Picking the Builder

In the Pilot episode of New Construction Series, I talked about how we visited various builders and narrowed down our choices. It wasn’t easy, taking about 3 months of weekend appointments. What was easy was picking out the floor plan. What took alot of time was deciding how we wanted the home to look on the inside and outside. To figure out a final price on the home, we had to sit down with the builder’s agent and put everything we wanted in the home. This estimated price could then tell us if the home, and the builder, were in our price range.

Builders advertise their “base price“. This price is just what you get if you were to build the home as a shell. For instance, this price doesn’t include air conditioning, so if you want it (and who wouldn’t) add another couple thousand onto the “base price”. Or, builders will tell you that air conditioning is “included“…but the “base price” is obviously higher.

Hint: If a builder says an item is “included”, you are led to believe that it isn’t costing you anything. Understand that no matter what, the price of that item is already in your home price, so you ARE paying for it.

It is a Buyer’s Market here in Minneapolis, St Paul, and the surrounding areas. We knew this walking in and used it to our advantage. In the first series post, I told you we had narrowed our choices down to two local Minneapolis builders. Who did we pick? Well, I feel that the professional thing to do in not mention location, or the builder’s name. This is, afterall, just a documentary of our building experience and not meant to put anyone under the microscope.

What it came down to, was who gave the most for the price. The builder who we offered a price to, and who in turn, countered us back, was by far our favorite. The floor plan was great and we were able to customize it to work for our family. It sat on half an acre and an office on the main floor. What it didn’t include was a finished basement, hardwood floors, granite countertops, or a deck.

The second builder, who doesn’t really customize much of the home, had a smaller lot (.20 acres). The laundry is next to the kitchen and there is not room for an office on the main floor. But for the price, we were able to have exotic wood floors, a deck, a finished basement, Cambria countertops, and have them finish a huge storage room in the basement which we could make into a nice office. We were able to get all of this, for the same price as the before mentioned.

Even though we weren’t as thrilled with the footprint of the home and the smaller lot, we would have been stupid to walk away from this deal. Not only were they throwing in a lot of things we wanted, we successfully negotiated for them to pay a large chunk of our closing costs. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the $5000 we are getting for landscaping!

So there you have it, we picked our builder by looking at incentives and available amenities. Like always, the decision came down to PRICE.

Next week I will show you pictures of the lot, so stay tuned for more!