Where do you start when hiring a custom home builder?
We've compiled a list of tips to consider when hiring a custom home builder.
Hiring a builder is equivalent to going on multiple first dates to figure out if the person (or company in this case) is the right fit for you and your needs. Here is some practical advice we have collected from our own experience and from speaking to clients.
Do your research, interview multiple builders, ask friends and family and get referrals from previous clients.
1. Be sure to speak to the builder and meet in person. You will be dealing with this company for 1-2 years so you want to know whether their personality and approach aligns with your expectations.
2. Ask clearly about the scope and the budget for a given project.
3. Make sure the scope includes both hard and soft costs.
4. Look at the actual breakdown of the proposed budget - it is not uncommon for trades and builders to underestimate the cost of a project in order to secure your contract. This causes issues down the road as your budget balloons out of control midway through construction. The cost of building a home in 2022 is $300-600/sqft depending on the complexity of the project - the budget should align with this estimate - if it does not start asking questions.
5. Ask how the project management fee is calculated. Most builders in the GTA charge 10-15% of the total cost of the project. However, some builders will offer a fixed cost which may be a safer bet as it untangles the cost of your project from the management fee.
6. Ask at what stage the builder will get involved - will they help with building permits, working with the designer, architect, etc.
7. Make sure your architect and builder can get along. Most architects we work with are like our extended family members. The relationship will play out in the construction process and if there is a rift between the builder and architect it can cause delays and cost extra for your project.
8. Ask what will happen once occupancy is achieved - what if the house needs touch ups, appliances are not delivered, unexpected scratches happen on the wall when you move in, etc.
9. Ask if the builder is Tarion certified and if they have an undergraduate degree in project management and/or appropriate certification and experience to substantiate their knowledge basis in building a house.
10. Trust your gut. We always tell our clients to interview as many builders as they can - trust your instinct if you feel the builder is the right fit as this is more than hiring a contractor but someone who will be with you along the way in building your custom home. Issues will arise, disagreements with trades will happen - you want someone on your side who can expertly and effectively resolve issues, implement an efficient construction schedule and make your dream a reality.
Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have and Good Luck!