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Old 06-15-2014, 06:25 PM
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Can someone give me some suggestions on the better home builders in the area.

We are going to move from Maryland. We might build and do not want a lemon. Any advice?

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Old 06-15-2014, 06:31 PM
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A lot if it depends on price range and where you want to build. Some builders only build in planned developments, others only build on your lot. Are you looking for a custom home or a production home in a master planned community?
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Old 06-15-2014, 07:34 PM
821 posts, read 921,473 times
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I am not a fan of Shimberg Homes; he built my current residence.
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Old 06-15-2014, 07:34 PM
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The worst have gone out of business and some are still dealing with lawsuits related to the housing booming issues and not having hired all quality contractors.

Since the County inspectors can't be charged or incl. in these lawsuits even though they failed to conduct decent inspections and are part of the issues that some builder have there are differences between higher end builders and lower end builders who use standard items and don't give you the option of upgrading some items.

We bought ourselves many homes during the boom and flipped them successfully and we have seen builders who had the best name not doing such a good job while builders who had less of a good name build the homes better and we noticed that the quality mostly had to do with how good the construction manager was.

Westfield homes that is now Standard Pacific had at the time a very good name and our experience was not so good while KB Homes had not such a great name and our experience was better. Even now when stucco issues came up with KB homes years after the homes were build KB homes without many issues has redone all the stucco on the homes in our community without any lawsuits or much pressure on them to act on it.

Many home builders have gotten new management and even through the names stayed the same some are now under the same umbrella.

What I learned during that time is when a builder starts to hurry to get the work finished it is a bad thing and I will never close on a house until all items are taken care off. We delayed the closing with Westfield due to items not finished but at one point they were forcing us to close and they made a notarized paper stating within 30 days what they called small items would be taken care off. The minute we closed they forgot about us and we had to write letter after letter and even mentioning a lawyer to get the. To do what they signed off on and one what they called was a small item was after closing something they never could do since according to them it was a structural issue and clearly wrongly build during construction.

Check if you own the gas and other items in the soil under the property you are buying will be licensed to you and owned by you and not like one builder owns the right of these items since that is in the small letters in the contract that recently came to the shock of some owners.
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:26 PM
Location: Not the end of the Earth, but I can see it from here
2,827 posts, read 3,019,200 times
Reputation: 2718
Having used builders to build a home as well as having built homes ourselves acting as our own GC, I will say that no matter how "good" the builder is, as a consumer you have to be involved in the construction on a daily basis.

On top of that, you need to have a reasonable understanding of contractual obligations, or have an attorney who can review all of the documents involved.

We built a house in the Tampa area in the mid 1990s while things were booming, and had we not been actively involved on a daily basis the crap we would have ended up with the things that would not have been done or done poorly would have been significant. Most of this was due to a revolving door of subcontractors the builder used, and the construction manager being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work being done at the time.

Here are some examples:

1.) We specified that all drywall was to be "screwed and glued". The morning the drywallers were there, so were we. Hammers flying, bags of nails all over, and we immediately put a stop to the work. The job super came out to see what the problem was, and we gladly showed him the construction specs showing the drywall was to be "screwed and glued". Not a problem! Within a few minutes, all of the workers had been informed, and the screw guns and construction adhesive came out.

2.) Interior wall containing the 4" dryer vent was a standard 2x4" interior wall. Hmm. Not sure how they're going to fit a 4" pipe in a wall with an exterior dimension of 3-1/2". "Oh, the drywall will cover that and you'll never notice it." What!?!?! A 2x6" wall was framed in the next day.

And my very favorite:

The house had a 100 gallon LP tank buried in the front yard. Not long after we moved in, we received a bill from the propane supplier that had a charge for a tank lease. I called them and asked about this, as we had never agreed to or signed anything indicating we had leased a tank from them. "Oh, all of our tanks are leased", said the propane supplier.

Strange, as we had the propane tank, piping and related items all written up as an addendum to the initial construction contract: "For the price of $xxx, the Builder will supply propane tank, all associated piping and installation for the fireplace, spa heater, water heater..... etc."

In other words, the contractual language stated that we paid a price for the tank and everything that went with it. It said nothing about the tank being leased.

We went back to the builder about this. "Oh, all of the tanks are leased."

"Yes, but our contract says specifically that for the stated price we were receiving a tank, piping, etc."

The builder bought the tank.

Building a house is not something for the weak of stomach, those easily intimidated, or people who are quick to compromise. That's not saying you have to be an ass, but you should understand the contracts and who is responsible for what. You should also have an expectation of being able to check the progress daily and see that things are being done properly. If there is a question you should expect it to be answered to your satisfaction.

Builders typically have 2-3 "draws" from your lender for the construction loan. These are based on a stage of completion that satisfies the lender that they are really building the house and the money is being spent and things are progressing. You have a say in those draws, too, and by making sure you're satisfied that things are being done to your satisfaction you have the ability to hold the draws as well. This is a significant position of leverage with the builder.

I could go on for hours, suffice to say that most spec home builders are OK, it's more important that you as an owner be an active participant in the construction of the home. By doing so you're less likely to find corners being cut or being taken advantage of.

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Old 06-16-2014, 03:35 AM
Location: Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
693 posts, read 903,978 times
Reputation: 610
I dont really want to give you the ones I have a bad impression about because they never really got a chance to prove it wrong. I really didnt want to go with a big national builder.

I will tell you two builders I am impressed with:

- Samuelson Builders: smaller family owned company, really quality homes and customer service.
- Westbay Homes: Bigger but regional builder, was overall impressed, built with them. The Sales office wasnt the smoothest but the builder, the quality of build and follow up with warranty department for anything has been spot on so far.

Good luck.
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Old 06-16-2014, 07:08 PM
3,313 posts, read 3,979,472 times
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There were some good posts here. I just want to add the price of the house doesn't mean best quality. There are weak point in some houses and no matter who would be the builder you still might face this issues. For example, house with third car garage added or back porch build in (kind of, hard to explain) - both have a roof connected to the side wall of the house. Within 5 years you might notice wet spots on the ceiling right at the connection. It's a very common problem actually. And I saw it in 450K houses too.
David Weekley is not a cheap builder, but somehow manage to build bad quality houses. I saw some of their houses recently build with major structural defects.
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:21 PM
4,145 posts, read 4,052,501 times
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Not a fan of Lennar or KB.
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Old 06-17-2014, 04:47 AM
Location: Apollo Beach, Florida
673 posts, read 970,507 times
Reputation: 392
Agree with Kmarc re Lennar. Of, it depends on your budget. Lennar's homes seemed to be pretty basic and cookie cutter when I was looking on March of 2013.

We also bought a home built by Westbay and are very happy with it. Our three car garage is connected to the house via a breezeway so we won't have the leaking problem mentioned earlier.
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Old 06-17-2014, 10:14 AM
24,860 posts, read 36,465,356 times
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Some home builders service to the lower end of the market while some build custom made homes and even though quality is expected in every product in every price range we can't just compare apples with pears and than say if they build a quality product.

Both ends of the market can be building a good product. Some offer upgrades that are way overpriced and try to make good for their basic low level entry.

Keep in mind when you walk into a model home that a standard home probably has lower ceilings, not the same flooring, cheaper faucets, etc.

Walk through a home that is being build and get a feeling how that looks but keep in mind the buyer may already ordered upgrades unless the builder is building that for an inventory sale and you will be surprised what a difference there might be between the model and the inventory home.

That has nothing to do with quality but more with the bottom line and what you will end up paying.

Our experience was and I'm absolutely not an expert in building materials for construction but we could see the difference between rushed work and cheaper materials being used behind walls, etc. so make sure to check on things and ask to see the show room for your upgrades or to get a list with prices for upgrades since that will add a huge amount to your standard home.

Nowadays most builders will have nicer countertops but what about the thickness of the countertop, etc. Ask if that counter top is standard or if in reality you will end up with half the thickness when the granite will be installed so you won't be surprised.

Usually associates at builders aren't licensed and are not subject to certain things licensed people are when it comes to full disclosure.
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