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Find the Best Home Builders and Developers

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by Joseph Truini Home Improvement Contributing Editor

Building a home is a lengthy, complicated and expensive process that requires a lot of work. Read our guide to research the best home builder and developer for you. We explain what to look for to ensure you hire home builders who are reliable and trustworthy.

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What to consider when you hire a builder

Energy-saving features

Many homebuilders offer a wide variety of energy-saving features that can save you money each month on your utility bills while protecting the environment.

  • Energy-efficient windows: Homes can be built with enhanced insulated-glass windows that do a better job of keeping homes warmer in winter and cooler in summer while still admitting plenty of natural sunlight.
  • Solar paneling: Some homebuilders can install solar panels for a more energy-efficient way to produce hot water and electricity.
  • Natural gas vs electric: Homes can be built that run on natural gas or propane rather than depending on electricity to power appliances, water heaters or heating systems.

Complete customization

Some homebuilders allow you to customize your home in many different ways, including number of rooms, floor layout, paint colors, countertop and flooring options, siding type and color, style of cabinetry, and choice of plumbing fixtures, to name a few.

  • Work from consumers' plans: You can bring your own home-building plans to the builder rather than choosing from a book of existing plans.
  • Room specifications: Homeowners can specify the number of rooms they want, the size of the rooms, and special features of each room, such as crown molding, wainscoting, ceiling fans, and window size and placement.
  • Number of floors: Consumers can specify how large the house is to be, including how many floors and what rooms to include on each floor. They may also be able to specify whether they want a basement or attic.

Warranties

Most homebuilders offer warranties on the homes they build at little or no cost to you.

  • Repair warranties: These warranties allow homebuyers to get free repairs on structural damage, whether that damage is minor or major.
  • Replacement warranties: If something related to the building of the home causes the home to become unsuitable for living and cannot be repaired easily, the homebuilder may build a replacement home at no additional cost.
  • System repairs: There may be warranties on the installation of electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, furnace, gas lines and other mechanical systems.

Inspected and approved

Prior to move in, the home must pass inspection to certify that it is built safely and meets local or state standards.

  • Inspections throughout the process: Some homebuilders allow consumers to visit the site as the home is being built to view progress and inspect already-completed parts of the home. Be sure to schedule any visits ahead of time with the builder; active jobsites can be dangerous places.
  • State inspections: The homebuilder may provide the services of a certified inspector, licensed by the state, to look at the home and determine its safety. The town’s building department will schedule routine inspections throughout the construction process to ensure the home is being built to code.
  • Pre-move in repairs: The consumer can request repairs after inspection and before move-in to make the home safer.

Options for upgrades

Homebuilders may offer standard features with the ability to pay extra to upgrade the home.

  • Energy efficiency: Solar panels, triple-pane windows, or other energy-saving upgrades may cost extra and can be installed at the homeowner's request.
  • Adding outlets to more rooms: The homebuilder can upgrade the electrical system by adding extra outlets in bathrooms, bedrooms, home offices and other areas where you need more electricity.
  • Extra garages and rooms: Prior to the start of construction, most builders are amenable to altering the existing blueprint if you’d like to add another room, enlarge an existing room, or build a garage. Be sure to get all changes in writing with detailed information about cost, size and materials.

Model homes

Most homebuilders offer model homes for potential buyers to tour prior to signing a contract to build their home. Model homes give buyers a chance to see the quality, style and fixtures they can expect in their own home.

  • Different sizes and features: Many builders offer model homes of different sizes and architectural styles with upgraded features so potential homebuyers can get an idea of the builder's work. However, be aware that model homes are often loaded with fixtures and finishes that aren’t included in the base price. For example, the model might have granite counters, tiled foyer, whirlpool tub and backyard deck, which might all cost extra. When touring a model home, be sure to ask which features are upgrades and which ones are included in the base price.
  • Duplicate orders: If consumers see a model home they really like, they can order an exact replica to be built on their lot.
  • Get an idea of lot size: The lot size is as important to some consumers as the house size; touring model homes can help users decide how big a yard they want to have as well as how big a home they want to have. However, be sure to ask if the model-home lot is the same size as your home’s lot.

Types of home builders and developers

Certified green builders

Certified green builders are trained to build homes in a way that saves energy and protects the environment. These builders often use sustainable materials and install energy-efficient windows, solar panels and heating and cooling systems.

Urban designers

Urban designers focus on creating homes for people who live in cities and other thickly settled neighborhoods with small building lots. The homes are designed to accommodate a large number of people and to reduce traffic around the building site.

Remodelers

Remodelers upgrade existing homes to meet homeowners' specifications, whether that means adding extra rooms, renovating existing rooms or making the home more energy efficient.

Local builders

Many homebuilders are local business people who contribute to property values, as well as to their community by providing well-paying jobs and buying from local suppliers. Most builders also give back through local charities.

Home Builders FAQ

Do manufactured homes last long?
Manufactured homes can last as long as traditional homes with proper maintenance and upkeep. They are built using the same methods and materials as site-built homes, but the construction takes place in a factory setting.
Which is better, modular or manufactured home?
Modular and manufactured homes each have their own benefits:
  • Modular homes are constructed to the same building codes as site-built homes. Banks help buyers finance modular homes similarly to traditional homes.
  • Manufactured homes are built according to HUD code and are less expensive than modular homes.
Is it cheaper to build a house or buy a manufactured home?
It’s cheaper to buy a manufactured home than to build on-site. On average, a manufactured home costs around $63,000, while the cost to build a house is about $250,000 to $1 million or more.
How do I choose a home builder?
To choose a home builder, first contact your local home builders’ association and get a list of member contractors in your area. From there, narrow your list by:
  1. Researching each company
  2. Reading reviews
  3. Interviewing each builder
  4. Speaking with former clients
  5. Getting estimates
How do I find a builder to build a house?
Start by contacting your local homebuilders’ association to ask for a list of members. You can also ask friends or family for recommendations. Reach out to well-reviewed contractors for proof of licensing and insurance and a list of references.
How do I find a reputable home builder?
Reputable home builders are experienced, licensed and insured and members of professional trade organizations. To make sure your builder is reputable:
  • Read ratings and reviews and talk to former clients
  • Verify licensing and insurance
  • Ask how the builder guarantees materials and workmanship
How much is a custom-built house?
On average, a custom-built house costs $100 - $400 per square foot. To build a 2,500 square foot home — the median size of a newly constructed house, according to the most recent census data — expect to spend $250,000 - $1 million.
What questions should I ask a builder?

There are several questions you should ask builders before making a final decision on which company to hire. These include:

  • How much experience do you have designing and building homes?
  • Are you licensed, insured and bonded?
  • Can I customize a home?
  • Will you be obtaining permits and inspections?
  • How much will it cost to build the home?
  • How long will it take to build the home?
  • Do you have a list of references I can contact?
  • Where can I see homes you’ve built?

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    Author reviews for home builders and developers

    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    KB Home

    KB Home offers customized homes and specializes in allowing buyers to control most aspects of the design process.​

    • Built-to-order services: Users can specify exactly what they want their home to look like during the ordering process, right down to the cabinet door knobs.
    • Available in many areas: Currently, KB Home builds homes in the District of Columbia and seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas.
    • Personal design consultation demystifies the custom-build process: Consumers discuss their preferences and get pricing information to build a designer home that meets their budgetary requirements.
    • Models can be seen on a walk-in basis: Prospective buyers can drop into the KB Design Studio nearest them to view options whenever it's convenient; an appointment is only needed when they are ready to buy.
    • Home customization can be rolled into mortgages: Most of the building costs are covered by the buyer’s mortgage after purchase.
    Read 2235 Reviews
    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    LGI Homes

    LGI Homes has been building new home communities since 2002. Their goal is to provide homeowners across the United States with homes of great value at affordable prices. The company also employs a team of home buying professionals to help new homebuyers through the process of buying a house. Choose from multiple modern floor plans and customization options.

    • Home finder: LGI’s home finder feature lets visitors select a state, city and LGI development within each city to view available homes and floorplans. Each available home has an estimated monthly cost and visitors can call for a quote on new floorplans.
    • LGI warranty: LGI offers a 10-year, structural warranty and a one-year warranty on most other components on their homes. Homeowners can submit a warranty service request online by logging into their site and filling out a request form.
    • LGI Active Adult communities: LGI’s Active Adult communities are built around and within close proximity to a city's main features. Active Adult communities are near entertainment and sporting venues, airports, colleges and universities as well as golf courses, hiking and biking trails and tennis courts.
    • Energy efficiency: LGI focuses on energy efficient homes, especially homes located in the hottest part of the United States. By using reliable products from insulation to heating and cooling systems, and energy efficient appliances, LGI Homes can reduce energy bills by up to 30 percent.
    • Realtors: LGI Homes has built relationships with real estate professionals that know their floorplans and communities well, and can connect customers to one of their realtors based on the region they are interested in. Realtors can also keep interested buyers updated on promotions and special offers through email updates.
    Read 1410 Reviews
    D.R. Horton Homes

    D.R. Horton Homes is a family-owned construction business that started building homes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area more than 35 years ago. It’s now the largest homebuilder in the United States.​

    Read 1218 Reviews
    Beazer Homes

    George Beazer, the founder of Beazer Homes, began building homes in England during the late-1690s. The company continued to grow over the centuries and in 1986, it moved to the U.S. to begin building custom homes. The company builds in 13 states: Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

    Read more about Beazer Homes
    Meritage Homes

    Meritage has built over 90,000 homes since its inception in 1985. All of its homes are Energy Star compliant. Meritage currently builds in nine states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. The company has been named Texas Builder of the Year five times.

    Read more about Meritage Homes
    Fleetwood Homes

    Fleetwood Homes has been building custom homes since 1950. It's one of the largest manufactured homebuilders in the United States.

    Read more about Fleetwood Homes
    Richmond American

    Richmond American grew out of a local Denver operation and became a homebuilder that has built over 175,000 structures in nine states.

    Read more about Richmond American
    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    Clayton Homes

    Clayton Homes specializes in affordable, quality-built modular and manufactured homes. It offers floor plans for a wide variety of home sizes and styles, from tiny homes to 4 bedroom houses.​ Their homes are all designed and manufactured in the United States.

    • Range of home types: Clayton builds traditional site built homes, modular homes, manufactured homes and tiny houses.
    • Offers trade-ins: Customers can trade in their current home for a new manufactured home in order to save on costs.
    • Homes with basements are available: Clayton Homes can be ordered with a full basement.
    • Model homes available in most locations: Users can visit a Clayton Home Center to see model homes or set up a tour. Visit their website to find a home center near you.
    • Environmentally friendly: Clayton has received an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) certification for green building standards.
    • Customizable options: Homebuyers with specific needs can get a custom-built home.
    Read 2674 Reviews
    AUTHORIZED PARTNER
    Woodside Homes

    Woodside Homes has been providing custom-built homes since 1977. It offers services to homebuyers in the Western United States.​

    • Green By Design feature: Homebuyers can search for specific floor plans online that include features designed to protect the environment, such as: Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient lighting, low-e insulated-pane windows, programmable thermostats, low VOC paint and water-saving fixtures.
    • Online style help: Prospective buyers can create a style profile and view different style options online before buying.
    • Buying guide helps make process easier: Consumers can get specific questions answered and learn more about the home buying process through Woodside's website.
    • Available in five states: Consumers in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas and Utah can get homes built to their specifications.
    • News section offers up to date info about real estate: Consumers who are considering home buying or building can get the latest on the real estate market through the company's website.
    Read 163 Reviews
    Perry Homes

    In business since 1967, Perry Homes is one of the largest homebuilders in Texas. It offers customized, affordable homes in the Austin, Houston and San Antonio areas.

    Read more about Perry Homes
    Dan Ryan Builders

    Dan Ryan Builders is a privately owned, locally focused homebuilder that operates on the East Coast of the United States. It has been building homes for 25 years. Dan Ryan builds homes in six states: Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.​

    Read more about Dan Ryan Builders
    Highland Homes

    Highland Homes has been building custom homes in communities throughout Southwest, Central and North Central Florida for more than two decades. The family-owned company has dozens of home plans from which homeowners can choose, along with additional options to customize their homes.

    Read more about Highland Homes
    Keystone Homes

    These home developers build one- and two-story single-family homes, quad homes and townhomes in the Greensboro, Burlington and Winston-Salem areas of North Carolina. Home buyers can build from the ground up or choose from already-built models for a quick move-in.

    Read more about Keystone Homes

    Compare Top Home Builders and Developers

    by Joseph Truini Home Improvement Contributing Editor

    Joseph Truini is a home improvement expert who writes extensively about do-it-yourself home remodeling and repair, woodworking projects and tools and techniques. His work has appeared in several national magazines, including This Old House, Popular Mechanics, Country Living, Woman’s Day, and Today’s Homeowner.

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