Choosing your custom home builder requires a lot more effort than a quick “Hey Siri search custom home builder, Brisbane.” It’s almost as important as choosing your life partner. Really. Think about it; you’re going to see your home for most of the hours in the day; it will be the place you seek comfort and solace when you need it; and the littlest thing, if not exactly what you wanted – will start to drive you mad over the years.
That’s why it’s so important to do you research – spend the time now, so you don’t live with (costly) regret later. We’ve been in the custom home building space for more than fifteen years – and spanning three generations of Tabrizis, and this is the advice we’d give to our kids, when choosing who to design and build your home.
1. Don’t be afraid to drop a note in the mailbox of a home you like, leaving your details with a request of who the builder was. Most owners will take this as a compliment and will be happy to share the information. This will also identify if the home was custom-designed and built, or, if you’re likely to see it pop up in various iterations in years to come.
2. Ask for referrals from friends, whose homes you like, and who have similar taste and lifestyle to yours (now and in the future).
3. When you have a few builders in mind, do drivebys of their homes referenced on their website, and, attend inspections of their spec or previous custom-built homes. Have the homes withstood the test of time, quality-wise? Do they look dated? Are they a good match for the area? What are the finishes like? Have they noticeably cut corners anywhere? Because if it’s noticeable to the eye, there’s a good chance there’s a lot more going on underneath, under the rug, or behind the door.
4. Find out who is building with them – their current and past clientele. Are they designing and building for a whole range of families? Or are they building for people with a profile and/or no kids? This will impact the liveability (and thus resell value) of the home. A showy, four-car garage won’t mean anything to your family if your kids don’t have room to cartwheel or for soccer practice on the grass. Similarly – if this will be your forever home, make sure they can cater for that – with elevator installation experience; a focus on multiple living and multi-functional areas, etc. You might think that if you’re custom-designing your home you will get what you want, but sometimes you don’t know what you will want or need in the future, whereas an experienced custom home designer and builder with a significant and diverse client portfolio, will.
5. When you’ve narrowed down your selection the next step is to meet with the builder and ask how many building projects they’re currently working on, and what they’ve got coming up – it’s important they’ve got time for you. You don’t want to be waiting for onsite activity to continue “next Friday”, when it’s currently Tuesday, and it’s looking like it will rain all of next week. Not only will this push your practical competition date out significantly, it will also frustrate you to no end, driving by your block with no progress, whilst potentially watching them work on other projects via Instagram. You don’t want to be competing for attention, so ask how they’re going to fit you in. (We’d also suggest driving by a few of their worksites – do they look organised, clean, safe and progressing? This will be telling as to how they’ll work with you.)
6. In this same meeting ask about the experience of their team. What are their qualifications – what’s the onsite ratio of those who hold licences to apprentices? You want an experienced team – both in terms of qualification, and tenure with that custom builder business. You want team-members who are well acquainted with the builder’s standards, to ensure these standards carry through to your custom home. You want tradespeople who take pride in their work, and nothing less. This will ensure high quality work, reliability and accountability.
7. Lastly, really assess their communication. Did you have to follow them up after your initial enquiry? Do they call or email you regularly? Do they put things in writing? How responsive are they? Do they have someone offsite who looks after clients so you’re not waiting on them to finish onsite work before getting back to you? You do not wanting to be chasing progress updates – so constant, responsive and clear communication is key. Further to this, ask how they handle variation orders – what their process is. The correct answer is for orders to be issued immediately, through documentation, so there are no ‘surprise’ numbers tacked on to your final bill.
We hope this has helped you in your quest to find and select a custom home builder. It’s a really important decision, and not one that should be taken lightly. Especially when it comes to dream or ‘forever’ homes.