Top Ten ways to choose a Custom Home Builder

Signing with a builder is a big commitment. If everything else checks out with the builder, go with your instincts. The single most important factor in a custom building project is how well you and your builder communicate. It is better to invest a bit more to get a builder who you are comfortable with. If you have done a thorough job of choosing the right builder you will have an exciting and enjoyable experience that will leave you with a well built home customized for your lifestyle.

1. Identify your needs and what kind of builder you are seeking:

-How big and customized is your project?
-Will you accept a semi-custom project from a project oriented builder?
-How much time do you have to invest in the building process?
-Often its best to focus on your vocation, that is what you do best, and hire a professional to handle the entire project.
-How much research am I able to do for products and finishes?
-How much time do I have to select materials and finishes?
-How much guidance are you prepared to provide your builder?
-Do you want the full service of a Custom Builder?
-Often its best to focus your time and energy on visiting suppliers, working with samples and making informed selections for your new home while leaving the project management to a professional Custom Builder.

2. Identify 2 or 3 Prospective Builders:

– Ask people you trust for recommendations.
– Do web search to find ones that specialize in your type of project.
– Consult local Homebuilders association.

3. Conduct Phone Interviews:

-Do you do this type of project?
-Is Custom Home Building your core business and are you a licensed full time professional?
-What is your experience and how long have you been in business?
-Are you a member of a Homebuilders association?
-What is your Warranty program?
-What is your post completion warranty and service policy?
-Do you have contractors general liability insurance and Work safe registration? Get copies.
-Can you provide financial references of banks and suppliers?

4. Meet each Builder at their office:

-Make introductions; identify how you heard about their company.
-Do you have a regular team of subcontractors?
-Which tradesmen do you have on staff and what are their qualifications?
-Can we visit one of your current work sites?
-Will you provide us the names and contact information for your last 3 clients?
-Provide a set of preliminary drawings or completed construction drawings.
-Provide all the specifications you have compiled so far.
-Note how the builder communicates:
-How well does he or she listen?
-Does he answer questions satisfactorily? Does he put you at ease?
-Can you work with this person on a valuable 6-month project?
-Do you do Fixed price contracts with allowances?
-Do you do Cost-plus contracts?
-Describe the building process and who on your staff handles various responsibilities?
-How do you manage, share and track communications with your clients?
-How do you manage, store and share the vast amount of information required for a custom project?

5. Contact the Builders 2 or 3 most recent clients:

-Did they complete the Project on Time? If not why?
-Did they complete the Project on Budget? If not why and how much was due to client changes and how much was due to other factors?
-Is the workmanship of High Quality? Can we see your project?
-Did they keep the job site tidy and safe?
-Were the tradesmen courteous? -Were the tradesmen careful with the owner’s property and materials?
-How quickly did they respond to communications and problems?
-How did they track and share project information?

6. Provide the same detailed information to Builders:

-Make sure that all builders have exactly the same set of completed construction drawings with the same date.
-Make sure they all have the same set of specifications.
-They need to be bidding on the same things.
-Allow a reasonable time for them to evaluate and bid on the project.
-Ask for them to provide a date when their bid will be ready? Was it ready on time?

7. Visit each builder’s projects:

-Visit an active construction site;
-Note tidiness, tradesmen, storage of materials etc.
-Visit completed projects:
-Note quality of workmanship, fit and finish, paint finish, joinery etc.

8. Visit builders preferred supply showrooms:

-Set up appointments with builder’s contacts.
-Bring plans for reference.
-Make preliminary selections, have the supplier forward these on to the builders.
-This will really help you know what you are getting.

9. Collect and Compare the builder’s Contract Proposals:

-It must be in writing and professional in appearance.
-Check the level of detail to make sure it is comprehensive.
-Check payment terms. A 2-10% deposit with 3 or 4 progress draws at construction milestones is fair.
-Compare all specifications to determine if they are bidding on the same quality.
-What are the provisions for lien protection?
-Beware of the lowest bidder, this may be a sign that they are struggling or cutting corners or not allowing for the appropriate amount of time to service your needs.
-Consider having a third party look over the Contract documents.
-Look for the best VALUE.
-Best value is the combination of price, quality and service, which will be delivered in a smooth and timely manner.

10. Meet with successful builder to award the building contract:

-Contact the builder who is your first choice.
-Who is my primary contact for this project?
-What is our site-meeting schedule and policy?
-How are showroom allowances handled and invoiced?
-How many projects do you normally run at a time?
-How many projects will you have on during our project?
-What are your projected start and completion dates?
-Clarify any specifications or questions you have about the contract proposal.
-Clarify the builders change order management process and fees charged for these.
-Ask for projected start and completion dates.
-Sign the contract and provide the deposit.


  • "Their excellent communication skills and top notch customer service ensured that we were involved in all of the decision making as we worked through the building process."
    Craig Mickleborough and April Shepherd-Trent

  • "Each stage of construction was completed on time and on budget.We were also impressed with your building philosophy of building a house that exceeds specifications."
    Andriyka and Chris Yost

  • "The quality of both your construction quotes and contract agreement were far above the level provided by any of the other contractors that we solicited for bids."
    Rob and Kathy Mackay

  • "We greatly appreciate your constant efforts to help us achieve what was best for us considering design, timing and cost."
    Al and Bev Robinson

  • "The communication throughout the entire project was very clear, organized and efficient. The on-line system was absolutely fantastic"
    Mark Sanders and Laura McLean

  • "You can be justifiably proud of the workmanship and care that your trades build into your homes!"
    Dan Caird

  • "K2's organizational skills and commitment to customer satisfaction have made this process less stressful and more enjoyable than we could ever have imagined."
    John and Sue Boland

  • "We found the K2 crew and all sub-trades to be of the highest calibre. Each and every person involved demonstrated a willingness to work with us."
    Barry and Deborah Brassington

  • "K2 built our home, and it was built on time and on budget. The quality of the construction was excellent."
    Don Swiatlowski

  • "Their professionalism and workmanship was very reassuring right down to every final detail."
    Maureen Sanborn