Red Flags You Should Watch Out for in Home Builders

December 20, 2021

Once you have opted to build your new home, the first thing to decide is your builder. Not all home builders produce equal work, and it is important that you know what to look for when making your selection. Here are some red flags that probably mean you should steer your business elsewhere.

Sparse Online Reviews

When researching home builders, check out their online reviews. Online reviews can be very telling, if you know what to look for. If the reviews seem overly sparse, this could be an indication that the builder hasn’t received many positive reviews or that they are inexperienced. Additionally, look at the review dates. If the reviews are old, the contractor might not be up to speed on current methods. Even when reviews are plentiful and current, watch out for fake reviews. Overstated, cliché, and obviously biased reviews might be incentivized. Find balanced reviews and read samples from both the positive and negative sides. This should give you an accurate overall picture to judge from.

No References

When you hire a contractor, get at least three references. You want the very best builder for your home, and solid references can help establish that. Ask for references that aren’t related to the builder and that had similar jobs done recently. Once you have the references in hand, call them! Find out how well the contractor communicated with them, what kind of people the crew and subcontractors were, if they felt they were fair and honest, and if the project was completed on time, on budget, and to their satisfaction. If a home builder can’t provide you with references, move on. Good contractors will have a long list of happy customers who are willing to provide a referral to potential clients.

Lack of Transparency

Transparency is a modern catchword that seems to be lacking in many businesses, government agencies, and interpersonal relations, and yet, transparency is critical. Any home builder you are considering should be able and willing to provide you with any pertinent information about the company and the work they will be doing. They should offer you names of their crew and subcontractors, where they source their materials, how well they follow code, proof of being licensed and insured, how long the project will take, what the potential setbacks are, and how much it should cost.

Unsafe Practices

Safety should be a priority for the contractor you select. Feel free to ask about safety measures utilized by any contractor you are considering. Not only will you be reassured that no one will be harmed building your home, but home builders who put safety first are more likely to value your needs as well. Ask about proper use of scaffolding, ladders, helmets, harnesses, and electrical wires. Additionally, it is a good idea to ask about their equipment. Builders may violate OSHA regulations by modifying forklift attachments and other machinery. When it comes to safety on your property, it is always better to be safe than sorry.


Any sign of dishonesty is one of the top red flags to watch for. Are they willing to cut corners, bypass obtaining all the required permits, or lie to third parties? If so, they will most likely lie to you. Find a home builder who is honest and upfront about everything they do, even if they must tell you something you don’t want to hear. Look for a contractor who prides themself on honesty, and who can prove it with reviews and referrals.

Poor Communication

Communication is key. Find a home builder who is anxious to develop a relationship with you. Your builder should open communication with you over the phone, through text, by email, and especially face-to-face. They should be quick to return your communication, and willing to give you regular updates on the progress of your home. One easy way to know if a contractor will be a good communicator is to see how quickly they get back with you after you make the initial contact. If it takes more than a day, go with someone else. While contractors are often busy on-site, they should create time every day for client communication.

Complaints with Better Business Bureau

Two great resources for digging into the history of a contractor are the Better Business Bureau and the Contractor’s State Licensing Board. Go to their websites and search for the contractors you are researching. If there are several customer complaints listed on either site, consider going with another builder. Even if mistakes happened or something wasn’t up to par, a good contractor would have addressed the complaints to the client’s satisfaction, which will be reflected on the website. The Better Business Bureau will also list which local services are BBB accredited, which is basically a stamp of approval by the bureau.

Unclear or Lack of a Detailed Contract

Any builder you select should write up a clear, detailed contract and sit down to review it with you. Never be out of the loop when it comes to a timeline, materials used, or an estimated cost. Make sure that you understand each line of the contract. Be sure to ask questions if something is confusing you. The builder should leave you with a copy of the contract to refer to, and both parties should sign it. Never go into a home build without clear and unified expectations. Additionally, as part of the contract, a reputable builder will take care of acquiring the necessary permits for you.

Charges Large Down Payment

Most respectable home builders will only charge you around 15% down. If a contractor is asking for 30% or more, that could be a red flag. The more money a contractor requires as a down payment, the more you should wonder if they plan on finishing.

When selecting a home builder, know the red flags and make the best choice. Getting the right builder is critical, because home is absolutely everything. Give yourself the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you got the very best.

Need to make a change in your home after moving in? Check out this article here!

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