How to Choose a Home Builder |

How to Choose a Home Builder

Brian Wray, Mountain Log Homes of Colorado

Building your own home can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, but it can also be one of the most stressful if your expectations and planning are not done right.

Finding the right contractor to supervise your project I a key to your success. Here are some tips for making the home building process go smoothly, on time and on budget.

1. Educate yourself so that your expectations will be in sync with the reality of building your custom home. Cost does not necessarily equal quality. Cost per square foot is a good starting point but does not take into consideration critical quality differences among builders. If you get multiple bids on your project be sure bids are based on identical specifications, material quality and builder reputation.

2. Choose a builder early in the process so your builder can visit your proposed building site prior to land purchase if possible. The builder should be able to give you advise on suitable location of the home on the building site, possible soil or access issues and what style home is well suited to the lot and more.

3. Prior to closing on a lot, visit the local building department to assure the local covenants, codes and regulations will allow the home you envision. Have an engineered survey done to assure you understand your setbacks, property lines and topography of your lot.

4. Choose a builder you feel compatible with. Building a home can take a year or longer and is a highly personal and emotional experience. Assure you feel comfortable with the builder and that he or she answers your questions in a direct manner.

5. Ask for references and tour examples of completed homes. Call previous clients and ask questions about their overall satisfaction. Reputation is a key factor in choosing a contractor for your project. Base your decision on builder’s competence, reputation, professionalism, warranty coverage and experience.

6. Building a home is not a do it yourself project. A qualified experienced general contractor can actually save you money through quicker build time, negotiated rates with preferred and time-tested sub-contractors, preferred pricing with suppliers, and reduced opportunity for costly mistakes. Your builder will also have a relationship with the local building inspectors and code enforcers and assure you are building to the most recent of ever changing codes and regulations.

7. Find your financing early to assure you can afford the home wish to build. If your new home is well planned and a professional builder is on board, construction financing should be easy to obtain. Having an adequate budget for the house on the drawing board is critical during planning and design phase and is when to make changes. Your builder should be able to give you advise on areas where your home design complexity, finishes, and size can affect your budget.

8. Be prepared to be involved. Having a home built requires a substantial amount of time and many decisions. Minimize your other commitments and obligations during the building process to ensure the home you want. Changes during the building process are inevitable. If you communicate with your builder you will understand the ramifications to other areas of your home and budget when making those choices.

Brian Wray has been building custom homes in the Mountain Region for over 30 years. He serves as a board member for the Summit County Builders Association and a Commissioner on the Summit County Board of Adjustments. He can be reached at 970-468-8683 or

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