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How to Choose A Home Builder For Your Riverfront Home

How do you choose a builder for your custom mountain riverfront home? There are so many builders to choose from and the results of choosing poorly have such lasting repercussions on your family’s time, safety, and finances, it can be incredibly overwhelming. It is even more important for those building on riverfront property as weather, flooding, and continuous exposure to moisture can damage poorly built homes. Don’t worry, we are here to help! Here are a few pointers to help you find the best builder for your riverfront home. 

Create A List Of Priorities 

While your builder, architect, and interior designer can all make recommendations, before you talk to anyone, it is generally a good idea to have a list of must-have features of your new home. Start with the number of bedrooms and baths, overall square footage, and levels of the home you want. Then move on to rooms that are important for you. Maybe it is a fully equipped kitchen or a movie room, stunning screened-in porch, or spa features in the master bathroom. Maybe you just know you need a laundry chute or a dog shower for Buddy. Once you have a list of home features that are important to you. Put them in order of top priorities to features you could live without, not that you will have to! This list does not have to be set in stone or fully fleshed out yet. Just having a list will help you understand your needs while interviewing prospective builders. Whether they offer the feature or have experience building it will help you narrow the choices. 

Search by Word of Mouth and Keystroke

Ask friends and family, neighbors, and real estate agents in the area. This should yield a few companies to get you started, and perhaps a few to avoid entirely. Local opinions are even more important for mountain riverfront homes because they have seen as a community how those homes have held up over time being that close to a water source and on mountainous terrain.  When searching online, be specific. Don’t search “home builders in Western North Carolina”,  search “award-winning home builders in Western North Carolina”. This will help you narrow down builders with experience building high quality, luxury homes. While online reviews can be helpful with a grain of salt, talking to locals is the best way to assess a builder’s reputation. 

Interview Prospective Builders

Once you have compiled a list of builders, the next step is to begin the interview process. Contact them online or by phone to set up a face-to-face and note the responsiveness, knowledge, and friendliness of team members. Have your questions written down and ready so you are sure not to forget them. An experienced builder will not be intimidated by your questions. Remember, you are the interviewer so do not feel uncomfortable asking questions. 

Ask Prospective Builders Interview Questions About Their…


Experience, not only as a builder, but building a home by a river will be one of the most important factors to gauge with each prospect. Living in a sustainable home that can resist mold or potential flooding over the years is crucial to the financial and safety status for years to come.  Here are a few questions to get you started. 

  • How long have they been in business? 
  • Have they built a home similar to yours in style, size, and quality previously?
  • What are some of the challenges of building in the area and how do you account for them? 
  • What materials do you like to use? Obviously the answer will vary, but you are really looking to hear intelligent explanations for their choices and their knowledge of the subject matter. 
  • Have they received any local or national industry recognition such as awards or certificates? 

Communication Style

How a builder communicates, and how often, with not only you but their team and other contractors like architects and interior designers, will be incredibly important during your home building process. It can speed up or slow down the process, and even keep you sane when setbacks occur. Here are a few questions to ask, but remember to really watch and listen to see if they seem uncomfortable or annoyed by the questions. 

  • Who will be my contact person? 
  • How large is your team?
  • How often will I be updated?
  • What does your relationship with interior designers and architects look like on the job?


What do they offer clients? Many builders offer spec homes or only certain floor plans to minimize cost. Some builders only offer certain types of contracts to minimize risk. These are all questions to ask before you choose a builder. 

  • Do you offer semi or fully custom homes? 
  • Do you offer fixed or cost plus contracts?
  • Do you offer a warranty?

Ready, Set…Research!

Once the interview process is complete, research! Fact check what your top candidate proposed. Weigh the pros and cons of their terms, and consider what works best for you. Here are some ways to continue your research on the best candidate. 

See Samples of Their Work 

Ask to tour their model homes, current builds, or drive by some of their recent builds. See examples of their work. Ask them for examples of documents like contracts, warranties, schedules, and budgets. The important thing to consider in these documents is the level of detail given to each. Though yours will most likely be very different, you will be able to identify details of their basic warranty, see how accurately they stuck with the budget, what features may require a higher cost, and how up-to-date the schedule is kept for their team members and buyers. 

Verify Credentials

North Carolina law requires that all builders maintain a state-issued building license. There is a different license for each project size, so verify your home size falls within their given license. Ask for their insurance information so that you can verify they are in good standing with their insurance company. Also, confirm their warranties are through a third party so that in the event the company goes out of business, you are still covered by insurance. 

Ask For References 

This may seem like something to skip over, but it can actually be incredibly enlightening. It is a good idea to ask for a reference from a client whose home has been completed for some time and from a client who is in the building process. The person with the completed home will have had time to reflect on the process and to assess the functional and aesthetic aspects of the home over time. They might even offer recommendations gleaned from their own building. The client currently in the building process can speak to the benefits of the building company in its current state. What communication looks like, how they handle setbacks, team members they like, etc. 

Take Your Time 

While research and the answers to their questions are important, it is equally important that you feel comfortable with them. It usually takes about 3 to 6 months to build a home, or 8 months to 2 years for a fully custom home, depending on the features. Either way, that is a long time to spend with someone. Not to mention construction rarely doesn’t involve some sort of setback or compromise. You have to be comfortable with them and their communication style and trust this person takes your dreams seriously. So, take your time and consider a number of builders. 

Are you interested in mountain riverfront living? Look no further than the Cullowhee River Club in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Build the home of your dreams surrounded by the natural landscapes of Western North Carolina.