choosing the right new home builder is far more important than having the perfect floor plan. The wrong builder means a life filled with stress and sleepless nights while the right builder will ensure your home is built to last with relatively low stress. Notice I still said there was stress involved. It’s kind of hard to avoid stress when your dreams are in someone else’s hands combined with the fact that a home is not a perfect product! I have found that there are 5 things you can do to increase the chance of choosing the right home builder.
5 Steps to Help Choose the Right New Home Builder
First and most important, speak with the current homeowners in the neighborhood where you plan on purchasing. If possible, speak with the homeowners that have lived there for over a year and their bumper-to-bumper warranty has run out. This will give you the real scoop on the quality of the homes, typical number of problems and general overall attitude. Don’t worry about knocking on a stranger’s door to ask questions about their experience. They have been in your shoes and will be happy to answer your questions.
Try to avoid talking to homeowners from other communities (even from the same home builder). Every community has different construction managers and different trades that conduct the work. You may get a false sense of security talking to someone across town. If the community is brand new, then choose the closest community as they will sometimes use the same trades to do the labor.
Check the current JD Power rating for the builders. You can see the newest JD Power ratings by clicking here. The problem with the JD Power ratings is that many builders focus solely on scoring high and can completely miss the mark in other areas. For example there are a few builders who score very high on the list and yet most people in the industry know them as crappy builders. Building a solid home doesn’t seem to score as high as fixing the many problems in a timely manner!?
Compare the builder’s warranty programs. You will be surprised to find what a few builders fail to cover under their warranty. Don’t just check to see what is covered, find out how long they cover the items and how quickly they resolve the problems that can and will arise. You will find that a strong warranty can greatly reduce your long term stress.
Compare the building material specs. I don’t mean GE appliances vs. Viking appliances but rather joist types, siding material, brick manufacturers, etc. For example, there are a few builders that still using wood siding. Technology has come too far for builders to be using wood. If your house will have siding, they should be spending a little more money to go with a product like Hardi siding. Hardi is fire retardant, holds paint 5 times longer than wood, you don’t have to worry about termites and blah, blah, blah. Sorry, I won’t bore you with all of the details. No, this isn’t an Ad for products; I just think it’s important to recognize what your potential builder may be skimping on that could cause you stress and money in the future.
Don’t always trust a Realtor’s opinion on this issue. I hate to say that since 90% of Realtors will be honest and hold your best interest in mind. Unfortunately, like many professions, a few greedy people can give everyone else a bad name. Many home builders have unintentionally poisoned the waters with higher than normal Realtor commissions resulting in bad advice for a bigger paycheck.