You’ve decided you’re ready to build a custom home. But how do you choose a reputable builder who will help you turn your one-of-a-kind vision into a reality?
Here are 5 tips to ensure you make the best choice for you and your family.
Tip #1: Decide what style of home you want & price range you’re working with
Before you start researching custom builders in your area, consider how much money you can invest and the style of home you’re envisioning. These two factors will always come up in a first meeting with a potential builder.
Identifying price range and home style before your first meeting will also help narrow down your list of potential builders. Some builders specialize in certain styles and designs, so don’t forget to view their portfolio to make sure their capabilities align with your style.
Tip #2: Consider the location & climate of your homesite
It’s no secret that the Portland and Vancouver areas are full of beautiful views. But we also know our climate presents its own challenges, including an increased risk of earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and landslides.
With that in mind, it’s important to make sure the builder you choose has experience constructing homes outfitted for these risks — whether that be safely building your ideal custom home on a steep slope, or adding stability to a home in case of earthquake.
Here are a few things to consider when choosing a builder for this process:
How will the builder study the area before building?
For steep slope planning, the builder should investigate the groundwork and type of soil present on your lot. When considering earthquakes or other natural disasters, does the builder look into hazards near where your home will be?
Does the builder work with an engineer?
Here at Westlake Development Group, we always partner with local engineers to perform on-site inspections of steep slope properties. The engineer will then provide the necessary documentation to help during the home building process.
What kind of techniques does the builder use to secure the house from earthquakes?
This is a good conversation to have with your potential builder. Our team wants to make sure your home is fully protected — that’s why we always start with a strong foundation, and add structural hold-downs from the foundation through the walls. These earthquake preparedness techniques add an extra layer of stability to your home.
Tip #3: Do your research
One of the best ways to find a good custom home builder is simply to ask around. Do you have friends, relatives, or acquaintances who have a builder they recommend? If not, does the builder have any references or recent clients they can put you in touch with? Your local home builders association is also a good place to look for recommendations.
When conducting your research, take a look at the company’s history and their team. If you can, find out:
- How long have they been in business?
- How much experience do their team members have?
- Have they provided their contractor’s license number? (Use the CCB Portal to look up their license and make sure they’re bonded!)
- Have they won any awards?
- Check out their portfolio — do you like what they’ve done before?
Once you’ve made it through your research, you should be ready to narrow your list down to your top 2-3 choices.
Tip #4: Interview your top choices
Once you have your top picks, set up meetings with each company to learn more. This will also give you the chance to gauge how your communication styles will mesh and get all of your questions answered before moving forward.
Here are a few good questions to start:
- How many homes have you built?
- What is your estimating process like? How long will it take to receive an estimate?
- How will the final cost of the home be determined?
- Who will be supervising my project, and how often will the build be under direct supervision?
- Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns during construction?
- What if I have changes I want made during construction?
- Do you provide references from former clients?
- Is there a home you built I can go visit?
Tip #5: Don’t forget to ask about a warranty
Imagine this: your computer dies suddenly a few years after you buy it. “That must be covered under warranty,” you think to yourself. But as it turns out, your warranty only lasted a year and it doesn’t even cover the reason why your computer died. You’re out of luck.
You don’t want this to happen when you build a house.
That’s why it’s important to ask your top custom builder candidates about what kind of warranty they offer once the build is complete. Review the contract closely and make sure you understand the length of the warranty. Additionally, pay special attention to what is and isn’t covered before moving forward with a builder.
It’s also important to know how you would need to contact the builder about a problem during the warranty period, as this could void the warranty.
When you work with Westlake Development Group, we want you to feel peace of mind the whole way through the process. We stand behind what we build — that’s why all of our custom homes are covered under a 2-10 Builder’s Warranty. This type of warranty is a 10 year insurance-backed structural warranty for all of our newly built custom homes. Contact us today to learn more.
Working with Westlake Development Group
For more than 30 years, Portland area residents have trusted Westlake Development Group to bring their custom home vision to life. Our expert team is dedicated to creating a home that is built to last and designed to meet your every need.