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Telltale Signs Of A Custom Home Builder You Need to Avoid
Contractor showing plans

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With the booming population growth and job market strength in the Houston area, not to mention the numerous rebuilds following Harvey, it is no surprise that the custom home builder and renovation business is seeing a huge windfall of business as of late. Building a new home can be a daunting task as you are heavily invested in something that is yet to exist and so many things could go wrong before your vision of your new home comes to fruition. One of the most important choices ahead of wall colors, number of bathrooms and whether to go brick or siding is choosing the right custom home builder.

This one single decision can make the difference between a home that lasts and one that falls apart in less than 10 years. We have heard the same sad scenario far too many times to count. The client is halfway through an unfinished home build because the builder bailed. Sure they seemed knowledgeable and cordial when they first met, but as the project wore on the builder took a different attitude and eventually the client is left hanging. If only the client did a little digging and researched these warning signs of a bad home builder they would be able to save themselves money and heartache.

The Home Builder Has No Proof Of License Or Insurance

If you meet with a builder and they stall or tell you they don’t have proof of their insurance or license to build in your area, end the interview on the spot. There is nothing good that will come out of hiring this builder. A reputable builder will always be able to provide proof of insurance and their license, this is their business it is one of the necessities of their practice. If you do hire this builder, numerous things can come back to haunt you.

If later on down the road your foundation cracks or something in the home is damaged, your insurance claim may likely be denied if the builder in fact had no license. In addition, if one of the contractors working on your home falls or gets injured on your property, you are liable for damages and medical bills not the unlicensed builder.  Save yourself the headache, do not hire anyone without proof of license and sufficient insurance.

Refuses To Or Cannot Give References

If you talk to a reputable builder, they are eager to provide good references, it is their reputation that precedes them and this is a must in the business. If a builder claims to have no references or refuses to give you any; they are most definitely hiding something. It may be that prior clients were not satisfied with their work or it means they are a fraud all the way around and may not have as much experience as they claim. Typically someone who pulls this tactic also won’t be able to show insurance or license as well and there is a reason.

They Lack Membership in Trade Associations

Any professional, especially tradesmen that are dedicated to their craft will belong to one or more trade associations in their respective industry. Custom home builders should belong to organizations such as National Association of Home Builders or some other similar group. At the very least they should be associated with the Better Business Bureau. These organizations lend credibility to a builder as they have certain standards and levels of accountability in order to become a member.

Not just anyone can sign up and be a member they have to be vetted and show proof of their business. When a builder makes the effort and belongs to organizations like this, it shows they have a true credible business and are active in their local industry. If they tell you they don’t belong and don’t need those accreditations, which would be like a baseball showing up for a game without a glove. It is a basic necessity of being a professional, legitimate home builder, period.

The Home Builder Displays Aggressive Behavior

If the builder is very aggressive and pushes you to make quick decisions on anything, then that is a huge red flag. When they give off an attitude of being in a rush it can mean they are rushing through your job too. While there is nothing wrong with working efficiently, rushing through a job can mean important quality earmarks are being ignored.

Certain shortcuts might be taken which in the long run will cause damage to your home. This can cause you serious problems later on, especially in the quality of the supporting walls, the foundation, as well as gas and other utility lines. If they rush so much that they forget to secure something it can be not only inconvenient but dangerous. A builder with this mentality should tell you that they lack professionalism and that will also be evident in their work, a good custom home build should take some time and attention to details.

Something About The Money And Price Doesn’t Add Up

When you hire on a builder, it is customary to ask the client for an initial deposit to cover the initial expenses and materials to get started. A builder is naturally going to need funds to get your materials but they shouldn’t as for more than 20 percent of the build cost. A reputable builder will have enough credit to do their job, so if they ask for a large amount upfront that is a red flag. They could be in trouble with their last job and had their credit revoked or some other irresponsible reason.

A builder like this will always have an excuse ready to go and their bid is usually too low to be true. Real professionals know what their work is worth and will not cut rates for anyone. You should also be aware that it is a common scam for a bad builder to tell you your home is going to be used for advertising purposes and that’s why he is able to charge such a low amount. After your initial deposit it is customary for the builder to ask for more cash infusions. This only happens at important phases of the build such as the completion of the foundation, framing, roofing, electrical finished etc. Never trust a builder that expects money by dates rather than by accomplishments in the project. Any contractor that pushes you to pay installments on dates is going to take you for a ride.

Job Site Hours Are Irregular

One of the biggest signs of trouble is when your builder does not keep regular hours on the job site or is absent often. If it is 10am on a Tuesday morning and there is nothing going on, something is wrong. While contractors do set their own schedules a professional puts in the time required to get your job done in a timely manner. Coming in late and leaving early and not putting in 40 hours isn’t professional and should speak volumes. It is your responsibility, however, to bring this concern up with the builder otherwise you are being complicit, so if you are suspicious, bring it to their attention.

The Home Builder Refuses To Work With a Contract

A contract is your only form of recourse and backup should there be a dispute or issue with the terms. A contract not only documents the terms and work requested but it holds both parties accountable and legally is your insurance should you need to litigate. If you both just talk it over verbally, whatever is agreed upon is hard to prove or disprove in court. If a builder refuses to work with a contract, they will absolutely do you wrong and you should never hire them for even a door hanging.

A contract protects the builder too, so normally a bad builder that won’t work on contract is the same builder that wants a lot of money upfront. If he’s not watching his back it’s because he’s going to put a knife in yours so stay away from a builder like that.

Won’t Get A Building Permit

If you interview a builder and they give you a line about permits really not being necessary and they are going to skip that step to save you money; end the interview. The fact of the matter is any builder who does reliable work and follows guidelines will and can get a permit. You run into bad builders who because of lack of ethics or skill will take shortcuts to make it seem like it is for your benefit but it is not. If you are caught having work done without a permit, it’s not the builder that is going to be fined it is the homeowner. You never start a project without a building permit from your city; that is not a shortcut, it is a red flag and that builder should be avoided.

Don’t Be Discouraged, Be Smart

After reading this we realize it may seem discouraging to embark on having a custom home built, but we assure you the majority of home builders are good, honest people. It never hurts to be smart in who you hire though and do your due diligence. When you hire Picklo Homes you are getting a reputable and skilled builder with nearly 40 years of experience in the custom home construction industry. We are licensed and insured and we have been highlighted in The Builders Journal, as well as in the prestigious American Builders Quarterly. We maintain strong community ties and a consistent work ethic that we don’t falter on. Integrity is our foundation and we stand stable on that principle so contact us today to have your dream home become a reality.

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