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Taking the Fear Out of Home Building

Taking the Fear Out of Home Building

Considering the current construction environment in which good trades are in hot demand and wait lists for reputable builders continue to stack up, it is a massive understatement to say that entering into the construction process can be somewhat overwhelming and even downright scary. Choosing the right builder for the project is one of the most crucial steps in the entire process.

Jennifer Knappe, owner of Cedar Creek Custom Homes, LLC, says that “while most home builders aren’t malicious or intentionally causing their clients undue stress, there are some whose lack of professionalism, business experience and construction knowledge inadvertently creates less than ideal circumstances for the homeowner.”

During the initial stages, or what the builder would call the pre-construction phase, it is important to look for simple ways to mitigate risk. Jennifer’s mission is to empower those who want to build a new home with the right knowledge and the right tools to help them feel more comfortable and confident with moving into the construction phase of the project.

“There are three things I would look for when talking to a builder about starting a new project,” says Jennifer, “ensuring that the prospective builder is licensed and insured is number one.”

Working with a builder who is willing to go through the paperwork of becoming properly licensed is a good start to ensuring that they take their business seriously. Homeowners can search contractor licenses on the website for the Bureau of Occupational Licenses as administered by the State of Idaho.

Dealing with a builder who invests in their own general liability insurance not only protects the builder but also protects the homeowner. Professional contractors will even ensure that every one of their subcontractors carry their own liability insurance coverage.

“Asking your prospective builder to prove that they hold current liability insurance should be easy and fully expected,” Jennifer reassures. “This is a normal process, and a reputable builder won’t be surprised when you ask these types of questions.” If the contractor hesitates or cannot provide adequate documentation, it may be a sign to move onto a more legitimate candidate.

“The second thing I would ask to see is a copy of their construction contract,” says Jennifer. Building a home is a major, complex transaction, and the process should not be started without proper paperwork in place. The contract should include timelines, budgets, pricing and any warranty promises. Gone are the days when handshake deals are acceptable. Homeowners should protect themselves by insisting that the builder is taking this endeavor seriously. Jennifer emphasizes the third criteria that she would not compromise on is proper financial management for the project. “I would want to know that my builder has processes and technology in place to manage our investment prudently. This is probably the most crucial aspect that some builders fall short on.”

Jennifer continues to add that without proper financial management systems in place, homeowners leave themselves at risk for overages and budget discrepancies that could have been avoided from the beginning.

“Our clients come to us for our obsessive approach to financial management. Homeowners start with a thorough budget in place with allowances for each phase of the build. As we move along through the process, they are able to follow along with actual costs in real time from their own computer.”

' People looking to build a home need to take a more active, investigative role when choosing a home builder. It’s about a lot more than just dollars and cents. The beginning of a great home building experience starts with empowered homeowners who know what to ask and what to expect from their builder.

Cedar Creek Custom Homes LLC has been obsessing over the details of custom home building since 2010. Their clients come to them looking for a better way to handle project finances, up-to-date energy efficiency practices and impeccable quality control.

Cedar Creek Custom Homes LLC

PO Box 2218

Priest River, Idaho 83856


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