How To Choose A Home Builder: 8 Tips For Getting It Right

So you’ve come to the decision to build a home. Great! Now what?

Though an exciting time, there are many steps to complete before you are ready to move in.

One of the first, and arguably most important steps is to choose a home builder that will ensure your dreams become a reality, with minimal bumps along the way.

There are many things you will need to do and consider before you are ready to sign any contracts. Here are 8 tips to help you find the perfect builder for your project.

1. Determine your wants and needs.

It is important to narrow down exactly what you are wanting in your new build. A crucial question to answer is whether you will need a general contractor or a custom builder.

When it comes to a general contractor, you will have little if any options when it comes to deviating from standard layouts. There will be some choice when it comes to paint, floor colours, and some fixtures, however, changing room layouts will not be an option.

General builders typically sell the home and lot as a package. You will be able to select a lot, however it is usually within a certain subdivision and the sizes are preset.

Some builders would be considered semi-custom, as they do allow for changes, however, keep in mind that usually comes at a cost. Make sure to get an accurate price before you make any decisions.

If you are wanting a one of a kind build, you will need to work with a custom builder to achieve that dream. A custom builder can either supply the land or can build on land that is supplied by the purchaser. There are virtually endless options when it comes to custom builds, and it will be imperative to have a well communicating builder when going that custom route, as you will be making all the decisions along the way.

Make a list of exactly what you are looking for in a new build. That way when it comes time to check out show homes and view floor plans you will know whether or not that particular builder will be able to accommodate your needs.

It is also extremely important to determine where you want to build. Heart set on a particular subdivision? There may be restrictions on the homes that can be built in the subdivision agreement. Most builders will have pre-purchased lots and that will quickly tell you who is an option to work with.

2. Make a list of potential builders

Determining who is available to assist you with your build will make the interview process alot easier.

Contact your local home builders association to obtain the names of the builders in your area that you would be able to work with. If your area does not have a builders association, look online, or speak with realtors, mortgage brokers, or lawyers as they would all be aware of the companies that are building in the area.

You will have a comprehensive list of options and from there will be able to start making contact and determine who can meet your needs.

3. Research!

Do your research! Putting the work in now to learn about the potential builders you will be working with can save you time, money and headaches in the future.

You wouldn’t buy a car without researching make, models and condition, and your new build should be no different.

Go online and read up on all the builders you could potentially work with. Check out their websites and read online reviews.

A lot of information is readily available online for you to read through. This is also a great place to find past customers comments and reviews.

Most builder will also have a lot of pictures and even floor plans for you to view on their website, which will help when deciding what house style will work best for your needs.

If you are new to an area, you may not know where to begin searching out a reputable home-builder. If this is the case, you might consider speaking with realtors, lenders, mortgage brokers of a home builders association, if applicable. These people will be familiar with builders in the area and will have a sense of who is busy and easy to deal with and who you may want to avoid.

It may also be prudent to consider using a real estate agent for your build, as they are well versed in the contracts and can help you understand and negotiate any terms and conditions.

Additional Reading:

15 Mistakes To Avoid When Building A New Home

Warning Signs You Picked The Wrong Builder

4. Meet with the builders

One the fastest ways to know if a builder is right for you and your project is to sit down with them and their team.

This will give you an opportunity to ask some very important preliminary questions and also get a feel for the type of company and people you could be dealing with.

It is a good idea to meet with the design team as well as you will be dealing closely with them throughout the whole process. Make sure to discuss with the builder and the design team about options and what is available for upgrade or change if necessary. Some builders will offer very little flexibility when it comes to floor plans so if there are major changes you are hoping to do, now would be the time to find out if it is possible or not.

It would be a good idea to make a list of questions and concerns that you have and take note of how they answer. Are they transparent about cost and timelines? Are they happy to answer all your questions? Are they friendly and approachable? All these will be important things to know before you start your build.

Asking for a sample contract may be a good idea as it would give you time to thoroughly go through the paperwork before you decide to sign anything. It will also give you a chance to clarify any ambiguities and note any red flags.

If you aren’t sure of some of the terminology included in the legal documents, don’t hesitate to seek legal counsel to help explain as you will want to fully understand all the details before the contract is signed.

5. Visit showrooms and model homes

What better way to get a taste of the builders style, quality and craftsmanship than to visit a home that they have built.

Model homes are the perfect example of what you can expect from a particular builder and can give you ideas for layout, design and decor.

Many showrooms have agents on site that are able to assist with preliminary questions and show you around. Some builders will have a couple of different models available to walk through which will help assist you in deciding floor plans.

When touring a model home, make sure to define clearly what is standard and what is an upgrade. Model homes are a way for a builder to showcase exactly what they can do, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes standard to each property, so asking for a clear and defined list will save disappointment in the future.

Look at the details! Check out the trim work, moldings, and tiling. The devil is in the details and an easy way to know if the builder and tradesmen have high standards of quality is by looking closely.

Another great idea would be to drive past houses that have been and are currently being built by a company you may be interested in. Seeing the final project, but also under construction projects will give you a feel for what the process will be like.

Additional Reading:

Checklist For First-Time Home Buyers

7 Ways To Save When Builder The Home Of Your Dreams


6. Communication is Key!

Building a house can be lengthy process, with many decisions along the way. Having a well established line of communication with your builder will ensure that everything proceeds easy and effortlessly.

Whether you deal with the builder directly, a designer or a realtor, making sure you feel heard and are being responded to in a timely manner should be close to the top of your priority list.

Things happen. And sometimes those things will affect your new home. Being kept well informed and advised of issues that may arise will help keep your build on track.

When meeting with a builder, make sure to take special note of how they interact with you. Are they eager to answer your questions? Do they seem organized? These things will give you a glimpse into what your relationship with them will be like during the build.

Your builder should notify you when construction begins on your new house. Typically, on the agreement of purchase and sale there will be a scheduled “closing date” or “completion date”. Speak to your builder about the possibilities of delays and how that is communicated.

When speaking with references, past clients or industry professionals, make sure to ask if they respond in a timely manner. Do they listen to requests and concerns? Knowing the answers to these questions can save a lot of frustrations down the road.

7. The Importance of Paperwork

Just like purchasing an previous built house, you will be signing an agreement of purchase and sale. This is a lengthy contract that you will want to go over thoroughly.

You may want to consider going over the contract with a lawyer to be certain you understand all conditions.

At this time you will want to pay special attention to numbers. Make sure that the price is what you agreed on and that if there are any extras or upgrades it has been noted. This is a good opportunity to closely go over the features that are included in the price.

Another very important piece of information regarding your purchase price, is whether GST/HST is included or in addition to. The rules and regulations regarding tax implications for a new build differ than for a previous built home, so knowing exactly who is responsible for the tax and how much it will be is imperative.

Once you sign your building contract, you will need to provide your building with a deposit. Depending on builder and area this number will differ. You will want to make sure that your deposit is credited correctly on your agreement.

A crucial document that you will receive once your build is complete is a warranty. In Ontario, the Tarion Warranty is provided to consumers in accordance with the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and Regulations.

This warranty, in summary, ensures that the home is constructed in a workmanlike manner and is free from defective material, the home is habitable and the construction was in accordance with the Ontario Building Code.

Before deciding on a builder, you should check on the Tarion website that the builder is registered. All home builders in Ontario are required to be registered with Tarion.

The Tarion Certificate also protects your deposit , against financial losses for delays in completion and occupancy, protection against unauthorized substitutions, one and two year warranties for certain defects in work and materials and a seven year warranty for major structural defects.

Your builder will provide you, or your lawyer, with a completion certificate which will specify the date of completion of your home. This is when your warranty coverage will begin.

It is important to note that coverage does not extend to anything you decide to complete yourself. It is not uncommon for purchasers, especially handy ones, to save some costs by installing floors, finishing rooms or painting walls themselves. Your builder will not be responsible for issues in these areas if that is something you chose to do.

There are other documents and warranties that your builder may provide you with and it would be a good idea to have a list of those prior to signing a contract. Your lawyer may be the one to receive that paperwork, but knowing what you should be getting in writing will help ensure nothing gets overlooked.

8. Red Flags!

There are a number of different things that can be a cause for concern when meeting with a builder, going over their paperwork or speaking with references. Here a few red flags that will help avoid any disasters during your build.

Vague Pricing
Not having a clear and detailed list of pricing and features included can leave too much ambiguities that you will end up paying for in the future.

Poor Communication
Whether it’s not getting back to you in a timely manner or not advising you of issues or delays, having a builder that doesn’t keep you in the loop will add unnecessary stress and frustrations.

Lack of paperwork
When it comes to building a home, having everything in writing is crucial. If a potential builder doesn’t have a clear and thorough agreement of purchase and sale that should be cause for great concern.

No Warranties
You wouldn’t buy a new phone or computer without a warranty, so why even consider building a house without one. In Ontario, it is mandatory to be registered with Tarion and to provide warranties. You are able to check if a builder is registered online and that should be one of your first steps before deciding.

Poor references/reviews
When speaking with industry professionals and past clients, believe them when they tell you to avoid a certain builder. Yes, some people may of had an unpleasant experience while others rave about a certain company. However, if you are seeing more negative reviews and warnings, it would be in your best interest to take them seriously.

You are at the finish line. You’ve taken the time and did the work to ensure you are choosing the best builder to suit your needs. Following these tips will help you avoid potential nightmare situations and ensure that the building of your home will be an exciting and stress-free experience.

Are you interested in building a new home in London Ontario? Contact us to learn how we can build your dream home.



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