1. Finding a reputable builder
Ask friends and family for references for reputable builders they have worked with or of whose work they recommend. Search out homes with styles you like and ask the homeowners who completed the construction.
2. Verifying the qualifications
Verifying that your prospective builder has a valid company address, and is a member of a trade association indicates that they are competent and reliable in the construction industry. Just because a builder claims that they are a member or hands you a “certificate”, you should verify the qualifications by contacting the trade association to ensure that the membership is legitimate. You do not want to be misled into paying for the shoddy workmanship of a “rogue” builder that will only need fixing later.
Additionally, ask for proof of insurance covering property damage as well as liability for injury.
3. Asking for references
Once you find a builder, ask to contact two or three references of clients with whom they have done building projects previously. Preferably, you would get references of not only recent clients, but also ones from the more distant past. The latter will give you an opportunity to see how the builder’s work has held up over time. Ask those clients what they liked about the builder, but also inquire about any difficulties that they experienced. You may even want to request to see their homes and take the time to inspect the finished product.
4. Communicating openly
Make sure that you can communicate well with your potential builder from the very early stages. Constructing a home is an involved process and you want to feel like you are on the same team. Work together and communicate about concerns so that you and your builder can avoid future mistakes. Be open about money and costs, and get all financial agreements in writing.
5. Getting multiple quotes
Once you have a short list of potential builders, ask for quotes of what the building project will entail financially as well as time-wise. You should get it in writing, and it should include exactly what is included and what is not. That is to say, you want to have in writing ALL the specifics: cost of materials and labor, estimated start and completion times, whether or not they will need to apply for planning permissions to fit with building codes, conditionals covering who is responsible for building delays, etc. The more details, the better, so that you and your potential builder are on the same page from the start!