We identified all of the builders we talked to through personal references. Our real estate agent recommended a builder he had worked with, and the sellers gave us the name of the builder for their house; his son now runs the company. We met with both of these builders in mid-2008 and showed them our drawings. They both expressed strong interest in working with us, and showed us some of their recent projects. Both received strong recommendations from their clients.
We gave both of them copies of the rough plans and asked for preliminary estimates. The agent’s builder never responded. We made one last stab at contacting him, and he promised to respond, but never did. We still have no idea why.
The seller’s builder came back with an initial figure that was well above our budget. That led to our decision to drop the separate guest room from the final plans. We gave these plans to this builder for a complete bid. He continued to solicit our business, and in particular started showing us a house that his company was substantially expanding. We made a few visits to this location at his invitation in 2009 and early 2010.
His first complete bid was still well above our budget. He was happy to work with us, and we iterated a few times on the specifications and bid. At one point he eliminated some items that we were not ready to give up, such as the geothermal heat pump. In general, we felt like our progress toward a final bid was slow and uncertain. We also wanted to get another bid to compare with.