Choosing the Right Home Builder

There are several benefits to purchasing a pre-construction home. Brand-new homes do not come with repair costs since nothing in the home has ever been used and the structure has not been subject to the elements.

When you have a new home built, you have the opportunity to choose the look and feel of your home, and personalize it to suit your tastes. Some home builders, especially in hurricane prone areas like Florida, are now building homes above hurricane code with extensive safety measures to protect the homeowner in the face of severe weather.

But not all home builders specialize in high quality homes, or offer buyers the chance to personalize their home. That is why choosing the correct home builder is such an integral part of a positive home buying experience.

A tale of two builders: tract homes vs. custom homes

There are two very different types of home builders offering their services today. The first, and often cheapest, option is a tract home builder. These builders offer newly constructed homes at the lowest prices, and can be an affordable option for the buyer on a tight budget. Tract homes are not necessarily bad homes, but the materials used to build them are often of much lower quality than materials used by custom home builders.

Tract home builders can offer lower prices because they purchase materials in mass quantity. Because of this mass purchasing policy, they are not able to offer buyers decor options or choices in color scheme, flooring, etc. Tract homes are often referred to as “cookie-cutter” homes because they all look exactly the same. Tract homes are very seldom built above code, and do not usually include options such as safety glass, additional roof truss straps, or solid, poured concrete construction.

You get what you pay for

Custom homes often come with a higher price tag, but you can definitely see where the extra money goes. High-quality materials, custom decor options, and additional safety measures are just a few of the additional features custom home builders offer. Homes built by custom builders are usually much more luxurious in scale, and often include vaulted ceilings and bright, airy floor plan choices. Top of the line paint, appliances, flooring and fixtures may also be offered.

But there are also different levels of custom home builders, especially when it comes to hurricane safety. In states where hurricanes are a fact of life during the summer months, choosing a high-quality home builder is especially important.

Above code construction

One state where additional hurricane protection is especially important is Florida. In 2004, Florida suffered a series of direct hurricane strikes to both coasts. Even inland areas were not immune to the powerful storms, and homes throughout Florida suffered severe damage. Florida was also subject to extensive building code reform after the devastation Hurricane Andrew left behind in 1992.

Despite extensive reform in South Florida, only a handful of additional Florida counties have adopted the strict standards that are currently in place in Dade county (areas of which were devastated by Hurricane Andrew). In fact, the current building code in most counties only requires that new homes be built to withstand a Category 2 hurricane.

That is why a handful of builders in Florida have begun giving their customers an added level of protection. Above code construction is a term used by these builders to convey that their home construction standards exceed what is required by Florida building code. Some of these homes are built to withstand winds in excess of 140 mph, and offer superior protection for homeowners.

It’s all in the details

After deciding which type of home you are looking to have built (tract or custom, standard or above-code), there are a few more criteria you can use to narrow down your list of choices. First, select your top three neighborhood choices and thoroughly explore the housing market in each of these areas. Make a list of builders who have lots available in your target areas.

Personally visit each builder on your list, as you can get a good feel for the company by visiting their sales offices. Take note of your experience with each company. Is their office staff friendly and helpful? Do they have model homes to show? Do they offer a home warranty? What about builder financing? Do they thoroughly review the floor plans, custom features, and available decor options? Trust your instincts and go with the home builder you are most comfortable working with, and who you feel shares your vision of the ideal home.