Find a great local builder. If you are building in a new location or if you are building a vacation home, find a local builder. Doing this gives you a lot of advantages. Builders oversee the house, while sub-contractors do the actual building, and a good local builder will have the best subs because of his/her ability to pay on time and provide a steady stream of work. The best subs would not be interested or available to work for any builder building just one house. Experienced and knowledgeable builders will build your house at a fair price and won’t make costly mistakes.
Get a list of the builder’s recent work. Include only jobs done in the last 24-30 months because over time, people improve, deteriorate, or stay the same. You want to interview the people that the builders have worked for recently.
Ask about the subs. Did they do a good job? Were they reliable, on time, courteous?
Ask about the builder. Does he return phone calls? Supply great subs? Make time for meeting with the owners and come prepared?
Be sure the home is properly sited. Think about views, street presentation, and topography.
Choose materials/techniques suited to your environment. For example, in a mountain home, the high altitudes require the exterior walls to accommodate more insulation, an ice-shield to protect exterior dry-stacked stone, and specially designed roof framing to withstand snow loads. Find out what the area’s special needs are, as well as what materials do best in that climate.
Go green where possible. Use energy-efficient windows, non-toxic paints, and native stones for finishings, to name a few.
Information courtesy Pinnacle Living Mountain Homes Fall 2008.