Hiring a builder to build your dream home can be a somewhat daunting task.  There are many pitfalls and sales gimmicks.   I have personally seen some of these mistakes made as I have had the unfortunate opportunity to take over jobs that were started by unscrupulous builders that were fired or shut down by the bank. It’s always hard to see people in this position.  Below, you will find a short list of builders to avoid. Avoid hiring the wrong builder for the type of home you want to build…  If you are looking for a Custom or Semi Custom Home, obviously you don’t want to hire a production builder.  Some of these builders do have Custom Home divisions, but really, all these large scale builders are nothing more than a bank disguised as a builder.  Do you want a bank building your home?  Or, would you rather hire a professional who has experience building quality, high performance custom homes in the areas you want to build? Additionally, ask your builder what his experience is… Has your builder ever swung a hammer for a living?  Did he ever do any of his own work?  If not, can he really understand how to solve problems on the jobsite? Avoid Hiring the Cheapest Option…  The cheapest option is only the best option if your decision making process is based on the dollar.  There are many other things to consider when building a home.  Value is provided in many ways. Here is a short list of other things that add value.  Timeliness, cleanliness, experience, quality of work, ability to estimate properly and stay on budget. These are just a few intangibles that add value and reduce stress around the job. Most likely, your low bidder falls short in these categories. Avoid Builders Who Don’t Offer A Warranty… The industry standard in Texas is (1) Year Workmanship, (2) Years for all systems (plumbing, electrical, & HVAC) (10) Years for all Structural Items.  If your builder is not meeting this or (preferably) exceeding this, keep looking! Avoid Builders That Tell You They Offer “Additional 3rd Party Inspections”  Please understand… We of course encourage our clients to obtain 3rd Party Inspections if they want them.  However, we prefer that the client contract for these inspections on their own.  If a builder provides a 3rd party inspection from an inspector they use over and over again, is that really a 3rd party inspection?  Avoid Hiring Builders Who Are Not Local… Local knowledge is an important piece of the puzzle.  Knowing what foundation types are acceptable and the soil types in each area are extremely helpful in accurate preliminary pricing. But, it doesn’t stop there, knowing the ins and outs of the local market and customary building practices make for a smooth build. Beware of franchises and large scale builders that trade on being local, but are in fact an entire business model that we are not accustomed to. Avoid Builders That Use Bait & Switch Tactics… It seems like this might be kind of difficult given that you are building a custom home, but here is how this one plays out.  You come to the builder with a set of plans or choose a plan from “stock” the builder applies a set of low end specifications to the plan and gives you a price. You sign and pay a deposit, but as you go through the selections process, the price skyrockets as you go because your selections differ from the standard specs. Avoid Builders That Quote a Price/SF… The price per square foot is a WILDLY INACCURATE way of pricing a home.  This question is common, but has no real meaning. If you take 2 houses with different floor plans, there will be a number of variables that can never be reconciled. 2 houses of the same 2500 square feet can be shaped differently. One house could have more exterior and/or interior walls. This would use more lumber, drywall, fasteners, insulation, sheathing, stucco, etc. A roof with gables is typically bigger, or maybe it’s a higher pitch.  A typical allowance budget for a home of this size could be $60-$70k. With different clients making selections, that number could be $45k (for a frugal person on a budget) or $100k for those with a healthier budget and an opulent lifestyle. These are just a few of the variables.  This could result in a $50/SF swing either direction. Additionally, bait and switch tactics are common with the price per square foot model because it’s hard to know what all is included for that price.