New Year, New Home: Finding The Right Builder

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The New American Home at the International Builders Show Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography
The New American Home at the International Builders Show Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Happy New Year everyone! This year is starting off at a record pace — people are building a new home at record levels. There’s something about getting to be the first one to live in a home, and having the opportunity to choose your own tile, cabinets, etc., that’s like nothing else. But are all home building experiences the same? Unfortunately not.

As a Lifestylist® who has owned her own construction and design company, I’ve spent lots of time working with builders constructing new model homes, and helping clients build their homes. Recently we helped a client work with a builder and realized there were things that could have made the process easier if she had known about them beforehand.  We’ve come up with a series of articles listing things you need to do so that you can really enjoy this exciting time in your life, and end up with the home of your dreams.

The first step, of course, is finding the perfect builder and location. And it can be one of the most challenging.

The sales team for Grenadier Homes Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography
The sales team for Grenadier Homes Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Put together the right team.

A home is one of the largest investments you will make in your lifetime, and you want to be sure that you have the right people advising and representing you. If you are working with a Realtor, this will be someone who will be with you throughout the entire building process and should be your liaison with the builder and their representative if you have questions or issues arise. What you don’t want is someone who walks you into the model home and the next time you see or hear from them is at closing. Typically, the builder will have a sales representative — is this who you will work with during construction or will someone else be your point person? Are they available seven days a week or only during business hours? You would be amazed how many issues come up at 5 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon!

Find the right builder for you.

This decision can make or break your entire building experience. It’s so easy to walk into a model home and fall in love with the design and furnishings. If I had a dollar for every time someone walked into one of my model homes and said they wanted their home to look just like the model! Building a home is about so much more than making it pretty. Is the builder local? How long have they been building in this area? Who will actually be on site, building the home? Can you meet them before you sign a contract to build the home? Are they members of the local and national home builders associations? How many homes do they build a year? Are they involved in giving back to the community? Our Hot Builder Tim Jackson Custom Homes is a great example. Not only are they active in the Dallas Builders Association and the Texas Association of Builders, Tim Jackson is also past president of both associations. Another Hot Builder, Classic Urban Homes, handed over the keys to a mortgage-free home to a severely injured war veteran as part of Operation Finally Home.

Location, location, location!

Location is everything, especially when you are driving to work every morning or trying to get the kids to school. When you find an area you love, take the time to drive around the area at different times of the day. When I moved next to an elementary school, I thought they would be the perfect neighbors, but boy was I wrong! Parents line up in their cars an hour before the kids are released making it impossible to get out of my driveway, and they are noisy! Is there shopping nearby? If schools are important, visit the schools — we have some excellent articles here by Bethany Erickson that go into more depth about our local schools. Do you eat out a lot? What are the local options? Who delivers to this area? Is there a great grocery store nearby?

New townhomes being constructed in North Dallas. Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography
New townhomes being constructed in North Dallas. Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Building Timeline

Some builders are only building in one area; others have homes under construction all over town. It’s important to find out upfront if there will be a builder on site that works only in the community you will be building, or will they be responsible for homes all across North Texas? This can make a huge difference in how quickly (and correctly) your home is constructed. You will also want to identify the site your home will be built on and see how much construction will be happening around you, and what the expected built out time is for that area/community. What hours are they allowed to work? Will they be working on yours or surrounding homes during the weekend? There’s nothing like being awakened at 6 a.m. by someone sawing boards next door!

All of this may sound overwhelming, but they are all questions that need to be answered now instead of after you are under contract and construction has begun.

An easy, stress-free way to start your search for the perfect builder and new home is to visit our Hot Builders page. This is an invitation-only list of builders that we know and have researched and trust. There is a builder featured for almost every price range and area, and we they are here to stay.

Next up we’ll be discussing what you need to know before you sign the contract on your new home, and experiences — good and bad — that we’ve had with local builders.

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Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber is one of those lucky people who truly loves what she does. By helping consumers discover their “inner-stylist”, Felber has helped thousands of homeowners design their own spaces to reflect their personalities and their lifestyles. Felber lives in her own Home Idea Factory - a circa 1942 factory that previously housed a printing company in Oak Cliff. She and her brood of rescue cats and dogs have been busy using the building as the perfect place to try out different ideas and products that she is excited to share here.

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