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Selecting a Custom Home Builder

Choosing a custom home builder is one of the most important decisions you will be faced with in the execution of your new project. Take your time. Do your due diligence. Make thorough comparisons. Building your dream home is an emotional endeavor. You should be able to enjoy the process. The end result should provide you with an amazing, unique house that you can call home.

TYLGreatRoomNarrow down your choices to 3-5 contractors by doing some preliminary research. When you have found your top 3-5 potential builders, be sure to re-interview each at length and follow these steps. Let the fun begin!

  1. Reputation, reputation, reputation!!
    • First is the obvious. Check references: Past Clients, Subcontractors/Trades, Realtor
    • Spend time in local hang-outs. Ask the locals. Talk to subs. In Breckenridge, you’ll know them by their uniform of Carhartt pants and scrubby T-shirts or flannels. The locals here like to talk and are typically very approachable. This is a small community and reputations speak volumes. Remember that this is a bit like using Yelp. Expect some bad reviews, that’s normal. But talk to many locals and you’ll get a good representation of how this contractor does business. You’ll find many subs at Fatty’s on Ridge during lunch or Happy Hour.
  2. Does your contractor specialize in custom or speculative homes? You’ll find that there is some normal amount of crossover, but it is important that the contractor is extremely skilled in the field of custom home building. Custom homes are a very different beast from speculative homes. The process is one of a kind and your contractor must be familiar with this process.
  3. Ask for samples of job documents such as:
    • Budget
    • Draw Requests
    • Change Orders
    • Make sure that you understand the format and that the samples are clear and concise. Be certain that the builder has a clear process in place and that these documents will keep you informed.
  4. Does your builder have a series of regular local subcontractors that are used consistently? This is important to ensure that subcontractors, contractor, and homeowners have clear and smooth communication. Builders can produce a higher quality product and can eliminate much miscommunication by having a team of subcontractors who are used regularly.
  5. Does the builder understand how to build in the Summit County environment and harsh weather?
    • Certain materials can have a longer lead time. Does your contractor understand how to compensate for this?
    • Again, the use of subs from Summit County or surrounding area is advantageous as they are accustoming to working in the climate here. Does your builder use local subs?
    • Things like snow removal and provisions for cold weather conditions should be built into the project planning. Does your contractor understand this?
  6. Gold Run Great RoomBudget is obviously a huge consideration. Be sure to carefully understand the projected budget. If there are large discrepancies from one builder's budget to another, do your due diligence and determine why there are gaps. Here are some things to look for:
    • Are local subs being used or are corners being cut by using out of area/state subs. Be cautious if this is the case. Do they understand the complex building codes and requirements? Will they be able to provide good service in relation to scheduling and being timely? This is a custom home. Things change, accommodations must be made. Can a non-local manage this effectively?
    • Are there items that are not included? Compare the budget line by line. Although the lines may not match up exactly as each contractor will have their own style, you should be able to see where there are categories missing. If categories are missing, find out why!
    • Are there line items that have large discrepancies? Is there a fireplace line item for $8,000 in one budget, while another budget shows $25,000? If you there are large price discrepancies, there is an explanation. Ask the contractor what the line item includes. Ask what is not covered. Ask about what else you might decide you want—it’s likely that the $25,000 is more inclusive of your desires.
    • Are permit fees, tap fees, plan review fees, impact fees, etc. included in your budget? These can be very substantial in Summit County and the surrounding area and you will want to be certain these are reflected in your budget.
  7. Communication
    • Are you comfortable communicating with your contractor? Do you prefer email or phone? Can your contractor communicate with you in a way that is conducive to your preferred style?
    • Does your builder have a clear way to keep you informed about the project process? What does this look like? Is there a construction management site that will keep you informed? These management sites should keep track of draw requests, subcontractor invoices, change orders, and job scheduling. Often, these sites will also track selections and will provide reminders about decisions you must make. Talk to your builder about this.
  8. How is your contractor billing for his/her time? Is your contractor marking up the subcontractor invoices? Is your contractor charging a fixed fee? Both are common practices but you want to have a clear understanding and be sure that these fees have been clearly addressed prior to the final selection of your builder.

At Ivan Stanley Fine Home Builders, we have a commitment to excellence and we understand how to provide quality service to you, the home owner.  Building a custom home is a grand and daunting task.  Details and complex moving parts can make this project difficult and overwhelming.  Jeremy Fischer wants you to be secure in your custom home contractor choice.  Your custom mountain home is on it's way!

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Ivan Stanley Fine Home Builders
100 S. Ridge St, Ste. 201
P.O. Box 6364
Breckenridge, CO 80424
Phone: 970-423-3055

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