5 Tips to Negotiating with Your Custom Homebuilder

5 Tips to Negotiating with Your Custom Homebuilder


Working with a custom homebuilder can be a daunting task for anyone, regardless of experience level. From coming up with a timeline to talking about costs, building your dream home can quickly turn frustrating. But, with some forethought, the whole process can be much more manageable. By working with a trustworthy homebuilder and having a clear plan of action, you’ll feel confident that your dream home is in the works.

Here are five tips on negotiating with your custom homebuilder:

1. Set Your Limits

Part of doing your research is knowing your costs. As you go in to talk, you should be armed with the knowledge of how much your project might cost. From there, you can determine how much you’re willing to spend.

Have a starting number, something you can come into the negotiations with, so you can establish the range you’re working in. That starting number should be lower than your ideal price, giving you the room to go up to it if need be.

You should also decide on an upper limit, a number that you absolutely cannot pass. The range between those numbers will give you some room to work as you discuss the project. Coming to the table with this range lets you and your custom homebuilder establish an agreement that works for both of you while also keeping costs down.

The best case scenario is that you get everything you want for much cheaper than you anticipated. Of course, the likelihood of that happening isn’t exactly sky high. But either way, deciding what range you’ll be working with allows you to set expectations and move forward accordingly.

2. Understand What’s Included

When discussing costs with your custom homebuilder, make sure you’re both clear on what comes in the agreement. Before you both decide on something, you need to figure out exactly what falls within the purview of the deal. A good plan would be to start at the low price point, then work within your budget to secure what upgrades you can as you address the specifics of the build.

When you’re working within a budget, you’ll need to put in the extra effort to get everything you can with it. If you change from one appliance to another, can you also secure additional lighting fixtures? What about the fixtures themselves? Have you looked at all the options? Working with your custom homebuilder will help you get the most, while still sticking to your budget.

3. What About Changes?

Before you leave the table, be sure to decide exactly how any change requests will work. It’s something many prospective homeowners forget, but it is by far one of the most important things to figure out ahead of time.

Ideally, everything in the initial plan will go off without a hitch. Things rarely ever work out perfectly though, and you need to know exactly what the protocol is for any adjustments you need to make along the way.

Without planning ahead, change requests can provide major hurdles for both parties. Your custom homebuilder needs to know as much as possible upfront to be able to budget and plan the project, and throwing off the balance of those plans can mean huge delays and extra costs for you. Coming to an agreement ahead of time will ensure a smooth process, saving everyone a massive headache.

4. Communicate Regularly

Throughout the whole process, it is imperative that you keep an open dialogue with your builder. You’re both on a team now and good communication is the cornerstone of any collaborative effort.

On your part, that just means you accurately convey what it is you want. Whether that means you use pictures as examples, read and cite articles on the subject, or sit down and take some time to write out exactly what you’re looking for is up to you. What matters is that you put in the extra effort to ensure you’re coming across as clearly as you can. Your custom homebuilder needs all the help they can to fully understand what you want the finished project to look like. Tell them what you want, then let them get to work.

While communication is important, you also need to give your custom homebuilder time to do what they need to do. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is any house! By putting in some forethought, you can accurately communicate your ideas and let the homebuilder get on with the actual work. Give them space and time, and you’ll be pleased with the results.

5. Make Sure You’re Both on the Same Page

Before you actually sit down to talk with anyone, do some research with your spouse or partner to become well versed in the home building market. Today, that’s as simple as sitting down at the computer and doing a few quick searches.

Look for any information on similar houses in your area to get an idea of how much money your home should cost, along with an estimate of how long it will take to complete.

Decide between the both of you what you want to communicate so you are asking for the same things and not giving mixed signals. Set which of you will be the primary contact for your homebuilder. Don’t make any decisions without consulting each other, as that will only lead to confusion down the road. If you want to communicate clearly with your custom homebuilder, you’ll need to first communicate clearly with each other.

If you make sure you’re armed with all the appropriate knowledge before beginning negotiations, you’ll have a more concrete idea of what to discuss, a clear idea of what you want, as well as the language to articulate it is the foundation of any project.

With that squared away, you can spend the time talking about what you want done, as opposed to learning the process during the meetings with your builder.

With your plan set, your budget decided upon, and your vision clarified, you’re well on the way to your dream home!