Choosing the right builder: A step-by-step guide / by Mark Schmidt

Schmidt Custom Builders Inlet View

Outside of choosing to marry and deciding whether or not to have children, selecting a home builder might just be the next biggest decision you’ll have to make in your life. If not, it’s probably still in the top ten. So how do you choose the right builder for you? Let’s take a look.

Scope it out. If you’re looking for a custom home, the last thing you want to do is hire someone in the cookie cutter business. (Insert Edward Scissorhands' neighborhood photo here.) If you want a home that’s true to you, do a little research. Ask friends with similar tastes who built their home. Try a Google search for “Wilmington Custom Home Builder” and see which builder tickles your fancy virtually. Keep the scope of your project in mind. Check in with the builder’s professional Houzz profile to see be sure your project is within their typical job cost. 

Reference check one, two. One, two. Client references and reviews probably speak the loudest when it comes to choosing your home builder. Whether new homeowners have had excellent home building experiences or poor experiences, they typically want to tell all. Check out client reviews on Houzz or simply ask the builder for references you could call. If the builder you’re contacting consistently puts out good work, he (or she) won’t have any trouble finding folks to speak highly of their company.

Call him, maybe? Email is great but phone and personal meetings are imperative to get a feel for the man (or woman) behind the scenes. From the get-go, you want to be sure you have a good connection with your builder. He’s the one in charge and the one you’ll call if you have questions or concerns throughout the home building process. Make sure your personalities click!

Be your own private eye. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So it’s ok to do a little snooping when it comes to a major purchase like a house. While you’re on the phone with the builders you’re considering, ask them about the best way to see their work. More than likely, they’ll send you to their company website, Houzz profile, Facebook page, or Instagram profile. These are great places to get the scoop on properties the builder has completed. If the builder is willing, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a list of addresses and do a drive by to see their work in person.

Money. Money. Money. Okay, let’s cut to the chase. Even if you vibe well with one particular builder, money plays a big role in choosing the right one for you when you’re keeping your piggy bank in mind. Not all of us can go with the high-baller. But at the same time, when you’re comparing estimates, you don’t want to necessarily go with the penny-pincher either. When it comes to builders, the general rule-of-thumb is to go with the middle man. He’s the guy you can count on to pinch pennies only when that means he’s not cutting corners or compromising the quality of craftsmanship he promised. Sometimes money speaks louder than words. Do a little number crunching and go with your gut.