The great news is you’re a homeowner! The scary news is you need to make some changes or repairs to your home, and you have no idea where to find a builder. The process does not have to be intimidating. The right person is likely just a few calls or clicks away.
The Best Ways to Find a Builder
Assess Your Project
Figuring out the size and scope of your project is the first step. You don’t need a fully licensed contractor to replace windows, doors, or repair small dings and dents in your house. Often those jobs can be handled by your local handyman.
If you need your bathroom or kitchen gutted, a room added, or other larger home additions, then you will most likely need a licensed builder or contractor. A knowledgeable local contractor should handle any projects that require pulling permits or architectural plans.
Have a plan for what you want your addition or repair to look like. Research color schemes or room designs online or at your local hardware stores. Set your expectations for the final product will look and feel like.
Often, the best place to start is your own personal network. Reach out to friends, family members, even your neighbors to see if they have people they trust to work on their homes. Some people find that a simple post on one of your social media networks will net a variety of options.
There are many online resources available to begin the search for your builder. Websites like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor are great places to start your research. These websites have different categories for projects (like kitchen, bath, landscaping, etc.), and you can search builders based on your specific needs.
Read over the reviews for each vendor, but keep in mind that reviews are not a substitute for checking references!
Choosing the Right Builder
Narrow the Field
Try to meet with at least five different builders. It might seem excessive, but spending more time upfront can literally save months, years, and a good amount of heartache if you end up hiring someone you didn’t fully research.
During the Initial Meeting
Have a list of questions in advance and ask each candidate to give you written estimates after your initial meeting. Share your photos and be upfront about your budget and expectations. Every contractor should have no problem providing written estimates prior to any money exchange, so if they don’t seem willing to do this, that can help narrow down your choices.
References, References, References
Ask the builders to give you references from their past clients. Talk to two to three of their clients and ask for photos of the work they did. Were they happy with the end result? Did the contractor deliver on their promised timelines? Did the subcontractors they hired do good work? When a problem arose, how was the situation addressed? Most people are more than willing to share their opinions.
Most importantly, get their license number and contact the state boards where they are licensed. Check to see if there are any complaints against them or any issues with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). During these inquiries, you should also check to see if they have any past or pending litigation.
Once you’ve chosen your builder, stay in touch with them, and be realistic about the timelines. You should expect the work to be done in the time promised, but also understand that many things can happen with material delays, inclement weather, and other unexpected events. You’re in this together, and everyone should have the same goal: to make your home as beautiful as possible.