1. Remember that these contractors don’t build a home. They manage a process. They hire others to build. They plan, prepare, finance, coordinate, inspect, and interpret plans and convert your wishes into reality. So you want to find the best scheduler.

  2. Visit the building supply stores and ask for the names of the top three experienced custom home builders. The very best builders are the quickest to pay their trades and supply outlets. This results in fewer errors and rework.

  3. Note how long it takes for the builder to get back to you, and ask the references this same question. It correlates with organizational ability.

  4. In the initial interview, ask the builder’s opinion about your plans. You can often determine attitudes and characteristics, good and not so good.

  5. All of their references should be more than just acceptable. Always ask for the last three. These owners are usually frank, especially if you ask if they are happy with their home and if they would use the builder in the future, if the builder was on budget with no surprises, and how they managed unforeseen challenges.

  6. VERY IMPORTANT: You need to make certain that you have direct access to the home designer throughout the design process.Why? Because as you are in the process of building your "dream" or "destination" or final home, you may encounter better ideas or wish changes to be made, and the designer will first look at aesthetics, then translate that into practicality, working with the builder.   

  7. If the builder can take you through some of the houses they have built, then it is likely they still have a good relationship with their clients. 

  8. Remember to ask about potential hidden costs such as landscaping, utility connection, etc.

  9. Take a look at a job site where they are currently building and watch for orderliness and tidiness. Worksite cleanliness is a highly reliable predictor of building efficiency. If the contractor can't take the time or effort to clean up the site each day, there may be a correlation with the quality of work on your home. 

  10. Ask the builder how changes will be managed and whether he will itemize as you go along. 

  11. See if he will give you regular progress reports, times for staged walk-throughs, and monthly itemized billing.