Picking a Builder 101

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This blog post is something I would’ve googled for when we were thinking about building, but we are yet to be in a position where we plan to build and pick a piece of land. Between the tight, and at times unpredictable, schedule of my husband’s career, we are usually put into situations where we have a limited amount of time to get a house, fill it and either live in it or go back to the other city. As we grow our family, there are even more factors now with schools in the future, etc.

IF I had the opportunity to go through the steps to picking a builder here’s what my thought process would be:

  1. Research/ask friends about their experiences with who they built their homes with. Go as far as trying to find reviews about them online and make sure they build in your area.
  2. Narrow it down to about 5 builders to interview (depending on how big of any area you live in.) This gives you options without being overwhelmed.
  3. Meet with those 5 builders – look at their portfolio, get their spec sheets on what they offer, what they will do or won’t do. Here are six questions I find helpful in getting a grasp on your builder:
    • How long they have been with their vendors?
    • How long does it typically take for them to build a house?
    • How many houses do they pop up a year?
    • Do they have set floor plans, or can you change them to be custom
      to you and your family?
    • How many people work on the project and how is weekly
      communication dealt with?
    • Do they have an in-house designer, or can you/do you have to bring
      on your own?
  4. Establish how they go about material selection process. Do they have a show room or are all of their vendors going to be on site selections? (On site selections means: Going to the vendors establishment and picking from a yard of quartz for your counter tops.)
  5. Sitting down a good builder, they should easily be able to communicate their process, what does it look like to work with them and some client experiences in the past that would be like what you are looking to do.
  6. The biggest part of a builder to me, besides the quality venders, is the project management. Building a house is a HUGE project.  There are so many factors that run into that. So many pieces to the puzzle that must work together to move along the progress of the house. A bad project manager can break your project and can make you want to rip your hair out. You should be going hand in hand with this person through your process, so if you ask the builder about their project manager(s) he/she better have a raving review. I would even go as far as wanting to meet that person.

Now that we have went through the process of vetting builders, let’s go through the final part that I really wish I would’ve read before moving forward with a builder we had used in the past:


  1. The person walking you through the home that is “seller of the piece of land/existing construction of the new build” should not be telling you they can or cannot do anything on that project site design/construction wise.
  2. Upfront communication is sloppy. It’s not a coincidence if the upfront communication on the builder’s side is messy before you put money down or make a deposit, it’s a red flag. A home is a HUGE purchase, and they are about to land you as a client. There should be a drive to want to show you they are great at communicating and if you have any questions, ask away!
  3. If the builder/project manager cannot give you a projected timeline of what is going to happen weekly. When we built in Tampa, our builders project manager would send me a weekly email. “Natalie, this is what you can expect to be done at your house this week.” There is always a clause, weather, cancellations, etc. Things are going to come up. It’s part of the building process. The builder does owe you that communication though, and if they don’t, I find it to be shady and unorganized.
  4. Building is overwhelming, but having a good builder, good designer, and good project manager by your side can make for a really great experience. It’s a long process, so I suggest you pick carefully because you will be working with this person for a while!

I hope these tips help you and I wish you all the best on your home building journey!

P.S. If you’re looking for a designer, I have a service that can be found on my website called “custom new build” – where I am the designer in the process working along with the builder and his team!