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How Do You Choose a Contractor to Build Your New Home?

Have you ever dreamed about building a new home? If you survey a hundred people, you might be surprised at how many of them shake their heads and say ‘no’. The idea of building a home (or more accurately, paying someone to build a home) from scratch just seems too daunting and too expensive to pursue seriously. When you figure in all the planning, zoning, refining, hiring, scheduling, payment schedules, and contractual obligations, many people find the idea of buying a ‘used’ home much more palatable. That process is still somewhat labor-intensive, but you’re able to move into your home much more quickly, and you don’t have all of the logistical issues that building a new home would bring.

But let’s look at the other side of it. A lot of people, when they buy a used home and have lived there for a couple of months, begin to see all the things about the home they would rather change. It’s not uncommon to start planning renovations during this period, and thinking about whether it’s possible to get the funds together to realize those projects and adapt the home to your specific needs.

There are actually a lot of advantages to building a new home, namely: 1) Your home is built exactly according to your designs and tastes, 2) the new home should be contractually guaranteed against faulty workmanship for a number of years following the construction, and 3) you don’t have to worry about lingering issues with plumbing, electrical work, toxic mold, or any of the other complicated problems that come from buying a used home.

If you’re seriously considering building a new home, it’s no exaggeration to say that this may be one of the most important investments of your lifetime. Most people don’t pay cash for a brand new home; they pay for the project with a mortgage and develop a careful plan to build equity over time. That means you really need the construction work to reach the highest possible standards of professionalism and craftsmanship.

How do you find a contractor who is going to deliver on these fronts, and treat your new home construction as if it were their own? Experience is a big one. Hiring a “newbie” to build a home is akin to pay someone to learn their craft on your time, with your hard-earned money. That’s not to say there’s no place for inexperienced workers on a project, but the effort should always be led and overseen by an experienced builder who knows how to catch mistakes before they turn into costly issues.

Reputation is another important indicator. When you read reviews written by other families who have hired this contractor to build a new home, what are the recurring themes? Was the result everything they wanted and more? Was the contractor punctual, friendly, on-time, helpful, and highly professional in every way? If not — or if you notice recurring negative comments — that’s a sign that it’s better to put your investment in someone else’s hands.

Building a new home is truly one of the most exciting (but also nerve wracking) experiences in life. Being careful and deliberate about the hiring process, from collecting multiple bids to deciding on the right contractor for your new home, is one area where you definitely don’t want to cut corners. Good luck!