For many people, building a custom home in Asheville or Western North Carolina is the culmination of a lifetime of work and effort, and represents a dream of the owners. It is often a retirement destination, a place to gather with children and grandchildren, friends and extended family. As a result, the buyer’s investment often is much deeper than the monetary value of the property and the structure to be built on the site.

The construction of a custom-built home is so much more than open framing and fancy finishes. For a builder, constructing a custom home is an experience, an investment in another person’s life and happiness.

But building a home in the Blue Ridge Mountains can have its challenges. Sometimes you’re constrained by lot size or terrain, and weather can wreak havoc on construction schedules. These challenges can create difficulties for a family’s budget and a builder’s construction timeline.

If you’re considering a mountain retreat, you want a builder that understands both the technical and the human factors that are involved in creating a custom mountain home. How do you find a custom home builder who can get you through the process with your sanity – and budget – intact?

Here are some tips and questions to keep in mind when looking for an Asheville, NC home builder:

1. How Long Have They Been Building in Asheville?

A custom home builder’s experience in the industry matters, so ask to see examples of their work, and ask for and check their references. Ask other homeowners about the accuracy of the builder’s original estimates; whether the home was delivered on time and on budget; how they handled changes; and how well they communicated with the homeowner when answering questions or when decisions were needed.

2. Check The Builder’s License

Make sure the builder has a valid, current license with the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors. As an example, here’s a link to my listing. Ask local suppliers and subcontractors whether the builder pays his invoices on time. These are indicators of the integrity of the builder.

3. Will The Home Provide Long Term Value?

We believe that top-quality products lead to superior construction. We are proud of our relationship with trusted long-time suppliers like Fypon Millwork and AdvanTech flooring and sheathing who offer products with strong warranties, and installation teams whose work has passed the test of time. This helps to reduce homeowners’ maintenance requirements and callbacks.

Using top-quality products makes a difference, as mountain homes can be exposed to harsh conditions for extended periods of time. Green building practices and Energy Star-certified products also ensure that buyers enjoy lower energy bills and more comfort over the long term. Features like high-amp electrical service and wiring to handle modern gadgetry, like video and entertainment and security systems, give buyers peace of mind while maintaining the ability to stay connected to work or family.

4. Is The Builder Highly Organized & Detail-Oriented?

A quality custom home builder will have a list of questions to ask buyers to help them understand what features are important in the home. The ability to provide accurate estimates, track costs, and keep timelines on track also is crucial, to ensure all work is executed to the owner’s specifications, and meets local building codes. The result is greater customer satisfaction.

5. Does The Home Builder Communicate Clearly?

Clear, timely communication helps keep the homeowner informed of challenges, items that need review or input, and new developments. A custom home builder must be responsive to owners’ questions – they have a lot invested in this process, and sometimes they need reassurance when they have doubts or concerns. Regular communication ensures there are no surprises, especially at the end of the process.

6. Are They A Quality Home Builder?

Ask about the length of their warranty on structural elements, systems and workmanship. Do they stand behind their work? Do they use high-quality components like cabinets, tile, faucets and fixtures, from well-known vendors? Will the builder directly supervise all aspects of the construction project? A home buyer wants a builder who will be onsite often to ensure materials are as specified and of high quality, and provide the attention to detail to ensure that they are being installed properly.

7. Check Community & Industry Relationships

Your builder should have a strong network and good relationships with local professionals and agencies so that the proper permits are in place, and inspections and approvals occur in a timely fashion. A builder with integrity and a good local reputation also will be able to attract higher-quality subcontractors.

8. Listening Is Key

A builder should devote a substantial amount of time listening and understanding the buyer’s needs, lifestyle and plans for how they will use the home before a single shovel-full of dirt is moved or footing is dug. This pre-planning allows a custom home builder to tailor a package of construction and finish details that meets the needs of buyers and the complexities of a mountain building site. It’s critical for a custom builder to understand the people and environment of the Asheville area, and to know what buyers value in a Blue Ridge home.

9. How Will You Pay for Construction?

There are generally are two options when choosing how to pay a home builder: a “fixed cost” or “cost-plus” contract. Remember, customer satisfaction is not always about the lowest bid. With a cost-plus structure, also know as a “time and materials” contract, the owner pays the costs the contractor occurs, plus a predetermined rate. According to the American Bar Association:

“The cost-plus agreement is a good option when building and design plans are still fluid and time is a crucial factor in getting a project started.  The cost-plus agreement also has the potential to create a scenario where the owner is able to get a “good deal” on a project, paying only the cost of the actual materials and labor in the project plus a set negotiated fee.  Therefore, if there are cost savings during construction, they are passed onto the owner.” 

In today’s unstable market with tariff’s and price increasing monthly, a cost-plus contract can be the best way to go. The contractor will not need to pad the fixed cost estimate to cover themselves from these unforeseen cost increases.

Fowler & Associates Home Builders can also offer a fixed price, turnkey process that guarantees your new home will be completed on time and within budget.

10. Ask To See Document Examples

Speaking of contracts, ask to see examples of the home builder’s contracts, so you get a sense of exactly what will be included and what you will be agreeing to, including the following:

  • Total price of the home
  • Down payment required (which should not exceed 10% of total contract price)
  • When payments will be expected during the construction period
  • Description of materials and breakdown of costs
  • Specifications for appliances
  • Provisions covering whether construction waste materials are cleaned up and removed from the property, rather than just buried onsite

Of course, there are many other issues to consider when building a home in Asheville, so buyers should consult their legal and financial advisors. You can choose a custom home design using your own blueprints or a builder’s plans; build on your own lot or in an existing community; or consider a custom home remodeling or addition project. Whatever your choice, thinking through these questions will ensure you can find a local home building contractor whose work shows attention to detail and creates value for years to come.

At Fowler & Associates Home Builders, we limit the number of custom homes we build each year, which ensures we can deliver a home built with distinction, unquestionable value and superior craftsmanship. We focus on high-quality homes that offer endless customizations for our clients, and we choose the best materials to offer a finished product that will last generations. If you’re ready to begin, contact us!