We Selected a Builder

Selecting a builder, like selecting an architect, is a major decision. We worked with three builders to get bids; really had two in mind, the third was a very capable one but mostly a check against the other two. We had a tough time when the bids came back. The decision came down to four things.

#1 Problem Solving Ability

He was able to demonstrate to us how he’s successfully handled situations outside the norm for most builders. The most significant example we were able to see was the application of Corten steel siding on one recent project. The steel didn’t come in a kit or with any kind of hardware for attaching it to the house. He and his metal worker figured out how to do it on site. Since modern homes are not the norm in the residential construction industry and specify different techniques and materials, we need someone who can think outside the box and come up with solutions.

#2 Experience with Modern Architecture

Along the same lines as #1, we wanted someone who’s actually done modern homes before and has an idea of what that means. All three of our candidates fit that bill to one degree or another. He offered to show us the home with the steel siding. It’s a ’60s ranch remodel into a striking modern home in Fayetteville. When considering a builder, I highly recommend visiting at least one home they’ve built. It gives you a chance to check the quality of their work, and if you’re lucky you can talk to the owner (here’s a tip: show up early so you can talk before he gets there).

#3 Controlling Costs

In the middle of the bid process, I sat down with the builder and architect to clarify things and see what we could do about costs. He had some good input and showed me that he had real concern for our budget (remember it’s your budget, not theirs). We came up with some options and I felt like he was being straight with everything. This also required some extra homework to track down some better estimates.

#4 Personal Endorsement

It really helps when your father-in-law vouches for someone’s character. He’s two for two on this one so far having worked professionally with both of them in the past. Also, the homeowner we were able to speak with had a glowing review (remember, get there early).

Regrets

There is one thing I would have done differently and that’s consult with the architect before making a final decision. The builder had just shown us the modern remodel home, we were standing outside, the homeowner had left and I told him that unless my wife shot me down, we wanted him to build our house. It was an on the spot decision which is not something we normally do, we’re typically pretty methodical. When I called the architect later to let him know, I was pleased to find out that he was also pleased to find out. He said he would have let us know if he had any concerns.

So here we go, we have a builder. Itching to break ground.

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