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What to look for in a Builder:

We even care about customers who don’t choose Belanger Builders! That’s just how we roll. After all, it’s your dream we’re talking about here. The thing is, realizing any dream inevitably takes a little work. We believe it makes all the sense in the world for folks looking for a builder to put a little time and energy into being certain about their decision before they chose a builder. 

Here is a list of issues worthy of your consideration as you’re making your choice.

Builders License

First and foremost, check your builder’s license. Here in Michigan, all contractors offering to do work that totals $600 or more in labor and materials are required be licensed by the Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth. Their state license must be displayed in their place of business, and all contractors and their salespersons are required to carry a pocket card. Ask to see it. If they can’t (or won’t) show you a license, check the department's License Information database or call the Builders Licensing Unit at (517) 373-8376.

License Lookup

It also makes sense to check a builder’s license, to determine if any complaints have been filed against them. A License Lookup service is available online at and also available directly at If you need personal assistance in looking up a license, call the Builders Licensing Unit at 517-241-9254.

Certified Master Builder

Find a builder who guarantees their work. This often means finding a registered Certified Master Builder. We have this certification. No one who has worked to earn it wants to lose it. Industry certification and a written guarantee are a must! The guarantee should cover a percentage of such things as loss of deposit or non completion due to unexpected conditions, as well as materials cover and limited structural coverage well after the project is completed. Having such a guarantee in place will provide you peace of mind. Ask to see ours.

Quality Certification

Your builder/remodeler should have quality check systems in place, with people assigned specifically to carry them out at every critical stage of the building process. Insist on this, and on knowing who is accountable for what at any given moment. .


Three words: Reputation, Reputation, Reputation. Look at the work – arrange a site visit of a completed project, or even one your builder is working on (we’ll gladly provide an opportunity for you). Ask around, and get word-of-mouth referrals from residents and business owners. Talk to local building suppliers (ask your builder for a list of suppliers they use) and make sure the builder pays their bills on time. Look at customer testimonials, but don’t entirely trust them – ask for contact information and use it! And a Better Business Bureau check is always a good idea, too.


That “first step” is critical. If you’ve asked for an estimate and a builder doesn’t get back to you in the requested time, look elsewhere. Professional builders operate in a professional way. They respect your schedule, show up on time, present themselves in an organized fashion and deal with your questions and concerns openly, honestly and directly. How a builder deals with you before that contract is signed gives you a good indication of what can expect once the job begins.


Make certain your builder will provide you with a contract that references the plans, specifications, allowances, and scope of work, schedule, work stoppage, payment terms, and complete contract sum. Beware of “cost plus fee” basis contracts if the costs are yet unknown. You typically shouldn’t have to pay more than 30% down, and you might want to pay it by check. Make the final payment ONLY when the work is completed to your satisfaction.

Accurate Bids

When you’re asking for bids, be sure to ask all of the builders to bid apples-to-apples. Each one should bid on exactly the same thing in order for you to have an accurate comparison. We offer a design service that you might find helpful.We’ll draw your blueprints and prepare your specifications, so you can be sure everyone bids on the same project parameters. It is also a good idea to ask for an itemized bid, so you can more easily compare them to one another. Remember: You get what you pay for. The cheapest bid may not always be the best bid. You must decide how much quality that you are willing to pay for. If fine craftsmanship is important to you, don’t look to the cheapest bidder.

Insurance Coverage

Ask for copies of the contractor’s insurance coverage and make sure the coverage is current. Contractors should have personal liability, worker’s compensation, and property damage coverage. 

Integrity is a MUST

Integrity is a must. You’re trusting your home, your dream, your security to a builder. Keep in mind that good builders are good listeners, good communicators – good people. Check their affiliations. See how they show up in community. And pay particular attention to how they communicate with you. If you don’t establish a good rapport going into your project, don’t expect it to appear suddenly once the project gets rolling. That seldom happens. 

State Recommendations

The state also offers a great brochure about what to look for in a buider, available online at 

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