Home Building Tips

Where we build

1. Determine a realistic budget

Before shopping for a home, you should consult with a lender. A lender can pre-qualify you for your loan amount. Your loan amount plus the amount you are planning on putting down on the home will determine your purchase price and budget.

2. Be sure to look for a community, not just a neighborhood

Many factors determine the right location to live. If children are a factor, confirm the school district. Check with the homeowner’s association, if applicable, to determine what is included in your association dues and confirm the dues amount. Verify if the neighborhood is part of a SSA (Special Service Area). If so, take a moment to understand what this means and how it will effect you. An SSA may result in an increased tax bill and should be considered as part of your total monthly living costs.

3. Research your builder

A home is usually the largest single purchase that one makes so when choosing your builder, choose wisely by doing your homework.

As simple as it sounds, researching a builder is often overlooked by consumers, yet is probably the most important thing to do when purchasing a new home.

You can start with a visit to the model home as this will serve as a direct reflection of the builder’s quality of work.


Ask the builder for a list of references – and not just one or two. Ask about their history with lawsuits and arbitration cases. How many times and when have they been sued or taken to arbitration? Be sure to inquire about the experience level and longevity of the builder’s staff. There may be issues with a builder who has had a great deal of turnover with their employees. Remember, those employees will be with you through the entire building process, which takes months to complete.

Third parties are a good source of feedback too. Be sure to check out the websites from organizations such as the Better Business Bureau (Chicago.BBB.org). Also ask your attorney, friends, family, co-workers, etc. about their experiences with the builder you are contemplating building with.

4. Ask what is included and get it in writing

Be sure to get a list of standard and/or included features. It’s difficult to compare builders side by side if you take the “price per square foot approach.” What is included as standard by one builder may be an additional cost for another. Be sure you know what you’re getting as included standard features and make sure it’s in writing.