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Shop for quality and value when choosing a builder

Chicago Tribune

If you're in the market for a new home, you should shop for your builder as carefully as you shop for your home, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Whether you are buying a condo, town house, house in a subdivision, or custom house, the trade group says you want to know you are buying a quality home from a reputable builder.

Here are some tips from Chicago-area builders:

What's your gut feeling about the builder? Do you trust him? Does his contract protect you or is it all about him? Something always goes wrong when you build a house, so you have to have a relationship that will see you through it. When you visit homes he's built, ask the owners about this.

It's paramount that the client, builder and architect work together. The client has a vision, the architect the creativity and the builder the technical skills. It you don't think the three of you will make a good team, it's going to be a very long six months.

Charlie Murphy, president and chief executive of Icon Development Group in Algonquin

Ask if the owner will be involved in the construction. Too many times a homeowner signs the contract, gives the deposit check to the owner and never sees him again. I stop at each of my projects everyday so I have my finger on the pulse.

He should be organized or your project will be disorganized and it will cost you money. We have laptops, iPads, iPhones CQ and live streaming cameras so we can stay on top of the process.

He should spend your money just like it's his. Too many times, builders, architects and designers want to build monuments to themselves to showcase their work, but it's not about them. It should always be about you and your needs and desires.

Robert Berg, owner of Foster Design Build in Chicago

Today's custom house is an efficient machine. Your builder has to be sophisticated enough to use subcontractors and consultants who understand the technologies. If they aren't up-to-date, we won't work with them.

But beauty of custom is the house evolves. We don't know what the space will be like until we build it, so there are opportunities to make it better. Your builder/client relationship has to go with it.

Families change, too. One client's significant other moved in with her kids, which led to some changes to the very masculine design.

As the project evolves, will the builder be available to talk? Can you reach him on a Sunday night after you return from your weekend trip? If you can, the finished house will be better in the end.

Roc Roney, co-owner of Crescent Rock Inc. in Chicago

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