Even though the plan has always been to start building in the Spring of 2011 I wanted to get an early start and give us plenty of time to make the right decision. Becca and I came up with a list of four builders that we knew about through various avenues. We wanted someone with a good reputation and good referals. We also needed someone who would be willing to work with us every step of the way and keep our budget as a top priority. We've known too many people who have built a home only to realize that they couldn't afford it because they didn't keep to their budget. Lastly we wanted someone who could keep up a good line of communication. There are a lot of details that go into a home and we had to make sure we were all on the same page every step of the way.
In August I began getting a hold of each of the builders to schedule a first meeting. Before we met I made sure to have some questions ready that I asked each one of them. I asked questions ranging from how they choose their sub-contractors to what experience they have with environmental building practices to how they handle time-lines and budgets. I wanted to have a good base of questions that I could ask everybody.
I also made sure to bring a set of my preliminary plans to give to each of them. This allowed me to visually show each of them the type of house we were looking for. It also gave a common set of plans for them to work up some very preliminary numbers in terms of cost. In the end the biggest goal with the pricing exercise wasn't to determine who I would go with by picking the lowest cost because at this early in the process I knew no one could give me entirely accurate numbers. Instead I was hoping that I could develop a good range on what the house would cost while also seeing how willing each builder was to work with me. Most people don't like talking cost early on so I knew it would push each of them out of their comfort zone.
The first meeting was a good one because it helped us pretty quickly narrow the pool down to two builders. I will stop and say that all the builders we talked to were excellent and very professional; however, Becca and I were able to get a good feeling on the direction we were wanting to go and who would help us the most with that direction. After the first meeting we scheduled a time with the remaining builders to take a look at some of the houses they had each built. It was extremely useful to just see how the building styles differed and also help us see some of the features we might like.
In the end, our choice came down to a lot of different factors. Unfortunately for us both builders gave us close pricing and also had very similar types of homes. I'd say the biggest differences came in that the builder we chose, Jason Finley, had some great references from a few friends and acquaintances whose experiences had been great and he also had a personality that we both felt excited about. Jason is a great builder but is still very down to earth and ready to work with us through every step. He continually stressed the importance of staying on budget and was above and beyond the best builder we talked to in terms of keeping in good contact with us and quickly answering every question we had for him. I can't say enough about how excited we are to work with him and I'd encourage everyone to take a look at his website here and take a look at his gallery to see some beautiful homes. Also, as always, if anyone has any questions feel free to comment below.