Who Will You Trust?
Insights from Structures Building Company, 2/7/2020
This is an important question for everyone involved in a new home project.
The internet will tell you to be skeptical when searching for a builder. That's good advice: skepticism is wise at the beginning of your search, just as it is when comparing surgeons, car dealers or other service providers. But remember that the ultimate goal is to find someone you can trust and collaborate with.
As part of your research, requesting a list of current and past homeowners can prove to shed a lot of light on how the builder was prior to contract, during the build and long after move in. Make a list of questions that are important to you and ask away.
The vetting process is actually more complex for the builder. That's because all successful building projects are high trust environments. The builder needs assurance that everyone working on the job—from framer to electrician to landscaper—will correctly perform their assigned roles at the appointed times and for the agreed-on price.
This is a tall order. Building a complex custom home requires that hundreds or even thousands of details be completed by many independent subcontractors. Lots can go wrong. The reasons more things don't go wrong are that professional builders have great management systems and they work with subcontractors who keep their promises to provide high-quality work.
Trust obviously has to be earned and earning it can take years. The builder needs to know that the sub will be fair in their pricing, that their work is high quality, and that they will promptly respond to warranty requests.
Of course, trust is a two-way street. The builder also has to earn it, and not just from subcontractors and suppliers.
One place where a reputation for trustworthiness really pays off is with permitting and approvals of city and town authorities as well as community architectural review boards. New homes usually need multiple approvals. Having a great reputation of your "i's being dotted and t's crossed" helps streamline an approval process and shows the board that you're willing to work within the system with great follow-through. Building mutual respect and trust can prove to be helpful and possibly allowing projects to move through the system more quickly.
It can take multiple projects over the years before officials fully trust a builder to be honest and do consistently good work. That's one big advantage of working with a professional builder with a solid reputation and longstanding personal ties to the local community.
Steve Kendrick, Owner Structures Building Company