Learning how to select a home builder is paramount to your satisfaction with your home. Most people do not realize how important this decision is until it is too late. Choosing the wrong home builder can truly make you miserable for years to come. Selecting a disreputable or incapable builder or contractor, can negatively impact your quality of life and your economic situation in ways most people cannot imagine.
How to Select a Home Builder: A Lemon House Story
In 2002 Bob and Jodran Fogal, already senior citizens, moved into their custom dream home. Three hours later, they decided to try out their third floor Jacuzzi. As soon as Bob pulled the plug on the tub, the downstairs ceiling collapsed in a shower of debris. A hundred gallons of water spewed onto their dining room table downstairs. They soon discovered wiring problems, and collapsing shower walls. All of their windows leaked because the windows were installed upside down. The house developed a foul odor, and black mold grew everywhere. The house became unlivable. Four years later, they’ve lost everything they own and ruined their credit. They live in a tiny apartment. The house is a total loss. For years they could not sue in a normal court because they’d signed an arbitration clause. Arbitration gave them no compensation, and after four years and a law suit, they were awarded $30,000. The settlement didn’t even recoup their legal fees, much less the cost of their home. Today Jodran Fogal is an activist, picketing her home builder’s office and informing everyone of how disreputable home builders can ruin your life.
How to Select a Home Builder Tips and Avoiding Lemons
So how can you avoid the situation the Fogal’s have endured? The obvious answer is to select the right contractor to build your home. How can you know which home builders are reputable? Ask everyone! Do extensive research before signing a contract, and never sign an arbitration clause. Read your contracts thoroughly.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip One: Ask the Home Builder’s Association in your area to recommend a list of contractors. Sometimes this just infers membership, but it is a place to start.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Two: Run several Google searches on each builder you are considering. Both the name of the company and the name of the owner and any employees you may have the names of. Check this site to see if the builder is listed in the Trust Directory.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Three: Speak candidly to everyone you can in the home building and home selling industry in your area. Talk to experienced realtors, home loan officers, building inspectors and sub-contractors in your area. Some will feel a bit uncomfortable naming names, so ask two questions. “If you were building a home, which three home builders would you consider asking to build it?” Then ask, “Is there anyone you would not want to build a home for you?” It’s also OK to ask why. Take a sort of poll among the realtors, to discover which names come up in which category most often. Soon you should have your list narrowed.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Four: Speak to people who have built homes recently, and ask about their contractors, and home builders. Inquire about what they like most about their home and their home building experience. Ask what they liked least.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Five: Go to open houses, and inquire who built the homes. Inspect homes carefully looking past the shiny outward appearance. If you have a chance, look in the basement, crawl space or any portion of unfinished attic to see the quality of construction.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Six: Learn as much as you can about construction in your area. You should research building methods, materials and common practices among home builders and contractors. If possible, make friends with a few people in the industry, and ask questions about what they do. Research on line as well, learning about the procedures involved. To get started, download our 98 page book on home building.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Seven: Read contracts carefully, and do not sign anything without careful consideration of each point. Make sure the contract specifies the lumber grades and sizes used for each application, and the types of materials used for sheeting, and subfloor. Make sure you fully understand the nature of each material that will be used in your home.
How to Select a Home Builder Tip Eight: Visit your construction site frequently to insure that things are going smoothly. Make sure everything is assembled correctly and installed with proper care. Be friendly and kind to all the sub-contractors. It is a very nice idea to bring big a pitcher of ice tea or lemonade or a cooler of sodas and bottled water to the job site at least a few times a week. It is well worth the tiny expense in order to be kind to the people who are creating your home. Treat them just as you would guests in your home. The point is to get to know these people and for them to like you, as well as checking up on progress, and quality. Make your presence pleasant for them, but be present.
Selecting the right contractor, and keeping the home builder, contractors, subcontractors and workers on your side, is a major part of getting a good home. Learning how to select a home builder, and staying on top of the jobsite, will insure that you get a quality home.