Building a new home is STRESSFUL, being prepared CAN REALLY HELP. Here’s 10 helpful tips for working with a builder to build a house.
Tips For Working With A Builder To Build A House
If you’re ready to build a new home, or about to start a major home remodel with a contractor, I have a handful of tips to help prepare.
It’s always best to have realistic expectations for huge projects, like a new home build, before starting.
And, while you can search Yelp and Google for the best builders and contractors in your area, there’s a lot about building a new home or home remodeling that can be surprising.
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Today, I’ve got 10 tips for working with a builder or contractor that you probably haven’t read anywhere else. These are the kinds of tips that you really don’t learn until you’ve worked with a builder, or two.
Luckily for me, I grew up with a Dad that built custom homes, I’ve flipped a few homes, and I’ve hired out for huge remodeling projects too.
So hopefully, I can help you get a little more ready for building a new home or starting a new home remodeling project. Let’s get to those 10 Tips!
1. Know Your Budget And What You Want Beforehand
Before approaching any builders, you should know exactly what you can afford and pretty much what you want.
Decide how much you can spend on a monthly mortgage, real estate taxes, and home upkeep. Then work with your bank to be sure you can afford the home loan before you approach a builder.
And, do your research on new builds too. Tour some Model Homes to research builders and to see how much home you can get for your budget, in your area.
You should also get a rough idea of the type of home you want too. Ranch, Two-story, number of bedrooms, type of design, location, etc.
You want to be about 80% sure about your budget and what you want to build before working with a builder or contractor on bids.
2. Do You Like The Builder?
This is important, guys! Pick a builder with a good reputation and work history. Don’t just pick the cheapest bid.
You want a person you can see dealing with for 1 to 2 years. If the builder is a jerk to you or keeps you waiting BEFORE you’ve hired him, pick a different builder.
Google the builders name along with words like “money”, “debt”, and “paid” to check for anyone complaining about the builder not paying them,
You don’t want to worry that the builder will go bankrupt mid-build. I’ve seen it happen to people multiple times, it’s always a nightmare.
Picking the right builder or contractor can make or break a job. Take your time and get recent recommendations from people you can trust.
3. Carefully Pick A Floorplan
Picking the right floorplan is SO IMPORTANT. Once your new build starts, you can’t change the floorplan, guys.
In fact, you probably can’t change the floorplan once you’ve signed the contract because your builder will start buying materials specific to the floorplan.
So, take your time picking the right floorplan. How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need? Where will the bedrooms be, upstairs or downstairs?
Should the guest room be next to the Master Bedroom, kids rooms, or by itself? Will you still want to be dealing with stairs in 10 years? Can your family grow into that floorplan?
Picture yourself inside each room and really think about whether or not it makes sense.
4. Make Sure The Contract Spells Out Every Little Detail
When it comes to building a new home, you WANT a long, detailed contract with the builder. A properly designed contract PROTECTS you and the builder.
If a builder doesn’t provide you with a detailed contract, I’d assume it’s a sign of their inexperience and move on to another builder.
Whenever you’re working with a builder on a new home, be sure the contract spells out all included items in the price of the build.
The contract should specify the types of materials to be used EVERYWHERE. Or, it should specify how much the builder will pay for a specific item. You can’t be too specific. Just include everything.
For example, the contract might specify a certain grade of countertop will be used in the kitchen or baths OR it might state a maximum dollar amount to spend on those areas.
Make sure you carefully read the contract and agree to everything in it before signing.
5. Be Ready To Make Decisions
Whether you’re working with a neighborhood builder that works on dozens of homes at once or a custom home builder, you have to be ready to make decisions when they ask a question.
If they say they need to know what paint color or countertop you want to use, assume their guys need it the next day. You should figure it out ASAP and let them know.
Picking most of this stuff before it’s needed is actually your best bet, so you don’t feel rushed into the wrong choice.
Any changes you want to make or delays in picking things can cause an unexpected work stoppage at your build.
Your contractor has to keep his guys working. So, an unexpected delay on your job may mean he has to send his crew to another job for a few days or weeks before he can leave that job to come back to yours.
So, try to not change big things mid-build unless they are really important to you.
6. Builders And Contractors Get Discounts
Don’t run out and buy appliances, tubs, faucets, or anything before finding out if your builder gets a discount anywhere. Often builders are happy to pass on a contractor discount to their customers.
Builders and contractors often have a plumbing supplier, cabinet supplier, lighting supplier, and other suppliers they get a discount with because they buy from them so often.
So, it’s worth asking before you start picking out everything you’ll need in your new home.
And, if you already have picked out some MUST HAVES, your contractor may be able to get you the same thing cheaper or a similar and higher quality option with their suppliers.
So, it never hurts to ask. My favorite tips for building a new home or planning a remodel always involve saving money.
7. Listen To Your Builders Recommendations
Listen to the contractors ideas and recommendations when it comes to anything. Ask questions and stay open-minded, after all, they have loads of experience when it comes to building a new home.
So, if your contractor says that he’s had problems with Bamboo floors in the past. Or, he suggests picking a porcelain tile for durability, think about what he’s suggesting before making a decision.
But, that doesn’t mean that you have to agree with all of their suggestions. In the end, you have to live there. So, stand up for the things that you really want.
8. Don’t Assume The Cost Of Anything
Before you start working with a builder on a new home, make sure you actually research the costs of everything you want beforehand.
Some of those older HGTV shows made certain home remodeling projects seem cheaper and easier than they are in real life. Nice cabinets often cost a lot more than Home Depot cabinets.
Don’t assume that a $2,000 kitchen countertop allowance will get you that fancy marble countertop you’ve always wanted. Check out what $2,000 will really buy you before getting your hopes up.
When you’re getting bids on your new house build, you’ll often find what you really want costs a lot more than you expected. So, don’t set your expectations too high before seeing the bids.
9. Visit The Job Site Often
Here’s another big tip when it comes to working with a builder on a new home, you should visit the construction site often. That way you’re always available to answer questions.
And, you’ll be able to catch potential mistakes as soon as they happen.
10. Be Respectful And Kind
And, last but not least, you might get annoyed or frustrated from time to time with a builder. BUT, as they say, you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
So, keep all conversations with your builder and his contractors respectful and kind. You don’t want them to slow down work at your site. And, you don’t want them afraid to talk to you.
If you want to get the best end result, keep everything courteous when working with a builder or contractor. You can always avoid ever seeing them again once the new home is built!
More Helpful Tips For Building A New Home
- 50 TOP DIY Tips And Tricks For Homeowners And Renters!
- Best Tips for Planning a Kitchen Remodel and a Great Layout
- Where To Put A Kitchen Sink And Appliances: 10 Super Helpful Tips
- 15 Helpful Tips To Pick The Best Floor Plan For A New Home Build!
- 15 Best Ways To Make An Old Ceiling Look Better: Easy, Cheap And Pretty Ideas
- 16 Great Ways to Repurpose an Unused Formal Living Room
- 14 Best Ways to Renovate A Living Room on a Budget!
- 11 Helpful Interior Design Tips For Building A New Home
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Feeling inspired? That’s it for working with a builder on a new home! Let me know if you have questions.
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Stephanie Abbott has been remodeling homes, updating & building furniture, and working on DIY home maintenance and cleaning tips for over 20 years. Her remodeling has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. And, her DIY YouTube channel has had more than 8 million views.
Most of the DIY tutorials and videos on this site focus on beginner to intermediate level DIY Projects that can be done in an affordable way without high-end, expensive tools. All of the cleaning tips on this website have been tested in her home.