Vail Daily column: How to choose a builder |

Vail Daily column: How to choose a builder

Joan Harned

Dear Joan,

We have always wanted to build a home that fit all of our wants and needs. We know we can still buy a lot in the community we prefer for a good price and we have noticed that the prices are starting to go up, so we are ready to finally make our move. Our question to you is how do I pick a contractor/builder? We know there are a lot of builders in the valley, but we need some criteria to base our decision on. Can you help?

Dear Dream Home Builder,

Building a custom home is an exciting endeavor, and you are right to be concerned with picking a good builder so that it does not become an agonizing experience. You are right that you can still get a good price on lots in many communities in this valley and hopefully you have your financing lined up if you are not using cash. I would say there are two main concerns when you are interviewing builders.

• First and foremost is finding a builder with a solid reputation. I would ask for references from past clients, and hopefully names and numbers so that you can speak with past clients of the builder. Equally important would be if you could look at homes the builder has built in the past.

• Second, it is important to find a builder that is “flexible” and will build the home you want, not necessarily what the builder wants. Of course a good builder will make suggestions, but ultimately it’s your choice.

One easy way to find a good builder is to talk to your reputable Realtor. Experienced Realtors can also help you with recommendations on other qualified professionals.

My last advice is to not “build on the cheap.” It is best to spend the most you can comfortably afford on the design, foundation, framing and finishes in the most important rooms. If the floor plan does not work for you, and for most families, then you will never realize the price you want when you sell someday, and almost everyone sells someday. Of course the kitchen is extremely important in design and finishes. Next would be the master bedroom and master bath. Even if you do not need a family room, it is a request of many buyers, so give that some thought when you are doing your design work. Do not exceed your budget, but remember quality pays off in the long run. Take your time finding the right people to help you build your dream, as they will make building an exciting, fulfilling experience.

Joan Harned is an owner-broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned at, 970-337-7777 or

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