Find the Best Tiny House Builder for the Job
So you have decided to live the tiny life and want to purchase your first tiny home. Sure you could build it yourself, but having someone else build it for you not only will save you money and time, but also help in the areas of financing, insuring, and parking your home as long as they are certified builders. But what company should you choose? How do you know that you chose the correct builder?
Comprise a List of Possible Builders
Who builds tiny homes anyway? Can you just contact any home construction company to build your home? Not necessarily. Yes, the first thing you will want to do is comprise a list of possible builders to choose from. Luckily we have already done that for you. Visit our website at www.thetinyhomelist.com and find all of the information you will need to find available builders who can meet your tiny house needs.
Interview Possible Builders
Once you have your list of builders, contact them (contact information is available on our website as well) and start asking them basic questions about your future home and the services they provide. One of the first questions you will need to ask is how many projects are they currently working on? If they have several builds going at the time, you can determine they have experience. If they can start on your home today, they might be new with very little experience. Or even worse, they may be a builder who is passed over by other customers due to the quality of their work and service. Finally, ask them for certain information such as the past five years of their bank reference history, what material suppliers they work with, sub-contractors they may use, and a list of previous customers they have worked with. If they refuse to give you this information, take them off the list.
Time for Background Checks
Look for Consumer Protection Agencies and the Better Business Bureau in the area they are located. If they are not associated with these organizations, take them off the list. Look into the builder’s litigation history and make notes on what complaints they have received in the past. For those contractors on your list, ask them about what complaints they have received and get their side of the story. If the contractor has a long list of complaints and litigation, take them off the list.
Narrow Your Choices Down to a Short List, Collect Estimates
Narrow down your list to at least three different contractors and then ask to meet with them at a current worksite (if possible). This will help you get a feel for their particular skill, their level of professionalism, and how they interact with others. While meeting with the builders, start collecting estimates to get a feel for what they will charge and how long it will take them to complete your project. The average price is approximately $125 per square foot (depending on what materials are used). You should also expect the time duration for completion to be around 6-9 months depending upon what projects they have already going.
Step one. Throw away the cheapest bid. A lower bid could be that they are trying to draw you in only to spring higher costs on you later, or because they often cut corners, are new to the business, or desperate for work. It’s better to be on the safe side here. With the other builders on your list, give them all of the details of what you want from your build and ask for an official bid. Generally, materials will be about 40% of the bid price, 40% labor, and a 20% profit.
Follow Up On References
Start by calling the contractors suppliers. How long have they worked with this company? Do they have a line of credit on file? Do they have a good rapport with each other? Contact the sub-contractors next. Have they been paid on time? Do they have a good relationship? Now visit some of the past projects that the builder completed and talk to the owners of the tiny house. Ask them about their experience working with the building company. Any problems? Has the home kept its value over time? Ask to look around a little and make sure the quality of the build meets your standards.
The industry standard for newly built construction is 10% at contract signing, three installments of 25% over an agreed time schedule, and the final 15% after your final inspection and approval. You can also withhold the final 5% for 30 days to make sure no problems arise. This is not set in stone and may deviate some. However, if it varies too much and the contractor seems to be pushy, you may want to look elsewhere as he does not have your interest in mind as a customer.
Decide Upon Contract Details
With your short list in hand, have each contractor write up a contract and have your attorney review it. Compare contracts and see which ones are best for you and your needs. But hold on, you are not quite ready yet. Before you make that final decision, think back through the process. Which builders seemed genuine to you. Which were easy to work with and which ones had that “it’s my way or the highway” mentality? Who welcomed your input and ideas? Which one was easy to get a hold of when you had a question or suggestion? These answers should play a vital role in your decision as well.
By now you should know who it is you want to work with and have build your tiny home. The decision is not just about pricing. You may, in fact, pay a little more to get the right builder. And that’s ok.
Deciding upon a builder of your tiny house is a huge decision and not one to take lightly. Take time, get to know first what is it that you want and need out of your build and then decide who the right contractor is to make that happen. Most of all, trust your gut. If something is telling you that a certain builder is not the right fit for the job, trust that feeling and look elsewhere. Building a house, no matter what size is a large expense and a huge decision. Choose wisely.
Until next time, live tiny!