For most people, building a dream home is a once-in-a-lifetime event, so it’s important you get it right. And the biggest part of getting it right is choosing the right custom builder to help make your vision a reality. But how do you determine if a particular custom home builder is a good fit for your needs? Follow these tips to make an informed choice.
Focus on Proven Home Building Quality
When you’re building your dream home, you want a custom home builder who has a reputation for building high-quality homes, where no attention to detail goes unnoticed. And while some custom home builders excel at building homes that look luxurious, the unfortunate reality is that there are design/build firms that create homes that aren’t what they seem—they look beautiful early on, but aren’t crafted to withstand the daily wear and tear of family life. Underneath the paint and the polish are cut corners and subpar systems that won’t show their true colors until after your custom builder has bid you adieu.
The best custom dream home builders—such as the Orren Pickell Building Group—not only have portfolios filled with their most recently-built beautiful homes, but they’ll also be happy to show you homes that they built 5, 10 and even 20 years ago, so you can get a sense as to how their work stands up over time. Before deciding on a builder for your custom dream home, ask to see some of their older homes. If they shy away or tell you their clients won’t allow it, consider taking your business elsewhere.
Ask Friends, Neighbors, and Family for Contractor Recommendations
Just like with other important purchases in life, you can count on your friends, family and even neighbors to be a great source of information as to which local custom home builders are reliable and which have turned dream home situations into a nightmare. Unlike a home builder’s website, where you can expect to read glowing testimonials from happy clients, other homeowners typically have no reason to give you anything but their true opinion when asked.
Ask your friends and family if they’ve seen houses that you should look at for inspiration, or if they’ve heard especially good or bad things about a custom home builder. And don’t be afraid to think (and literally step) outside of the box. For example, if there’s a home in your neighborhood that you love, consider knocking on the door one Saturday afternoon and talking to the owner about their experience with their home builder. Did everything go as they anticipated? Would they work with the builder again? Do they seem happy overall with their purchase? While it may seem intimidating at first, you’ll likely find that most people are more than delighted to share their knowledge.
How’s the Deisn/Build Firm’s Communication Style?
As you’re meeting with custom dream home builders, pay special attention to the way they communicate from the first interaction with you. Do they seem to have a sense of urgency? Are they organized? Do they communicate in a way that works for you (e.g. they send emails/text instead of calling, which is your preference) and at a frequency that works for you (e.g. they aren’t calling too much or too little to “follow up”?) Are they able to answer your questions in a timely manner?
The way that the builder is interacting with you during the sales process is indicative of the way their business works and the way they’ll be communicating with you during the design and build process, so if your communication styles aren’t a good fit now, you’re likely best choosing a different firm.
Ask About the Home Builder’s Process
Speaking of processes, make sure that you talk to each prospective custom home builder about their process and the different timelines and milestones within it; don’t assume that all home builders have the same process. Ask all of the questions that you need to ensure you have a clear understanding of their process, what it entails and what is needed from you at any given stage. Then, determine which custom home builder’s process best fits with your own timeline and expectations for the project.
Check Out Their Connections
The old proverb “A chain is no stronger than its weakest link” holds true when it comes to luxury custom homes; if your luxury custom home builder uses poor-quality subcontractors to complete important jobs within your new home, you can anticipate less-than-stellar results. Certainly, you should be able to tell pretty quickly if the subcontractor incorrectly installs the handmade Italian tile in your master bathroom shower or your hand-planed hardwood floors in your dining area, but what about your electrical, plumbing or HVAC system?
The best custom home builders will work with the best tradespeople in their respective industries, ensuring that every aspect of your home reflects the high quality that they demand. Don’t be afraid to ask a prospective custom home builder to talk to you about the relationships they have with subcontractors and to independently research the quality of the subcontractors’ work; luxury home builders like us here at the Orren Pickell Building Group know that we are judged by the company we keep and are proud to have long-term relationships with the top electricians, HVAC firms, plumbers and craftspeople in the Chicago area.