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How to Choose the Right Custom Home Builder for Your Dream Home

One of the most significant investments you’ll make in your lifetime is purchasing a home. However, building a custom home for your family can be an even bigger undertaking. It can be filled with fun and excitement, but many decisions are also made throughout the process.

The first and most important decision you and your family will make is hiring a custom home builder. If you don’t choose correctly, issues during the project and potentially after the house is complete will make this exciting time much more difficult.

Start by asking friends, family, and those who have built a house recently for their suggestions. The custom home builder you hire should be highly recommended. Then do some research by looking at websites, reading reviews on Yelp, and checking their BBB score (the Better Business Bureau). 

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, meet with several potential contractors face to face. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t find the perfect builder on your first try, don’t panic. Finding the right custom home builder is a process. Don’t rush. Before selecting paint colors, looking at carpet and flooring choices, or deciding on appliances, find a contractor who will honor your budget and understand your family’s needs.

Anderson Homes offers ten steps for choosing the best custom home builder for your project.

  1. Determine What You Need vs. What You Want

Start by writing a list of everything you and your family need and want in this new house. As you review a builder’s website, you’ll know if they can create what you are hoping for. The more details you can agree on, the better. 

Many custom home builders specialize in a specific size of home, style of architecture, or price. You can narrow down your list of potential builders by knowing what you want.

Be sure you can answer these questions before meeting with a builder:

  • Do you want a large two-story home or a convenient one-story ranch?
  • Do you want a two- or three-car garage?
  • Are you an “empty-nester” hoping to downsize?
  • Is there a specific style of architecture you prefer? Craftsman? Modern? 
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you want?
  • Do you love to entertain and need an open concept great room and kitchen?  
  • Will you need a home office with privacy?
  • Can you see any upcoming changes in your life – another baby? Kids leaving for college? Elderly parents moving in?

2. Talk to Experts and Get Recommendations

Do you know a co-worker, family member, or a friend who has built a custom home in the past four or five years? Get their suggestions and ask them about their experiences. 

Plus, loan officers, real estate agents, tradespeople, and building inspectors have “inside info” regarding builders. Ask them who you can trust and why they like this particular builder.

Once you’ve spoken to several people, you’ll see a pattern of the top builders emerge. That’s the ideal starting point for finding your custom home builder.

3. Determine Your Budget

Talk with your banker or a mortgage lender before you start hiring a custom home builder. Find out what you can afford and confirm a budget. 

Understanding your budget will help you avoid wasting anyone’s time. Don’t meet with a builder you know is out of your price range. You can talk to a contractor with confidence when you see what you can afford. 

In addition, knowing your budget will help you determine if a builder is pushing you beyond what you’re comfortable spending. However, building a new home is much more affordable than you think. There are ways to save money to keep it within your budget.

4. Be Clear About What You Want

When choosing a custom home builder, comparing several of them is imperative. Let each contractor know what you want in your dream home and be as clear as possible.

For example, if you want all hardwood floors, a large deck for outdoor entertaining, or a gourmet kitchen with a walk-in pantry, say so. If you don’t share the same details with everyone, the builders won’t be able to give you an accurate cost or correct timeline. You won’t have all the information you need to make a proper decision.

Custom Highend Home Builder
Custom Kitchen Interior by Anderson Homes

Be aware that a wish list can come with a big price tag, so let each builder know your budget. The best custom home builder for your project will provide a truthful cost estimate. If it’s more than you can spend, to save money, they might be able to suggest small changes. 

For example, the builder may recommend leaving the basement unfinished or installing carpet in the bedrooms for now. If your budget is getting tight, you can upgrade to granite in the kitchen later. 

5. Ask About the Builder’s Experience

Although everyone has to start somewhere, hiring a brand new builder isn’t always good. Find a builder who knows the area and has experience.

Ask them how long they’ve been in the construction business and how long the staff (designers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc.) has worked for them. Ask about recently built homes and whether the homeowners can be spoken with. 

Compile a list of questions for every builder and take notes. Consider questions like the ones below and compare answers. 

Is there someone on staff to help with decisions regarding flooring, cabinetry, paint colors, tile, etc.?

Do they “build green” and look for ways to be energy efficient? 

Do they use concrete block or poured concrete for foundations? 

What brands of windows, doors, and insulation are used

And if you are building in an unfamiliar area:

Do they know if any commercial construction projects will be built nearby in the next five years

How is the school system? 

Are there fire stations and hospitals close by? 

Are grocery stores convenient? 

Before signing any contracts:

A. Check with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). Look at their rating and whether there have been any complaints against them.

B. See if this builder belongs to professional business groups like the MBA (Metropolitan Builders Association) or WBA (Wisconsin Builders Association).

C. Look at websites like Yelp and Google that offer reviews.

If you are building in a new subdivision, talk to the neighbors. Ask them if they would hire this builder again. Find out how quickly the builder responded to their questions or complaints. Are the homeowners happy with the neighborhood and their home?

6. The Builders Talk, But Do They Listen?

One of the most important qualities to look for in the right custom home builder for your project is their ability to communicate. Notice if the builder spends more time telling you what you want versus listening to what you want.

Milwaukee Area home builder team
Anderson Homes Team

Ask the staff how they prefer to exchange information: by email, phone call, or text? Ask the project manager if you can stop by the job site whenever you want or if you have to make an appointment?

The right custom home builder will always tell you when problems or delays with your project occur and why (i.e., bad weather, backorders, etc.). They should also explain how they’re going to fix it.

The home builder should meet with you several times before breaking ground to discuss your expectations. The professional staff will walk you through the process, offer their advice, answer your questions, and explain what’s possible to do within your budget.

7. Ask About Warranties

Today, everything you buy – whether a computer, a car, a television, or a house – offers a warranty. When negotiating with your builder, you should receive a long-term written policy. Don’t rely on a smile and a handshake with a verbal promise to address any problems. Get it in writing.

A custom home builder’s warranty guarantees that if there is an issue with the house, it will be repaired or resolved. Many builders’ warranties cover everything for two to five years after the client takes occupancy – even if the builder is no longer in business. If the builder does not offer any warranties, walk away.

Sometimes things go wrong, and that’s okay. But a good custom home builder will stay in touch with a client even after the project is complete and they’ve moved into the house. The builder makes sure everyone is satisfied, won’t disappear into the night, and will stand behind their work.

8. Check for Insurance and Licensing

Step number 8 is simple. Residential contractors in Wisconsin must have a license. Additionally, during the construction period, all Wisconsin builders must have risk insurance for the properties they are building. 

Ask to see their paperwork to verify, or you can go online to check if they have both. However, if they won’t or can’t show you their paperwork, or you can’t find anything online, don’t hire them!

9. Look Closely at Their Quality 

You’ve met with some builders, posed queries, and decided on a smaller list. Now request a visit to a home currently under construction and/or tour their model home. Look closely at the quality of materials used and their workmanship. Do they use off-brands or cut corners to save money? Is there attention to detail? Are there safety issues at the job site – scrap wood or garbage lying around, trip hazards, etc.? 

Listen to what your gut is telling you. If something feels off to you or a family member, it probably is. On the other hand, seeing high-quality finishes, luxurious design features, and meeting smiling customers is a good sign!

10. Take Your Time

Take as much time as you need to hire a custom home builder because this is a big decision. Gather all the information, compare each builder, and go slowly. Your family will be living with this decision for many years, so choose wisely. 

Once you decide to build a custom home for your family, everyone wants it done now! But understand that the best custom home builders are in great demand. Don’t despair if you’re told it will take six to nine months before they can break ground on your project.


Meet Award-Winning Custom Home Builder, Anderson Homes

As you gathered information about custom home builders in the area, you most likely heard the name Anderson Homes. That’s because their outstanding reputation is built on lasting trust, strong relationships, and superior service. These principles have made them one of the top home builders in southeastern Wisconsin. Additionally, their clients are given the personalized attention they deserve.

Throughout the building process, the staff of Anderson Homes is committed to excellent customer service to offer their clients a completely transparent experience. Their artisans are also dedicated to providing superior quality during every phase, from breaking ground to handing the house keys to the new owners. Just as important, Anderson Homes’ designs are custom-tailored for every family to provide a personalized and unique home.

Anderson Homes is headquartered in Pewaukee. They build luxurious, high-quality homes throughout southeastern Wisconsin; including Waukesha, Washington, Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Walworth counties. 

The Anderson Homes Design Process

There is a multi-step process to creating your dream home when working with Anderson Homes. It is a truly luxurious experience as they begin designing your forever home.

The first step is the initial consultation. Here you will meet with the Anderson Homes team and establish trust. The client will learn about their home design process and be educated about the Anderson difference.

After the initial consultation, the professionals will provide an on-site evaluation at no cost to you. At this meeting, they will walk your plot of land with you, discuss multiple options as to what type and size of the building will work with the site’s topography, and understand your budget, lifestyle, ideas, and more.

At the third meeting, clients meet with the team to begin designing the house plan. The staff will discuss, interact, educate, and listen to the customer to determine what their dream home is.

Step four includes the in-house design team continuing to collaborate with the client. Together, they will design the ideal plan to match the family’s lifestyle, needs, and wants. The floor plan will be offered in several 2D and 3D stages to optimize room size, flow, and use of space.

Once the initial plan is complete, there may be a series of revisions to refine the concepts until the client is satisfied. After customer approval, a final layout will be prepared for all contractors and staff to review, discuss, and clarify.

Now the Fun Begins While Building Your Custom Home! 

Finishes are chosen for countertops, flooring, cabinetry, tile, etc. Anderson Homes includes many standard selections for various high-quality choices. Exterior finishes and color selections are discussed (siding, windows, etc.) and chosen for HOA approval if necessary.

A review meeting will take place to finalize all choices for finishes. All building costs will be discussed, and an agreement on the final proposal will be signed.

Finally – building begins! The Anderson Homes staff will keep all clients updated and notified of the project’s progress through their project management platform, Buildertrend. This platform allows the client to communicate with the team, view documents, edit selections, and approve change orders with a button click.

Contact Anderson Homes Today to Get Started on Your New Luxury Custom Dream Home

Contact the professionals at Anderson Homes today. They are ready to answer your questions and help you design the home of your dreams. The staff will also give you the high-quality value you deserve.

Anderson Homes accomplishes this by listening carefully to what you want and incorporating your ideas into the floor plan design. They offer an extraordinary level of customer service. You never have any unhappy surprises when hiring the right custom home builder – Anderson Homes. 

Schedule your first appointment and start the process of building your dream home!