A Homeowner's View of Who Should Be - and Who Shouldn't Be - On Your Bidding List

An important part of the comprehensive service Residential Architects provide is helping our clients choose the right builder for their new home or remodeling project.

I've written a couple of blog posts about the subject because the success of your project depends on the skill and knowledge of the people who build it.

But almost as important as that skill and knowledge is the “fit” of your builder to your personality and your tastes – after all, you’re going to spend a lot of time, and a lot of money, with them.

That’s why I ask my clients to interview builders before we consider adding them to their bidding list.  It’s no guarantee that we’ll find Mr. or Mrs. Right, but it helps weed out the ones that we know aren't going to fit.

For the projects we design, we’re typically looking for smaller companies that focus on well-crafted, quality homes, rather than on cookie-cutter or big "show" homes.

In other words, if they’re running a half-page color ad in the Sunday newspaper, well...we’re probably not interested.

Which brings us to the following testimonial from an out-of-town client, for whom we’re designing a very private home, hidden back off the road on a large family farm.

I’m not familiar with the builders in her area, so together we assembled a list of potential bidders from several resources and she began her interviews, preliminary plans in hand.

She forwarded me her impressions, including the two below – one seems to be the kind of builder we’re looking for and one...umm, not so much.

Guess which one we’re adding to the bidding list?

Comments on Builder #1:

Quiet but personable, listened; seemed interested in doing the job for me.  Said he’s happy to work with an architect, and offered for me to see his work at his job sites.

He didn't offer any negatives comments or even offer anything different I should be doing; he treated this as a meet and greet, not as a "let's make decisions."

Comments on Builder #2:

I showed him the initial design and layout to give him an idea of what I was considering.  His next comments irritated me! He briefly glanced at the plans but said the Master was too small, bathroom needed two sinks for resale value, and my walkout was on the wrong side of the house.

He didn't like the site, felt I should angle the house to face East with back facing west.  Said the driveway was too long and should be on the high side of the property; asked why I don’t build closer to the road.

This is the very reason I did not go to a builder directly!!!!

I quietly responded with, "I appreciate your comments, but I do not want my house any closer to the road, I want my drive/garage on the west side, my house to face south, my house has been located to take advantage of the breezes, the sun, and the views, my master is the size I want it and I want only one sink, and resale is not an option.”

He also added that I had to give him 40% of the price before they would even dig the foundation. (Author’s note: state law generally limits a home builder’s down payment to 10%).

My initial meeting with this guy hasn't set well. He never asked me what it was I wanted. If he didn't want my business, he certainly accomplished that.

He said he’s willing to work with architect but he commented, "You could have saved yourself a lot of money as we have architects on staff and their fees are rolled back into the house."

Need expert Residential Architectural advice for your new home or remodeling project? Contact Richard Taylor, AIA at RTA Studio Architects to arrange a meeting or an online consultation.

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