Building a custom home can be stressful enough with all the decisions that need to be made. One thing you don’t want to have to worry about is your builder and whether you’ve picked the right one. Unfortunately, however, this does happen, and you need to be aware of some warning signs that you’ve picked the wrong custom home builder. Here are five red flags you should watch for.
1. You’ve noticed problems with the paperwork.
When you’re hiring someone to build your home, the place where you and the people dearest to you will live, you want someone who’s professional, and the paperwork you’re asked to sign should reflect that. Be wary of hand-written “contracts” or paperwork that doesn’t clearly define your agreement. Both you and your builder should agree to clearly defined terms. Here are a few areas that should be covered in a contract:
The most updated set of house plans: Little things may change, but a good builder will try to gather as much information before building and include those in the contract.
Specifications: Includes items such as framing notes, trim details, plumbing plans, selection allowances, etc.
Proof of builders’ insurance
Additionally, a builder who plays fast and loose with permits is one you should avoid. Permit problems can cause serious complications for you down the road, and you want to be 100% confident that everything is up to code.
2. They won’t provide references.
A good well-established construction company will be able to provide you with a list of references or testimonials from happy customers. If they cannot provide these, perhaps their customers weren’t happy, or they are trying to hide mistakes that were made. Either way, be wary of builders who refuse to supply substantial references.
3. They don’t have any partners.
Along with references, you should also check to see if your builder of choice has any partners. Business partners are an indication that they’re a legitimate business, and if other businesses want to work with them, it’s likely they can be trusted. You can also check to see whether they belong to any professional organizations or if they are members of their local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau. If no one wants to work with them or certify them, you probably shouldn’t trust your home building to them. Take a look at our list of partners as an example.
4. They’ve gone incognito.
Good communication is an absolute must for any builder you hire. With the massive undertaking that is custom home building, it is imperative that you partner with a builder that’s in touch with you about every step of the process. A builder with a hands-off approach is likely to have a hands-off approach to the rest of their process too, including managing subcontractors, suppliers and risks. Clear, ongoing communication is important for decision making and ensuring a stress-free project.
Note that your builder will expect clear communication from you as well. It’s important to meet in person at the beginning of the project and establish some ground rules for communication and make sure everyone is clear on expectations.
A final aspect of communication is timing. While delays are sometimes inevitable, a builder that’s consistently running behind schedule is another red flag. Extended building time will add to your overall costs, not to mention stress. An experienced builder will know where the delays may occur and will communicate that to you. An inexperienced builder will always be caught off guard. Watch for clear communication regarding scheduling and timing when you’re choosing a builder for your custom home.
5. Their workmanship is lacking.
Don’t be afraid to see their workmanship firsthand. Look for cracks, scratches or errors that might have come from the careless handling of materials or lack of attention to detail. Building mistakes are not something you can take lightly, so if you witness excessive mistakes, this is not the builder for you. A good builder will be happy to show you the work that’s been done and will be quick to correct any errors that occur. At the end of the day, you don’t want low quality work in your home, no matter how low the price is.