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Choose a Builder Who Shares Your Vision for a New Home

Posted on Dec 1, 2016 in:
  • Seattle Times HomeWork
  • Homeowners
  • Build

By Brooks Powell, Powell Homes & Renovations

Q: In a sea of competition, how do we know which builder is right for us?

A: There are certain essentials you'll want to have in place before building your dream home: the right location, the best floor plan for your family's lifestyle, the best possible financing, and the best builder for the kind of home you want to build.

There are a lot of builders out there, so how do you go about finding the best one for your specific needs? To be honest, some of the criteria for evaluating builders can be backed up with hard data, while other factors are a bit subjective. Both are important. Let's look at a few of each.

Let's start with the ones that can be backed up with data. One of the key qualifications you'll want to insist on when selecting a builder is experience. It's not just the number of years that a builder has been around that matters; you’ll also want to know that the builder you’re working with has built homes of the same scope and quality that you’re planning.

One way you can do that is to check the references of prospective builders. But don’t settle for just a list of names on a piece of paper. Take it a step further and talk to some past clients to see what they have to say. Look at examples of the work. Make sure it demonstrates that this builder has the skills to perform what they're promising.

Make sure any builder you consider will stand behind their work. Most builders cover workmanship and materials on things such as siding and stucco, doors, trim, drywall, and paint for one year. The goal of a quality builder shouldn’t just be meeting the terms of the warranty—it should also be making clients happy.

There are, however, some very important subjective criteria you’ll want to consider. When you look at examples of what builders have done, take note of their sense of style. Different people like different styles. Find a builder whose style reflects the kind of home you want to live in.

Look for a homebuilder who listens to what you want. It’s your home. You need to find a builder who is willing to pay attention to the things that are important to you and not just build to the plan they have drawn up because it’s easier for them.

Listening isn’t enough. You’ll also want to find a builder that is creative enough to come up with a plan that helps you fulfill your vision for the home you want—without blowing your budget.

Finally, you’ll want to deal with a builder you’re comfortable with. That doesn’t mean you have to be best friends and send each other Christmas cards. You should, however, be comfortable having this builder in your home. This can be very subjective, but if it doesn’t feel right, walk away.

In short, use both the objective and subjective cues you pick up from builder interviews to make sure that you select the best homebuilder for you.


Brooks Powell is the general manager of Powell Homes & Renovations and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties. HomeWork is the MBA’s weekly column in the Seattle Times. If you have a home improvement, remodeling, or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to

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