The Advantages of Choosing a Local Home Builder over a National Builder

If you have decided to build a custom home, you’ve properly thought through some of the key decisions to turn your perfect vision into a reality. All the big factors come into play: the location of your new home, a tentative budget, the amount of space you need, and your preferred layout, style, and finishes—but what about a home builder?

With an abundance of custom home builders out there, it can be quite overwhelming to find a firm that handles everything with integrity and is trusted for exceptional work. After all, the right contractor for your new residential property can make a huge difference between a job well done—within a set budget and timeframe.

To narrow down your options, set your sights on a local home builder. Of course, a larger national company may have some appeal; however, hiring a local builder has some unique advantages that save you money and put you and your family at the center of every part of the construction process.

We explore some of the advantages you can realize by choosing a local builder over a national construction company.

Reasons to Choose Local Home Builder

Building a home should be an enjoyable experience—and with the right local construction company at the helm, you can get the best service that transforms your journey. In the article "A Guide to Hiring a Custom Home Builder" by The Environmental Center, a good custom home contractor is an integral and collaborative member of your project who assist in establishing a realistic budget and monitor the scope of work from start to finish. Here are some of the many reasons to opt for a local home builder:

A more personalized experience face-to-face interaction with a local custom home contractor allows you to enjoy a more personalized experience. When your house builders are based locally, you can get to know them as they're constantly accessible and better understand the step-by-step process of building a custom home. This helps instill a sense of confidence from the start to the final nail.

Price

Another key benefit of hiring a local construction company is that, more often than not, the cost is much more affordable than working with a national building firm. While we don't encourage homeowners to prioritize price over quality, some factors can contribute to cost savings.

In her article for Build titled "How Can Home Builders Reduce Construction Costs," Holly Welles suggests that renegotiating subcontractor pricing, buying dynamically, and considering material alternatives can reduce costs considerably.

As a result of built trade relationships, a local custom home builder has a stronger grasp of the most reliable subcontractors to suit any budget, knowledge about local material sourcing and accessibility, and access to discounts from trusted local suppliers. And while a significant cost saving isn't always guaranteed, these factors combined can help you attain your ultimate dream home—without sacrificing quality.

Customer service

The appeal of engaging a local builder to head and manage the construction of your new home from start to finish also lies in the area of customer service. A national builder serves a larger area, and if they aren't headquartered in your area, chances are they'll complete your project and leave for their next engagement.

Should problems arise with your new home, getting in touch and immediately having issues resolved can be nightmarish? In contrast, a reputable custom home contractor that's always close by has a vested interest in listening to your concerns during your home's review period and is motivated to make sure you are happy even long after the project is completed.

Customization options

Whether national or local, custom home builders offer an array of pre-designed floor plans that are used as a starting point. However, national builders tend to be rigid in construction techniques, design styles, and inclusions and may require you to follow their pre-set process.

Customization to a pre-designed home is where local housebuilders shine—allowing you to take an existing design template beyond the blueprint based on your preferred wants and needs. When it comes to a once-in-a-lifetime investment like building a residential property, you want a perfect floor plan for your new home to be customized to every personal detail.

Knowledge of the area and its home trends

In our opinion, a local home builder is more likely to deliver a more streamlined process as they're acutely attuned to the construction trends and lifestyle needs of the local community and well-versed in the ins and outs of permits, regulations and building codes, unique weather conditions, and the best materials to use to ensure safety and security.

This does not suggest that national firms aren't quality professionals, but having an established presence in a particular area typically starts the Build smoothly and brings greater value and efficiency to the whole construction process.

Better availability and communication

When choosing a custom home contractor for your next project, it's crucial to engage a builder you can trust and communicate well. With a builder located nearby, it makes it easier to have discussions face-to-face. It reduces the possibilities of miscommunication, disputes, and cost or time blowouts throughout the construction process.

Enforcing the homeowner warranty

It's understandable that when building a new home, the last thing you want is things going wrong. While some inconveniences can't be avoided, it gives you peace of mind knowing your builder is based locally, has your best interests, and will continue to provide quality service during and beyond the building process.

This is simply because the homeowner warranty can be easy to enforce when working with a company within the community, and any concerns can be addressed promptly. In a lot of cases, large national and state companies don't have the same sense of accountability, and you may find yourself having to jump through more hoops just to get any issue remedied much sooner.

How to Find Local Builder

The quest to find a local home builder with the right experience and skills can be a nightmare. Here are three ways you can get the balling rolling:

Word of mouth is a cliché, but asking people in your neighborhood who have done similar projects can be a great resource. If you know anyone in the building trades—realtors, architects, designers, and home inspectors—ask them. They often have an invariable network of local custom home builders and know whose values are consistent.

Trade organizations and peer networks

Approaching organizations devoted to promoting high-performance and healthy home building, such as the Guild of Builders and Contractors, can help you root out the cowboy builders and instead lead you to the right local home builder that meets Government-endorsed trading standards.

Online search

Another place to search for a local home builder is online. Numerous online sites with a “find builders in my area” tool can direct you to highly-rated local home construction companies. Take the time to go through the contractor’s website, past projects, and reviews.

Keep in Mind Before you Hire Local Builder

Once you've narrowed the list of potential local building contractors, there are a couple of factors to consider before making a final decision. Use the checklist below to avoid an arduous building process:

Check preferences while visiting past properties. A model home can give you a glimpse of the contractor's quality and craftsmanship; following that with a phone call to at least 3 or 4 former clients provides reliable information about their overall experience. References from previous work are a must!

Read online reviews

Before hiring a local home builder, you can check reviews from their website or sites like HomeAdvisor, Google, and Angie's List. But here's a warning: high ratings and good reviews online aren't a substitute for checking references and getting direct feedback about their workmanship from previous clients.

Check licenses, complaints, and litigation history.

It's important to do business with a properly licensed home builder for the residential work they will do for you. In her article "How to Hire a Builder for Your Dream Home" for Angi.com, Barbara Bellesi Zito states that home builders' licenses and insurances ensure that your new home complies with local regulations and codes.

Don't skimp on checking with the Better Business Bureau and the contractor board of your state for any complaints that people might have lodged against the builders on your potential hire list. In addition, a reputable local construction company should be able to provide you with a copy of their license and those of the subcontractors who will be brought on board during the different phases of the build.

what work will be done by subcontractors

Undertaking a massive investment like building a new home will require that you ask the right question. One is what role the subcontractor will play. Work like electrical and mechanical installation, plumbing, underfloor heating, as well as detailed carpentry will warrant specialized subcontractors; hence it is important to know all the nitty-gritty details of everyone involved and if the builder will supervise their work.

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Pros & Cons of Hiring a Local Builder

The process of hiring a local home builder comes with plenty of benefits, but it has its disadvantages too.  

Pros of hiring a local builder:

1. You can get a true sense of their reputation

Keeping work locally makes it easy for you to get a true sense of the home builder's reputation. Most businesses work hard to deliver outstanding work and establish themselves as the go-to industry expert. For this reason, you can count on local recommendations of home builders with the best reputation to hold more weight.

2. You can find out about their experience and expertise

Your priority as a homeowner is to choose a local construction company with the right custom home building experience. Working with local builders makes it easier to find out about their experience from past clients and view ongoing projects to check workmanship and quality.

3. You can talk to your neighbors

Because it's not so easy to hide a bad reputation, especially in a close-knit community, it's easy to talk to neighbors and find out how the builder works and treats its clients.

4. You can talk to the experts

Hiring locally allows you to interact with expert home builders and discuss your specific needs face-to-face. This, in turn, means your project will start smoothly and progress faster.

5. You can help the economy

A contractor based in your area will most likely outsource, invest, and spend locally, which essentially contributes to the economy and long-term success of the community.

Cons of hiring a local builder:

1. Slightly higher prices

Because local builders have to stay competitive, building from the ground up can be expensive. Elaborating custom designs, securing permits for complex plans, extensive time and labor, and other builder-related charges that may occur once the project is underway can lead to slightly higher prices.

According to an article by Rocket Mortgage, "Cheapest Way to Build a House," the simpler your home design plan is, the less expensive it will be to build.

2. Won't do renovations

Some local builders only undertake projects that involve building from the ground up and won't do renovations. In a case where you want to repurpose existing space, it may be quite challenging to find a local contractor that can take on the job.

3. Limited design style and architecture

Local contractors may not offer a wide array of design styles to choose from in terms of the floor plan, finishes, and inclusions. This means that you have to rely mostly on your own design ideas.

4. Delay in deadlines sometimes

Sometimes, schedule delays occur despite the local builder's best efforts and may impact the project's completion date. Once you have identified the cause of the delay, it's best to get an updated timeline from your contractor.

Questions to Ask your Local Home Builder

The right questions can distinguish the right builder for the job from a list of potentials. Below are questions to ask a local builder before the start of your construction project:

1. What is your process for inspections throughout construction, final walk-through, and addressing any matters that need to be corrected or finalized?

An article by New Home Source, "Walking the Walk: What to Know About Walkthroughs," states that home inspection at different phases of construction and a detailed final walk-through before you settle into your home are all crucial parts of a new build.

For peace of mind and quality assurance before engaging a local builder, it's important to be fully informed about their home building inspection process and how they handle concerns that may arise before move-in and during the home's review period.

2. Who will be overseeing the construction of my home? Who can I reach out to with questions as they arise, and how can I contact them?

A strong team and clear communication get the job done right the first time around… it's, therefore, crucial to know who the key players of your home building team are, who the on-site supervisor is, and your point of contact should you need clarification or arrange for a construction site visit.

3. Can I view a current project you're working on? (Homes in the works are a great way to check for workmanship and material quality.)

Asking to view the builder's current project will help you size up their potential in terms of craftsmanship and quality. An honest and credible local construction company won't have a problem making viewing arrangements.

4. Do you build model homes that I can tour? If not, can you help me make an appointment to tour a home you built for another customer?

Asking a local builder for a home model tour or viewing a past project not only shows what design style, layout, finishes, and inclusions they offer, but it's also a great way to open your eyes to new ideas before starting your project.

5. Can you provide me with references or testimonials from previous home buyers?

A local homebuilder that's credible won't mind you talking to former clients about his process, professionalism, and final product.

6. Do you acquire all the necessary permits?

Among the many questions to ask, this is one of the crucial ones. Ensure that the custom home builder is familiar with the permitting process and, most importantly, find out if they're able to acquire all the necessary home building permits.

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