Tips When Hiring a Fairfield County Builder – Part I

As one of Fairfield County’s leading custom home builders since 1955, our firm, Country Club Homes, Inc. has gained tips-for-hiring-builder-custom-new-home-fairfield-county-connecticutbroad expertise in home design, building and remodeling. Out of a desire to educate people considering remodeling or building a custom new home, Carolyn Wheeler of Country Club Homes, has written the following article, providing tips for individuals planning to hire a custom home builder. We hope these tips will provide significant guidance to anyone undertaking the often challenging process of hiring a builder.

“Whether a project is large or small, short-term or long, there are a few steps that should be taken before hiring your Builder.  Investing a little extra time before the project starts can save you lots of headaches and expense down the road.  The following are two of five principle areas to look into before you make the big decision. Look for principles three through five to be published in our next post, entitled ‘Tips When Hiring a Fairfield County Builder – Part II’.

1. Credentials

  • Make sure you select someone who has been in the business a while.  Each and every project is complicated and requires knowledge in coordinating the crews, the ordering of materials, the permitting process, code compliance, and the expertise in getting things done well.
  • An experienced Builder will be better equipped to avoid any pitfalls that occur during the building process, as well as problem solve when issues arise.
  • Make sure your Builder is licensed by the state in which you reside.
  • Having the proper insurance is of utmost importance.  Make sure that your Builder has both general liability and workers’ compensation coverage to ultimately protect you from exposure to potential risks. You should ask for a Certificate of Insurance to verify this coverage. Furthermore, make sure that they insist on their subcontractors having the proper insurance and licenses, where applicable, as well.
  • Is your Builder experienced enough to be able to provide guidance during the project to change or refine the details of the plans to better meet your needs and your budget?
  • Make sure the person you hire has a solid reputation by speaking with prior clients, and the local building inspector; and checking with the Better Business Bureau and the state’s consumer protection agency.
  • Always get at least a few references, and ask detailed questions about their experience, communication, the timing of the project, the cleanliness of the job and cost overruns.  Ask the question, “Would you use this Builder again for a future project?”
  • Be wary of a Builder who feels it is not necessary to take out permits to do the project.  Although permits can add a significant cost to the project, in the end, the inspection process helps to protect you from poor workmanship and assures things are being built according to code.
  • If applicable, visit a job site on which your Builder is currently working.
  • If possible, ask your Builder’s subcontractors and/or suppliers if he or she makes payments on time.

2. Competitive Bids

  • If you are going through the bidding process, make sure to compare the bids to make sure they are comparable or to at least - understand the differences.  Some Builders are not qualified to handle the pricing of a complicated job, while others will throw a low number at the project in order to get the job, only to then charge extras for items that should have been included in the first place.
  • Typically, it is recommended to get three bids from reputable Builders.  More than that will only confuse and make the comparison process virtually impossible.
  • Going with the low bid usually isn’t the right answer.  Have line items been missed by this Builder or are they cutting corners to be able to come in with a low price?  Will you have surprises in the future?
  • Although price is important, look at the intangibles as well.  Look at the differences in what the Builders can bring to the process.  Can they offer advice in the selection process, do they stand by their work, and do they have the staffing to get things done in a timely manner?

We hope you find these tips to be helpful.  Check back to the blog for ‘Tips When Hiring a Fairfield County Builder – Part II’ to hear about recommendations we have concerning Chemistry, Staffing and Contracts.

Country Club Homes, Inc. wishes you the best of luck with your project!"