How to Find a Home Builder


Debra Lopez


July 31, 2020

How to find a home builder

“How to find a home builder?” Why is everyone asking this question lately?

Because your family has been sticking close to home, you realize that your current abode isn’t working anymore. There isn’t enough storage space; you need a home office, you’d like a more updated kitchen, another bedroom, or an additional bathroom.

However, you also know that you don’t want a pre-owned house. You’d love to design something custom that perfectly fits your family’s lifestyle, now and in the future.

But before you start choosing paint colors, cabinet styles, or flooring, you need to find a good home builder. You may have heard horror stories from friends or coworkers about increasing costs, delays, disappearing workers, etc., and you want to avoid those problems.


Creating Your New Home

how to find a home builder

When you find the right builder, designing and constructing your custom home will run smoothly and efficiently. It will be a dream process for your family and not the potential nightmare you worry about.

The best part of creating your own custom home is controlling how the entire house will look and how the rooms will blend. Working with a professional designer will allow you to create a unique floorplan and choose the finishes you want.

While you’re thinking about workflow and exterior architecture, it’s also essential to decide who will build your dream home. When searching for a good home builder, look for qualities such as open communication, trust, and honesty. More suggestions on how to find the right builder are below.


How to Find a Home Builder in 2020

Sometimes, to find a good home builder can take as long as building the house! But selecting the right construction company is key to creating your dream home, so consider putting in some time and effort. With so many choices, how do you find a home builder? Are there specific questions to ask? Are there signs to look for? What should you think about before even beginning? With a little research and a bit of work, you’ll discover a perfect contractor for you.


Where Do You Start?

To start, make a list of prospects. Ask for recommendations from friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the local Home Builders Association, or ask a few real estate agents for suggestions. If there is a specific area where you’d like to live, take a drive. Look for new construction and write down the names of the builders of the homes you admire.


What Style of House Do You Want?

choosing the right home

More than anything, the size and scope of your project will determine what builder you should hire. Some contractors specialize in specific home styles, so first, decide what you want. Are you thinking of downsizing to a comfortable and efficient 1100 square foot ranch? Are you dreaming of a gorgeous 3500 square foot two-story? What about a sprawling contemporary house on a lake with a wall of windows? Or is a cozy bungalow in the city more to your taste?

When doing your research, make sure the builder is experienced in the size and design of the home you want. Go to their website and look at photos or videos. Do they build a home similar to what you’re dreaming of? Is it something you can afford? You may have to make concessions to cost if your eyes are bigger than your budget. If the builder is not familiar with what you want, move on to the next name on your list.


Reviews and Tours

These days, you can find anything online, including builder reviews. Looking up reviews on Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, etc., may take time, but it will assure you a better outcome to discover what former customers and employees say (check Glassdoor and Indeed) about a potential builder. Once you’ve done some research, you’ll narrow down your list to a handful of builders.

From the list, call each builder and ask them to show you homes in process or places that have recently been built. Tour the construction site to check the house’s quality and integrity from the foundation to the attic, and everything in between. This way, you can find out what their craftsmanship level is, their building process, and if the worksite is kept clean and neat.

If you tour an occupied home, ask the owner about their satisfaction with the process. Did any problems arise, and would they work with this builder again?


Ask the Prospective Builder Questions

With each contractor, share a blueprint, sketch, or photograph of how you want your home to look. Let everyone know how many bathrooms and bedrooms you want, what size garage you need, and as many details as possible. None of the builders can give you a complete bid without a clear idea of what you’re dreaming of – and you want to be able to compare each submission you receive.

It’s important to remember that this is probably the biggest financial decision you’ll make. So, to find a good home builder for your project, you need to ask questions. Besides topics such as the cost and the start date, what else should you ask?

Here are some  questions and suggestions to ask a potential home builder:

How long have you been constructing homes?¬†A contractor with at least five years of experience will know the area’s sewer and water hookup locations, understand the building codes and property values, electricity and natural gas availability, and what to do if there’s a backorder or slowdown. An experienced builder can also manage a good crew and be able to fix things on the fly. Go with someone who has knowledge, skill, and talent.

How are you different from other builders?¬†Listen carefully to the builder’s explanation. They should talk about their excellent customer service, quality and craftsmanship, and possibly their awards and achievements. Their answer will tell you how easy they are to work with, what they feel are their best qualities, and what kind of builder they are.

How long have your tradespeople worked for you? A good home builder cares about the abilities of their crew and the quality of their construction. When a builder keeps their tradespeople project after project, it offers both stability and excellent craftsmanship.

Which suppliers do you work with? To have the best finishes and products, a good home builder will work with quality suppliers. However, remember that quality and price often work together.

How do you prefer to communicate with your clients? A good home builder will be relatively easy to contact and will quickly respond to you.

How do you ensure quality construction? A builder with high standards will be on-site and involved in the process from beginning to end. Constructing a home takes a team of professional designers, tradespeople, and a solid plan for everyone to follow.

Are you licensed and insured?¬†Confirm that the contractor is carrying Worker’s Comp coverage, General Liability, and providing an appropriate amount of Builders Risk Insurance. Get proof of the builders’ insurance before signing any contracts. Feel free to bring everything to your attorney to have them look it over, too.

What’s your timeline?¬†Finding the right contractor means negotiating a start date and an approximate end date. Be aware that some flexibility is needed because timelines can be skewed due to bad weather, unforeseen circumstances, or shipping delays. Also, good home builders are often busy, so you may have to wait for them to become available.

Do you have someone on staff to help with selecting finishes and d√©cor?¬†For many first-time homeowners, choosing light fixtures, flooring, countertops, tile, cabinets, paint colors, and even door handles and locks can be overwhelming and exhausting. You and your family don’t have to make all those choices alone. Ask if they have a professional to help you through the process.

What, if anything, can be changed on the floorplan? While some builders only offer a few standard building plans, many others will create something to your exact specifications. Some home builders allow a client only to make a few changes, but other contractors are happy to let their clients have free reign (depending on their budget). Knowing ahead of time what you want will help design the best floorplan and find the right builder for your project.

Can I make changes after construction starts? Ideas to tweak the plan and opportunities for upgrades will often happen throughout the process. Find out before you break ground whether you will be able to take advantage of these opportunities. Most contractors try to be flexible. Be aware that any changes will increase the bottom line and may slow down the construction process.

What are your standard features vs. upgrades?¬†What’s included in your pricing? Be aware that some builders will show you a basic contract with pricing, including only their standard features. After you sign the deal, you realize what the house will cost with all your upgrade choices! First, ask what upgrade options are available. Remember, items like wood flooring, granite countertops, or high-end appliances are expensive. These choices can be added later if your current budget is tight. Be sure your upgrade choices are spelled out completely, including the product numbers. Ask if the price includes landscaping as well. If so, determine if they offer warranties for the plants. You’ll need to hire someone or do it yourself if landscaping is not included in the cost.

What is your warranty for my new home? A good home builder usually offers a guarantee of a minimum of one year; some builders provide longer warranties, so make certain to ask about them. Having New Home warranty will give you peace of mind. If anything breaks or wears out before it should, your builder should fix it at no cost to you.

What is your payment system? The majority of home builders prefer an upfront payment of 1/3 of the total cost before breaking ground, 1/3 of the total halfway through, and the last 1/3 amount when the house is finished. However, be certain to also ask about how change orders are paid. Some builders ask them to be paid for separately, others add them to the total bill.

Do you “build green” and can you make my home more energy efficient?¬†This is one of the most important questions because this will save you money (long term) and reduce your energy consumption in the long run. Good home builders stay on top of all the latest construction processes, know about energy-efficient building products, and offer their teams additional training. Energy efficiency focuses on good insulation, HVAC systems, triple pane windows, water heaters, well-fitting doors, direct vent fireplaces, and even ideas on where the home should be placed on the lot for the best breezes and direct (or indirect) sunshine.


Joseph Douglas Green Built Homes

All homes built by Joseph Douglas are independent third-party certified. This third party ensures everything conforms to the highest energy-efficient standards, and the houses are always made to Energy Star¬ģ standards.

Joseph Douglas Homes is environmentally conscious, and all of their homes are built to the Green Built¬ģ Home Program standards to utilize resources wisely. Their entire staff encourages all home buyers, no matter which builder they hire, to consider reducing the negative impacts of home building on the environment using energy-efficient products.


Choosing the Best Builder for Your Family

When you hire a professional builder with good communication skills, honesty, a long list of satisfied clients, and solid business experience, designing and constructing your dream home will be a delight. However, don’t rush when deciding which company to hire because this will be an important and long-term relationship. Make certain you find the best home builder for your dream home.


More About Joseph Douglas Homes

Since 1998, Joseph Douglas Homes has offered Southeastern Wisconsin customers award-winning craftsmanship. They are proud to bring your dream home to life through superior design, competitive pricing, and high-quality construction.  

Whether we use one of Joseph Douglas Homes plans or yours, they can build your family a beautiful, one-of-a-kind home. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has awarded Joseph Douglas Homes a rating of an A+, they havereceived an NRS Award in Home Satisfaction, and in 2012, and were named NARI Remodeler of the Year.

Additionally, everyone at Joseph Douglas Homes prides themselves on constructing dream homes that also save money. Their unique floor plans focus on energy efficiency and will create lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint over your home’s life.

Contact Joseph Douglas Homes today so that they can begin to work with you on your perfect living space.

Meet the Author

Debra Lopez

Related Posts

Building a House in Wisconsin

Building a House in Wisconsin

Building a house in Wisconsin presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities that differ significantly from other areas of the country. This...

  • Contact Us
    Contact Form
  • WhatsApp