Frequently Asked Questions

How much will it cost?
Many factors make up the final cost of a home including the square footage of the living area as well as items like decks, porches and garages. Other items that have a big impact on the final cost of a home are the complexity of the design and the selection of finish materials and systems that make up the finished product. Because of this, we discourage pricing homes by dollars per square foot and recommend pricing each home individually based on the design and specifications. Early in the design process we can give you a preliminary estimate of what it will cost to build your home. As we work with you to clarify the design and construction details you'll get a refined estimate of costs. Before a contract is signed, you'll have a detailed budget, and we'll make sure you know exactly what you're getting for your money. Your costs will not vary from the budget unless you approve changes to the plans or there are hidden problems in lot development.

Should my builder be involved in site selection and the design process?
We recommend that you work with a builder from the start, because they can help you avoid unnecessary costs and delays. Most reputable and experienced builders can make the entire process much easier for you. They have an understanding of the market and will help you design a home that meets your needs while working with the particular site conditions and general location. Because of our extensive experience in building and property development, we can help you evaluate a potential building site as to the suitability for construction and potential costs to develop it. We can also work with you through the design phase to suggest things that will help assure that you are getting a design and products that will work in Montana. We can guide you in making selections that will work together and can show you alternatives that will give you the results that you desire while keeping within your budget.

How do I select a custom builder?
The following are qualities that you should consider when you evaluate the potential builders of your new home:

1) Strong Reputation
Check references not only of recent customers, but also of people who have lived in their homes for a number of years. Poor quality may not be apparent immediately.

2) Experienced
A new home is a major investment. Make certain that the builder has the experience and qualification necessary to build your home the way you want it. You don't want someone learning on the job.

3) Trustworthy
You want someone you can trust. You will be relying on your builder to make hundreds of important decisions, and you need to be confident that they will treat you fairly. If you have the feeling that you are going to have to check everything they do, find another builder.

4) Financial Strength
The last thing you want is to be dragged into a fight between a builder and his creditors. Before you give a builder any money, check with his bank.

5) Understanding and Caring
Building a custom home is a dream come true. You've probably spent years thinking about it. Now you want to work with someone who will take the time to help make your dream become a pleasant reality rather than a nightmare. You probably will change your mind during the process and really good builders will work with you, while controlling costs.

6) Encourages You To Inspect Homes Under Construction
When a builder is really proud of his work, he will want you to see it under construction. Look at the quality of the framing, the insulation, the plumbing,the windows, and the craftsmanship and attitude of the subcontractors. This means much more than a glossy brochure.

7) Efficient Building Process In Place
Time is money. While the building process is complicated and involves hundreds of people and components, an efficient scheduling system will help the process move quickly and save you money. Be suspicious of a builder who says he keeps everything in his head or on a clipboard.

8) Detailed Specifications
The best builders go out of their way to make certain that you both agree on exactly what will be in the home. They would rather lose a potential customer at the beginning of the process than have a surprised or disappointed customer later. If you don't know exactly what you are getting, ask for it in writing.

9) Long Term Relationships With Quality Subcontractors
Most builders subcontract out much of the actual building process. Just as the best builders have strong long-term relationships with their subcontractors, the good subcontractors seek out long term relationships with good builders. That is the only way to maintain a high level of quality and service. Builders who constantly switch subcontractors in search of the lowest price, often end up with lesser quality and longer building times. Quality minded subcontractors see themselves as being partners in building a quality home, they want to continue that relationship with good builders, and they have the pride that is necessary to build a great home.

10) Membership in the National Association of Homebuilders
A quality builder knows the importance of keeping up with the latest developments that affect his business. One of the best ways to do this is to be an active member in the NAHB. Good builders are not afraid of associating with their competition. They welcome it as an opportunity to improve themselves and the product that they provide.

11) Good Communication skills
Part of building a home without having any unpleasant surprises is having a builder that has strong communication skills. They must be willing and able to constructively discuss any issues that may surface while building your home.

Can I make changes?
Building a new home is a complicated process. As the process goes along you may wish to change something due to any number of reasons. At Shelter West we pride ourselves as taking change orders in stride. We work hard to keep your home on schedule while accommodating changes. All change orders that affect final price or quality of finished work will be presented in writing to be approved by you. Change orders will describe the change and how it will affect the final price and expected changes to construction time.

The Custom Process