At Houston Plans and Permits, there’s always one thing we want to make abundantly clear to our clients — we design amazing house designs and floor plans, and we can secure building permits for you, but we are not involved in the building process. It’s a very clear distinction to make, because some people equivocate house floor plan designers with architects. While there are similarities between the two, they shouldn’t be confused with each other.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but in reality, it is often more affordable to homeowners to separate the designing and building between two companies. Many companies who provide both services in tandem charge a premium for their services. At Houston Plans and Permits, we make every effort to connect homeowners with the best home builders in Houston. But if you want to find a company on your own terms, you should know what to look for.
We’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll look at the most important factors in finding a quality home builder or remodeler.
1. CREATE A LIST
The first thing you should do is get a reading on your community and figure out which companies exist in your area. If you’re in Houston or any of the surrounding areas, this list is going to be pretty big. It might take a lot of work to create it, but you’ll be glad you did it. By having a list, it’s much easier to systematically evaluate each home building company and compare them to each other.
Luckily, you’ve got some cheat sheets available. We recommend contacting your local home builder’s association for the names of member builders and remodelers; this will provide you at once with a good selection of companies to evaluate. But aside from that, you’ll also want to search online, and ask family, friends, and coworkers. Sometimes there are some hidden gems that you only learn about through word of mouth!
2. EVALUATE THEIR EXPERIENCE
When it comes to a project like home building, you’re going to want a company with some experience. For this type of business, it usually reaches three to five years to reach profitability. You’re going to want to make sure they’re at least in or beyond that goalpost, because you don’t want them going anywhere after the job is done.
If the company is at risk of dissolving due to lack of funds, your warranties could become useless when they do. We understand that every company starts off inexperienced, but the reality is that it’s best to work with someone who knows what they are doing beyond a shadow of a doubt — and who will still be around after the job is done.
3. MAKE SURE THE COMPANY IS INSURED
One of the biggest red flags possible is if a company doesn’t have proper workers’ compensation in place, or liability insurance. If they’re not adequately insured, you might have to pay out of pocket for on-site accidents. This, obviously, is far from ideal. It’s rare to find a company that hasn’t gone through the right motions for insurance, but when you do, run the other way!
Any building company worth their salt should be more than willing to provide insurance information to you. This is something that provides great peace-of-ind for clients; if they’re hesitant on providing details, or they keep trying to skirt around it, that’s definitely a red flag. Construction is a job where you don’t really want to take risks.
4. LOOK FOR A ROCK-SOLID CONTRACT
The bigger a professional undertaking is, the more important it is to have a solid contract in place. When the risk factor is high, you can’t really afford to have a sloppy contract. Any accidents, mistakes, or ill will, and you could end up in a really sticky situation.
Contracts are so complex and specific to their jobs that it’s hard to provide any overarching blanket statements here, but you’ll basically want to make sure that the contract benefits both parties. You’ll want a copy of the home warranty as well as the homeowner’s manual.
If you’re unsure about the quality of a business contract, you can always ask a lawyer to look over it. They should be able to spot any red flags or holes. Better to be safe than sorry!
5. ASK TO SEE PAST PROJECTS
Anyone who provides a product or service should rightfully be judged by the quality of their offerings. Home builders don’t exactly have a retail store where you can look at their designs, so the only way to truly gauge their quality of work is to see their past projects.
This is another area where transparency is a good sign, and hesitance is a caution indicator. A home building company should be more than willing to provide examples of their work, both completed and in-progress. You should be able to get a comprehensive look at the quality of their materials, the fidelity of their craftsmanship, and their overall reputation. If the results look good, you should be comfortable taking the next steps. If not, well, why take the risk when there are so many other companies you could work with?
6. GET A READING ON THEIR REPUTATION
Unfortunately, it’s possible for a building company to pass with flying colors on the factors listed above, and still have skeletons in their closet. That’s why your next step should be to look at their reputation. Sure, they might conduct themselves professionally and look good on paper, but that doesn’t mean much if they’re a nightmare to work with. So, if you’re really warming up to a certain building company, make sure you do extensive research on their reputation.
While online reviews are a good place to start, make sure that’s not your only method. Sometimes good companies aren’t represented well by their online reviews — this is because satisfied customers generally just go about their business after the job is done, while unhappy customers go out of their way to smear the company’s name.
Don’t get us wrong; if a business has overwhelmingly negative reviews, obviously that means something. But as a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to not fully form your opinion from online reviews. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it’s also possible for super positive reviews to be “astroturfed,” or in other words, bought and paid for.
The best thing you can do is to contact their clients directly. Most good building companies will be happy to provide you with a list of previous clients, and it’s also prudent to do some digging of your own. If everything looks fine and dandy, you’re probably in good hands.
7. MAKE SURE THEY COMMUNICATE WELL
Even if a company has all the right stuff, it can still be a highly frustrating experience if they’re not good communicators. Communication is supremely important with this kind of job — it is your house after all, and one error can stick around for decades unless you opt to fix it later. You’ll want to be involved in the building process, and make sure that you can reach out to them at any time. For how much money you’ll be paying, it’s nonsensical to do all this work and then detach yourself from the job.
Do you have concerns about the communication of the business you’re looking at? If they’re slow to return your calls, inept at answering emails, or otherwise rude and unpleasant, you might have better luck turning to a different company. Customer service is just as important as any other element of their business.
8. HOME FLOOR PLAN DESIGNS IN HOUSTON AND SURROUNDING AREAS
While it’s important finding the perfect company to build your home, we’d argue that it’s even more important to have an excellent floor plan or building design. Builders can turn a project into reality, but it’s the planning and design which provides the foundation for the whole project. If the home design is mediocre, even the best builders in the world won’t be able to salvage it.
Luckily for you, this is a decision that you don’t have to fret over. Houston Plans and Permits is the company you’re looking for if you want quality home designs, floor plans, and building permanents. Not convinced yet? Just go through this list, and you can bet that we meet every qualification. We can provide you with quality plans, and with the tips mentioned above, you can find the perfect company to turn those designs into a reality. Ready to get started? Contact us today.