Ask Kelsey

5 Things to Look for When Choosing a New Home Builder

There is a host of decisions you are likely making as you go through the new home purchase process. You’ve decided that you prefer to build a new home rather than settle for a preowned, older house, but now you’re faced with deciding on which new home builder to choose.

There are many builders to choose from, so how do you know which one is right for you?

List Your Potential Builders

Knowing what style of home you want to build and what area you’d like to live in will help narrow down your options, as most home builders tend to 1) specialize in specific home styles and 2) only build in certain communities. Knowing this information will equip you to shortlist your potential builders.

Search online for communities and areas that showcase the home builders who offer homes in your chosen area. You may also be able to find a list of builders on your local home builders’ association website. Visit these builders’ websites as well to collect information on the types of homes they build and mark the builders that match the style you’re looking for.

Spending a Sunday afternoon driving around your desired communities is also a great way to find the builders you may want to work with, and you’ll get a feel for the neighborhood.

Ask Questions

Once you have your list of potential builders, you’ll want to start asking the questions that are most important to you. Questions related to build times, home value, payment structure, warranty, and challenge-solving are all common and important to ask.

FInd out how much customizing can be done to the home before you start building and if anything can be changed during construction. Will there be fees attached to these changes?

Financial questions are also important in terms of when the down payment is due and how much is required, type of mortgages accepted, do they work with mortgage brokers or only banks, etc.

Ideally, you’ll want to select a home builder that’s open and transparent with the answers to your questions, and whose processes and procedures fit your expectations for your new home build.

Check Out The Showcase Homes For Quality

Most new home builders will have a showhome available to view. Take this opportunity to visit the showhomes of the builders you’ve short-listed. Pay attention to the fit and finish, and the quality of the materials used.

Don’t forget to inspect the functionality of the home. Visit the utility room and take note of the quality of the furnace, hot water tank, and other such elements. This is the equipment that runs the home and is just as important – if not more – than the type of flooring or countertops they use.

Model homes are often upgraded, so be sure to ask the builder what is an included feature or finish in the home and what you would need to pay extra for.

Get A Feel For Their Communication

Since you’ll be making a major investment in your new home and working with your chosen home builder for several months – before, during, and after construction – communication is extremely important.

As you’re conversing with each builder, be aware of how they communicate and how you feel when discussing items with them. Do you feel they’re open and transparent? Are they easy to talk to? Are they listening to what you’re saying about the home you are looking for and offering appropriate options?

A good builder will be a partner in your new home plans. They should communicate clear expectations upfront and answer any questions to the best of their ability at all points throughout the process.

What Type Of Payment Structure Do They Require?

There are two primary options for paying for your new home construction: cost-plus and fixed. Depending on your situation, one of these options may better suit your needs.


The actual value of labor, materials, and management are tallied, and a specific percentage of markup is applied to determine the total value for the home. This type of structure is more flexible, as it allows you to start the project without having every detail laid out first.

Cost-plus is a more open process, so you’ll be able to see where your money is being used. It can give you more control over how much you’re spending on your home and give you the flexibility to change something partway through construction. However it’s common that things don’t go perfectly smooth during construction and, if something does happen, you are the one that pays the bill and gets charged for the mess up.

Keep in mind, because this structure is more fluid the total value of your home can change over time. Work closely with your builder on the finances if you choose this payment structure so you know what you are getting into. Changes or mistakes in budgeting can be costly.


Your home value is pre-determined by the builder based on their costs. The benefit of choosing this option for you is you’ll know exactly how much your home will be from the beginning to the end of the process, and the builder is accountable for any budgeting mistakes.

This structure is less time consuming on your part as you won’t be monitoring the updated value of your build, but you also won’t have a breakdown of the expenses associated with your new home.

Because the total value is determined upfront in a fixed structure, any changes you make during the construction process will need to be calculated and added to the previously agreed-to total value.

Choosing the right builder is a crucial part of purchasing a new home. It doesn’t hurt to also seek out online reviews and assess how they handle any problems that arise. Do your due diligence when making your decision, as this major investment should be one you are happy with for many years to come.

Related Articles

Ask Kelsey

Request an Invitation

Schedule a Tour with Kelsey

Schedule a visit to ensure you have our undivided attention during your tour.

Play Video