Choosing to build your custom home on your own land should be one of the most exciting and positive experiences of your life. “Customizing” means that you’ve chosen not to be satisfied or “make do” with a cookie-cutter home that looks and functions like every house in the subdivision. A custom home is an extension of your personality and should fit you and your family like a hand-tailored suit.

The most essential component of the custom home building process is choosing a builder that can not only do the job, but one you can trust and rely upon to treat you fairly and translate your unique vision for your custom home into a reality. Sadly, many people who embark upon what should be a positive exciting event find their hopes and dreams dashed because they chose the wrong contractor.

Here are some important points to keep in mind when choosing your custom home builder:

1. Papers, Please.

Demand to see and review copies of the builder’s licensing and certificates of insurance, for both liability and worker’s compensation. This is never negotiable. If they hem and haw or act offended, run away.

2. Says Who?

Require references and a history of homes the builder claims to have built. If the builder hedges on this, drop him or her like a hot potato. Also, since he is a local builder, ask around about him. His reputation will precede him.

3. The Shingle

Visit the builder at his or place of business. If he works out of his “home office,” ask yourself if it is a real office or clutter desk in his living room. Is the guy working out of his truck? Judge his credibility accordingly.

4. The Big Rush

The builder who trivializes the normal process of signing contracts, especially while demanding earnest money from you, is either incompetent, lacking in integrity, or both. Don’t trust your custom home – and your money – to this person.

5. Check, Please

A custom home, by definition, means that run-of-the-mill fixtures like cabinets, special flooring, moldings, windows or other accoutrements will need to be purchased. If your builder asks you to write a check to him personally for these items, beware. It can mean that his credit is bad or he is shopping them at substandard providers and pocketing the difference, or both.

6. The Deal of the Century

If you’ve done your homework – and you should have – you already have an idea of what your new custom home should cost. Builders with little or poor track records will often float bargain prices if you sign up now or agree to let him use your home as an example of work he can do for future clients. This never works. A custom home costs what it costs and a competent builder will explain that up front.

7. Changes in Latitude

Within reasonable considerations of structural, architectural and code required necessities, a custom should be just that, custom. If your builder starts reinventing your desired plan to suit his limited abilities, don’t put up with it.

8. The Bully

Unscrupulous builders often frighten their customers into signing off on unnecessary extras. If he tells your project requires something expensive and unplanned-for, he’s probably a con man trying to capitalize on your relative ignorance of the building process. Be wary. End the discussion and go to another builder for a second or third opinion.

9. Just Feels Creepy

Every school of modern psychology gives credibility to the “gut feeling.” After you and your spouse meet with your potential builder, wait a while, then have an honest talk about how he or she made you feel. If something is amiss with your potential builder, your gut instinct will tell you. Listen to it!

Your dream of custom home ownership is possible. And the process can, and should be, as positive as the outcome you dream of.  Choose your builder wisely. Ask every question and listen to every answer. Do your homework by visiting with different builders and compare their responses. Reputable, competent builders with honesty and integrity do exist. Determining which one you choose should be a process. We invite you to include the reputable, competent builders at Americas Home Place in your selection process. Visit