We Know Boise Real Estate

How to Choose a Home Builder for Your New Home: A Step-by-Step Guide

Posted by Lisa Kohl on Wednesday, February 16th, 2022 at 4:04pm

How to choose a new home builder in Boise, Idaho

So, you’ve been perusing homes online, considering floorplans, contemplating kitchen cabinet colors, and imagining the perfect wood floor. Maybe you’ve even toured a few homes to get an idea of what feels best.

You want to buy or build a new home, and you’re ready to commit and ensure that, from stud to Sunday dinner, your new home is perfect. After all, this will be your home. It’s the place where love and laughter will sound for years and years, and whether it’s kids, grandkids, friends, family, toys, or tools, your new home needs to reflect the things that matter most to you.

Your Boise home builder options are nearly endless, and who you choose matters.

You and your builder will spend countless hours together, and with something as personal as home, you need to know you can trust that partnership. Everyone is different, and it’s easy to get lost when comparing your options.

From narrowing your choices to the right questions to ask, we’ll walk through every step of finding the best new home builder in Boise.

A new construction home from a Boise custom home builder

How to Choose a New Home Builder

Like finding the nail in the woodstack, choosing the right Boise builder takes time. Your initial goal should be to make a manageable list of potential options. To do that, ask these questions as you review each candidate.

Not sure where to start? Streamline your search with our curated list of the most popular Boise Home Builders.

1. Do They Fall Above (or Below) Your Selected Price Range?

Your price range determines build types, locations, customizations, landscaping, and everything else that goes into new construction. Determining your price range helps identify which builders better suit your individual needs.

To find your range, know your top line, then work backward to a comfortable buffer point. We recommend a buffer of around 15%. As the build process moves forward, moments will pop up where you might change your mind or have an idea on how to really personalize your space. If you’ve already maxed out your budget, there won’t be any room for change.

It may seem cautious, but with something like upgrading to custom kitchen cabinets costing 25-35k or black trimmed windows running 10-16% more than the standard white, you’ll be happier knowing your buffer can keep you from throwing a dream kitchen or perfect personalization away.

While reviewing local builders, focus on who provides the best value. One option may offer the perfect house, while another company could match it and include some bells and whistles on top. Make a note of which new home builders provide the best return on your investment.

2. Is the Builder Working Where You Want to Live?

Your preferred area dictates your builder pool. Knowing where you want to call home gives you an instant shortlist. Find who is working in that area and eliminate those on the other side of town. Many home builders will only work in a few cities or subdivisions. Additionally, very few options are true “build on your lot” companies. If you already own your lot, filter your search by those willing to construct on your property.

What if you’ve fallen in love with a specific neighborhood? Most new communities are built by a handful of companies. From those options, start comparing who best fits your budget and customization goals. If you’re looking for a home in a more remote area, your options are limited to those new construction home builders willing to commute.

Kitchen with white cabinets and rustic detail in a new custom home

3. Can They Finish Within Your Timeline?

Your timeline impacts build-type and customization ability. If you’re on a tight deadline, you’ll trade speed for customization options. Personalizations take extra time to source, ship, and build, extending how long it takes to start enjoying your new home. A flexible timeline opens your build-type and customization choices.

There are three main types of new home builds: Production (4-8 months), Semi-Custom (8-14 months), and Custom (10-24 months).

  • Production Builders are the most common. They work in new communities alongside several other companies. You’ll select a home from a small list of floor plans and have limited customization options provided by the builder. Limiting choices allows construction to move quickly, getting you in a new home faster.
  • Semi-Custom Builders take the time to select and source fixtures, finishes, and your unique customizations. Local builders offer an extended list of floor plans and more personalization. Every company is different, but expect some control over style, appearance, and possibly minor floor plan alterations.
  • Custom Builders construct one-of-a-kind homes. You’ll choose the best homesite, architect, designer, custom builder, and every detail in a home’s construction, layout, and finish. Custom home builds are for patient homeowners with substantial budgets and a more than full-time level of commitment.

4. Does the Builder Match Your Customization Goals?

This is a question of personal involvement. How much time are you willing or able to devote to your project? Each new construction builder handles the customization process differently—you’ll either lead the charge or follow their footsteps. Your involvement goals cut out everyone who doesn't match what you can or want to give.

If you want a hands-on approach that fills your days with paint samples and faucet finishes, narrow your search to those who specialize in semi-custom or custom homes. Keep in mind that more customization comes with a higher price tag.

For a hands-off experience that brings your move-in date closer and minimizes your number of decisions, filter your pool by those who offer pre-built or production properties. For larger, more custom homes, look to those custom Boise builders with an onsite designer to handle style decisions.

Add some peace of mind to your builder decisions by bringing in an expert. This is a great time to get an agent experienced in new construction on your side. They’re pros at running the numbers, and their boots on the ground experience, contacts, industry knowledge, and custom builder awareness are invaluable. They know the good, bad, and ugly of new home construction.

Beautiful kitchen and dining space in a newly constructed home

Transitioning From In-the-Running to Best Builders

Understanding your specific options and needs helps narrow your new home construction list down to a handful of names—you might have already zeroed in on a few likely candidates. Now that you’ve created a manageable list, the next step is to vet your top choices.

6. Tour a Builder’s Past Projects

Reviewing an Idaho builder’s work is a quick way to know if their skills match your needs. Most companies host past properties or current listings on their websites. Find an address and verify that the quality, value, and finished product match what's being promised.

You can tell a lot about a property from the street and even more from the inside of a home. Whether it’s a new listing or a past client, an agent can (literally) open doors into a new construction builder’s past projects, giving you a first-hand look at their skills. The older the build, the better it is to tour—it pays to know how a home holds up after 5 to 10 years. Keep an eye out for craftsmanship or structural issues—the problems outside of normal wear-and-tear: sagging walls, cracked foundations, damaged driveways, gaps around doors and trim, sloped floors, recently replaced or updated areas, etc.

7. Seek Out Past Client Satisfaction

It’s time to don your detective hat. Start by reading a builder’s listed testimonials (keeping in mind that they are hand-selected), then see what people are saying elsewhere. Do the reviews match up? Do they reflect client satisfaction with the build process, communication, and finished result? With someone you’re about to spend the next four to 24 months with, you’ll want to know about as many past client experiences as possible.

See if you can speak with past customers about the process. You don’t need to take everything at face value, but if what they showcase is different from what clients say, consider striking them from the list.

8. Sit Down with Your Top Builder Choices

Meeting face-to-face is the final phase before signing the perfect new home builder. Companies should be quick to respond, but it might take time to schedule a sit-down. It’s a good sign if they are available for you before you’re even under contract.

Bring your agent to the meetings—they are an independent third party advocating for your unique needs. Agents have your best interests in mind as they assist with builder negotiations, make sure your contract is in order, and ask the questions you may not know to ask.

These meetings spotlight a builder’s capabilities, values, past projects, outlook, communicativeness, and openness. You’ll leave each meeting knowing who will and won’t be a good fit.

Gorgeous new construction home backyard and patio space

9. Come Prepared With the Right Questions

Compile a list of questions specific to your individual priorities and options. A builder’s answers—as well as how they answer—will separate them from their competitors.

Questions should come from these five categories: The Customization Process, Communication, Finances, Build Quality, and Client-Builder Relationship. To get you started, these are some of our top considerations:

  • How will you ensure a high-quality home? You want a home built to proper code and a lifelong quality, and your custom builder shouldn’t be afraid to test their work. Check up on their licenses, inspection policies, insurance, and how they ensure a high-quality product.
  • How do you charge, and how do I pay? Find out what the financial systems look like so you know what to expect and can plan ahead. Do they provide an itemized cost list? Are you playing with estimates until the final bill comes in? Do they cover initial costs? When do you need to pay? Will you need your finances up front?
  • What does the contract include? Discuss action items like financial incentives, escalation clauses, commissions, credits, and warranties. Pour over the contract to see what options are available and if your expectations and their promises are written into the contract.
  • What will communication look like? Who is my main point of contact? Is it the builder or a project manager? In some cases, you may never meet your builder. The person you speak with may not be your day-to-day contact. Square away the communication system to ensure it matches your needs.
  • What do the levels of customization look like? How will I make my choices? This gets you started on the entire customization process. From choosing between 3 or 300 carpet samples to the deadlines, alterations, and decision-making system, it’s essential to know how the builder handles and processes personalizations.

At the end of the day, trust your gut and make the decision that feels right. After all, you and this company will be working very closely together, and they’re building your future happiness. If it doesn't feel like a good fit now, that won't likely change.

Keep these tips in mind and discuss your options with a trusted real estate agent as you're working towards your new home. Together, you’ll move forward into your new home journey knowing the perfect Boise builder is at your side.

Finding a new home builder in Idaho can be challenging—but it doesn’t need to be. When you’re ready to start your new home journey, we are here to help. The We Know Boise Team knows Idaho’s new construction market inside and out, and we’re ready for all the seen (and unseen) twists and turns along the way. As your personal dream home guide, we’ll bring your new build the custom attention it deserves.

Boise Real Estate Agent Lisa Kohl

Lisa Kohl

Lisa is a top Idaho Realtor and creator of WeKnowBoise.com. Whether buying or selling a home, we provide full-service real estate solutions dedicated to helping our clients achieve their goals. From Southeast Boise to the North End, up to Eagle and west to Meridian, or right in the middle of the Boise Bench and downtown - We Know Boise.

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