SoCal Contractor was honored as one of the best custom home builders in Los Angeles by The Home Builder’s Digest and Best in Design by the Houzz.com community. We’re thrilled to be included amongst such incredible designers and builders in both of these categories and it got us thinking: What constitutes the ‘best?’ Do you just know it when you see it? The truth is, a number of factors go into determining the best when it comes to the design build community. It is not random nor arbitrary, but a signifier of first class quality and skill.
How do you know you’re hiring the best home builder?
The best custom home builders all share a few things in common: Firstly, this is an industry that rewards age and experience. SoCal Contractor, for example, is a second generation home builder with a number of large-scale projects, awards, and certifications under our belts. The best custom home builders are certified and well versed in the codes of their area and are always kept up-to-date.
Types of certifications include ASID (The American Society of Interior Design), AIA (American Institute of Architecture), or LEED AP (an environmental design certification that… Generally these certifications will be prominently displayed on designers websites, houzz pages, etc, or at the very least mentioned in their about me section. This is especially important when projects involve a lot of time, money, and construction. Before you hire a home builder, ask: “Has the builder attended any type of formal training or continuing education?”
Although an academic program is not required and someone with years of field experience can do a phenomenal job, it’s an added bonus if a contractor has more formal education. Our principal has completed a program in Construction Management from the University of Houston College of Technology and an ASID ReGreen certification. He regularly attends design build seminars, trade shows and events to stay up to date on codes, trends, technology, building materials and management techniques. Being deeply immersed in the field gives you a more well rounded and experience partner in your construction project.
Licensed & Insured
Is the contractor licensed to practice as a general contractor? Ask to see a copy of a current license. Ask if the builder has a valid workman’s comp insurance policy for their employees that will be on your site. If the contractor only employs sub contractors, do they have valid insurance and licenses? If not, you could be responsible for any of the workers if they get injured on your property. Does the contractor have insurance in case something in your home gets broken in the renovation and/or construction process? A construction site is a busy and sometimes dangerous place. Plenty of workers, heavy duty machinery and cumbersome materials are present on a daily basis. The reality is that things can break. Make sure the contractor is insured before hiring!
The Best Design Build Firms Have Efficient Systems
That means clear communication throughout the project. They’re open and honest and will tell you exactly what to expect. They have a clear process for dealing with “change orders” if an element of your project changes part-way through and are equipped to deal with these changes.
A good contractor should be able to give you some very broad ranges of what past projects with similar scopes cost, but will not be able to give you an accurate estimate until you provide a specific set of plans explaining exactly what will be done and what types of materials will be used. If someone gives you a firm quote without seeing plans, be careful. You could have a lot of change orders in your future (more on that in a minute).
With Design Experience Comes the Best Teams: Less stress. Less Overwhelm.
The best design build firms prioritize building projects that are made to last. As the old adage goes: “you get what you pay for” and this is where that comes in — with a higher-end design/build firm you’ll have a smoother work experience, better quality finishes and furniture that is made to last.
Creating your custom home is a major undertaking and you probably want the process to be as streamlined as possible. A great option is to hire a design/build firm, rather than try to hire a top-notch architect with the hope that the general contractor and interior designers you subsequently hire can implement their plans into the new home you imagine. Within the budget you set out, a design/build firm integrates both services under one roof. Think of a design/build firm as a one-stop-shop for all your luxury custom home building needs.
The Best Design/Build Firms Have Style & Principles
The best design build firms are experts in contemporary architecture and classic, traditional building techniques. They are leaders in sustainable architecture and green building techniques. The work with high profile clients, be it music moguls in LA and Beverly Hills or tech-leaders or financiers in Silicon Valley.
Over the years, our firm, SoCal Contractor, and our principals have established our reputation as an environmentally-responsible builder. In addition to our multiple accolades as the best interior designer and the top construction firm in L.A., we have also been named as a Greenopia’s Best BIZ winner.
The Best Design Build Firms are Unafraid to Say No
The Best firms are not desperate for work and turn down more work than they take on. They are upfront at the beginning of the process in discussing deadlines and needs to be sure they have the bandwidth to take on your project.
The Best Design Firms Have Excellent Reviews!
This one might go without saying, but chances are, part of the reason you selected the contractor is because you read great reviews about other client’s experiences online. If you liked your contractor, leave them a review! Reviews also help you because they eliminate the contractor’s potential clients from needing to call you as a referral.