For most people, a home is the single largest investment they’ll ever make.
That’s why it’s so important to hire the right builder to create your custom home or the right remodeler to beautify and renovate your existing one.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has produced a checklist to help you make the right decision.
Top Tips from NAHB’s How to Hire the Right Builder Checklist
1. Check out the custom home builder’s reputation, longevity and experience.
- Make sure the custom home builder or home remodeler has a permanent business location and a good reputation with local banks and suppliers.
- Find out how long the builder has been in the building business. It usually takes three to five years to establish a financially sound business. You want to make sure they will be around after the construction is complete to service any warranties.
- Check out the company’s rating and if there have been any complaints filed with your local Better Business Bureau: www.bbb.org
Stockell Custom Homes has been in business for over 25 years in St. Louis, MO, with a permanent location and an excellent reputation. View Stockell’s A+ BBB rating.
2. Ensure the builder has the correct insurance and contracts so you’re protected.
- Make sure the builder/remodeler has sufficient workers compensation and general liability insurance. If not, you may be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
- Also, make sure the builder/remodeler provides you with a complete and clearly written contract. The contract will benefit both of you. If you’re having a new home built, get and review a copy of the home warranty and homeowner manual as well.
Stockell Homes maintains the appropriate insurance to protect you. Also Stockell’s custom home builder team is accredited and certified by various groups including: NAHB, BBB, Angie’s List, HBA, Green Professional and the US Green Building Council.
Our building process is clear, with an easy to read contract and clear communication. View our custom home building process.
3. Ask the home builder/remodeler to see examples of their work and for names of previous customers.
- Ask the builder/remodeler to provide you with names of previous customers. If they won’t, beware. If they do, ask the customers if they would hire the builder/remodeler again.
- Ask if you can see the builder/remodelers work, both completed and in progress. Check for quality of workmanship and materials.
At Stockell Homes, we’re transparent with our customers. View our gallery of completed projects and read our online customer reviews. We have a long list of happy customers who you can contact if you’d like.
4. Do you feel you can easily communicate with the builder/remodeler?
- Remember you will be in close contact with them throughout the construction process and afterward as you live in your new home.
5. Be cautious of unusually low‐priced bids.
- If the builder/remodeler is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this may indicate a potential problem.
- Keep in mind that less expensive does not necessarily mean better.
At Stockell Homes, we focus on developing an accurate, on-time budget and timeline. We use open book accounting so you can see how expenses are handled.
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Ask the Builder what warranties or guarantees they offer.
Most builders offer a guarantee on workmanship and they pass through manufacturers warranties for the appliances and MEP they provided or installed. The builder does not generally get involved with any warranty claims. In addition, a few items like concrete, stone, brick or wood trims, have a one-year warranty. Extended warranties can be purchased.
At Stockell, we not only guarantee our work, we offer a no-surprises and price guarantees. Although it’s not likely given our detailed estimating process and transparency policy, if we miss something, we pay for it! We also will compile and place in a binder for future convenient access, product and warranty information for all appliances and equipment we provide or install.
Ask them what trades they use and how they select them.
This question is important, because there are many specialized trades and their quality of work is what you will live with. These trades include: concrete, siding, roofing, masons, carpentry, heating & cooling, electrical, plumbing, insulators, drywall, flooring, specialty tile & marble, painters and final clean companies. Generally, these trades are hired as needed by the builder. Some builders will have certain trades on staff as employees. What’s important here is to have a high degree of confidence that the trades will perform their work at the level of quality the builder portrays and that you expect.
Stockell trade partners are selected on quality first, and they must meet our own standards of workmanship that go beyond normal industry standards. Our trade partners are trained in the “Stockell Standards” of best construction practices. It always amazes us when we first start working with an already exception trade partner, just how much they don’t know. They work with some of the “best builders” in our region, but when we start training them, they all say: “the other guys don’t do this”. Starting with waterproofing the foundation, to drain tile, to proper grade and slope away from the house, to vapor barriers, flashings, window and door installation, proper insulation… the list is extensive. But it all makes a difference; water and moisture problems or no problems, high heating and cooling costs or low costs, more maintenance or less, long lasting construction or not so long. As an example, installing the vapor barrier correctly. Tyvek, the leading vapor barrier manufacturer has explicit installation instructions that no one seems to follow except Stockell Homes. We train our carpentry crews how to properly do this. How to use cap nails (not staplers) to install it. How to overlap and tape seams. How to tuck flashings under it so any water that gets behind the siding will flow down the wall on the Tyvek and be directed over the flashings and away from the building. A simple thing, yet very few builders do it. Stockell Homes knows it’s the little details that keep a house from literally rotting due to ignorance about moisture control. Our staff has annual continuing education in modern building science to keep up to date with best building practices. We pass this on to all our trade partners. It’s the best way to build. It’s the only way.
Has the Builder ever owned a construction company under a different name?
This question can be important as there are builders that develop a poor reputation, get into financial trouble or have partnership issues. What many will do under these circumstances is they will shut down their existing business and then start a new business under a different name. However, their business practices may not change, and their customers may experience problems working with them. You should do some due diligence here by doing reference checks, background checks, BBB and other reviews and have financial strength.
For 30 yrs. “Stockell General Contracting Inc.” has been doing both commercial and residential building construction under the same name. Several years ago, we started a Custom Home Division called Stockell Custom Homes.
Ask the Builder if a claim or lawsuit has ever been placed against them or any principle of the company.
This question is obviously important, but, sometimes overlooked. You want to know as much as you can about how the business has performed in the past and how satisfied their clients are. Like the question above, it’s important for you to know who you’re going to do business with – not just on their workmanship, but also their actual performance. You’ll only know if you’ve chosen the right builder after the project is complete.
Stockell Custom Homes has never had a claim or dispute with any of our clients. We’re very proud of our 30-year history of satisfied, happy clients.
Ask the Builder why you should choose their company as your builder?
Reputable builders know what makes them good and have built their business or their processes to differentiate themselves. There are many builders, most of which are good, but, some of them may not be the right builder for you. They may claim they are the best or that they have some specialty. But how will you really know. You must feel comfortable with your decision. You don’t want to simply to take their word at face value.
At Stockell Custom Homes, we believe that the there are three primary things that make us the builder of choice:
(1) our no-surprises policies and procedures eliminate the risk you’ll have a negative experience.
(2) our belief that we are your advocate and that it is our responsibility to help you make great decisions from start to finish.
(3) Our clients all enjoy working with us and they are always amazed at how smooth our projects flow (especially those who have worked with other builders or contractors). We have many great reviews. We enjoy what we do. We have fun doing it. We are professionals. Why take a chance?
It’s important that you hire a custom home builder you can trust to provide you with the best building and remodeling experience possible. The Stockell Team hits the mark on the NAHB criteria. We use only the highest quality materials and workmanship while delivering every project on budget and on time. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you along this home building journey.