Finding a good, qualified builder isn’t as daunting as it might sound. Start by creating a list of potential builders from recommendations from your architect, the internet (look for quality of content), and local financial institutions that lend to builders (First Bank of Colorado is a great resource).
You may hear a few names repeated from different sources. These builders should become your short list. Set up a meeting to visit each one in their office and talk to them about their building approach. Look for indications that they’re interested in what you want instead of just getting you to sign up with them. Ask lots of questions, obtain a list of references, and call every one. Many of my clients ask for references, but very few actually call. Take the time to call references and ask questions. You’ll be surprised what people will tell you—both good and bad.
Finally, visit several new and older homes they’ve built. Take your architect with you if you don’t know what to look for and examine the quality of construction. Use a critical eye when observing the hardwood floors and how they are tucked under the baseboards. Examine the grout lines in all the tile work. Ask how the water heater efficiency rating is, if the house air conditioning is zoned, and look for the efficiency of the units. Look to see where they put the AC units (i.e., are they hidden? Does the noise penetrate common outdoor or indoor areas, etc.)? These are things you will be critical of when you live in a house, so make sure you are examining the finer details. Find out what kind of insulation was used, BATT or foam (foam is more efficient), and ask if there are any special areas they insulated (notably all bathroom interior walls and basement ceilings).
It may be a lot of work, but you’re about to spend a lot of money. Protect your investment—and your sanity—by finding out everything you can about the builders you’re considering and you’ll be much happier in the end!