How to Choose a Home Builder

How to Choose a Home Builder – 22 Expert Tips

Ask anyone how to choose a home builder, and they’ll have their own interpretation of the matter.

However, because you’re making such a significant investment in your new custom, there are several key characteristics you’ll want to look out for. 

Reputable home builders often have a long list of references from past projects with years of experience under their belts. They should also be able to offer top-quality craftsmanship and custom design that aligns with your stylistic preferences. Unfortunately, many custom home builders lack sufficient custom home building experience, require large upfront deposits, and use high-pressure sales tactics, all of which are major red flags when determining how to choose a home builder.

Finding a team of professionals with experience in the highest echelon of construction and a commitment to customer satisfaction is key.

Come with us as we look at 22 expert tips to help you find the ideal builder for your dream home. 

22 Tips for Choosing a Home Builder

Knowing how to choose a home builder for your next project requires extensive planning and research. We want to simplify the process by giving you 22 things to look out for. 

1. Identify Your Needs

Set yourself up for success by gauging your needs before anything else. 

The first thing we always recommend our clients have is a realistic budget. This includes the cost of construction, labor, permitting, and post-construction services, such as interior design and landscaping. 

Next, figure out where you’d like to build your home. Do you need proximity to good public schools or amenities like grocery stores and restaurants? Are you looking for direct waterfront access, or do you want to live inland?  

Lastly, consider your baseline needs for the home itself, whether that means a specific number of bedrooms, an open kitchen layout, or an in-ground pool.

2. Conduct Thorough Research

Finding a reputable home builder is as easy as doing some online research. Most professional home builders publish their testimonials and portfolios, which can provide you with some insight into their past work. 

See what kind of expertise they have with building in your preferred area too. Many experienced home builders have connections to the surrounding community and a deep understanding of local regulations.

3. Evaluate Experience and Past Projects

The beautiful designs of RBC Homes, the best home builder in Virginia Beach

A builder’s past experience says a lot about them, and by looking at their past projects, you can gauge whether or not they align with your style. As we said before, exploring portfolios is key. You’ll know right away whether or not their past projects resonate with you, and if so, they might be a good fit. 

Here at RBC Homes, we specialize in building custom luxury homes in the Coastal Virginia region. Learn more about our work by exploring our gallery of past home-building projects

4. Assess Communication and Customer Service

First impressions are everything when determining how to choose a home builder. You’d be surprised how much you can learn from a home builder with an initial phone call or email. 

The most important thing to look out for is how well they communicate and whether or not the conversation feels transparent. You’re making a significant investment, and if the builder can’t be open and honest about their experience or the expected costs of your project, it’s a huge red flag. 

We value transparency above all here at RBC Homes. Get in touch with us to learn more about our home-building process. 

5. Get Detailed Quotes

When you get a quote from a home builder, it should be more than an arbitrary number.

We provide comprehensive cost breakdowns here at RBC Homes, meaning every individual expense, from labor to site preparation and permitting, is transparent.

In getting detailed quotes, you can also make sure the costs align with your budget. 

6. Verify Credentials

Just because a home builder says they have credentials on their website doesn’t mean you should take it at face value. Do your own research to find out whether they have a license or insurance in your state. 

RBC Homes is a class-A licensed luxury home builder here in Coastal Virginia. Learn more about us and our work.

7. Make an Informed Decision

Building a new custom home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so taking the time to interview multiple builders and research your options will help you make a more informed decision. 

Not only is part of knowing how to choose a home builder making sure the contractor has years of experience and a portfolio to back it up, but also that their work aligns with your style. 

8. Specific Expertise

Many custom home-building projects have unique requirements, such as specialized spaces or unique architectural styles, so finding a home builder with expertise in your preferences can go a long way. 

For example, here at RBC Homes, we focus on custom luxury homes in coastal environments, which often boast characteristics like coastal landscaping, expansive outdoor spaces, and floor-to-ceiling windows to maximize natural light with special emphasis on ensuring the structure itself will sustain the harsh environmental elements present in the coastal lifestyle for years to come.  

9. Visit Past Projects

If you already have a style in mind, one of the best ways to find a builder that aligns with your desires is to look at their past projects.

After exploring their online portfolios, you can get in touch with their past clients to gain deeper insight into their personal experiences. 

10. Discuss Customization

Just like their needs and preferences, all homeowners are unique. Knowing how to choose the right builder means finding one that offers customization options. You want to create a home that’s tailored to your lifestyle, so whether that entails adding the right finishing touches, upgrading kitchen appliances, or using a specific color palette, your builder should be able to adapt to your needs. 

Get in touch with us here at RBC Homes to learn more about our custom luxury home projects.

11. Billing Transparency

Does the company’s billing method offer transparency? As a client electing to engage in a Cost plus Contract versus a Fixed Price Contract you should be able to see the cost of each component used in construction of your new custom home.  

We take great pride in our billing transparency, as we believe it creates a sense of trust between us and our clients. 

12. Seek Recommendations

We always encourage our clients to inquire among friends and family before diving into a new project with a custom home builder. In fact, word of mouth is one of the most reliable and effective ways in knowing how to choose a home builder that’s reputable. Actively seeking advice from those you know can provide you with more insight into a company’s past success stories

13. Understand the Timeline

While unexpected delays can happen, having a project timeline in place that both aligns with your schedule and your needs is key. When speaking with a potential home builder, see if you can get a detailed timeline, which includes the planning and preparation phases. 

An experienced custom home builder should be able to develop a timeline with realistic expectations to optimize the construction process from start to finish. 

14. Check for Eco-Friendly Options

Even as luxury custom home builders, one of the main elements we aim to prioritize in our work is sustainability, as it benefits both the land we build on and the surrounding communities. If sustainability and eco-friendly construction are important to you, look for contractors that have statements pointing to their eco-friendly material usage or green practices. 

Ask if your contractor can implement energy-efficient appliances in your new home or whether or not they use any recyclable or natural materials. 

15. Review the Contract Thoroughly

Knowing what to look for in a construction contract can be difficult if you’re new to the process, which is why we always recommend hiring a legal professional. There can be a lot of seemingly intimidating language to read, and if you’re like most people, you probably don’t have the extra time or bandwidth.

However, you don’t want to skip out on the review process either, as having an accurate outline of what you can expect can protect both you and the contractor from potential issues in the future. 

16. Inquire About After-Sale Services

Many newly built custom homes come with after-sale services, such as warranties and maintenance. 

If your chosen home builder doesn’t provide a warranty, it’s likely because they aren’t confident in their craftsmanship. Again, this is a big red flag, and an important aspect when determining how to choose a home builder.

Learn more about our special after-sale services at RBC Homes! 

17. Ask About Financing

If you’re building a custom home and not paying in cash, you’ll have to consider financing options. Many home builders have relationships with Banks which offer construction/permanent loans, a financing vehicle which can fund a portion of the land cost, fund construction costs, and which  is also a long-term mortgage. This type of loan usually offers a 12 to 18 month construction term and generally the borrower pays interest only on that portion of the loan actually advanced to fund construction. 

However, financing options can vary, so getting a good idea of what financing options are available is crucial. 

18. Check for Associations and Awards

Home builders with industry recognition and awards most often provide a higher level of expertise. We don’t earn awards in this industry without a commitment to consistent excellence. 

You can typically find this information on a builder’s website, though you can also check with professional housing associations, such as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) or your local Home Builders Association (HBA). 

19. Inspect Their Safety Record

RBC Homes is dedicated to safety in all forms, protecting not only the clients whose homes we are building by adhering to strict safety standards but also the builders themselves with proper training programs and on-site protocol.

As a client, we urge you to inquire about the safety practices of any contractor you’re thinking of hiring when figuring out how to choose a home builder. Is their record clean, free from any incidents for which they’re at fault? Do they provide their builders with professional training according to the latest standards? Are they equipped with adequate insurance coverage throughout the construction process?

Prioritizing safety means minimizing risks and disruptions during the construction process and protecting every party with a stake in the project. 

20. Understand the Payment Schedule

Payment schedules are part of just about every construction process. They detail the timeline of payments that must be made throughout a project’s timeline. 

A quality schedule strikes a balance between the client’s desire to only pay for work that’s been completed and the contractor’s need to receive payment on time. As we said before, knowing how to choose a home builder has a lot to do with finding a timeline that works for you. 

Make sure the payment schedule is something you completely understand so that both parties can agree to it confidently. 

21. Evaluate Their Problem-Solving Skills

Beyond exploring your potential contractor’s portfolio, try to find out more about any issues they may have run into in the past and whether or not they will be able to find solutions for them. 

There are many problems we face here at RBC Homes that are out of our control, from inclement weather to unforeseen site conditions and last-minute design changes. However, we also have years of experience and a proven track record, which helps us handle issues as they arise. 

Knowing that you’re working with a home builder who has a track record of addressing and dealing with challenges can make for a much less stressful process. 

22. Visit Ongoing Projects

One of the last things we recommend when figuring out how to choose a home builder is visiting their ongoing projects if feasible. In doing so, you’ll be able to see how they work in real-time. 

In essence, you get a more hands-on look at their operations before investing in them yourself. During the process, you’ll get a good gauge of their professionalism, organization, and craftsmanship. 

Contact us to learn more about our ongoing luxury custom home projects. We’d love for you to see how we operate! 

Conclusion – How to Choose a Custom Home Builder for Your Needs

Putting in the work to find the home builder that best aligns with your needs can give you the most important thing of all — confidence in the team.  

Building a home is a significant investment. For many clients, the process is quite emotional, so making sure you have a company that values you and provides you with trust is key. 

Our 30+ years of dedicated experience has made us one of the top luxury custom home builders in Virginia Beach. If you’re interested in learning more about our award-winning projects and seeing how we can help you in the process of building your own home, get in touch with us today.