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Choosing a Builder

Posted on Sep 1, 2016 in:
  • Build
  • Remodel
  • Homeowners

The quality of a new home is largely determined by the skill of the building professional who constructs it. Shop for a builder as carefully as you shop for the features of your home.

Where to Start

Find names of builders who build the type of home you're looking for within your price range. The real estate section of your newspaper is a good place to start. Ask for recommendations from family and friends, then make a list of potential builders.

Look Around

Once you have a list of builders, do some digging and learn about the builders' reputations and quality of their work. The best way to learn about builders is to visit homes they've built and talk with the owners. Reputable builders should be more than willing to provide references for their work. Talk with the owners and ask these questions:

  • Are you happy with your home?
  • Did the builder do what was promised in a timely manner?
  • Would you buy another home from this builder?

Also, be sure to contact your local home builders association or the Department of Labor and Industries to verify that your builder is licensed to build in Washington state.

Shop for Quality and Value

Home shows, model homes, and open houses offer great opportunities to inspect the value of a home. Look at both furnished and unfurnished homes to determine construction quality. Inspect the cabinetry, carpeting, trim work, and paint. Ask a lot of questions and take copious notes.

Always keep value in mind when shopping. Just because one home is less expensive than another does not mean it is a better value. Likewise, a more expensive home does not automatically ensure higher quality. Consider the appreciation potential of any home and the influence housing supply and demand and the home's location will have on the present and future value of your new home.

Determine whether the house will suit your lifestyle. Is there enough living space? Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms? What about storage space? Will you have room to enjoy your hobbies?

Think about the upkeep required to maintain both the inside and outside. Is the location close to transportation, work, shopping, and schools?

Ask Questions About Service

Many builders back their own one-year warranties on workmanship and materials. Other builders offer warranties backed by an insurance company. Thoroughly read the legal documents provided by your builder to be sure you know what the company's warranty is. Find out what kind of service you can expect after the sale. Typically, a builder makes two service calls during the first year after you move in to repair non-emergency problems covered by your warranty.

Find a Master Builders Association member who can help.

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