Selecting the Right New Home Builder in West Michigan

1235186_10151582607942257_1569198673_nSelecting the right builder for a new home construction process can mean the difference between “being sane” at the end of your home building adventure or feeling like you’ve embarked on a scary roller coaster ride. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, there are a number of different issues to consider when selecting the builder who is right for you.

There are also several different types of home builders/contractors. In this post, we will explore a few options and discuss the benefits and challenges which may be associated with different options. It is also a good idea to contact your local home builders association. They will often be able to provide a list of builders who subscribe to certain standards and codes of conduct as a term of their membership.


If you are looking for a new home in a development in Grand Rapids, Michigan, there is a high likelihood that you will be working with a Developer or builder who builds homes (often called spec homes) for sale within a particular community. Often these types of neighborhoods will have a model home which you can tour to preview different options and styles within a particular budget range.

Some of the advantages of working with a Developer include: being able to select samples at the site, being able to easily preview previous construction and sometimes the developer will provide construction financing or will carry all the costs of financing so all you have to qualify for is the end loan. This can help you with out of pocket expenses during the construction process.

The downside may be: limited choice options and building design features and stricter parameters regarding what is allowed per the recorded deeds and restrictions for the subdivision. It is important to ask for a list of contacts from the builder so you can verify the experience of homeowners who have been past customers.

Checking things out…

It’s important to do your own homework and research.  If you know someone who has used a particular builder or developer, ask them about their experience.  You should also ask the builder to provide you with a list of home addresses which he/she has built and request if possible an opportunity to speak with a client.

Questions you may want to ask can include, but should not necessarily be limited to the following:


  • 1. Are you satisfied with the quality of the construction, labor and finishing of your home?
  • 2. Was the developer/builder responsive to correct issues which needed to be addressed?
  • 3. Was your home completed on schedule? If not, who was responsible for costs associated with the delay?
  • 4. How would you rate your overall experience?


In West Michigan, we have a proud and long standing tradition of home building by builders who specialize in custom designed homes or who build on a much smaller scale than a large developer.

Small/Independent Builder

You are very likely to be introduced to an Independent builder through a referral or by dropping by an Open House for a home they have built. Many Independent Builders will build several homes a year. They may sometimes live in a spec home for a few years before re-selling it. Some Independent Builders build homes as a full-time job and for others it is supplemental income. Some Independent Builders are skilled craftsmen who take great pride in their trade and in the quality of their craftsmanship.

One of the challenges that you may encounter is related to the fact that an Independent Builder may not have the same type of leverage with sub-contractors that a developer does. As a result, a project may be more susceptible to delays. It is important to discuss this issue with your builder and understand how this will be addressed particularly if you are carrying the financing costs. It is also important to preview more than one home that the builder has built and to ask the questions listed above of their previous clients.

The advantages of working with an Independent builder include being able to more easily customize your home as you will not be constrained by a template and having a more intimate association with the home building process. On the other hand, some disadvantages may include the following: a builder who builds just a few homes a year may not have access to resources such as financing or discounts that a builder who does more volume would.

Other items to consider when selecting a home builder are:

1.  Appropriate insurance to provide full coverage for your project (including sub contractors)

2.  Design assistance

3.  A systematic process of providing project updates including coordination of construction draws if necessary

4.  Financing – will you be responsible for financing costs and if so, how will project delays which impact costs be handled

5.  After the Sale Care – how will issues be addressed which may arise after the home is completed.  Is there a reliable Home Warranty included?

Related Content:

Selecting Your Home Building Lot

27 Questions to Ask Your Builder

Designing Your New West Michigan Home