Armchair Builder

Finding a Builder Consultant

Builder Consultant

We just received a reader question asking the best way to find a builder consultant to help with building a new home.  Our reader wants to oversee the planning and construction process as an owner builder, but they want to have a “go to” person that is knowledgeable about home building in their local area when they have questions.  Here are some ideas for finding a builder consultant for your project.

Stick to Residential Construction Experience

You may be tempted to ask your friend that works for a commercial construction company to help you build a home.  Don’t.  The costs, building methods, and trade contractors are totally different in commercial versus residential construction.  In fact, look for someone who builds the type of project you are working on regularly.  Don’t hire a small remodeling contractor to help you build a home from the ground up.  Remodeling a bathroom or finishing off a basement are much less involved than building a home from the ground up.  Besides, what will this person know about building a quality foundation?

Stay Local

You want help from someone that works in the location of your building project.  Don’t ask your brother that is a forty-five minute drive away to help.  First, he may not be able to get out to your site the day you need him.  And when you need your consultant…you them.  If you have a complicated inspector question that needs to get answered before getting an approval to proceed with drywall, you don’t want to wait a week for an answer.

It’s also nice to have a builder consultant that knows the local building inspectors (to work with them when there is an issue), trade contractors (who’s the best plumbing that has the fewest leaks!), labor pricing (is this a good price?),…etc.

 Builder Consultant Credentials

So what exactly should the resume of your builder consultant for helping you build your new home look like?  Here are some suggestions…

  • Experience – Must have built a minimum of five homes in the area you are building…within the last five years.
  • Costs – It’s a good idea to have a consultant that has experience with estimating and labor and material pricing.  Otherwise, you will need to do this all yourself.
  • References – Check with some credible sources as to the integrity of this person.  Ask the same questions you would ask if hiring for full time employment.  Do they have a good attention to detail?  Do they have a firm grasp on what good quality is? (checkout a project or two if you can).
  • Building Code Knowledge – Don’t be afraid to quiz them.  Ask the local municipal building inspector for three of his most common building code violations and then pose questions to your consultant candidates to see if they know what they are talking about.
  • Time – Ask when they are available or accessible.  By taking a photo or video of a potential problem, sometimes you can get an answer without coming out to the job site.

Locating a Builder Consultant

There isn’t a builder consultant store…yet.  So you will need to be a little creative to find a consultant to help you.  Here are some ideas.

  • Local Job Sites – Drive by local job sites and ask to speak with the superintendent.
  • Home Builder’s Association – The National Association of Home Builders has local branches throughout the country.  Ask to see a list of members in your area that manage the types of projects you are building.
  • Lumber Suppliers – These companies work with home builders of all kinds.  Ask your chosen lumber supplier for recommendations.
  • Building Department – The local building inspector walks through new homes being built every day.  They can tell you who the people are out on the job sites that ensure quality.

Have you seen our video discussing the builder consultant role for your new home build?  You check it out below.

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