Finding the right custom home builder is like searching for Waldo among the sea of many look-a-likes; there are so many qualified builders in the market, but you are only looking for the right one. Choosing someone you trust and can work with for 8 months to year is no small task. It’s likely one of the biggest purchases you will ever make so it’s important to feel comfortable with your decision. There are many different ways to find a builder, here are just a few!
Home Shows / Parade of Homes – Going to our area Parade of Homes was a great starting point for us. The Greater Orlando Builders Association (GOBA) hosts 2 weekends of open houses all around town in the Spring with the goal of showcasing the latest in home design. They select winners for their various categories including production homes, remodeled homes, and custom homes. A lot of local builders target to get their homes completed in time for the parade because they can get a lot of foot traffic and advertising during this period.
We have attended our local Parade of Homes for the past 2 years. It gives you the opportunity to meet local custom home builders and see their finished products/ workmanship. It is also great for design and decorating ideas.
Driving around – It sounds silly but I would recommend you go on drives. We targeted areas where we know there is a lot of building activity and wrote down builder’s names, pool companies, banks doing the financing, whatever is on the lot. Then we would head home and start researching. Sometimes this wouldn’t lead anywhere but we actually saw our builder’s sign at a house he was building why playing golf so you never know what could happen!
Word of mouth – It’s as simple as it sounds, talk to people. Talk to your friends, your parents, their friends, coworkers, relators, people in the residential construction trades (plumbers, flooring people, painters, etc.). It is amazing what you can learn from others and you will get a large range of responses too. We also learned a lot by talking to one of the owners of a local flooring store. He had seen a lot of builders over the years and was familiar with who pays their bills and workers on time, as well as which builders give reasonable allowances. It is great to get a good price on your house but if you can’t buy anything within your allowances then you are going to end up spending a lot more money out of pocket.
Google – Like many other things in life, when you don’t know or are in doubt, Google it. The same is true here. It is amazing what information you can find on the internet. You can check for builder’s license, industry specific memberships, their Better Business Bureau rating, and much more. You can also Google the individual builders, make sure they don’t have a criminal history and learn about their background. A builder whose background is in business is going to look at and handle a situation much differently than a builder with a background in engineering. You can also view the individual builder’s websites to get a feel for their style and quality of construction.
Our list of builders grew quickly from all the sources above so once we felt the list was full we worked to narrow things down a bit. We screened out builders that were not our style or had no building experience in our area. We also removed some that we knew were out of our price range or more on the production side of building. Once we had a list of builders that was manageable, we started calling and setting up appointments for an initial in-person meeting hoping to find our Waldo!