Custom new Home Builder and Building Considerations

Selecting the right custom new home builder to plan, draw and build your new home may be the most important step you take to ensure that your project goes smoothly. Today there are more options than ever when it comes to home building professionals, which means the selection process can become a time-consuming and sometimes daunting task. Whether you decide to hire one person to design your home and another to build it, or if you find one firm to do it all, you will need a professional new home builder who understands the nature of your project and can best serve your individual needs.

The more time spent during the hiring and planning phases, the fewer problems you should encounter during building and completion. The best way to do this is to interview several different kinds of building industry professionals up front. Some questions to keep in mind during this process:

How well does the new home builder understand your budget, timing and availability?

  • Does their portfolio of past projects complement your personal taste?
  • Can the new home builder provide recent customer references?
  • How much involvement do you want in the building/remodeling process?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the design professional?

Architects represent the most highly educated and trained category of designers, with a college degree and state certification. Architects can help you detail exactly what you want, draw up plans and list material specifications. They may also provide oversight for your project while it is in progress. In addition, an architect can be an excellent resource for other professionals, as they often have already established a pool of designers and general contractors they have worked with in the past.

Designers are not licensed or regulated in most states, so it is important to verify their experience and professionalism. In addition to checking out a designer’s portfolio, look for design degrees from accredited universities and membership and/or certification from professional organizations, such as the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD), the National Council of Building Design Certification (NCBDC), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), etc. These organizations help assure professional standards of education, field experience and adherence to a code of ethics.

Residential Designers (Space Planning) specialize in designing residential interiors. Trained to use space most efficiently, residential designers tend to focus on floor plan design, detailed lifestyle evaluation and design functionality. It is not uncommon to consult with a residential/interior specialist to critique a floor plan or a kitchen or bathroom designer to devote special attention to specific areas of the home. Because many residential designers can also offer advice about the latest trends and products, their roles could overlap with interior designers.

Structural Engineers need to be consulted if your project requires any structural changes to the existing building. A structural engineer will provide the required stamped drawings that must be submitted, along with the architectural drawings, to the building department for approval.

Kitchen and Bathroom Designers have very strong product knowledge within their specialties. However, they may lack construction experience or miss design opportunities associated with additions or movement of walls, for example. Both bathroom designers and kitchen designers are best for high-dollar jobs where expensive materials, cabinets, and appliances will be used.

Home Center Staff Designers are a quick, easy, and inexpensive route to some basic design ideas. Home center staff designers often have lots of experience with lower budget jobs. Design skill varies widely and they are unlikely to recommend solutions that don’t use their store’s products.

Interior Designers and Home Decorators are specialists who offer advice on furniture, wall coverings, colors, styles, and overall physical appearance of your project.

Home decorators, or interior decorators, can save you both time and money by helping you to narrow down your choices and utilizing professional discounts for materials such as furniture, home accessories, wallpaper or paint. When you meet an interior decorator, expect to talk about your personal style and preferences. From that, the decorator will develop some ideas that would work for you and help you translate your artistic sensibility into reality.

Interior designer is a title applied to individuals who may also do some interior space planning, however, most usually focus on interior decorating by selecting finishing touches such as picking carpets, drapes, paint colors, fabrics, and furnishings. Thus, their duties could overlap or be interchangeable with those of both residential designers and interior decorators.

Draftspersons primarily prepare technical drawings of designs created by others, although some can assist with design. These days, most drafters work in Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) programs. If you have a good idea of the floor plan you want, you may just need to hire a draftsperson to draw the blueprints and have them checked by an engineer before speaking with general contractors to bid, apply for permits, and build.

General Contractors coordinate and construct projects that typically involve three or more subcontractor trades, such as carpentry, plumbing, painting, roofing, or electrical work. In most states, general contractors need a license to operate their business. Many who specialize in production concentrate on bidding and building from plans drawn by design specialists and do not offer much, if any, design or drawing services unless they advertise themselves as design/build contractors.

Design/Build Contractors offer both architectural and construction services, and can carry a job from inception to move-in. Because one firm is accountable for the entire project, this approach can often result in a less expensive design that is practical to build and causes less confusion between design and construction specialists who may not see eye-to-eye. These advantages have made the design/build approach popular in recent years.

When looking for service professionals to help you build your new home, keep in mind that it’s not as important to focus on the titles of architect, designer, builder, contractor or some hybrid of these. Rather, look for the individuals or companies whose experience, designs and ideas best matches the type of home you want. After all, to them, it’s a job, but to you, it’s a home.