How to Find the Best Home Builders in Utah
You’re building a home in Utah; congratulations, that’s a big step and one you should go into with equal amounts of excitement and caution. Excitement because it marks a new period in your life and caution because you want to do it right and not have worries down the line.
The success of your new custom-built home depends on getting the right builder, one that you trust, has the experience, and provides you with open, honest, and continuous communication. This relationship will last from six to twelve months, so; you want to make it a good one.
To make that choice easier and more successful, here are some thoughts and tips to help you find the best home builder for you in Utah.
What Does the Builder Do?
A good builder, one who is aware of what you want and need in a home, is an advocate for you and an essential member of the design team. They are collaborative, and they keep your goals and dreams in the front of their minds as the process moves.
It’s important to understand that you’re going to have a relationship with your builder. This isn’t a situation where you have one meeting, and that’s that. Your builder will work with you and the design team to establish a realistic budget for the build and then, they monitor all costs and scope of the project as it progresses. They will also ensure the budget is adhered to and all design elements agreed upon before the build meets specifications. You will see a lot of each other so, keep that in mind when you’re looking for the right builder.
Too much depends on finding the right custom builder to just go with anybody. Trust, experience, and strong communication skills will be the cornerstones of your relationship with your new home builder. You cannot cut corners or compromise on any of these qualities. If it doesn’t feel right, keep looking. Not all home builders are equal; hold out for the one that gets you and feels right.
When To Hire
This is a good question, when do you hire the builder? To get the most out of a builder, you’ll want to hire them as soon as possible. Once you’ve decided that you’re going to build a new home rather than buy an established structure, your next step should be to hire the builder.
The builder you choose is going to set the tone for the entire operation. Also, this will be your home, new, and it’s going to be built to suit your specifications. Unlike buying an already constructed and lived-in home, you’re not going to have to settle or compromise with what you have. You are getting exactly what you want and probably have always dreamed of. With that in mind, it only makes sense to have the builder and the designer working together as soon as possible. Some builders offer design services or have an array of customizable home options already. In this case, you’ve got your designer and builder working together already.
If you’re going with a separate architect and builder, you’ll want them on the same page as soon as possible Your builder will want to get budgets and subcontractors ready to go and stay in line with what the architect is creating. Any gaps between design and build could mean more time and money.
Once You’ve Decided
When you’ve picked the right builder, you will rely on their expertise to solicit multiple bids from suppliers and subcontractors. This is much more efficient than bidding the project to numerous builders. A good custom home builder will know this and will take care of the details. So, hiring them early on and letting them help you build the perfect home is the best move.
You’ll want them on the project early because they will also keep the plan development on schedule, provide unique design ideas, give you an initial estimate based on design, and offer value-engineering and cost-saving options. So, it makes sense to get your custom home builder in the mix as soon as possible and let them do what they do best.
Now Find the Builder
So, now you know you want a custom builder, not a prebuilt home, and you know when in the process to hire said builder. Now the nuts and bolts of finding the right builder.
Before starting your search, you should know the amount of education and training required to attain a contractor’s license. In Utah, this is substantial. Before a person can even apply for a license, they must have completed;
- A twenty-five-hour pre-license course from either Utah Home Builders (UHB) or Associated General Contractors of Utah (AGC)
- PSI examination UT B-100 General Building Contractor
- PSI examination UTAH Construction Business and Law Examination.
That’s an exceptionally high barrier of entry that all Utah contractors must meet. Knowing this, you can feel safe looking for builders in Utah. And, you know, if they don’t have any or all of these certifications, just pass them by. The standards are very high for builders in Utah so, you don’t have to settle. Be ready to take the time and find the right one for your and your needs.
Do Research & Make Lists
First off, we counsel patience in this process. You’ve chosen to build rather than buy, and so the natural inclination is to get it going, start the building already. Well, when seeking the right builder for your needs, take time and be picky. Keep in mind; this is a relationship you’ll be involved with for a significant amount of time; make sure you’re comfortable with that before hiring the builder.
Talk to people, friends, family members, people who know people who have just recently built a new custom home. Talk to real estate professionals. Keep talking. Again, this relationship will be built on trust, so talk to people you trust. And get truthful information. Push for details about what was good and what didn’t work.
In the early stages of looking for your builder, you’ll want to stay organized and don’t allow one builder and what you’ve heard about them to bleed into another. Organization will be your friend during this process. For that reason, we suggest you make two lists, both aline in dignity, for all you Romeo and Juliet fans.
Your first list will have all the positive information about builders you can find. How they worked with the architect, how well they managed the budget, how smooth the process was, and very important, how well they communicated.
The first list should also contain information you’ve gathered from friends and knowledgeable associates about how the builder was personally. Easy to work with, did they listen, did they respond to emails and calls in a timely fashion. What was the vibe with the builder?
Your second list is going to be the builders you want to avoid and why. The ‘why’ is essential here. Because the list of things that people didn’t like about a builder you can use as a checklist against a new builder. Any red flags on that list will help you not make a lousy choice down the line.
Specificity is essential in both lists but more so in this second one. Personal tastes vary so, a trait that one person didn’t like about a builder may not bother you at all. What is a deal-breaker for some may not be one for you. So, specific details on this list will be vital to you as you narrow down your choices.
If you don’t find any builders who jump out in talking with folks, then get online and search. In Utah, you’ll want to check houzz.com, check the professional section, and jot down some builders. A list of about ten is a good number to start with.
If you find names of builders on this list, see if you can reach out to contact numbers. A good builder will list past customers as references. If a builder doesn’t have a list of references, you can safely move on from them.
The online world is a fine place to look for a builder, but just because it is online doesn’t mean you don’t have to check up on them. Don’t just take their presence on social media for granted, do your research and make sure they are honest and actually do what they say online.
Once you’ve talked and talked, gone online, and made your list, interviewed friends, family co-workers, virtual strangers, now you’re going to narrow the field down to the top two or three.
How you’ll narrow is by digging deep online, doing as much research about each builder as possible. Look at their portfolio, read reviews, and, if you can, talk to people who have hired them. Take notes, ask questions and build a complete picture of your top three choices. This step may seem redundant as you’ve done this already; however, when you’re looking at two or three builders as opposed to everyone in the business, you’ll find your focus is tighter and more questions, and concerns will come to light.
Check their websites and call them. Here’s something else to look for, on every builder’s website, there will be a contact us section. We said this earlier but, it bears repeating. Send them an inquiry. How they respond, what they say, how quickly they get back to you indicates how they will conduct their business with you going forward. It’s a simple sort of test but one that will yield some great information.
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to the top three, set up interviews with each of them, a face-to-face is essential. Go to the builder’s website, contact them and set up the interview. You’ll also want to schedule a visit to a completed house they’ve built and a house in progress. A finished home so you can see their results and a home in process to get a feeling of how the job site functions and subcontractors work together. You can learn a lot from walking through a current job site.
The face-to-face meeting will allow you to get a feel for their communication style and personality, their team and experience, and their organizational skills, transparency, and practical work processes. Again remember this is going to be a long-term relationship, and there will be arguments. How do they argue and communicate? Does it work with you and your style?
A site visit is just as crucial; it lets you see the quality of the construction and materials they use, the finishes on the homes they build, job site safety and cleanliness, and how hands-on and knowledgeable the builder is how he communicates with and treats his team.
A Word on Communication
Good communication is more than just someone talking. It also involves listening and hearing. Does your potential home builder hear what you say, what you want, what you’re looking for, or are they just dealing with you as another customer?
Are they listening to hear your specific concerns and needs? Again, are you just another customer, and they deal with you as the same as everyone.
Do they say things like: everyone asks that or we’ve done this before, just trust us? You’ll want a builder that deals with you as an individual and your new home as unique.
Here’s a little test. When you explain something to someone, how do you get affirmation that they understood you? Do you say, do you see what I’m saying. Or do you say are you hearing what I’m saying. Those are two very different styles of communication. Be aware of how your potential builder communicates, and are you on the same page?
A small thing like the difference between see and hear can give you insight into how your communications will go.
You cannot hesitate here or feel like you’re imposing or asking too much. This is a huge step, building a house, and you need to give every thought and question you have your full attention. Your builder should as well.
What you ask the potential builder is going to set the tone for the relationship. You want the builder to know that you have some knowledge, you’ve done your homework, and are looking for a specific builder, but you don’t want to speak or appear out of your depth.
What should I ask a builder is, of course, going to be a question you have. A good question to ask before you get into the interview process. To get you started and perhaps inspire you, here are a few questions you should ask in an interview with a builder to give you information about them, the work, their communication, and help you refine your choices.
- What means and methods will you use to determine the exact cost of my home?
- Do you have experience building the style and quality of the home that I want?
- How do you qualify the competency of the subcontractors who will be working on my home?
- How long will it take for you to give me an estimate for my home?
- What is your warranty, and how do you service it once the home is complete?
- How are you compensated for your pre-construction services?
- How long do you anticipate construction on this project will take?
- How long will my project be under direct supervision, and who will be assigned to it?
- If there are changes to the design or unforeseen conditions that result in extra cost, what process do you use to communicate these changes to the owner and designer?
- How will questions and concerns be addressed during construction?
You can go online and Google questions to ask a potential custom home builder for more information.
The fact is, most people do not expect you to contact their references. It can take time and be hard to connect with them. It can also feel awkward talking to a stranger but do not skip this step.
If the builder has put these references on their website, you can assume their experience with the builder was good. Still, take the time to contact them and have a conversation. A
conversation with a reference can better your understanding of the builder’s strengths and uncover some hidden weaknesses. Here are five questions to get you moving in the right direction, to ask a reference:
- Did you enjoy working with this builder?
- Was your project finished on time? If not, what were the reasons for delays?
- Did you feel your original budget estimate was thorough?
- How did the builder react in stressful situations?
- Were there certain subcontractors on your project that you would strongly recommend or avoid?
But, be respectful of that person’s time and don’t have a list of a hundred questions for one reference. Curate your list and spread your questions out between contacts. That will give you a broader view of the builder.
And the Winner Is …
Once you’ve done your research, asked your questions, connected references, all that’s left is for you to make your choice and start building your custom home.
If you take time and do your research wisely, ask all your questions, and feel confident that you’ve chosen the right builder, the rest should fall in line quite easily. That’s not to say there won’t be hiccups but, with time and research, you’ll understand how to handle the hiccups, and you’ll work with your builder to get through them as seamlessly as possible.
However, it’s not a bad idea to talk to a home builder with decades of experience building houses in Utah before you choose. A good builder will be honest and informative with you and not just try to sell you their services.
Talk to a builder with options, floorplans, communities, and deep knowledge of the real estate market in Utah. Before you build your home, talk to the good folks at Revere Homes. They have information that could make your custom home building even more straightforward than you imagined.
Building a new home is a big step, and you want to make it feel secure and well supported. Talk to the experts, talk to Revere Homes.