Real estate agents can also be another source --- remember, most agents will have their pet builders that they tend to recommend. Be sure to check with other agents from other companies for confirmation of any builders you may be interested in.

Visit builder model homes. Look closely at the fit and finish of their product. The model home should most likely be their best work. Thus, if you spot problems at this point you should probably rule out this particular builder.

Finally, you can simply drive around in newer subdivisions or developments. If any homes catch your interest, don't hesitate to stop and ask who was their builder. Most people will be willing to offer an opinion about their builder!
Checking out your builder
To check out a builder we recommend the following approach:

· Call the Better Business Bureau
· Check the liens list (the list can usually be obtained from the county court records)
· If licensing is available in your state, check on the builder current status.

If a builder appears on any of the above lists he or she need not necessarily be ruled out. Unfortunately, disgruntled subcontractors and customers can cause problems. Ask the builder for his/her side of the story – be sure however, to listen closely.

· Call local associations (e.g. homebuilder etc.). Bear in mind that there are plenty of good builders that prefer not to be members of these organizations and that these associations have a bias toward their own members.
· Call suppliers – remember that silence speaks as loudly as words.
· Ask for client references (preferably those clients whose projects have been completed more than a year ago).
· A credit report and references is not an unreasonable request.
· Ask for a resume, a history of job experience can be reassuring.
If you have a builder you prefer you may not have to go through the bidding process. A builder that can establish a comfortable level of trust, competence, and cooperation is a good find. After all he/she will be working closely with you while helping you build your dream home.

For bidding it is best to have no more than two to three contractors. Each builder should receive indentical copies of the construction documents (plans and specifications) in order to ensure accurate comparable bids. Points to remember:

· The lowest bid may not necessarily be the best bid.
· As stated before, the builder you can be comfortable with is preferable.
· Finally, reflect on the builder’s personality – if you like it, he/she is probably a good choice.
Perhaps the most difficult decision you'll make, will be choosing your builder. Builders can be located by referral from friends, family, and designers; building supply stores can be another good source.

If a builder advertises the following may or may not be true. First, he or she may be a volume builder that is they build large numbers of homes. These builders are trying to increase, maintain, or create volume through advertising. There's nothing inherently wrong with this approach. In fact because these builders are building large numbers of houses they are able to produce economies of scale. Simply put, they can charge less per housing unit, because they're able to negotiate better prices from their subcontractors. Speed is usually another characteristic of a volume builder; quick completions mean faster product turnover and thus greater profit return in the aggregate. Therefore, if price and speed are important considerations you may rely on advertising to help develop a short list of builders.

Low-volume builders are more difficult to find. With them you'll find they are more willing to do custom work and more importantly they are more willing to provide personal service. They tend to be more quality oriented --- because they advertise less and rely more on word-of-mouth.
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