5 questions you should ask before building a house in Birmingham, answered by a top building expert

Read Time 4 Minutes


I just imagine sitting in this study and feeling quite intelligent and important. Photo via Slate Barganier

Building a house can be one of the most daunting tasks you can take on. Whether you’re a newly married couple, a professional looking for something permanent, empty nesters, or anything in-between—we found the top 5 questions you need to ask and sought out answers from a top building expert in Birmingham, AL.  Keep reading to see what we found.

Question #1: How do I find a reputable builder?

The marble. The floors. I could spend all day in this kitchen and not complain a bit. Photo via Slate Barganier

First things first: recruit some assistance. Start your search for a builder! 

The Birmingham home building experts at Slate Barganier have been around the block a time or two (they probably also built the block). These guys have been in Birmingham for years and know what they’re doing.  So, we tapped their knowledge for this Q&A.

Slate Barganier advises taking your time and doing your research. After all, this is who will be bringing your dream to life! 

“Interview each builder personally and ask for lots of references.  Building is not easy and no company is perfect, but you should partner with a company that has a long track record of good relationships with their clients.”

Tison Barganier, Co-Founder

What to Look for in a Builder

Sleep like a queen (or king!) in this master bedroom. Photo via Slate Barganier

So, while you’re doing all this research, what should you be looking for? What’s actually important in a builder? 

Here are Slate Barganier’s recommended 4 boxes to check before you make a decision:

  • You should partner with a builder that you trust. Building a house is the beginning of a lifetime relationship with your builder. 
  • Look for a company that is established, reputable, and has a presence in the community. 
  • Make sure you choose a builder that focuses on the details of the project prior to starting construction
  • Check that your builder that has long-standing relationships with subcontractors and local vendors

Question #2: What are the benefits of building over buying?

I’m an absolute sucker for greenery on white brick. Photo via Slate Barganier

Custom home design truly allows for your living space to reflect your personal style. Most people spend a good portion of their lives in their homes, so you want it to be designed in a way that you love, and also in a way that works for your lifestyle.

As you can see from all this gorgeous work, the right home builder can really execute your vision and do it well. Designing and building your own home allows for more customization to meet your specific needs. You can pick floor plans and finishes that work for you and your family. 

Slate Barganier’s example (and pro tip): 

Many of today’s designs don’t include a separate formal dining room that many only use a few times per year, but rather an open eating area that’s part of the kitchen and living space.

Question #3: How does the process work from start to finish?

A dream for entertaining! Photo via Slate Barganier

Slate Barganier breaks down their process into five main steps:

1. Initial Visit: Slate Barganier wants to know your VISION.  At your initial meeting, you will thoroughly discuss all of the details necessary for their team to prepare a proposal. If you need some visual inspiration, check out some of their recent work!

2. Preliminary Proposal and Presentation: After the initial visit, Slate Barganier’s estimating team will schedule a site visit before they prepare and send you a detailed proposal and cost analysis that outlines every phase of the construction process.  After your review, they will visit with you in person to discuss the project further and make any changes or adjustments.

3. Acceptance and Contract: Once you have chosen a partnership with Slate Barganier Building, their team will prepare the construction contract documents, assign a project manager, and begin planning a construction schedule and start date. 

4. Construction Operations: A project manager is assigned to every project. They become your day to day contact for all construction-related dialogue. Weekly meetings are scheduled to discuss past, current, and future progress, as well as selection decisions that may be approaching. 

5. Construction Completion and Warranty: As you near the end of the construction process, your project manager will schedule a series of project inspections with you and determine a completion and possession date. The Slate Barganier team will present you with your warranty documents and procedure, as well as prepare a “move-in” manual that will include pertinent information about your project and project selections. 

Question #4: What’s a common mistake first-time builders make?

The natural light in here is almost as beautiful as this bathtub. Photo via Slate Barganier

This was the question I was most curious about. Here’s what the experts had to say:

“Believing that cheapest is best.  A home is usually the largest single investment that a person makes in their lifetime, and the old adage that you get what you pay for is certainly true.”

Makes sense. There are plenty of places to cut corners and save a buck, but your brand-new home probably isn’t one of them.

Budgeting for a new home can be quite a daunting task. However, Slate Barganier is right—your home is an investment. Likely one of the biggest you’ll ever make.

After your initial visit with Slate Barganier, their estimator will visit the site of your home with a few subcontractors and vendors in order to give you the most accurate cost estimation. You’ll never go in blind to a project here.

Develop your budget beforehand and know how much you’re prepared to spend. Knowing this information on the front end can make the whole process smoother!

Question #5: Why is Birmingham a good place to build a home?

Sitting in this courtyard during a Birmingham spring seems like a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Photo via Slate Barganier

Besides the obvious answer, “It’s the best place to live,” Slate Barganier says that Birmingham, AL is home to talented architects, designers, and building companies who are able to implement the designs you want. 

Plus, the costs of construction are relatively low in comparison to other markets. 

Birmingham is truly a wonderful city to visit, and it’s also a wonderful city in which to put down roots. Everyone that works at Slate Barganier lives in Birmingham, and their founders are both Alabama natives. If anyone can bring your forever home to life, it’s this group!

Thinking about building? Have more questions? Contact Slate Barganier today to find all the answers you’re looking for!

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Beth Cunningham
A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.
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