Home-building projects are live-defining events. It takes courage, determination, and a great deal of competence to embark on such a journey and a Herculean effort to overcome the challenges ahead. For those who are inexperienced, the learning curve is rather steep.
But although future owners participate fully in building their homes, much of the work is delegated to skilled professionals. Custom builders who work with teams of contractors will plan, budget, and execute residential projects of any size. Their job is to organize the construction project and materialize your vision.
However, as first-time owners in the south quickly realize, it is not easy to hire a custom builder. Texas doesn’t require a professional license, making your predicament somewhat more complicated. Given the gravity of the project, your decision can make a dramatic difference in costs, time, and the requirement for personal involvement.
The first mistake that owners make is delaying the collaboration with a professional builder. But irrespective of the project, a custom builder could provide invaluable support. They can look at your design plans, consult with your architect, and inform you on market developments for construction materials or equipment leases.
Considerations like these can alter your vision early on, which might save you a lot of time and money down the road. Homes in Texas and throughout the south are usually spacious, with open floor plans. Characteristics such as these can incur higher expenses, so consult builders early on.
Make a list
Since the state of Texas doesn’t require a professional license, custom builders can vary in competence, education, and team size. You can adapt your search depending on your project or your budgeting considerations.
To begin with, don’t hesitate to make an exhaustive list, with all recommendations from friends and family. Then, contact the local builders’ association, perform additional Google searches, and browse relevant online directories like Yelp or Angie’s List.
Time for legwork
With your list in hand, you can start to contact dozens of builders. It is best to commit early by scheduling as many face-to-face interviews as possible to ascertain competence.
Bring prospective candidates on your lot, and ask the same list of questions over and over. As the days go by, you’ll develop intuition and know right away which crew is suitable for your project.
How to evaluate candidates
Each construction professional has a unique method of running their business. However, we can focus on a few critical aspects and generalize with a great deal of confidence.
Work ethic, for example, is easy to determine even before construction begins. Take note of companies that return promptly to email correspondence, make time for calls, and arrive on time for an interview.
A good builder should use the first meeting to gather relevant information, so be wary of those who don’t take notes, ask questions, or inquire deeply about aspects of the job.
The ideal candidate should look over your design plans, ask you for copies, and give precise estimates of what to expect during the next couple of weeks.
Ask for references and visit current job sites.
The construction industry in Texas is booming despite the macroeconomic turmoil. With this in mind, it is unusual for good builders to be out of jobs.
Before agreeing to continue with an initial budget estimate, ask your best candidates to take you to a current job site or provide you with references from previous projects. If they are hesitant or somehow delay this process for longer than it makes sense, it is wise to reconsider your choice.
Budget estimates and initial fees
After you agree with a handful of builders, you can expect initial budget estimates in about a week. Detailed estimates might take longer because they factor in the cost of specific materials, the availability of labor, and the current prices of leasing equipment.
Usually, there is a lot of back and forth during this stage. Therefore, make yourself available and do your best to facilitate the collaboration between your designer, architect, and the company you’ve chosen.
At this stage, many respectable builders should be generous with their time. However, expect to pay initial fees, as it is reasonable to compensate the builder for their time and effort. They will put hours into budgeting estimation, soliciting offers, and performing due diligence.
Pay attention to your contract.
Usually, experienced builders with years of practice will offer their templates. You can choose to accept this document, but make sure to hire a lawyer who deals exclusively in construction disputes for a brief review. One small fee at this stage might save you thousands of dollars if things don’t go according to your agreement.
A construction contract saves you from unexpected problems, ensuring that deadlines, costs, and collaboration processes are respected.
Home-building projects may pivot at any point during construction, essentially changing the scope of work. During this process, communication and common sense may suffer, so it is vital to have a legally binding document to resolve any disputes.