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HIring A Custom Home Builder: Top 5 Things To Look For

Author : Gerry Stringer

Copyright (c) 2010 Gerry Stringer

Deciding to build a custom home-- a dream home-- is the chance for the homeowner to create a signature piece, marked indelibly with the distinctive taste of the home dreamer. It is like a blank canvas ready for a masterpiece with the owner responsible for each brush stroke and it's an opportunity to express a personal style honed from years of experience. It's usually a once-in-a-lifetime event as a culmination of accomplishments.

Trouble is, even people who have never built a brand-new home know all too well that the process can be fraught with frustrations. It is nearly axiomatic that on a construction project of this sort prospective owners should add 20% to the bid budget and half again as much time to the proposed schedule. Indeed, the troubles inherent in home building, the cost overruns, the time crunch, and the frustrations have been the subject of several star-studded movies from Hollywood over the years, including: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House in 1948, with Cary Grant, The Money Pit in 1986, with Tom Hanks, and Are We Done Yet?, in 2007, with Ice Cube. Interestingly enough, the subplot is each of these movies involves marital problems, obviously another clich axiom involved in such a project.

But it isn't necessary, and an owner building a custom home can fulfill the dream without being in the home construction business. A successful project begins with being prepared. From a variety of home-builder trade associations, home-owner building nightmares and successful dreams and custom home builders in Denver and throughout the country, here is a guide to the top five most important things to look for in a custom home builder:

1. Has the custom home builder under consideration built homes in the proposed price range, size scale, quality level, and type of neighborhood? Nobody wants to be the test case; ask to tour properties the builder has created and speak with former clients for opinions and recommendations.

2. Is the custom home builder bonded and insured to appropriate levels, with sufficient worker's compensation insurance and general liability insurance. Without these coverages the home owner could be liable for any damages incurred on the premises during construction. An insurance agent dealing with these lines of coverage could help in determining appropriate levels of coverage.

3. Does the firm have the financial wherewithal to deal with a project of the proposed cost. Inquire as to how the accounts work and if the builder deposits a payment per project and determine if the client has access to the accounting of said account. Pooled assets covering multiple projects are a sign of potential problems

4. Completely in advance is the entire project, item-by-item, step-by-step, planned, priced and scheduled. This is a laborious process, involving everything from the lumber and stone, to the stoves, wood floorings, cabinets, roofing and much more, and the client needs to make literally thousands of decisions and choices. While changes do often occur, pre-planning everything minimizes the "change order" surprises.

5. How does the custom home builder charge for its services. Many builders employ a "cost-plus" fee structure, but most reputable builders believe this is a built-in temptation to increase costs and lengthen the schedule. The preferred fee structure is called "fee for service," a pre-specified fee, based on time involved, that won't change no matter what the contingencies. Fee for service benefits the home owner as it is an incentive for the builder, and all of the subcontractors, to bring the project in on-time and on-budget.

Of course, there are many more questions to ask of a custom home builder, but if the answers to any of these five inquiries is inadequate there is little need to go any further with that builder. A full-service custom home builder should also be able to introduce a home owner to an appropriate architect, consult on site selection, and assist in the selection of both construction financing and a long-term mortgage at the end of the project.

Author's Resource Box

Gerry Stringer of Denver is a seasoned expert in real estate and he regularly works with custom home builders. He provides these tips on making the right choice. If you are looking for someone to meet the same criteria, choose

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Tags:   custom homes colorado, custom home builders colorado, home builders colorado, home builders denver, new homes denver, new homes colorado, how to select home builder, custom homes denver

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Submitted : 2010-10-03    Word Count : 1    Times Viewed: 377