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Choosing a Home Builder

So you've decided to build a new home. Like many home buyers you realize that buying a new home offers a wide range of advantages over buying an existing home. You are getting exactly what you want, demanding the highest quality construction, as well as learning how to operate and maintain your home's systems and equipment. You're also developing a relationship with the builder. Congratulations on making a great choice, however, you still have a big decision left to make.

What kind of home builder is right for you? Should you go with a production builder who builds many homes at a time, or do you want a custom home with a distinctive style and features unique to you?

Production home builders typically tend to use stock plans, but often have a variety of options from which to choose. They will tend to build on land they own and build for a wide range of price points. They are generally high volume builders with many builders completing over 200 homes a year.

Custom home builders typically build fewer than 20 homes a year and work to create one-of-a-kind homes. Many of these homes are site specific on either land owned by the builder or on land you already own. They may offer design/build services and usually build higher end homes.

While a production builder may be able to deliver your home more quickly or at a lower cost, this may come at the expense of unique features and one to one service typically offered by a custom builder. As you consider the options, here are a few questions to help you decide which type of builder best suits your needs.

How long will you be in the house? If you're just planning on being in the home a few years, the extra time and attention that goes into a custom home may not make sense for you.

Have you dreamed about special features? With the stock plans used by production builders, it often gets expensive to add unique touches, and they may feel out of place with the rest of the design.

Do you want a distinctive home? The production builder can make a number of modifications, but you'll still be living in a home like many others in the area.

In either case, you should ask the builder for references from past clients. Contact the references and see how satisfied owners are with their homes. Find out what it was like to work with the builder and if their expectations were met. Visit a work site or recently completed home to get a sense of the quality and workmanship of the builder. Finally, look for a professional builder who builds homes full time and has a vision and style that matches your own.

Reid Colson is a Principal in Bridlewood, a custom home builder serving the Central Virginia market. Bridlewood takes more pride in the quality and distinction of their homes than in the number they build. They are committed to providing the highest levels of professional service and consistent communication throughout the design and building process.

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