Finding Builders Who Build With Quality Materials

by : Joe Cline - Austin Real Estate Broker

Which Builder Is The Best?

When clients come to their agent for advice it's not uncommon for the client to ask the agent which builder is best or which builder builds the best homes and the like. Any agent who gives the name of a builder as the answer to this question is taking the easy way out to answering a difficult question. As for qualifying a builder to enter the running there are a number of items to address.

  • Is the builder financially stable? How would you like to end up with a half finished house and a bankrupt builder?

  • Does the builder have reference clients? Ask for references from several subdivisions and ages of homes. You don't want to have a zillion problems 2 years after you move into the home.

  • What does the builder do in-house versus subcontracting? Who manages the home construction? Who does the actual work. You'll want to know who the subcontractors are because they will be the ones building the house for the most part.

  • How does the builder ensure quality construction? The answers to this vary widely and anything that sounds made up or contrived should set off every alarm in the prospective buyer.

Take copious notes on the answers. Any misleading or untruthful statements here may be important to your cause later and could even trigger Texas' Deceptive Trade Practices statues should you need to play hardball later. So long as you get satisfactory answers to the questions above you can begin to focus on ensuring the builder you selected is building a safe and quality home for you and your family.

You Are The Quality Control

As you may have already figured out there is no best builder. The process of taking a parcel of raw land and creating a family's home is long and can be complicated. As with all projects communication is key. As new build clients you should feel comfortable contacting your on site sales representative and Realtor as often as you like. The on-site agent and your agent are there to help and make sure your purchase is smooth. Don't be afraid to engage them.

  • Set a time for a weekly update call with the builder and your agent. Even if your call is 2 minutes on Monday morning and consists of a "Nothing has changed. We're still waiting on the permits from the city.", you'll know the latest and greatest.

  • Get the building schedule and hold the builder to the schedule if time is important to you. You may give here to get other places if timing is not critical in your situation.

  • Visit the site often and take photos. If you see anything that looks odd or is not what you expected tkae a photo, document the question in email, and contact the builder and your agent IMMEDIATELY. Waiting to see why the builder is clearing a section of the lot that you thought was going to be your treed hideaway may turn out poorly.

  • Hire an independent inspector to conduct phase inspections. The builder should be notified before your inspector arrives. Ideally, the builder will notify the inspector a few days before each phase is ready to be reviewed. The inspector typically will come after the slab is poured, after framing is complete, after plumbing and electrical is installed, and after the home is completed.

  • Be detailed, but not unreasonable. If you notice something that is just plain sloppy or that will cause you issues later, bring it up with the builder. A lot of times the agent or superintendent may not have noticed what the subcontractor is doing or maybe a change order was missed and you are the first to find out. You are buying a new home, NOT a perfect home. No home is perfect, but a new home should be of high quality and to your specifications.

Be Dilligent

As you've discovered, your involvement in the building process can make all the difference. Stay on top of the ball and 9 out of 10 builders will meet your needs and build you a quality home. Sometimes you'll even run across a builder that will build you a great home, nearly perfectly without your involvement, but why take the chance?

Happy building!