As you drive around Southern Ontario searching for a place to build a perfect new home, the choices can be overwhelming. If you’ve never built a home before, it may seem a little discouraging.
How do you build a quality home for a fair price? What should you look for? How do you know who builds a quality home? How much will it cost? How do you find the right custom home builder in Ontario?
Here are a few tips to help set you on the right path toward home ownership and finding the right builder to build your new home in Ontario, Canada.
1. Resident builder
Look for the local area builders. Local custom builders are the ones that work and are committed to the neighbourhood. They don’t just build up a community as fast as they can and move on to the next.
Local builders have the knowledge of the local building department and their requirements. They also know the local sub-trades and the quality of their work.
2. How long has the builder been in business
Take a look at how long a builder has been around. The more experience a builder has had, the more likely they are to build a quality home.
Good builders are proud of their track record, whether they have been in business for 5 or 50 years. They will tell you about their background, their training and experience, their strengths and what sets them apart from others.
3. Is the builder a member of “TARION” home warranty program?
Tarion provides protection for every new home. Builders must meet the standards listed in the Construction Performance Guidelines.
Tarion’s primary purpose is to protect buyers of new homes by ensuring that builders abide the minimum standards of home construction. It registers a 7-year warranty on the new home. Ask the builder to explain the details or go to their website: http://tarion.com.
You will be dealing with your builder over a period of time (4 months to a year) and giving him or her a very large chunk of your hard earned cash. The extent to which you can comfortably communicate with your builder becomes one of (if not the) most important elements in determining which builder to choose.
A good relationship with your builder does not start when they file for the building permit, it starts at the negotiation table. Really great home builders start the process of putting you at ease with the very first contact. They can clearly answer all your questions decoding the construction process along the way.
No good builder wants to take your job if he feels that you are going to micromanage your project, or that you expect more than you’re willing to pay for. That’s why it’s so important to establish good communications before any final decisions are made.
5. Quality of construction
No one wants a home of inferior quality. Quality actually starts with the quality of information that you can gain from looking at builder’s websites. It continues on through the quality of communication from talking with the builder. Did she/he answer your emails and phone calls right away?
Visiting the show home, or the home builder has built before, walking through and asking questions about the builder and construction process is a must.
There is a bit of art in every custom home. So choose the “artist” whose past work you admire, because other “artists” can not be expected to produce exact replicas.
6. Check the references
Every home builder has strengths and weaknesses, and their references are in the best position to tell you what these are. Even if you love the community or the location, the floor plan or the beautiful model, you must talk to references!
Contact past customers to find out how satisfied they are with their new home. Ask if the home was completed on budget and on time, what the builder was like to work with (easy to talk with, understanding, helpful), and about the company’s after-sales service.
Check List here: http://www.chba.ca/uploads/reference_check.pdf
7. It’s not simply about price
When you are searching for new home builders make sure you know what you are comparing. From materials to energy efficiency. There are many contributing factors that can cause a home to be priced higher or lower originally.
Also, cost of the home includes not only a listed price. It includes various carrying costs, taxes and interest, monthly energy use, maintenance etc. It may only cost $20 per month more for your home mortgage, but if it may save you $50 per month in energy costs. So, make sure you compare “Apples to Apples”.
8. Building a home is not like buying a car or a television
Having a home built is more like recruiting an artist to paint a portrait. Just like 5 different artists could be hired to paint the exact same person and you would get 5 similar but not identical portraits, 5 different builders will build 5 similar but not identical homes from the same blueprints!
Finding and choosing the right custom home builder for your project may be difficult and possibly awkward at times but you are embarking the biggest purchase of your life so you need to be confident in your decision. Do your homework and understand the process and you will reap the rewards with a beautiful home built to your specifications.
9. Nothing is free
Not plans, not accurate estimates, not an extra nail, not even a builder’s time. Expect to pay for such things.
Realize that while you are evaluating builders, the builders are also evaluating you. Not all builders are the same, nor are all clients alike, and builders are looking for clients that fit well with their business strengths.
If you keep some of these factors in mind while comparing builders in the Southern Ontario, it will make it easier to narrow down your choices and find the right home for you and your family.
10 Red flags
The following are some red flags to keep your eye out for when hiring a custom home builder. If any of these situations arise, they are worth looking into immediately:
- The builder requires a large initial down payments or deposits prior to the commencement of work.
- There is no written contract or a poorly written contract.
- The stated price is too good to be true and is significantly lower than other received bids.
- The builder will not provide a complete estimate.
- There is a heavy reliance on allowances for the final bid.
- High-pressure sales tactics are employed.
- Lack of insurance.
- The builder says your home will be used for marketing purposes so you will be given a special low rate.
- No references are furnished or are unable be verified.
- The builder is unwilling to provide evidence of Insurance for General Liability or Workers Compensation.
- The builder offers a lump sum or very general estimate lacking detail.