How to know when you’ve chosen the wrong builder

Did you hire the right or the wrong builder to build your house?

We have all heard stories of builds going wrong. So many builders sound great on paper and during the first few conversations, but will they help build your home on time and on budget? If it’s your first time building a home, you may not know what to expect or what to be asking before you hire. Once things start moving, though, it won’t take long for you to assess whether you made the right decision or not. The communication between a builder and the client should be transparent and clear, if you don’t relate to this, then you might have chosen the wrong builder.

Here are the 5 Warning Signs that you’ve chosen the wrong builder.

Lack of Communication and Reachability From Your Builder

One warning sign that you have picked the wrong builder is that you are unable to communicate with them. When you have chosen a builder to build your home, there are many decisions that need to be made with regards to your home. Since this is your home, you should be the one in charge of making most of those decisions. You may even find that you change your mind from time to time or have questions about what is going on in the process. When this happens, you will want to talk to the builder and other members on the team.

If a contractor does not return your initial phone calls or emails, keep looking. You want a reputable company that stays in constant communication throughout all aspects of your project. The best contractors will be open and always striving to keep their clients informed. If a company is not quick to provide you with information about your construction project, search for a more reliable company.

Lack of References From Your Builder

If a company is unable to provide you with references from previous projects or reviews from past customers, this may indicate a lack of client satisfaction or inability to complete a project on time or on budget. Regardless, seek a contractor who has a high customer satisfaction rate and is open with sharing recommendations from previous clients. Do not hesitate to conduct this research on your own by searching for their website or other review sources, even by simply asking around. They also should have reviews via Google and on their social media platforms (if they don’t have this type of visibility it also poses as a warning sign). Once again, ask questions of a potential contractor—do your homework ahead of time as this will save you hassle and money in the long run.

Builder Has No legal documentation

Whether you are going through a home builder or you are designing your own home it’s important that you choose a builder that is licensed, registered, and insured. You should be wary of builders that either refuse or do not make it clear upfront that they are legally permitted to be involved in building and construction.

When you are working with a builder to design and build a custom home, every part of the process should be detailed in a legally binding contract. Spelling out each expectation and deadline in detail within a contract is the only way to be sure that you and the builder are on the same page and that you will be getting exactly what you want. A reputable builder should want to have a contract because it streamlines the process and protects the builder as much as it protects you. If the builder, you are considering working with says that they do not do contracts or doesn’t like the idea of signing a contract that is a huge red flag that you shouldn’t ignore.

No Trade Associations

If your builder is serious about their business, they should belong to some sort of associations or organizations. Belonging to these groups shows that your builder wants to be involved in the home building community and that they are an accredited business. If a contractor is not involved in associations, it may indicate their lack of desire to remain updated on the industry—which could mean you end up with a subpar deliverable.

Pricing For Your Home is Too Low or Too High

Another sign that you have picked the wrong builder is you are paying way more than you should or that the price is far too low. Sure, it may be hard to figure out what others are paying to have their homes built for in your area, but this is something you would want to research. In the past we have competed on projects and seen other contractors provide pricing at a fraction of our cost, however their quotes don’t always include all of the details and you may end up paying more in the end. So, ensure you understand what is included and what is not. If you feel like the builder may be overcharging or undercharging you, do some searching and find out what the average home building prices in your area are. Then, you may want to have a meeting with the builder and discuss the transaction.

As mentioned above, while it may be tempting to hire the lowest bidder, low costs do not always result in a quality home or you may have additional costs that may come up later that weren’t captured in the original quote. The hidden costs you incur in building a home are not actually hidden or invisible. They are just costs’ that are unknown at the time or are variable. You just have to realize what they are. Things such as travel, shipping, the cost of material and goods, on-site construction or unknown issues that arise when work has begun.

It is important to remember: “You get what you pay for.” Look for aspects of the bid that are not transparent and ask questions to ensure the contractor is able to work within your budget. Does the bid cover all your project needs? Are any items left out or left for later? A good contractor will (including yourself) want to drill down into the details of your project to do quality cost estimating to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions and be specific about your needs (immediate and future) and your preferences on how you want to build to go. A bad contractor will dodge your questions and push to start working without a clear vision and end goal in mind.

A good practice for any homeowner is to allocate an additional 10% of the budget to a contingency fund. You may not be able to escape unforeseen costs or additional costs along the way but building a little cushion into your budget will help ensure that you are prepared for the extra financial costs should they arise.

For more details on pricing, read our article how much does a log home cost.

How Much of a Deposit is the Builder Requesting 

A reputable builder will require some sort of cash payment upfront. At Artisan we require a deposit (amount will vary depending on the size of the project) to ensure we have the proper equipment and materials ready ahead of time. Most builders will not commence work until some sort of deposit has been made. Just be mindful of how much they are asking for. Always communicate with your builder to ensure the amount is within reason.

At times you may need to pay more upfront for higher-end materials if you want those in your home but in that case, the builder will show you exactly where the money is going and explain why they need that extra money. Most of the time a payment plan will be set in place and you will pay as work is completed.

If you believe you have hired the wrong builder, all may not be lost. Depending on your contract you may be able to fire your contractor if they are not keeping up their end of the bargain. That is why it is always best to work with someone you trust or hire a real estate attorney to ensure you are covered.

Finding a quality contractor is essential to ensuring that you end up with a custom home that you will love. With all of this in mind, when it comes to hiring a custom home builder or finding a new one, make sure to ask these key questions before hiring a home builder to ensure you’ve got the right team working for you.

Of course, we hope that you have not picked the wrong builder, but unfortunately, it can happen. Consider the information that has been shared here as you are building a home. Choosing the wrong builder can be a nightmare, but if you find you have done so, do all you can to fix the problem as soon as possible. And if you are in the market for a builder, or have any additional questions about building a home, the team at Artisan would be happy to help. Contact us today for more information.