Though builders might generally use similar tools and materials when building homes, not all are alike when it comes to things like technique, training and customer service. Finding the right builder whose business approach aligns well with your personal preferences is essential to a pleasant home-building experience.
When a potential Home Buyer walks in our office we encourage them to talk to several builders. I promote using a builder that is a member of the local trade associations such as the Home Builders Association or the Chamber of Commerce. You want to select a builder that has experience with the type/style of home you want to build. You want to assure the builder is not only licensed and insured but properly licensed and insured. I also think it is important that the builder has experience within the governing municipality as well.
The builder will be asking you plenty of questions during your initial meeting to discuss the home you envision. But the questions you ask the builder are equally important to determine if it’s going to be a positive partnership. Consider asking the builder about the following:
Work Experience – You will want to find a builder with extensive experience building homes similar to the one you want. Ask to see examples of floor plans and designs they’ve done before to ensure their company can deliver what you need. You should also ask if they have or are working toward any professional designations, which show that the builder has advanced training in a particular area. The North Carolina Home Builders Association offers several designations that are recognized by the Licensing Board for General Contractors. The Accredited Master Builder designation requires numerous hours of course work. The National Association of Home Builders also offers many course to achieve designations. A few examples of such designations include a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), a Graduate Master Builder (CMB), and a Certified Green Professional (CGP).
References – Any high-quality builder should be ready to provide you with several names and phone numbers of satisfied customers. If they can’t, consider that a red flag and walk away. When reaching out to those former clients, ask about how well the builder followed through on the initial plans, and if the builder met their expectations regarding budget and timing. Don’t forget the most telling question of them all: If they could do it all over, would they hire that builder again?
Communication Style – Many builders will do their best to accommodate your communication preferences. But it’s always best to establish expectations as early as possible. The frequency (weekly, monthly, as-needed, etc.) and method (phone, text, email) of how you communicate early on with each other is something that will set the tone throughout the whole building process.
Lastly, visit a current site the builder has under construction. Look around not at the colors or selections of the home but how is the material staged? Is it on the dirt exposed to the elements? Or is the material stacked neat and accounted for? This may be a good indicator of a builders organization skill set. Controlling materials is a must to achieve budget goals.
Chad D. Collins, Accredited Master Builder
An area native, NC Licensed General Contractor, National Association of Home Builders Master Certified Green ProfessionalTM, and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, Chad is one of less than 50 Accredited Master Builders in the state of North Carolina. He achieved this professional designations after years of experience and numerous hours of coursework via the NC Builder Institute. Chad has been an active member of the building industry since the early 1990’s. He joined the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Durham, Orange, and Chatham Counties in 2005. Chad was soon named HBA Recruiter of the Year and he subsequently chaired various HBA committees. Chad is a Licensed Home Inspector, as well as, a Licensed Lead Abatement professional.
In addition to industry awards in recognition of excellence in home building and remodeling, Collins Design-Build has twice been named Building Company of the Year via the HBA’s Triangle Sales and Marketing Council MAME (Major Achievements in Marketing Excellence) Awards. The company has also received a Best Green Built Home STARS Award from the NCHBA. Currently, Chad serves as a Past President to the HBADOC, and recently completed one of Durham’s first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) residential projects. LEED is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, projects must satisfy pre-requisites and earn points to achieve various levels of achievement.
In 2014 Chad was selected as the HBADOC 2014 Builder of the Year and recently honored at The International Builders Show in Las Vegas as the NAHB’s Certified Green Home Professional of the Year.
This post was written by Chad Collins