How to choose a home builder in Baja

by Cindy Lee Siegen , agent, dream homes of cabo

After finding the perfect home site, the next step is to find the right custom home builder.  In Cabo custom home
​builders can be architects, engineers, or general contractors. Solid companies will have all of these skill sets as part of their team.  Here are some suggestions to help you choose your perfect custom home builder in Cabo.

Start with a list of potential builders:
-    Do an internet search for builders in Cabo. Learn about the company dynamics; look at the gallery of photos; read the references. Established companies will have an informative, robust website. 
-    Ask your realtor for suggestions. Most knowledgeable realtors will know the quality builders. Some builders offer hefty commissions for a referral so ask your agent about this. You want to be sure you are getting a referral that comes from genuine good faith.
-    Look in the real estate trade magazines for possibilities.
-    Ask around in the area or neighbourhood where you plan to build. Neighbors can be a good source of suggestions.
-    Never meet one builder and stop there. Do your homework. 

Create a short list:
-    Ask each builder for references. 
-    Contact at least 5, preferably 10, previous clients of the builder. If the builder can’t supply that many satisfied clients move on. 
-    Then call these people and ask to see their homes. Don’t just listen to them tell you what a “nice guy” he or she was. Insist on seeing for yourself the finished product. 
-    Then look at each home carefully and critically. Turn on the taps and check the water pressure. Check for screens on the windows and patio doors. Look for water marks on the walls and around the windows. 
-    Look at the quality of the construction: cabinetry (adjustable shelves, soft close hinges, pull outs, termite resistance); the flooring (marble quality varies) , windows (low maintenance, screens), interior doors (termite resistance, hardware), door thresholds weather stripping patio doors (glass strength, low maintenance, tracks), stairs and railings, vanities, faucets, lightening, audio/visual, patios, pools, roof  - the list goes on and on. 
-    Is there true creatively displayed in the home or does it look like a Cabo “cookie cutter” home. A custom home should be an individual expression of the owner’s lifestyle and taste. 
-    Ask the owners if they have had any electrical, plumbing, air conditioning or pool problems. And, more importantly, how did the builder handle any problems. Was he willing to come back and fix things and who paid for these repairs?
-    Don’t assume just because the builder is a “gringo” you won’t be exploited. There are good apples and bad apples. Find the good apples by checking into the builder’s work. Don’t just rely on what someone might say or write about themselves. 
-    Ask the homeowner what damage their home had from Hurricane Odile. Well-constructed homes sustained far less damage than poorly constructed ones. 
-    Keep in mind, often the home featured by a builder will be their poster child. Be sure to look at homes within your budget range.
-    Look for builders who incorporate Green Building technologies and methods. Energy efficient homes are quickly becoming very important in the Baja as electricity prices sour. 
-    Narrow your choice to two or three builders.

Design Assignment:
-     Ask the builders on your short list to provide you with a conceptual design for your home. 
-    The design doesn’t need to be full architectural blueprints but rather just a basic floor plan concept drawing. 
-    Here is where you will see the creativity and communication skills of each potential builder. 
-    This will also be a good test to see how compatible you are with the builder. Building a house is a long term relationship. The easier it is to communicate and work together the better it is for everyone.
-    Some builders may charge for this service so be prepared to pay. Some may not. 
-    Ask the builder where he lives. Tell him you would like to see his house. This will tell you about his success and his assets. It will also show you how vested the builder is in the community

The Final Choice – Quality and Value:
-    Ask for a quote for the design you have selected. At this point, you will need to pay for a set of blueprints. The builders will need these to do a comprehensive quote. 
-    Be wary of builders who under quote just to get the job.  There is very little recourse if the money runs out and the house is half built. If the quote sounds too good to be true; it is.
-    Remember a finished home is more than a built house. What resources and contacts does the builder have to make the house a “dream home”? 
-    What does the builder bring to the table in terms of interior design?  How does the builder integrate the interior design elements into the construction? Are you left on your own to find to furnish and decorate? What are the choices and selections being offered for the interior design? What is the cost for these services? Keep in mind the interior design will include fans, light fixtures, furniture, art and accessories. How is the landscaping design and completion handled? And, don’t forget about these when estimating the cost of the home.

You should now be ready to make your final decision. 

This may seem like a long involved process but choosing the right builder is probably the most important decision you will make during the entire building process. Your experience building in Cabo could be a delightful, rewarding experience or a stressful nightmare for years depending on the builder you choose. Choose wisely.