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Old 07-19-2012, 08:34 PM
311 posts, read 497,331 times
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We already own the land we want a house built on.

We are still searching for a builder.

Now I'm wondering though, do we have any negotiating power? I've read older threads that people could get upgrades or closing costs when buying new construction in a subdivision. Maybe it's a local thing and it's just not something done around here? We are not going to be in a subdivision.

It's really been a struggle to find a builder. #1 didn't want to stay in our budget and kept trying to convince us to go to a 2 story vs. the 1 story we want. Plus he's been involved in lots of lawsuits. He's either suing someone or being sued. #2 keeps losing the homes he builds to foreclosure. He builds them, puts them up for sale, must not pay, then foreclosure happens. 3 homes totaling almost 1M are in foreclosure in his name. (Our state has free court access ) #3 seems to have some quality issues with loose stair railings. We've been to LOTS of their homes and many have loose railings that lead from the 1st floor to the basement.

Any advice on how to pick a builder would greatly be appreciated.
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Old 07-19-2012, 08:59 PM
Location: The Triad (NC)
26,894 posts, read 57,997,675 times
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Originally Posted by Northern Bound View Post
Any advice on how to pick a builder would greatly be appreciated.
Start with an architect to create a solid set of plans and specs for what YOU want...
and then put that plan out to bid.

Go from there.
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Old 07-20-2012, 08:48 AM
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Well, many have gone out of business, so theoretically, the good ones are left standing.

If you first choose an architect, he/she may be able to give you references. Just make sure the architect will adjust the drawings to make the build less expensive (e.g. rounded things cost more, so they would be pentagons...).

You can also just knock on doors of newer homes that you like and ask about their builder. If you are friendly, I'm sure they will tell you. You can also post on your home CD forum.

If there is a bid, some builders would negotiate somewhat, but likely there will be one that stands out because of their qualiy and reputation. When people say that builders throw in upgrades, they are mostly referring to builders who make the whole block and have "model" homes to choose from. If you already have the land and aren't bound to this type of builder, you have to put a drawing out to bid.
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Old 07-20-2012, 10:27 AM
Location: Mostly in my head
19,645 posts, read 53,581,730 times
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I had an architect design a major renovation (cost more than the house eventually) and they gave me a list of builders they had worked with and could recommend. I got quotes from 3 of them and chose one - I was VERY Happy with the choice/process.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:14 PM
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When a builder builds spec houses they are using the bank's money. If they don't sell in a reasonable period of time, well.... they are foreclosed upon. This does not necessarily mean it's a bad builder.

It is cheaper to build a two story than a one story home.

Do you not have any plans?

I've built 5 custom homes over the years and my most successful and stress free build was when I used a design/build firm.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:19 PM
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Im in the middle of this process myself right now...I have interviewed quite a few builders and every builder has a different process that they use.

Here is my opinion based on my experience to date....were in the lot prep phase, so we are about to start the construction.

1. Find a builder that is both the design firm and the builder...there are lots of them that will do the plans and the build. Some design/build groups will only make your plans if you build with them. Avoid that. You want to start with the plans and go from there...you will learn alot about your builder while you work on the design phase. First and foremost you will learn how responsive he is to your concerns...avoid builders who want to overbuild or builders who try to thrust their stock plans on you. A good design/build group will charge you a price for the plans and regardless of whether or not you use them for the build, you will leave with a set of plans. If you can work with them long enough to get plans made and not have a falling out then you know your likely to be ok through the build.

2. Be cautious of just using an architect. Many architects are way off on what it costs to build the things they design. Most of the builders we spoke to who did not do design work said the architects projected costs were usually 20% lower than the actual cost.

3. If you do use an architect, ask for the builders who used his plans...then go and talk to them about the projected cost vs actual cost of your architect before you start the process.

Since that is as far as I am in the process thats all I am going to recommend....I have bought new homes from track builders in the past, and the two processes could not be more different. In a custom home there are no "upgrades" you get what you want unless of course the builder offers a great price on a particular product that he uses a huge volume of....then you may get very affordable upgrades....
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:58 PM
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The first time I looked for a builder I went to open houses for spec houses which were much more money than we were planning on spending. I asked the open house agents tons of questions about the particular builder.

Then I looked at spec houses just a little bit more money than we were planning on spending. Same scenario.

Then I looked at spec houses lower than our budget . Same scenario.

I chose the builder who had the spec for much more money than our budget and the spec below our budget . Regardless of price, the houses were all solidly built, you could see the attention to details, the finish work was exemplary.

What drives up the price are the allowances. Remember, adding a jacuzzi tub which adds about $4000 to the total to a 2000 sqft house, increases the cost $2.00 a square foot.

One can easily spend $50,000 for a kitchen, or $25,000.

Another thing to keep in mind is that your house plan is going to have to "fit" your lot. Not only setbacks and lot coverage, but you'll need to pay attention to grading as well. Is it flat? Is there a rise? Does it drop off in back? Have perc tests been done or is there sanitary sewer tie-in available. Other utilities present? Are you planning on building green?
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Old 08-10-2012, 05:00 PM
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Thanks for all the advice. We are hoping to have a builder picked out by the end of October. One has stood out more than the rest.
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