How can I determine good developers from the bad ones? A new home in a
look good on the outside, but 5 years later could start falling apart -
e.g. homes built by developers who do shoddy work, cut corners, hire
crappy subs, use cheap components, etc.
I'm not sophisticated enough to know by sight, inside or out, if a
builder has done quality work.
Should I just walk through a subdivision and ask home owners if they're
happy with their builder, e.g. is the builder responsive if something
needs to be fixed?
I've had good luck doing walk-thrus at apartment complexes I've been
interested in renting at and asking residents what they thought - e.g.
how is management, maintenance crew, etc. I've had people tell me to
run away, hearing stories about things that hadn't been fixed months
later after putting in a request, etc.
Had people tell me the maintenance crew was great and that they loved
living there, etc, and that has served me well.
I'm just wondering, short of interrogating home owners, how else I
might determine how good a builder is or is not? I imagine many home
buyers just look at price and trust whatever their real estate agent,
or the builder, tells them - who may not have the home purchasers best
interests at heart.
Are there any builders associations worth a dang, where membership
actually means something? (e.g. reflects certain standards a builder is
Thanks for any help.
You know the right thing to do.... Should I just walk through a
subdivision and ask home owners if they're
We are licenced in the state of California one of the strictest states
in the nation but to be honest with you it is just a set of
numbers...the only way to see if you are going to get the results you
expect is to do what you have said.
Which is kind of cool when you thing about it, we do concrete and
masonary work, how many other things in this world are as tangiable as
going to someones house or a business and "seeing/ touching" the
finished product. Very black and white. Lets face it these are peoples
homes and they know every corner and crevis and they are going to more
than likely give you an earfull of usefull information and I can
assure you it will either be black or white...good luck.
There is no guaranteed way to ensure that a builder you choose won't
turn out to be unsatisfactory, BUT there is a lot you can do to educate
and protect yourself. IMO the number one thing is to do really
thorough research, but it doesn't start with looking for evidence of
complaints. Do that once you have narrowed down your choices based on
who's not cutting corners! In my area, I could eliminate 90% of
"developers," (i.e. tract builders) by just driving by and seeing that
almost none are installing windows properly. This virtually guarantees
expensive repairs for the home buyer in a few years.
Before you spend hours looking at court websites, complaint websites,
calling state agencies, BBB's, and home builders associations, learn to
spot improper construction. A lot of builders cut corners and use
uskilled labor. If a mistake is discovered the builder may choose not
to fix it because it'd cost them money. And many mistakes are
deliberate, done to cut costs.
Look at the info on home building sites where really good builders
trade info, like http://www.jlconline.com or on
http://www.buildingscience.com Use http://www.google.com to search for
clear pictures on window flashing, window installation, roof
construction, foundation construction, structural defects, etc.
Make use of consumer sites that have helpful links and info with which
to educate yourself, and sometimes a complaint database though it will
be limited because not everyone with a complaint files it at those
sites. Three good ones are http://www.hadd.com and http://www.hobb.org
and a rating site, http://www.rateyourbuilder.info
Do not rely on the builders associations, state agencies, or the BBB,
to tell you much. The government oftentimes could not care less about
builder horror stories, and the builders associations push for less and
less regulation and often sheild their bad members rather than expel
them. The BBB is funded by businesses membership fees so that's whose
interest they protect, not consumers. Some BBB's are more open than
others but some are worse than useless IMO. Before assuming any of
these things even make complaints available, ask them if complaints are
all public info, sometimes public info, or never. And don't assume
they won't lie to you. If your state has a contractors licensing board
it may or may not make complaints public information, but definitely
make sure the license is valid and if insurance and/or a bond is
required that they have it.
Search the news on google, too. I know of news stories on builder
nightmares that are not in the court records or anywhere else.
Arbitration clauses in builder contracts keep cases out of court, and
out of public records now. BTW, don't agree to an arbitration clause.
IMO if you can find a builder who passes the test of not taking all the
usual shortcuts, and will agree to a contract without and arbitration
clause, you may have found your builder. But do lots of research and
get your own inspections during construction, and have your own
attorney go over the contracts. If all this sounds like overkill, just
read the horror stories on some of the sites above.
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