Are you thinking of building a custom home within the next year or two? Have you decided on the house’s architecture, how many square feet you need, and where you’d like to build it? If you’re in the market for a new residence, it’s important to spend as much time and energy looking for the right home builder as you have deciding on a floor plan and the neighborhood. You need to hire a reputable custom home builder to get the best quality home.
Whether you want a small bungalow in the city, a two-story house in a neighborhood subdivision, or an expansive manor with lots of acreage, you will want to choose a builder whom you can trust, one who communicates with you and is honest in their pricing. Here, you’ll find how to select one of the top Milwaukee home builders.
Award-Winning Home Builders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
If you’re looking to settle down in a great city, Milwaukee is your place. The largest city in Wisconsin, in the upper Midwest, Milwaukee is home to many cultural and historical attractions. It has a well-respected symphony and ballet, a theatre district, many museums, an outstanding zoo, major league sports, and some of the best Italian and German food outside of Europe. Best of all, it has a lower cost of living compared to major cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, New York, Dallas, and more. Milwaukee’s median home value is $118,300 versus $172,300 in Jacksonville, FL, and $262,400 in Nashville, TN. (Home Builders Digest, August 2020)
The metro area of greater Milwaukee is nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan. This great lake offers the entire southeastern segment of the state plenty of waterfront homes and lake views. In general, you’ll find some of the most luxurious condos and houses either along the lakefront or further west in the rolling hills of the countryside.
Milwaukee’s Top Home Builders
Top Milwaukee home builders always use high-quality materials and excellent craftsmanship to enhance and ensure their houses’ appeal throughout the metro area. They work hard to turn their homeowners’ visions into reality. These custom home builders are considered the leaders in their industry because, in part, they have received many awards. Their clients are always highly satisfied, and their work quality is unmatched. That’s what you need to look for first.
How to Choose the Right Milwaukee Home Builder
Before hiring a custom home builder, ask friends, relatives, or co-workers who have recently had a house built. Get their recommendations. Ask them about their experiences – both good and bad. Read reviews online, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and do some research.
Additionally, once you’ve narrowed down your choices to several builders, make sure they have a license by checking with the local licensing board (and finding out if they have any complaints against them). Be sure to get at least three quotes.
Multiple quotes from various builders will ensure you’re getting a fair price. However, before you automatically choose the lowest bid, review all submissions very carefully. All three submissions should include the same products (flooring and countertop materials, appliances, HVAC systems, windows, etc.), the same amount of labor, and similar “incidentals” such as paint, lot grading, the driveway, landscaping, etc. It may be that one builder is making substitutions, leaving out significant expenses, or cutting corners to lowball the others.
On the other hand, many builders develop good relationships with their suppliers and trades to get a discount on products. They can then pass their lower costs on to the customers. That’s good for you!
Finally, don’t be afraid to listen to your intuition. If, for some reason, a builder “just doesn’t feel right,” move on. You will be working with this company and its staff for many months. You are investing in a significant aspect of your life, and you need to feel comfortable with the builder and trust them.
Make A List of Potential Home Builders
If you still haven’t found the right home builder for you, here are some suggestions for putting together a list.
- Take a drive through new developments and get the names of builders of the homes you like. If some of the completed homes are already occupied, see if the homeowner is outside. If so, consider asking them about their builder. You’ll get an accurate impression if you can talk to several homeowners from the same builder.
- Ask the homeowners questions: Did you have any problems with the builder or the house itself during construction or after it was complete? Were any issues that developed fixed promptly and correctly? Are you happy with the final product? Would you work with this builder again?
- You may be surprised at how open and honest the homeowners will be. If they are happy – you’ll know it. And if they’re not – you’ll hear about that, too.
- Go to the local home builders association or try Builders Showcase website and get a list of the featured home builders in the area.
- Talk to local real estate agents. They may be able to help with a recommendation or two.
- Review the local paper for articles about and ads for builders. Find out what kinds of houses they’re building and what their prices are. That way, you can find someone in your price range who creates the type of home you want.
- If you already live in southeastern Wisconsin, watch Builders Showcase TV on Saturday mornings. You’ll be able to see interviews with builders regarding their construction experience and their homes.
Researching the Top Milwaukee Home Builders
This may sound simple, but it’s important to do some homework. Here are some ideas for you:
- Bring along a notebook to every meeting. Write down relevant information and personal impressions about the builders and their homes.
- If you haven’t seen any of their recently built houses up close, it’s time to take a Sunday drive and take a look. Do they appeal to you after all?
- Once you’ve spoken with at least three home builders and taken notes, sit down with your family and review the information. This discussion may bring up more questions or eliminate a builder on the list. Frankly, you may end up doing away with all three builders. That means you start again with a new list.
Once you have a final list of potential builders, you’ll need to ask them lots of questions. Finding the right builder is a vital step in building your dream home. Therefore, ask everything that you think is important and feel comfortable with every answer. The sales professional or company owner should want to make you a happy customer, so if they avoid a question or don’t give you the answer you’re looking for, take note.
Important Questions to Ask the Home Builder
Here are some important questions you should consider asking, along with your own:
- What will it cost? Ask about individual product costs and the bottom line and let them know you also want to see a final bid.
- How long is the building process, and when can we move into the house? It generally takes 6 to 7 months for the entire process once a lot has been purchased. However, that doesn’t take into consideration weather issues (it is Wisconsin, after all!), backorders, etc. Additionally, top Milwaukee home builders are busy, so you may have to wait a few months for everything to begin. Be patient.
- May I speak to a few of your recent customers? Be wary if the answer is vague or the builder hesitates.
- Can I make changes to your floor plans? How much customizing can I do? The top Milwaukee home builders usually allow you lots of free reign with layouts, but look at their standard floor plans as well. They may already have exactly what you want or one that you’ll only need to change slightly.
- Can I leave a bonus room or lower level unfinished? Many homeowners want to wait until their children are older or their elderly parents move in, etc. before finishing certain home areas. A top Milwaukee home builder should allow those spaces to remain as is.
- Are there any other fees I need to be aware of – homeowners’ association, development fees, etc.? If yes, what are they and how much do they cost? Are there restrictions with the association regarding fences, outbuildings, house colors, etc.?
- Does this builder offer warranties, and do they have a financing plan? This answer should be yes!
- Does the bid include landscaping, the driveway, a swimming pool, etc?
- As to the neighborhood: How is the school system? Are there grocery stores, hospitals, and fire departments nearby? Will there be any major developments: railroads, big box stores, high rise apartments, etc., being built within the next five years? A good home builder should be able to answer this question. They usually have an understanding of the area and what will be happening in the near future.
- How many other homes will be built in this development? Is it all with the same builder or several of them? Same as question #9 – the builder should know this.
Shopping for Quality and the Top Milwaukee Home Builder
For the next several months, take the time to look at newly built houses. Tour model homes. Watch some online virtual tours and attend a few home shows. Look, in detail, at websites. Wander around in furniture stores. Read magazines. Don’t rush – take the time to decide what you want. There are no “do-overs” in the building industry, so slow down.
When you have a chance to tour a new house or model home personally, look at its quality. Inspect the cabinets, check the flooring, and note things like how well the walls are painted. Does the molding meet in the corners? Look at the basement walls – are they cracked? Notice the details and the quality of craftsmanship, not just the pretty furniture.
Take your notebook when you’re on a tour. Keep detailed notes. What may seem like a simple – or unnecessary – question may give you very important information.
Joseph Douglas Homes – The Top Milwaukee Home Builder
Are all of the researching for and questioning of builders giving you a headache? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the idea of trying to find the right builder for your custom home? Then feel free to relax. Here is the ideal builder for you: Joseph Douglas Homes.
An August 2020 Home Builder Digest article, entitled: “The Best Custom Home Builders in Milwaukee, WI,” lists the top 15 home builders in this area. Joseph Douglas Homes was rated as number TWO in all of southeastern Wisconsin. Such an honor! For more information, please go to Home Builder Digest.
Since 1998, Joseph Douglas Homes has been building award-winning custom homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin. This company can create your dream home using your plans, one of their floorplans, or design something completely new and one-of-a-kind just for your family. Feeling overwhelmed by too many choices? Use Joseph Douglas Homes’ in-house design experts to design a custom home tailored just for you.
Using Energy Efficiency
All Joseph Douglas Homes’ houses are built to Energy Star standards and conform to the highest criteria of energy efficiency. Their finished homes are certified energy efficient by an independent third party. Joseph Douglas Homes uses energy-efficient equipment in all their homes, such as power-vented water heaters, direct vent fireplaces, high-efficiency furnaces, energy rated windows, doors, insulation, and so much more.
This devotion to energy efficiency not only saves their customers money in utility costs in the long run, but it shows that Joseph Douglas Homes cares about our community and the environment.
Enjoy the process of designing a floor plan and building a custom home that matches your dream. The professional staff will answer all your questions, discuss the costs, and explain the timeline.
Most importantly, there won’t be any unhappy surprises when you work with the professionals at Joseph Douglas Homes. They are proud to turn their customers’ dreams into reality by building them a custom home using superior design at a competitive price.