One of the major decisions is the choice of which builder / general contractor to use to build your house. There are large national builders (think of Ryan Homes and Drees Homes), local builders and everything in between. Then there are specialty builders, those who build according to specific standards.Print this post
We started by looking at houses when my parents were here in the States about 6 months after we were married. We looked at a couple of Ryan home models and were impressed by the initial looks and price. We quickly noted some serious construction issues - even in the models - with considerable cracking, cheap products and overall shoddy craftsmanship. A quick Google search at home after touring the models confirmed those visual findings and we quickly eliminated Ryan Homes from our list.
The next house we went into was a ranch (not our style, but we went in anyway) that looked a lot sturdier. After talking with the builder he explained he uses poured, reinforced concrete with insulation instead of cement blocks and 2x4s. With my parents and I coming from Europe that was a very appealing option since European houses are rarely, if ever, wood framed. But since it was a ranch we left and didn't think too much about it for a while.
The next builder on our list was Drees Homes. It is a Dutch/German name so naturally -with me being Dutch - that was a nice ice-breaker. We were very impressed with their models and saw none of the issues we saw at the Ryan Home models. We even had our basic model / floor plan already picked out and had some generic pricing drawn up.
Then God intervened...
Driving around one afternoon we saw a sign for Charis Homes and with 'Charis' being Greek for 'Grace' which is Jen's favorite word we toured the house. The builder immediately recognized us and at that point we realized it was the same builder as the ranch we toured a year or so before. We looked at the solid construction of the house and were impressed by the knowledge of the builder on 'green' topics and energy efficiency as a whole. In our minds we kind of decided that maybe Charis was the better fit for us.
Over the course of the next three years we toured (almost) every home they built, talked with all the home owners and some subcontractors and haven't heard a single complaint. They all love the work Charis did for them and/or how they got treated in the process. That basically closed the deal.
One other thing that sold us was their 'dusty shoe' open houses where they allow the public in to houses in various stages of the building process. You see the framing, you see the piping, you see the drywalling, you basically see the whole process. This in turn means there is pretty much no 'hiding' or 'covering up' potential issues since you'd see them. Furthermore, the fact they are solid Christians is only reinforcing our belief that good builders are still available and you really don't have to settle for anything less than what you want a builder to do for you.
I'm sorry if the last couple of paragraphs kind of sound like a Charis infomercial, but we truly feel we have found the right builder for us and will highly recommend them to any of our friends and family.
They may not be the cheapest builder on the block, but their product is a couple cuts above the national builder level. Plus, with their houses being HERS rated around 50 or lower, you know that the low energy costs will more than off-set any higher construction costs and will leave you with a quality house for years to come.