Finding a Custom Home Builders Greenville SC You Can Trust
Looking for a custom home builders Greenville SC you would follow a similar process as the previous section. First, you do a little self-reflection and decide what you’re looking for in concrete terms, before setting out on the journey. Why? If you don’t determine your own standards, you’ll fall into the trap of letting the builders you talk to define terms for you.
Most Custom Home Builders Greenville SC have what he or she thinks is his or her competitive advantage. That’s what each one will emphasize as the most important thing to evaluate. Let’s say the first builder you talk to advertises a low price per square foot. Seems very attractive right? However, this is because that’s a simple way to compare houses. Although, the problem is there is no plan or budget to compare.
Create your own buying criteria
You probably don’t need a reminder that this is an important, and risky, process. Your dreams are at stake, and this custom home can have a huge impact on your family’s financial safety. You need to find a guide (builder) you can work with. You’re buying your dream, and that happens to include buying a building process. This includes the builders’ warranty process, the work of many subcontractors, a builder’s reputation, and finally, a custom home finished the way you and your family want. Although the builder you choose needs to be someone you want as a partner in the entire process, not just someone who completes a transaction.
The builder behind the curtain
Before we talk about finding a quality custom home builders Greenville SC, let me give you a little peek behind the curtain of the homebuilding industry. Here are a few things to watch out for:
Chuck in the truck with the taillight guarantee. Mom-and-pop builder who builds 5 to 10 homes a year, works out of his pickup. He was probably a really good trim carpenter who built a house on the side and sold it, and now the bank gives him a credit line to build a few houses at a time. Conversely the problem is, he has neither the financial capacity nor the time in his day to come back and fix any warranty issues. Therefore once he’s done and you’ve paid him, you’ll see his taillights as he’s off to the next job and probably won’t ever return another phone call.
Low price per square foot. A custom home that is created specifically for you has never been built. Therefore, how could anyone possibly tell you how many dollars per square foot an imaginary house will cost? Again, they can’t, unless they’re trying to rope you into a commitment so they can change the price later.
The “standard” list of specifications. There’s nothing “standard” about a custom home. Again, these two words mean opposite thing. However, if a builder hands you a list of “standard features,” he’s telling you this is how he wants to build the house. Although, shouldn’t you be the one telling him? Watch out for items like “3500 psi concrete” or “anchor bolts.” These items are on the list to make you think they’re special. They aren’t… they’re required.
The typical builder’s process
Unfortunately, there’s a very low barrier to entry into the home building profession. Because of this most of the stories you hear from people about having a new home built are horror stories. Here’s how the typical custom homebuilder’s process works.
- Find a customer, usually someone who has seen a home he’s built and liked that floor plan.
- Then, get a commitment from the customer in the form of a cost-plus building contract using a cost estimate that is wildly optimistic.
- Next, design a house plan the customer likes and start building ASAP. Have the subcontractors estimate material quantities and types and buy whatever they tell him.
- Send invoices to the customer to pay weekly. The invoices will look like Greek to the customer, who has never built a house, so the customer will probably just pay them.
- Then, when the house starts going over budget and it becomes evident the estimate was wildly optimistic, the builder will explain it by saying the cost of materials has gone up (inflation, right?), or that the customer made some changes or some other excuse.
- Next, the customer makes selections or changes, the builder never writes anything down. If he does, it’s on a legal pad that has about a thousand pages flipped over on it with notes from eons ago.
- At closing, the builder does a cursory walk-through with the customer and fixes about 20% of what’s on the list and promises to do the other 80% after the customer moves in.
- During closing, the builder asks for payment for about $30,000 worth of undocumented change orders.
- The banker frowns and grudgingly increases the amount of the construction loan because he doesn’t really need or want a house in his inventory.
- Finally, the customer grudgingly pays the builder because what else are they going to do?
That all sounds very jaded, I know. The good news is that’s not how every builder works. I know of a select few in Greenville who I would hire in a minute to build a home for my family.
Here’s how to identify the world-class custom home builder.
- There’s a clearly defined process for everything up front—from designing your custom house plan to selecting every feature.
- Everything gets written down.
- When you make a change during construction, the builder writes a change order and gets the customer to sign it and pay for it at that time.
- Building contract has a detailed list of every material that’s proposed for the customer’s home all the way down to the color of the door hinges.
- The builder has a written warranty document that lists everything that’s covered, along with standards of acceptable and unacceptable work.
- The owner of the building company doesn’t have to babysit the jobs under construction because he employs a team of experts to handle those details better than he can. In other words, he has attracted talented and skilled individuals who specialize in their particular areas rather than him trying to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none.
Now that you know a little bit about the inner workings of the homebuilding industry, let’s talk about how to find that builder who is the combination of a capable professional and a good fit for your needs.
Two main areas to consider:
- Quality of construction, and
- The builder’s process.
There are a couple of ways to evaluate quality, both of which are based on history. You could become an expert on residential construction methods and building codes. Then go out and inspect a builder’s homes under construction to assess their standards. Chances are you don’t have this free time.
Second option is to determine the builder’s quality of construction through reputation, which won’t require you to become an expert on residential construction. Let’s take a look at the way you determine the builders reputation.
- Check the builder’s online reputation. This isn’t about glancing at the number of stars on a Google review. Read the comments people have left, both the legitimate complaints and legitimate praises. Look for yourself in the comments, which means note the positive or negative reviews that touch on your personal hot buttons.
- Ask some of their previous customers. Request a list of past customers from the builder. If they’re smart, they’ll only give you a list of happy customers, so keep that in mind. Ask those customers about the details of the builder’s process, how well they communicated during the process, how responsive they were to concerns or mistakes, and how they responded to repair requests after closing.
- Ask local bankers that provide construction loans. This might require a little extra research to identify the banks, but when you do, ask them which builders have the best reputation for staying on budget. Bankers who do lots of construction loans will know.
A word of caution: Don’t be tempted to skip all of this research because you know a guy from church who builds houses. See the above “Chuck in the truck…” example. You and your family deserve better.