How Do You Choose a Custom Home Builder?


This is it. You’ve worked hard for the opportunity to build your dream home and it’s finally here. Believe it or not, your first decision, which is usually to choose a custom-home builder, has the power to turn your dream into a nightmare.

But fear not, by doing your homework (no pun intended!), and using caution, you can find the right builder to make your dream home come true.

5 Ways to Choose a Custom Home Builder

The idea here isn’t to find the one single, best home builder for you. Instead, you want a shortlist of at least three builders who fit your criteria. From there you can do a deep dive to find the want you feel is right for the project.

1. Look for Experience

You will find many builders, all with somewhat different prices, services, timelines and much more. One of the best ways to start to reduce the number of candidates is to look for those with the most experience in custom home building. That experience tells you a few things. If they have been in business for some time, they must be doing something right. They will also be more likely to have a larger network of contractors to call on for whatever you want or need. Finally, they will have more experience in different home styles, for different locations, with options, materials and so on.

2. BC Housing Members & Insurance Coverage

Your builder must be a member of BC Housing. An agency of the B.C. Attorney General & Minister responsible for Housing, BC Housing licenses residential builders, ensures new homes are covered by third-party home warranty insurance, available from a variety of insurance providers, including Pacific Home Warranty, and maintains a new homes registry that homeowners and other stakeholders can use to check the status of new homes under construction.

3. Get References

Even if the builder is experienced, and has the proper certifications and insurance, you still need to know about the experience of working with them. They may be able to build a great home, but the home owners may not have had a great experience.

Ask the builders for references. Contact the references and ask about things like extra costs, finishing on schedule, and taking care some extras without adding to the bill every time. Also find out if the builder was easy to work with and would the homeowner work with the builder again. The answers you get will lead to a larger conversation that can paint a clearer picture of what to expect.

4. Check Online Reviews

Online reviews are like checking many references all at once. Try to read as many as you can. Reading just a few may not give you a complete picture. Look for repeated pluses and minuses. In other words, if one person was not satisficed, or very pleased with something, look for confirmation of that in other reviews before using it to make a decision.

5. Check the Price

This might seem obvious. You will probably have a budget in mind. So price is important for at least that reason. Low prices are attractive, but they often mean lower quality, cutting corners and more headaches. Conversely, the highest price isn’t necessarily the best option either. Like every company, builders are in business to make money. But that doesn’t mean you’ll get the best value for your investment.

One of the most important things is to confirm what the price includes. Some builders will give you a great upfront price, but upcharge you at every opportunity as the project progresses.

If you enjoyed this post, check out our article “Hire a Professional vs. Do It Yourself Home Remodels“.