Contractor Selection is Crucial!
“Lack of communication can ruin a lot of good shit.”
-Talk to anyone you know who has built a custom home. Ask them who they used as a general contractor (GC), what they liked/didn’t like about him, how easy he was to communicate with during the building process, etc.
-Call the contractors to whom you were referred or any that you are considering. Ask how many homes they’ve built, how far out they are from being able to start a build, and for contract info from previous clients. Ask the contractors to take you through some of their previously built homes if possible.
-Go visit the contractor on site of the home(s) he is currently building. You can tell a lot about how a contractor works by how clean and orderly the site is while under construction.
Michelle and I weren’t sure where to begin when it came to contractor selection. While talking with some of her coworkers, Michelle was given the name of two contractors, Gary and Keith. They both were recommended as being meticulous and trustworthy. Gary had built a home for one of her coworker’s 9 years ago. We also knew of a few other homes around Shelby County that he had built during the past few years. We set up an appointment to tour her coworker’s home. As we toured the home, we were impressed by many of the features and the quality of construction. We were also encouraged to talk to Keith, who is a cousin of a coworker. Keith has been building custom homes for 27+ years, having built over a hundred homes. He has also built several homes within Shelby County with which we were familiar. Keith’s average build size is 5,000+ square feet, so a little over 2,000 square feet shouldn’t be an issue.
We started the “interview” process with both contractors. I called each to introduce myself and see if they would consider a new build with us. They both said yes and I told them I would email them with our desired home criteria, timing, questions, etc. After sending my email, I began to patiently wait with the understanding they were both extremely busy. Keith responded to my email within a matter of days. Not only did he answer all of my procedural questions, but he also suggested a time to meet out at the lot. Gary, on the other hand, didn’t respond in over three weeks. I replied to an additional request and it took two more weeks to get a reply. Based on these events, Michelle and I knew who was the contractor for us. We felt if communication was easy and frequent with Keith at this point, it would be the same throughout the build. Unfortunately, the same would probably hold true with Gary, but on the other extreme.
We set up an appointment for the next Monday evening to meet with Keith at the lot and discuss our concerns about being able to have a basement. He spent over an hour and a half with us discussing the drainage concerns and possible adjustments to the orientation of our home site. He stated that he was confident we could have a DRY basement based on his building methods. Keith said he would build an elevated basement that would be 3′-4′ above the current ground level. He would then install appropriate drainage tile/gravel and back-fill to make the home appear it was built on top of a slight hill.
Michelle and I were satisfied with his ideas. We were once again ready to move forward. Next, we need to send Keith a few tentative plans. He will then be able to provide us with some rough estimates/budgets to help with our final plan selection. I also completed the paperwork to remove the contingency from the purchase agreement regarding the ability to install a septic system and a basement.