Tips For Choosing the Right Custom Home Builder


Contractors have become as numerous as fish and some are nearly as slippery.  It can be very difficult separating the good from the bad.  A good meeting with a contractor should be like interviewing an employee for a job, after all, you’re hiring them to build you a home.  The qualities below are critical to a smooth and pleasurable building experience.  We hope you find this helpful and would be pleased to discuss how Glammeier Homes can meet your unique needs.


EXPERIENCE- Okay, so experience is a little cliché but no custom home ever goes exactly as planned.  Having the experience to solve issues that arise and having the right subcontractors ensures your project goes smoothly.  If your builder stresses you with the issues that arise creating your dream home, you’ve picked the wrong one.  Your only stress should be deciding what paint colors match your cabinets and countertops.


IMAGINATION- No, I’m not talking about having an imaginary friend.  A great builder uses their imagination to bring you a home like no other.  Picking out all of your finishes in one small showroom is like wearing the same dress as another girl at the prom.  Even the thought of doing the same thing twice should bore a builder who enjoys the challenge of unique, custom home building.


FLEXIBILITY- I’ll never forget the reaction I got when I asked for the paint color to be changed in one of my homes.  I had methodically chosen just the right shade of grey in the store and once the painter had most of it on the wall it was clearly purple and I asked him to change it.  The painter’s reaction, “oh thank goodness, I didn’t like this color either.”  Building a home should be about getting it right for you.  Whether a last minute change is because something didn’t work or you just changed your mind, a great builder is focused on your complete satisfaction and is happy to adapt.


VALUE- Picking a builder based on the lowest bid is like buying the cheapest car on the lot and assuming it will have the same features as the luxury car.  In the home building business there are many set costs that are difficult to negotiate down.  These are things like lot, excavation, concrete, wood and even labor.  So why the difference in bids?  Well, some builders think awfully high of themselves.  But usually it’s because the allowances for finishes can vary greatly and some builders will give you unrealistic allowances to drive down the bid.  For example, on a 1000 square foot house, one flooring budget may be $4000 and another $8000.  That $4000 budget quickly disappears depending on the floor you purchase and you’re stuck with the upcharge to get the flooring you really want.  Don’t forget about the underlayment and installation charges.  $4 per sq foot may get you a wood floor but that doesn’t include the cost to nail it down and it’s hard to enjoy it sitting in the box.  Tile is even more misleading and can cost 3-5 times more to install correctly than the cost of the tile!  Your $2 per square foot bargain tile can quickly end up costing you $8 per square foot or more to stick it to the floor.  Get the details or your dream of wood floors can quickly turn into carpet squares or break your budget.


HONESTY- There is a single question that can determine if your builder is honest.  Simply ask if they can build your home in 3 months.  If they respond yes, you have found a dishonest builder.  Okay, so there is much more to finding an honest person but this is a good start.  While a home can be mapped out to finish in 3 months, it requires every tradesman to be ready and available on the exact day they are needed.  There are other factors to consider like the time to get your loan approved, time for appraisal and the weather that will draw out your timeline.   A builder who tells you 5-6 months isn’t slow, just honest.


ATTENTION- We’re all impressed by the waiter or waitress who takes our order without writing it down and somehow gets it right.  A builder who’s not taking notes is not taking your ideas seriously.  There is too much to simply remember and not getting that covered deck you wanted is much more serious than forgetting fried onions on your steak. Your first meeting should be focused on getting to know you, your family and your needs in a new home.  When your first bid comes back it should include each detail you voiced was important, if it doesn’t, that’s a sign that they don’t value your ideas or don’t pay attention.


Put that all together and you have what we call EIFVHA.  Okay, so it’s not a clever acronym but it will help you know what to look for as you interview builders for your next home, we hope Glammeier Homes will be one of them.