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nordic587 02-02-2012 02:24 PM

Tips on selecting a home builder
Hey all,
I know this is a broad question. I am doing some research on a lot of sites and thought I would post this here and see what feedback I can get about what to look for in a home builder and what to avoid. I thought a lot of folks on this site might have some experiences and advice to pass along. Thanks to any of you who can respond.

My wife and I want to build small ranch style home some time in the next 5-6 years. We want to locate it on property at Crooked River Ranch near Redmond Oregon. We are interested in a floor plan by New Era Homes of Bend. Their low $100k+ price is also a necessary. It is stick built, not a manufactured. We have examined the list of building materials and methods provided by the builder. We plan to go into greater detail when we visit Bend in a couple months. Our current home is near Portland. So far save for a few exceptions we don't have a problem with his choice of exterior and interior building materials. At this price point he uses a lot of man made wood products to cut costs. I get that. They are all interior supports.

We know we need a lot more detailed discussion with him about every aspect of this project. No commitment will be made until we have all our questions answered to our satisfaction. Having not worked in the home building industry I have no clue about what people who have and do work in it might advise we watch out for and to ask of the builder. So let me hear from ya! Thanks!

gregzoll 02-02-2012 04:56 PM

First step is to find out what other homes that this builder has built, that are currently still owned by the original people that had the builder build them, so you get an honest opinion. Also check with city hall, and the permit offices on the various sub's, to make sure that you are working with honest people.

Honestly, stating that you are looking to just kick the tires, but not actually building in the next half decade, most builders will not even take five minutes to talk with you. Find some trade shows in your area, that you can beat up the builders there, and get references as stated before, so you can speak to the homeowners of these homes that this builder you want to go with, so you can see you can look at the quality of build, and find out what positives, or negatives that have happened.

Also, how long has this builder and their sub's been in business?

nordic587 02-02-2012 05:05 PM

Thanks gregzoll for some very useful information. I have more digging to do.

The owner of the company we have talked with used to be the Operations Manager for Adair Homes for 12 years. He and one other Adair manager left and started their own company in 2007. Not sure what to conclude from his departure. Adair gets many very bad reviews on the net.

We are looking for a builder who can bring us a 1750 sq ft home in at not much more than $140k.

joecaption 02-02-2012 05:18 PM

I agree with the other poster. If someone told me they were thinking about building in five years I would be out of there.
There no way anyone can tell what any pricing will be in 2 weeks never mind 5 years. As much turn over due to the economy turn down how would you even know if he was going to be in business in 5 years.
Better at this point to just be play with your floor plans and get some real blueprints made it so when your ready you can compare apples with apples.

nordic587 02-02-2012 05:31 PM

Home builder
Thanks Joe!

user1007 02-03-2012 04:00 AM

Have you looked into prefab? It is too bad images of boxy trailer type things come to mind. Check out a book called, PREFABULOUS for starters. You might be able to get more house for the money. The major issue with prefab in the US, believe it or not, is transport of the modules. There are restrictions on how many can move over roads and highways. You being five years out might actually work to your advantage.

When you say the builder uses manmade materials, from where? Chinese drywall?

People think architects are just for the rich and this is a shame. You might meet with a couple to get their ideas. They will have excellent construction resources when the time comes.

nordic587 02-03-2012 09:44 AM

thanks sdsester for info i hadn't thought of like checking out architects. modular i am not so much a fan of. fuqua who used to be in Bend is out of business facing fraud charges.

AndyGump 02-03-2012 10:08 AM

Don't forget about the designers in lieu of a more expensive archy.


user1007 02-03-2012 01:54 PM


Originally Posted by nordic587 (Post 843114)
thanks sdsester for info i hadn't thought of like checking out architects. modular i am not so much a fan of. fuqua who used to be in Bend is out of business facing fraud charges.

Modular and custom designed prefab are really two very different concepts! It's too bad people think of them as the same. As mentioned, see if you can find the book, PREFABULOUS, or something like it you will see what I mean. Architect and building designer friends work in Europe where almost everything is custom prefab. They don't understand our fascination with trying to construct something with piles of stones and sticks dropped on a lot. :thumbup:

user1007 02-03-2012 01:57 PM


Originally Posted by AndyGump (Post 843132)
Don't forget about the designers in lieu of a more expensive archy.


Sorry not to have mentioned them and absolutely. A good home designer is a good choice. Shop around for a building designer or architect just like you would for a builder though. What you want is someone who can design what you want, help you through selecting contractors, and draw or do whatever needed to sail you through permits and inspections. :thumbsup:

Nailbags 02-06-2012 12:34 PM

Finding a good contractor is a tough one. who is a round right now may not be around in the five years you plan on building. What you want is to find some one who has a good resume and ask the people who had work done by him what they think? make sure you have a well written contract that is in your favor. make sure you have detailed in writing pay amount draw days ect. What to do if a inspection fails who pays for the fix.
make sure you know if you have to pay the subs or if the Gen will pay. Just remember you the home owner is responsible for the pay of the subs no matter what the contract says. if a sub is not paid then they can file a mechanics lean on your home. Make sure you do not agree with time and materials a lot of contractors get a lot of new tools thanks to the home owner. How I have done work is I tell the owner what I need and let them buy. I also tell them to pick one store to use. I use Levee Lumber here in Washington. they beat Home depot on prices every day and twice on Sunday. But they are a local store. they diliver to the Job site no charge.
And also make sure when ever a sub is done with the work have them sign a release to the right to file a lien on your place. Not everyone is honest.
Then you have materials to choose. Don't skimp on the framing period! Use high grade studs know how to read a lumber stamp. this is typical lumber stamp it will tell you how it was dried KD HT means kiln dried heat treated. that stud has less then 14% of moisture in it. stay way from SD Green that mean the lumber was cut and left to dry out on its own the green does not mean Eco friendly, it has around 35% moisture in it. Doug fir larch is the highest grade of wood then Doug fir, Hem fir is cheap and junk then yellow pine Doug fir is the strongest around. Stay away from OSB use plywood it may cost more but will last and won't flake apart if it gets wet. Best of luck and one more thing once you job starts its ok to ask questions just don't hover over the workers. Best wishes to you and hope your project goes smooth.
Just a final note things do go wrong on construction projects here is example of what happened on my last house I built the truss company I used went out of business as we were setting the trusses half way trough. with only half of the trusses delivered and there were mistakes on the truss work big mistakes. It was not my fault nor the home owners. It did cost the home owner a extra 10,000 to fix the problem. To were the home now sits unfinished just a shell. so make sure to have at least 20,000 in reserves for things like that.

Nailbags 02-06-2012 12:45 PM

Oh and make sure your prints are approved for the state you live in. I have had people come to me with prints bought from the internet drawn and designed on the east cost. They don't fly here cinder block foundations zero earth quake engineering done. i used a engineer out of Westport Washington
who charged .75 cents per square foot. and that included a engiening stamp.
So find a local engineer that has a draftsman and work up your prints. do it the year you plan to build the code changes almost every year.

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