Finding a Builder to Construct Your Custom Home on Your Lot

By Suzanne Whitenight Pilcher, Marketing Coordinator, Long & Foster Companies.

Perhaps you were lucky enough to inherit property or bought a parcel of land to build your dream home. Now, how do you select the right builder to construct the home you’ve envisioned? Whatever style and size home you’re building, you’ll want to know you’re purchasing a good quality home from a reputable builder.

Where do you start?

It’s best to find companies who are familiar with the building codes in your area, according to Pauline Dent, director of builder & developer services with the Long & Foster New Homes division. Each jurisdiction has specific building codes, so you’ll want to hire someone who knows the codes and can comply with them. The National Association of Homebuilders offers a list of local builders on their website.  In addition, a real estate agent familiar with custom home building can be a great resource.

What’s the builder’s specialty and reputation?

Whether it’s a traditional colonial, modern or craftsman-style home you have in mind, take a look at pictures of the houses each builder has constructed. Ask how many homes they have built that are similar to the design you have in mind.  Then, go to see the products they’ve built in the last few years.

In addition, ask for personal testimonials from past clients. Dent adds you’ll want to talk to a variety of customers, in every stage of owning – meaning those that recently moved in, individuals who have lived in the home less than two years and people who have lived in their houses longer than two years. Ask them if the work was completed on time and on budget and if they had any major issues during construction. Your real estate agent may also have had some experience with the builder to help attest to their reputation.

How much will it cost?

Although it’s important to hire a qualified builder, finding one who can construct a home in your price range is just as critical. Gather quotes from the list of builders you’ve collected and be sure you understand what’s included in each quote. For instance, does the price include site and finish work, landscaping and clean-up of the property? What level of finishings will be included – will you have granite or laminate countertops?

Site work, including land clearing and grading, the construction of driveways and walkways, installation of utilities, permits and fees, can cost more than $60,000 in some areas, according to John Jorgenson, a leading new homes agent in Long & Foster’s McLean, Virginia, office. Check to be sure your builder includes it in the price or you’ll have to budget for these necessary costs.

Just as with any new home purchase, a knowledgeable Realtor can help you find a reputable builder and can guide you through the homebuilding process.

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