When preparing to build your custom home, you will want to three to five custom home builder estimates. The best way to get reliable quotes, that you can compare accurately, is to be sure that all the contractors are bidding on the same home. Often both small and large differences in quality will not be detected, so that by taking the lower bid, you end up sacrificing quality. In order to avoid confusion, it is vital to explain to your prospective home builders or contractors exactly what you want in detail, and make sure that all of them are quoting on all those details so you get the most comparable custom home builder estimates.
The first step is to decide exactly what you want. This may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed how vague most first time home buyers are in describing their ideal home. When asked, they may describe exterior siding or an architectural style, but they have no actual specifications for the variables that determine price. When they get their custom home builder estimates, they wonder why the price varies so much between the builders, but assume that they are all bidding on the same job. In fact, they are not. In order to get bids on the same job you must first determine the quality of construction you desire, and communicate that to your builder in detail.
There are many variables which determine the real quality of a home. These variables impact the bid significantly. Make sure you specify each of the following to each contractor.
• Will your home builders or contractors be working from your design or adapting an existing floor plan?
• Will your home builders or contractors be working with an architect?
• Type of foundation (foundation with crawl space, slab, finished basement, unfinished basement)
• Wall Studs (two by fours or two by sixes)
• Floor Joists (at least two by ten, but could be larger)
• Will your house have usable living space in the attic or will the contractor use prefabricated trusses every two feet.
• The sizes of the lumber used in roof joists and rafters.
• Roof Pitch (the slope of the roof makes a tremendous difference in the cost of roofing. The lower the angle the less it costs, and the taller the roof and larger the angle the more sheathing and roofing materials will be required. Short roofs however cannot accommodate a usable attic.
• Roof style (be familiar with the basic roof styles, hip roof, gable roof or gambrel roof)
• Type and length of warranty for roofing materials
• Type and thickness of attic insulation
• Type and thickness of wall insulation
• Location and type of additional insulation
• R-factor for finished structure
• Materials used for the sub-floor
• Materials used on porch floors
• Quality of kitchen cabinetry and counter tops
• Quality of the bathroom fixtures
• The types and quality of floor coverings
• Exterior siding type and quality
Defining what you require in each of these specification areas, will help to insure that your quotes will be accurate and comparable. While the home builder or contractor is an expert in the field, he may have different standards of quality construction than another builder from the same area. Being specific from the beginning keeps everyone on the same page when gathering custom home builder estimates.