The question I am most often asked is, “How do I choose a good home builder among the home builders available?" With a great deal of experience gained through project management for spec houses for multiple general contractors, I'd like to share some of the things I have learned with you.
When building a new home, the most important- even critical- decision is choosing your builder. Today, we will talk about mistakes that can be made in this regard and pitfalls that should be avoided. The decision of choosing the best of the home builders available will affect not only the value of your home in the future, but also the cost of maintaining your home for years to come.
One of the biggest mistakes I see new construction home customers making is basing their decisions on the eye candy of a house or subdivision. Eye candy (i.e. fancy décor, landscaping, upgraded appliances) is just like food candy: It can be delightful, but offers little nutrition (value) and can be costly to your health (investment) in the long run.
This happened to a friend of mine: He asked me what I thought of a particular builder of a subdivision that was nearly built-out. I advised caution because I had heard of some problems home owners had encountered with this builder over the years. My friend and his wife just loved the house. It was an inventory display home. It had all the amenities. Every upgrade was included at a great price. The house had great curb appeal – beautiful landscaping, charming gingerbread décor, everything anyone could possibly want in a new home. So he bought the house, with a one-year homeowner’s warranty. What could possibly go wrong?
Two years later, the high-maintenance exterior gingerbread décor was coming apart and falling off the house. The subdivision was in an area requiring no building code inspections, and the drywall (not required green board) behind the beautiful tile shower was rotting. He had to make the decision to either remove the exterior gingerbread or replace and fix it. He had to fix the rotting, molding shower walls. He also ran into other normal wear-and-tear structural problems that were not covered in his “warranty.” He couldn’t sell the house in ill-repair because the repair costs would be deducted from the house sale price, which would have meant he would have to bring money to the closing table rather than walk away with a profit.
My friend's solution was not a pleasant one. He ended up with a second mortgage for several thousand dollars in order to make the repairs. Unfortunately, after this disaster, the housing market debacle depreciated his house even more, and he has not recovered yet.
Later, I will give you more specific details that will help you choose, not only the good, but, of the home builders available, the right one for you.