Your builder (General Contractor) takes total responsibility for building your home; from hiring and supervising subcontractors to purchasing materials, scheduling deliveries and coordinating communication. Your contractor is a critical element in your project; select one whom you trust and seems organized and with whom you can communicate easily.
What To Look For In A Builder
Referrals and word of mouth are the largest single source of business for most contractors, so look for a builder who comes strongly recommended by recent past clients. Your local home builders association, subcontractors and building materials supply houses in addition to friends, relatives and acquaintances, are good sources for referrals. If you do not know where else to begin, start with people who have just had their houses completed. Were they pleased with their contractor? If you can get them to candidly discuss their builder, you will be well informed. Of course there are always two sides to any story.
You need to find a builder who builds well and the only true test of a builder's competence is their recent work. It is important to inspect work actually completed during the last year or two. A builder's financial stability can deteriorate as can relationships with subcontractors and suppliers. If you are planning on building a SIP home, you will want to ask the builder if they are interested in building with SIPs. You will find that some are and some are not. We are happy to talk to your potential builders and give them more information about building a Sunlight home.
Looking At The Builder's Work
The difference between a well-built and a poorly built home is usually quite obvious. Look at the seams where different materials meet. How carefully are they finished? Large gaps between siding and windows or between baseboards and floors, for example, indicate sloppy work. The general contractor who would let such details pass is not likely to pay much better attention to hidden details in your home. If you have a friend who is more familiar with construction than you, bring them along for input. If your project will include specialty work, such as intricate tile mosaics or detailed woodwork, you should check out the specialty subcontractors that the contractor uses. More progressive and thoughtful builders usually have more progressive and thoughtful subcontractors working for them. Good builders can sometimes be a bit more expensive but it is true that you get what you pay for.
Builders' Experience with Panels
It is not always possible to find a builder who has experience building with SIPs. Fortunately, a SIP structure is straightforward to assemble and any competent builder can do it. For this reason we always recommend finding a builder that you like and trust and can communicate well with, rather than simply choosing one because they are familiar with SIPs. We can educate new builders on what they need to know to build with SIPs. Make sure, however, that they are interested in trying a new building system. Some builders are not very willing to try something new, but you will always find some who are. Those are the ones to consider.
Involving Builders In Design
We are happy to work with your potential builders in the design process. If you have one or more potential builder you are considering, we would be happy to include them in the design development stage of your project and get their input. Involving potential builders in the design phase has a number of benefits. No one is more familiar with your local building costs than a local builder. We generate cost estimates before we start design but these estimates are more of an educated guess than a precise estimate. We have been designing SIP homes a long time and are quite good at estimating their cost to build, but a local builder will be able to take the accuracy of the cost estimate to the next level. Very early in the design phase we like to get the builders input on what they think the cost of construction will be. If adjustments need to be made to the design of the home to keep the project in budget we will know that as early as possible so that we do not waste your time or money developing a design that is unaffordable.
Another major benefit of including the potential builders in the design phase is it gives you a chance to start working with them and their subcontractors prior to signing a contract. You will have a chance to get a feel for their communication style and how they think. These will be helpful pieces of information when it comes time to actually pick which builder you would like to work with. Important pieces of information such as how easily they are reached for questions will become clear when you start working with them in design. Whether they are comfortable using email and text messaging and how technology savvy they are in general is another piece of the puzzle. It cannot be overstressed that finding a thoughtful and communicative builder is extremely important.
Lastly, we like to include your potential builders in the design phase of the project because the more people thinking about the design the better! Rather than waiting till the design is completed to involve the people who will be building the home, we would prefer they be involved from the beginning. This will ensue that once the plans are complete, everybody involved is on board and has had a chance to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the project. The home building industry is changing very fast these days and there are new products, methods and systems coming out all the time. We are always looking at ways to improve our processes and products and working with builders in design is a good way for us to do that.
Sunlight's Involvement In Construction
During the construction of your home, we remain involved and consult with you, your builder and their subcontractors as needed. We can provide a manual to your builder with the technical details about the SIPs and we invite and encourage anyone working on your home to call us for technical support any time. We at Sunlight are also licensed contractors and build locally when the opportunity arises so we have hands-on experience building our homes. We work very hard to stay up on the latest proven building materials and techniques available and we are happy to provide suggestions and ideas throughout the construction process.