A land or homeowner seeking to build a custom home or perform renovations should never blindly choose a contractor. Although this might seem like a common sense concept, many people make their decisions before preparing everything they need to guarantee the best possible outcome or without vetting their builder. As a result, far too many individuals and couples discover that they must live with designs choices that they don’t entirely like or invoices for amounts that break their budgets. In worst-case scenarios, property owners find themselves dealing with fraud, deceptive practices and bad construction issues that force them to seek legal assistance.

The good news is that you can reduce these risks. You’re already on the right path. This guide provides an outline of the top actions that you should perform before and during your search for a builder.

Design Your Dream Home

Given that contractors create cost, schedule and other estimates based on the design plans and material lists that you provide to them, it’s critical that you start by writing down everything that you want to do with the build or renovation. It’s okay if you only have general ideas. Once you have at least a basic outline, hire a professional to help you add detail to your vision and create detailed drawings.

You might think that you can create a plan on your own using 3D construction software. There’s nothing wrong with fleshing out your vision with software, but keep in mind that only a local designer or architect might know your local building design requirements and resource options. They can supply you with the type of drawings and plan needed to approach a builder with specific details about the build, including the appliances and furniture that will go in the home or space after construction and the types of materials that you want to use for the flooring or ceiling, plumbing, accessories, decor, fixtures and finishes. This information reduces the risk of a builder charging you more down the line for extras that people normally forget to include in their plans. Before you pick a designer, also consider choosing one who offers project management services at reasonable rates.

Photo by Alair Homes BrandonBrowse living room ideas

Shop Around for a Professional

Whoever helps you design and create your home or renovation plan might have a list of recommendations. Reciprocal relationships between businesses can benefit property owners. That said, given that fraud and deception do occur in the industry, it’s important to maintain caution since these partnerships can result in higher or unnecessary costs. Of course, you should also ask family members, friends, co-workers and others in your social networks for recommendations. Although you shouldn’t rely on their opinions alone, it’s a good place to start.

After you have this information, check out each builder online. Research their history by reading reviews, studying their website, especially their About Us page, and looking for proof of their expertise, such as the number of years that they’ve been in business, their professional licenses and certifications and financial details. Narrow down your list of potential candidates and then schedule an appointment with each one to help you make a final decision. When you sit down with a builder, make certain that you bring your plan. Ask them how long it might take to come up with a detailed work list and schedule and cost estimate that includes taxes. Additionally, ask about how they pick their subcontractors and handle emergencies and unexpected delays and the type of on-site accident insurance they maintain. If you’ve decided that you want to work with a separate project manager, ask the builder if they’ve worked with one before and request in writing their related expectations.

Speak With Their Clients

Before you end your initial discussion with each builder, make it clear that you can’t make a final decision until you review their estimates and some of their previous construction sites. You should never rely on builder project books that show photos from past jobs or similar online photo galleries. It’s far too easy to use photography tricks to make a finished project look better than the real results. You also shouldn’t rely on written testimonials. Unscrupulous contractors have been known to actually pay people to provide them with glowing reviews. The fact is that the best way to see if a builder is honest and capable of creating stunning, durable custom homes or renovated spaces is by checking out physical locations that have been finished for a year or longer. If the builder doesn’t have a list of clients willing to show you their homes, reconsider the builder or use online reviews to generate your own list. When speaking with a builder’s clients, always remember to thank them for their time at the start and end of the discussion. Ask them about their experience during the build and since and overall impressions. Also ask them about the character, personality and attitude of the builder, especially when the builder had to deal with delays and other stresses.

Final Thoughts

Once you’ve found an estimate and builder that you like, you must set up a contract for services that outlines everything about the project. No detail should be left out. The more detailed you are with the contract the better chance you have of protecting yourself if something goes wrong. For example, the contract should even outline the name of the party responsible for waste material cleanup. Lastly, read the fine print to make certain that the contractor hasn’t added an arbitration clause that would prevent you from seeking court-based legal action if they fail to meet any written agreements.

At Alair Homes Brandon, we are dedicated to providing land and home owners in Brandon, Manitoba and surrounding areas with the best custom home and renovation experiences possible. We hope this guide can help reduce the stress and uncertainty that often occurs when hiring a contractor. For more information or to schedule an appointment to discuss your dream home plan, contact us today to request a consultation.