We have a builder!
I cannot really express how happy this makes me. I will run down the interview process we have gone through over the last couple weeks and how we came to this decision.
1. The first company we interviewed was an owner-builder consultant. We had this option on the table because we have the time and a little experience from the house we remodeled. The meeting went great and the company seemed to have a great system. Basically they help you get the subs and they have 23 site visits to make sure you are on track but you are in charge of the build for the most part. We could not quite shake the feeling of nervousness simply because we had not built before and what if needed more hand-holding than the program allowed. But we kept it on the table since we would see significant savings going this route.
2. Next up was a father-son team in business for 30 years and they specialize in "affordable homes". The meeting was actually really frustrating. We thought we came prepared (an ipad full of ideas, a rough floor plan, all the info on our lot) but the meeting seemed to drag right from the beginning. It was almost as though we were supposed to lead it but we had no idea what to say. They were nice enough but we just left feel meh about it. There was also no follow up on their part.
3. Next was a local, higher end builder/architect. He was very friendly and very professional. The meeting flowed very easily and he had great next steps for us to follow and seemed excited about the prospect. But we could not seem to really get on the same page with him. The last house he build was a million plus water front mansion with solar panels and custom, recycled glass backsplashes. He was talking about windows that were $900 a piece and hardwoods made of special trees... just not what we can afford. He quoted us a price per square foot price that was miles above our budget and then tried to backpedal saying we could have my husband do some work and build essentially a shell and do the rest later. Last thing I want to do is build half a house just to pay someone with fancy credentials. He is a amazing and has a great reputation in the community and I am sure he will quickly move on to someone with a less restrictive budget.
4. Before this meeting, we were feeling like we were going to have to go with the first company, the owner-builder consultant. But then we met with this local company. Also a family owner company, in business since 1951. The current owner has been a builder for 30 years and he was so wonderfully friendly. He was excited about our project right from the start and showed us other homes he had done in our price range. The company has this really cool owner builder program where they build the walls of your shell in their factory and then assemble them on the lot. It really helps save time and money. You can have him go all the way through drywall and then we can sub out the rest. Which works well since my brother in law is a pro painter and my husband has a good friend who does plumbing. He immediately set up the next appointment, which was to walk the lot with us and we quickly agreed. I really feel that he will be the one to get us from empty lot to brand new home!