Build on your land: How to pick from home builders in OKC (or anywhere)

signing contract

Whether you're looking for home builders in OKC or anywhere else, we want to make sure you get the home you want at a price you can afford.

Choosing a home builder

Since we are builders, we know the best way to find one that will be fair, cost-efficient and timely. Here’s how we would pick a home builder.

(For more of an overall perspective, read about the whole build-on-your-lot process here.)

Ask the bank

As we’ve written about previously, bankers tend to know what type of reputation builders in the community have. After all, good home builders make life easy on lenders, and getting a construction loan might depend on the builder you’ve chosen.

Ask a banker which home builders are reputable. If you have been researching a few, be sure to throw their names out there. A banker might not be able to give you specifics or recommend somebody, but they should be able to give you an idea of whether or not a builder is respected.

Of course, finding the right bank is a big chore in itself. Find helpful tips and tricks in these articles about banks and financing.

Look at a builder’s jobsite

What you’re looking for here is whether the jobsite looks neat, tidy and safe. Are the materials well-kept or just thrown around? Does everything seem haphazard? Part of what you’re paying for is the waste of a job.

If the jobsite isn’t neat it could mean that the builder is disorganized or doesn’t pay much attention. And a lot of money goes out the door in waste, and that kind of builder winds up paying subcontractors more in trips.

Talk to trades or subcontractors

Take this with a grain of salt, since in every profession there are people who are just unhappy no matter what. But if there are workers out there, it’s okay to ask their opinion. A subcontractor  might give you some hints as to whether or not a builder is easy to work with and timely.

Search for the builder’s reputation  

It’s very easy today to get on the web and find the reputation of virtually every business out there. While every builder is going to have a couple of not-so-great reviews, you should be able to spot a trend. Do customers generally wind up happy and offer a recommendation? Are there consistently bad reviews about the builder going over budget or taking too long?

See how fast the builder builds

This isn’t always extremely easy to do, but it can be useful to make occasional trips past a particular jobsite. How long is it taking the builder to complete a house? Does it look like significant progress is being made or does construction appear to be barely moving along?

Will the home builder really build what you want?

Watch out for home builders who really just want to build what they want (and are comfortable with), rather than what you want. This is far too common. Many times it results from poor internal systems, where a builder will only build what he/she is comfortable with because the builder doesn't know how to estimate costs properly when dealing with a true custom house plan. It also happens when a builder sees him- or herself as an "artist", and just wants you to pay for his personal indulgence. For more on this, read when artistic home builders are bad.

Ask about minimum square footage

Why is this important? Two reasons:

  1. 1. You might want to build something smaller than what the home builder is comfortable with. 
  2. 2. Many home builders only build from a portfolio of house plans, modifying something existing to (hopefully) fit your needs. That's fine if it's really what you want, but if a builder says he / she builds a minimum size, it could mean he or she isn't really a custom home builder.

There's more on the topic of minimum square footage in the article Frustrated by a builder's minimum square footage.

Those are the methods we would use if we had to pick a home builder. Pick one or two of them yourself, and see what you can find out about a particular builder you're considering.

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Tim Turner

Written by Tim Turner

A home builder for 18 years, Tim is the "son" in Turner & Son Homes. He is the CEO of the company and partners with his dad, Ben, who has been building since 1964.

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