Building a Dream: Our Vacation Rental Property Series #4

Selecting a Builder

So hopefully you’ve been keeping up with the series and have heard about my family’s adventure in finding and building a vacation rental property.  We’ve discussed  looking for real estate, buying the land, and searching for a builder for our dream home in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  In case you’ve missed any you can find those episodes by clicking the links here, here and here.  Ok, now that we’re all caught up, I want to pick up where I left off. We had just sent the looooooong questionnaire to 3 builders and were eagerly awaiting their replies.  Each of their responses couldn’t have been more different.  Builder A, who could better be termed as a developer (which is a rarity in OBX since the community is relatively small), answered all of our questions and also took me on a tour of one of their homes and created a several-page-long packet showing us what we could get for our budget including selections of floorplan, finishes, etc.  Builder B, who is known for being OBX’s “green” builder also responded by answering each of our questions thoroughly and followed up with a phone call as well.  Finally, Builder C opted to not respond to our questions in full but rather called us and attempted to sell us on his services.

After reviewing these 3 very different responses, our selection was evident.  We decided were not at all interested in working with a developer (Builder A) who would only allow us to select certain cabinets from a certain company in a prescribed finish.  Also, when I was taken on a tour, the rep from Builder A picked me up in a dirty minivan and it was just a real turnoff.  If your business is trying to win a client who’s about to plop down about a half mil to build a custom home, at least have the tour guide vacuum out their car – I would have even preferred if the rep had hopped in my car.  Builder C who didn’t even “have the time” to respond to all of our questions as we had asked (even though he probably was the least expensive option) was obviously out.

The builder we did select, Builder B, not only answered all of our questions but we were also happy to have green, eco-friendly expertise available at our fingertips.  He was also willing to consider any “oddball” thing we brought up, like building a pre-fab home, which he had never done (ultimately, we decided against this because of all of the strict building codes for coastal, hurricane resistant homes would have negated the cost effectiveness).  He was open to us being as involved as we wanted to be or could be given our long distance during the building process.  He was not at all pushy, and just seemed to be a regular, down to earth, experienced and nice guy.  Above all, what we valued most was that he was responsive.  If we asked a question, he answered either via email or text within hours.  If we called him he called us back.  You may be thinking, “duh”, since it’s sort of important thing for a business-owner to return their client’s inquiries, right?  You’d be surprised.  Maybe it’s a regional thing.  We had high expectations.  At the time, both my husband and I worked in Washington DC’s fast paced Federal Government Contracting industry in which we competed fiercely for our client’s business.  Certainly, the mindset in OBX is not as competitive, it’s MUCH more laid back (as we’d learn in our dealing with other vendors).  We knew we’d be most happy working with a builder who was client oriented.

We made our builder selection while we were searching for land which I highly recommend.  Our builder came with me to plots of land to help us select the right one for building and met with us separately to discuss budget, pools, architects, and floorplans before we ever even signed a contract. Selecting the right builder is SO important.  I think we definitely made an excellent choice.  Our builder managed the project from start to finish, was responsive, provided impeccable workmanship and quality control, and gave us our dream beach house and meanwhile made the whole experience positive and enjoyable.

Next installment in the series we’ll talk about floorplans, architects and custom versus cookie cutter.

Serene view of Currituck Sound in Duck, NC