10 Tips for Selecting Your New Home Builder

For most people, building a new home is the biggest investment in their lives. Because it’s such a big decision, prospective home buyers want to be sure they get it right. Before you start picking paint colors and looking at carpet samples, you need to select the right home builder for your needs and situation. RWC knows a thing or two about builders since we’ve been dealing with them for over 30 years and have administered warranties on over 3 million homes. We think the following ten tips are an excellent start to your search.

1.  Can You Really Afford to Build?

Get a construction mortgage preapproval by a mortgage lender before you begin this process. It confirms your budget and your financial credibility to builders and realtors.

2. Identify Your needs.

Decide what type of home you want and need and how much you want to spend. Most builders “specialize” to some degree and may builder in a certain price range or type of home. Are you a first time home buyer, a move-up, an empty-nester or finally building the custom home of your dreams? Whichever category you’re in, search for builders who fit your need.

3. Be Clear.

You want to compare builders and what they can offer so be as clear as you can with what you want from them. If you really want hard wood floors, or an all season sunroom, but you neglect to mention that, your prospective builder won’t be able to provide you with the information you need.

4. Look for Experience.

How long has the company been in business? How long has its principals been building homes. It’s important to choose a builder who’s a seasoned professional. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what they’ve done in the past. RWC Note: Did you know that Builders approved by RWC are evaluated in part on their experience? If your Builder is an RWC Member, we’ve done some of the legwork for you already.

5. What’s Their “Happy Homeowner” Quotient?

If you decide to build in a community, ask the neighbors questions. Are they satisfied with their home? Would they build another home with their builder? Would they recommend their builder to a friend or relative? How is the builder’s service? How are they at communicating? If there is an issue in the home, does the builder respond in a reasonable time frame? If you’re building on a scattered lot, ask the builder for references of previous homebuyers.

6. Licensing & Insurance.

Not every state has laws or regulations concerning builder licensing but some do. If your state does, be sure the builder you select has the proper licensing as required. Also ask for verification that he has the appropriate insurance to cover his company, his employees and you in the event of a loss or accident.

7. Warranties.

Every product you buy comes with some type of warranty. Certainly, your largest investment, your home should come with a long-term written & insured 3rd party warranty, not just a promise from the builder to perform. This type of warranty assures you that if there is a warranted problem, even if the builder is out of business, it will be resolved through repair or settlement. If your prospective builder says he offers a ‘one year builder warranty’, it’s time to ask for an RWC written & insured warranty instead. RWC Note: Builders offering RWC warranties submit to an annual review of their financial stability, professional building ethics and technical construction competence. We ask the questions you can’t. Read What RWC Screening Process Means to You for more details on what this screening entails.

8. Use Your Powers of Observation.

After you’ve gone through the above steps and have made a list of builders who have met these criteria, visit their model homes and if possible, homes they have under construction. Pay close attention to the quality of workmanship and materials used in their homes. Are the products quality brands? Are the design features attractive? Are the floor plans suitable for your lifestyle? Does the builder pay close attention to detail, or are there items that look unfinished? Are the employees and/or subcontractors professional, experienced, knowledgeable and courteous? What do the jobsites look like? Do you see any “red flags” such as safety issues?

9. Talk to the Experts.

Lenders, Real Estate Agents, Building Material Suppliers, Builders Associations and Code Inspectors can all provide unique yet helpful perspectives on builders in the area. Ask them who they believe are the top 3 or 5 builders locally and why. A pattern just might emerge and you can use that list as a potential starting point for your research. RWC Note: Did you know that you can search for RWC Members in the zip code area in which you hope to build? Knowing that your Builder is already a Member adds a measure of credibility to their reputation. RWC does not have an “open door policy” when it comes to its membership. Builders must apply and be approved prior to using our programs.

10. Take Your Time!

This is a major life decision and once you gather all your information, take your time and consider which Builder will really be the best fit for you. You’ll be living with that decision for years to come so give yourself time to ponder and evaluate.

When shopping for a new home builder or remodeler, ask for the RWC Warranty –
Assurance for you long after the sale!

Building or remodeling a house is a big decision. These 10 steps should help you choose a builder compatible with you, your budget and your needs.

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