If you are in the market for a new home, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home. Whether you are buying a condo, a townhouse, a house in a subdivision, or a custom-built house, you want to know that you are buying a good quality home from a reputable builder.
Once you have thought about the type of house you want, where should you look for a builder? Start by contacting the Builders Association- Corpus Christi Area for a list of our builder members. Antitrust laws prohibit our association from providing specific recommendations on a particular builder, but you are welcome to contact us for further suggestions on how to conduct your search. For specific information about a builder, your best resource is in your own address book. Ask friends and relatives about builders they have dealt with directly, or ask them for names of acquaintances that have recently built a home.
Do Your Homework
Once you have a list of builders who are building the type and price range home you are interested in, research their reputation and the quality of their work. You should begin by contacting your local Better Business Bureau. They can provide you with specific information on any unsettled complaints. Also, you should ask the builders on your list for the addresses of their recently completed houses so you can talk with the homeowners. Drive by on a Saturday morning when home owners may be outside doing chores or errands. Introduce yourself and say you are considering buying a home from the builder who built their home. Talk to several owners, and try to get a random sample of opinions.
The more people you talk with, the more accurate an impression of a builder you are likely to get. At the very least, drive by and see if homes are visually appealing. Some questions you can ask people include:
- Are you happy with your home?
If you had any problems, were they fixed promptly and properly?
Would you buy another home from this builder?
Usually, people tell you if they are pleased with their homes. And if they are not, they’ll probably want to tell you why.
- Ask about service
One important criteria for selecting a builder is the warranty provided for the home. Most builders offer some form of the written warranty. Many builders back their own warranties on workmanship and materials, typically for one year. Other builders offer warranties backed by an insurance company. Ask to see a copy of the builder’s warranty. Although reading legal documentation is tedious, read the warrant to understand what protection you will have. Don’t wait to read it until after you move in and a problem arises. If you have any questions about the coverage ask the builder. Also, find out from each builder what kind of service you can expect after the sale. Typically, a builder makes two service calls during the first year after you move in to repair non-emergency problems covered by your warranty. The first call is usually 30- 120 days after the move-in, and the second is around the eleventh month- right before any one-year warranties on workmanship and materials expire. For emergencies, the builder should be able to send someone to your home right away.
Other Questions You Might Ask
- How long has the company been in business?
- Whom do you contact for customer service after the sale?
- Should requests be in writing?
- Who will be responsible for correcting problems with major appliances?
- Does the builder use state-of-the-art energy features?
A new home is one of the biggest and most important issues you will make in your lifetime. By doing your homework, you will be able to shop for a home with a sense of confidence and the knowledge that will help you make the right decision.
Why Should You Choose a Builder Association Member?
Members of the Builders Association- Corpus Christi Area, are part of a nationwide partnership with more than 800 state and local associations whose mission is to enhance the climate for housing and the building industry and to promote policies that will keep housing a national priority.
Members of the Builders Association- Corpus Christi Area automatically become members of the Texas Association of Builders and the National Association of Home Builders. As such, they gain important access to an array of information on the latest housing industry issues, including changes in codes, requirement updates, national and state laws, and local ordinance changes; through a variety of publications, seminars and educational programs.
Members also participate in major trade shows that offer them exclusive access to the housing technologies. Some of these shows include the Sunbelt Builders Show, International Builders Show, Remodeler’s Show, and Custom Builder Symposium. The Builders Association- Corpus Christi Area offers its members the opportunity to promote their products and services through a variety of association events including the Parade of Homes, Web Site links and other association meetings and functions.
Choosing a Contractor Do's and Don'ts
For those of you worried about choosing a general contractor to build your new home, feel confident in knowing that most custom home contractors are reliable, honest individuals. The very few who are not, have created an image well beyond their real numbers. To help you find the right GC for your new home, here are some very simple rules and suggestions to follow:
- Never choose a contractor based solely on lowest price.
- Always obtain more than one estimate.
- Don't rely on possible legal remedies as your protection against someone you are apprehensive about to begin with. Simply don't hire that particular contractor.
- Research their background first before hiring them. If your state has a licensing board for contractors, call to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against that license holder.
- Call your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints on file.
- Don't be afraid to thoroughly interview the contractor candidates. Ask what kind of worker's compensation insurance they carry and get their policy number and insurance company contact information so you can verify everything. If they are not covered, you could be liable for any work-related injury incurred during the project.
- Be sure that the contractor also has an umbrella general liability policy.
- Don't hire the contractor who only suggests changes that will reduce the price-and possibly the quality-or the contractor who does the opposite and only makes suggestions that will result in expensive changes.
- Choose a contractor based heavily on past performance. Ask for names of clients and follow-up with phone calls and drive-bys if possible. A good contractor will be happy to provide as many referrals as you want.
- Choose a contractor based on recommendations of local business owners he deals with such as bankers, material suppliers or local officials.
- Choose a contractor who appears knowledgeable and has a helpful attitude and will have your best interest at heart.
- Use common sense judgment.
Finally, don't be rushed into making a decision, no matter how competitive the market may seem. And never pay a deposit to a contractor at the first meeting.
To learn more, visit Corpus Christi Home Builders Association online at their website.