Finding the Right General Contractor in Asheville and Surrounding Area
Congratulations! You’ve decided to build your dream home here in the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether it’s a stately ridgetop custom home or a modest cabin tucked into the woods, what matters most is that it is your home. And that means you must pick the right general contractor.
Read on for a primer in selecting the right general contractor in Asheville and the surrounding areas.
Get General Contractor Referrals
From the moment you sign the contract to when you receive your certificate of occupancy, your general contractor will be a daily fixture in your life. The process of building a home can be stressful and worrisome. It can be filled with emotional highs and lows.
Ask your architect; ask your friends and co-workers if they know anyone who recently built a custom home. Your goal is to find general contractors who are actively building or have recently built in the area you are considering. From our perspective, this is especially important if your lot is sloping or steep.
Another good place to find great general contractor referrals is at local lumber yards and the sales reps at kitchen, bath and appliances stores. Stick with the local outfits because chances are, they have relationships with home builders and general contractors who are building in the local communities.
Interviewing General Contractors
Once you’ve identified three or four general contractors, now you want to interview them. Here’s what you want to learn:
- About their building experience
- About their estimating process
- About their experience building in the area
- About their timeline
A good contractor is going to put you at ease in a sincere and authentic way. And before you leave the interview with your potential general contractor with several references.
We can’t emphasize it enough: check the references of any general contractor you think might be a good fit based on the interview. Ask the references about their experience working with their home builders. Ask them questions like:
- How is the building process play out for you?
- How the general contractor handle setbacks and delays?
- How close was the estimate to the final cost of building your home?
- How easy was it to work with the home builder?
- Were they available when you had questions?
- Are they transparent with their estimation and budgeting process?
- Would you use them again?
- Did they treat you with respect, especially regarding your vision, your questions, and your budget?
- What are they like to work with if something needed addressing after construction was completed and the owner moved in?
This list of questions is far from exhaustive, so use it as a launching point when you check references. Keep in mind, the scope of a project can change; weather delays happen. What’s important is how the general contractor handles it. Knowing how a general contractor handles the challenges will give you insight into what it will be like to work with them.
Getting an Estimate
For most people, building a home is the biggest expense and biggest investment they’ll ever make. And, from our perspective, you’ll never get a competitive bit just from a set of house plans.
A good general contractor is going to ask you a lot of questions during the estimating process. They’ll want to know your budget, so they understand the parameters for the building project. They’ll also want about the details, such as finishing details like carpet, hardwoods and tile, mechanical systems, kitchen appliances, paint, windows, and so much more in order to estimate allowances. An allowance is a range in which you can expect something to cost. The more detailed you can get with the builder (and a good general contract will help you do this), the more accurate your estimate will be.
Once the estimating process is complete, ask yourself how that felt. Look for an estimate that gives you confidence, both in communicating with the builder and the transparency of cost.
Lastly, check the details. Is the builder a member of the local home builder association? Do they have their own crews or use local subcontractors? Do they use local resources for materials they use in the construction process? And, does the builder stand behind their work with a new home warranty?
A Final Note
Things will go well, and things won’t go well during construction because it is impossible to foresee every situation that might occur during the process. Choosing your general contractor carefully means you can minimize your risks as well as improving the likelihood that your dream home will be a dream come true.