When buying a new home, you have two options: buy pre-owned or buy a new home. For many people, the idea of having a custom home built for them is a dream that is about to become a reality. But selecting the right home builder is one of the hardest parts of this process. Selecting the right home builder to build your home is an important decision. So how do you make this decision one you won’t regret? By following these steps and looking for the right credentials.
Defining Your Needs
This is one of the most important steps you will need to take before deciding on your home contractor. You must decide what you need and want out of your new home. How large would you like your new home to be? Have you thought about the type of home and the floor plan you would like? It is also important to think about a price range before deciding on a builder. Some builders specialize in specific areas while others work with a wide variety of >
Are Past Buyers Satisfied?
Just like that restaurant your friend referred you too, home builders often have a list of testimonials or referrals they love to give to potential clients. These referrals will tell you what past customers like about their home and maybe what they would change. Follow up with the referrals by asking questions of your own. Would they buy another home from this builder given the chance? Would they recommend them to family and friends? Ask about how their home has held up over the years and if they have had any problems. You want honest referrals from clients just like you so don’t be afraid to ask questions. It may be worth asking if you can visit their home to see the quality and elements of their home you may like on your own.
Licenses and Insurance
Although not every state requires licenses, it is important to check your local laws to find out the requirements. All home builders operating in Maryland, except those building exclusively in Montgomery County, are required to be registered with the Home Builder Registration Unit, which is part of the Consumer Protection Division in the Office of the Attorney General. Doing business with a registered home builder will ensure that you are eligible for all protections provided by your contract and by state law, including the protection of the Home Builder Guaranty Fund. Also, ask about insurances to make sure your builder and their workers are covered.
Look at the Designs
Many clients have a certain design in mind for what they want their custom home to look like. If you have a certain look in mind, meet with the builder and go over some of the designs you have in mind before signing a contract. By meeting with them several times, they will know what you have in mind and be up to the task. Ask to see a portfolio of homes they have built that are comparable to your home or look for elements that are comparable to your ideas. This will tell you if the builder is capable of building your dream home.
Ask About Warranties and Services
One of the things people like the most about new construction is that everything in the home is new. You will have new appliances, new lighting, new plumbing. Everything about the home is fresh and yours. But what about nail pops, cosmetic touch-ups or other miscellaneous call-back items that may need addressing? You will want a builder who is prompt, detail oriented, and courteous for service calls and who will take the time to explain the proper maintenance needed. The State of Maryland’s “Buying a New Home – Consumer Rights and Remedies Under Maryland Law” publication is quite specific about your rights and the home builder’s responsibilities regarding home warranties. The builder may, but is not required to, offer a home warranty plan that is guaranteed by a third party.
Signs of Quality
Don’t be afraid to ask for a tour of homes that are currently being built or model homes. Builders love to show off their work and chances are they won’t mind showing you what they have done. Pay attention to the look, feel, and quality of the materials used and how the home itself looks. You should also look for signs of quality construction and attention to detail during your visits. Does the structure look well built? How detailed is the trim around the windows & doors? Do the joints match up? Are the cuts even? Are there gaps anywhere? Consider the brands of building products the builder is using? The quality of your home resides in the quality of the materials your builder is using. This will give you an indication of the builder’s skills and how much they care about the quality of home they are building.
Not every builder joins their local Home Builder Association so it is not a deal breaker. However, membership in their local Association tends to show that a builder is committed to the area they are building in. You should also look for a builder who is involved in the local community. This commitment shows they are dedicated to the area and the people around them.
For many families, finding a builder who is certified in environmental initiatives is also extremely important. There are several environmental programs that you should be on the lookout for to help save the environment and to help save you money. Check them out below!
- ENERGY STAR- Energy Star Partners take the time to offer better quality, comfort, durability, and standards above other homes on the market. ENERGY STAR certified homes go through a rigorous inspection, testing, and verification process to ensure it meets the requirements set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). For a home to be considered an ENERGY STAR home, it has to have effective insulation, high-performance windows, tight construction, tight ducts, a water management system, and energy efficient heating and cooling systems. Builders with this certification must join the EPA’s partnership to document their efforts, submit their designs, and meet their plans for an energy efficient home.
- Indoor airPLUS- Indoor airPLUS is another EPA program that can be added to ENERGY STAR. Builders who employ the methods and practices of Indoor airPLUS help to decrease the risk of poor indoor air quality in the homes they build. This program was started to help builders meet the growing consumer preference for improved indoor air quality. When choosing a builder with this certification, more than 30 additional design and construction features are carefully chosen to help protect the home from moisture, mold, pests, combustible gasses, and other pollutants that could be floating around in your home. The homes are then inspected for air quality to ensure they are Indoor airPLUS certifiable.
- Certified Green Professional- The Certified Green Professional (CGP) program is designed to recognize builders, remodelers, and other industry professionals who use green and sustainable materials. In order to be CGP certified, the builder must attend classes where they learn about the background of green building methods and some tools to reach the consumers from industry leaders. CGP uses coursework that includes chapters on energy, water, and resource efficiency as well as indoor environmental quality, lot and site development, and homeowner education. These builders can also add other certifications onto this program including a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist Program and even a master course in CGP.
Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist Program- The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) program is designed to teach technical, business management, and customer service skill to builders, contractors, and remodelers. These skills are then used for home modifications for the seniors who would prefer to live at home instead of in a nursing or assisted living facility. With a growing number of these people preferring to live out their lives in the comfort of their home, this certification will come in handy making their homes as accessible as possible.
- Lead-Safe Certified- While lead is a naturally occurring element, it is definitely not something you want in your home. In order to help the public from being exposed to lead poisoning, the EPA developed the Lead-Safe Certification to help eliminate lead from homes. Contractors who are Lead-Safe Certified can effectively renovate, repair, and paint homes containing lead in order to make them healthier for their inhabitants.
By choosing a company that is certified in these programs, your custom built home will be wonderful in every way. These certifications show that a builder is not only up to date on his craft, but is also committed to continuing education in order to offer his clients the most advanced and progressive technologies available in his field.