How to choose...
Picking a tiny home builder that is right for you!
In the past ten years the tiny house movement has really taken the nation by storm, many onlookers and commentators have observed an increase of tiny home builders on the Tiny House Scene. These days without there being one main source of inspection and regulation for the industry, it seems as though anyone with a trailer, some wood, and a little construction background can call themselves a tiny home builder.
So, just how does someone go about choosing a tiny home builder that is right for them? Here are some helpful tips that we always suggest to any customer before they sign on the dotted line. The following 6 points are your “tiny home builder homework.”
1. Can you tour their facility?
It is always worthwhile for you to take the time and possibly travel the distance to meet your builders face to face and see their product in person. We highly suggest this! As we all know pictures can be deceiving and with the right photo angles things can appear different. The other benefit of touring their facility is that you can possibly see other builds in different phases and really get a feel for the entire process. If you cannot make travel plans, then maybe even request a skype or “facetime” conference call.
2. Are you comparing apples to apples?
When you are looking at finished homes by builders, different details cost drastically amounts of money. Starting from the trailer and moving vertical there are significant variables in material and labor costs for some features. Is your builder using a purpose-built tiny home trailer or a bare bones re-purposed utility trailer? Build materials such as spray foam insulation versus standard batt insulation, metal frame walls versus wood frame, Ready to Assemble (RTA) cabinets versus custom made cabinetry are just a few of the examples that can separate builders end products in quality and price.
3. What do their reviews say?
Does your builder have any testimonials you can read from clients they have built homes for? Can you speak to any of those past clients personally and hear from them on how their build went? If this is an option take advantage of it! Speaking to a previous customer can give you insight on how the build process went, did the builder meet their time lines, and has the builder responded to any warranty issues. Let’s be honest no one is perfect and with any new home there may be some bugs that need to be worked out but how your potential builder handled these issues for their previous clients is going to tell you a lot. Do they have any google or FB reviews on their company? Did you know that a business can chose to turn off their reviews/recommendations on FB and in turn hiding any negative comments made about them? Everyone has an opinion and a keyboard now a days so if there is a negative review about your builder you should ask them about it and let your builder explain their side.
4. Are they properly insured?
Ask your builder for proof of insurance and what that insurance covers. Here is an example for you: Your home is about 90% complete and at this point your builder has a significant amount of your money. Crazy rain storm rolls in and the builder’s warehouse is struck by lighting and their building along with your home burns down. Are you covered? These are very important questions to ensure your investment is safe no matter the situation.
5. What certifications does the builder carry and how can these certifications help or hinder you?
While there are multiple different certifications and inspection companies for your builder to choose from (examples: RVIA, Pacific West Associates, Bildsworth, Noah to name a few) which one or combination of certifications does your potential builder use and why? Maybe you are planning to place the tiny home on a spot and never move it again. Or maybe you are wanting a more towable model for getting your nomad on. Everyone's situation is different and so are their needs! Make sure you understand which certification best suites your build and in turn make sure your builder of choice can build to that standard.
6. Can they build you the house of your dreams?
Some builders claim they offer “custom” builds but what they are really offering is a set group of models that they can make slight make changes to for the customer. What Movable Roots has discovered is when looking to live in a tiny home 365 days a year (full-time) a standard model does not work for a large majority of buyers. Can your builder take your daily needs, tiny house dream features and design a tiny home around what you need to make this journey work best for you?
By doing your homework upfront you will prevent some major headaches down the road. If your potential builder cannot help you get the answers to the above points, we recommend you keep looking. Doing thorough research and asking good questions before you sign a contract will help you find the right builder. You are investing in your future and you deserve to be 100% “in the know” about your builder, their build process, and how you will be treated once you take possession of your home.