What does a Residential Builder do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A residential builder is a builder who specializes in constructing residences. Also known as a homebuilder, a residential builder can construct anything from an individual custom home which has been developed to exacting specifications to homes in a large real estate development. Like other types of builders, residential builders handle the numerous contractors involved in construction, from the people who dig the foundations to the crew that puts the roof on a home.

A residential builder specializes in constructing homes.
A residential builder specializes in constructing homes.

When a residential builder is approached about a construction job, he or she visits the site to learn more about it, talks with the architect who designed the project about the plans, and develops an estimate for the client. The estimate includes all costs associated with the project, laid out in a document which breaks the costs down so that people understand how the builder arrived at the estimate. Once the estimate is approved, the residential builder starts work.

Residential builders coordinate the construction site.
Residential builders coordinate the construction site.

Residential builders are the coordinators of the construction site. With the architect's drawings in hand, they find people to perform all of the work, including establishing foundations, framing and siding, roofing, and interior finishing such as plumbing, wiring, and drywalling. Residential builders can also order and install appliances, flooring, cabinetry, and other accessories, delivering a complete finished home at the end of the job.

Residential builders also handle tasks like ordering supplies, controlling supply costs, managing waste, confirming that all of the contractors and employees are qualified for the work, and working with property inspectors to ensure that the structure meets the building code. Typically, a residential builder has a large staff so that it can have several projects underway at once, and the staff includes people experienced in many different aspects of construction, from lawyers who handle construction issues to foremen with extensive experience in the field.

The services offered by a residential builder can vary widely. Many choose to specialize in particular types of projects, such as green homes, housing developments, custom homes, or homes of a particular style. When seeking a residential builder, people should definitely plan to meet with multiple builders, and they may want to ask their architect for recommendations, and consider asking around in the community to learn about the reputations of various building firms. It is also a very good idea to confirm that the builder has a valid business license and that the contractor's license associated with the firm is in good standing.

A residential builder may specialize in a certain type of home, like green construction.
A residential builder may specialize in a certain type of home, like green construction.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


My husband worked with his dad in construction for years. They gained a reputation for quality work done at an affordable price, and their competition hated them for this.

They worked in rural New York, where prices for building had been high for a long time. He told me that several companies were charging about $60 an hour for labor.

My husband and his dad only charged $30 an hour, and they still made a good profit. They took their time and did the job right, and their business soared because of this.

They only had a few workers, so they could afford to keep their prices low. However, they worked long hours, so they still managed to be efficient.


Competition among residential builders in my city is fierce. I live in a college town, and condominiums and apartments are in high demand here. The university makes the population grow each year, and the city has more than its share of builders seeing that they all have a place to live.

Environmentalists here are not happy about all the new buildings. Many trees and much vegetation have been removed to allow for them, and sometimes, they drive by construction sites and yell their disapproval out to the workers.

So, the builders who have the greenest practices are the most popular here. All of the companies have to strive to preserve and enhance the environment, or they will fall behind in the race to win projects.


@StarJo - My dad’s company started out slow, also. The business grew by leaps and bounds in just a few years, and this is due largely to the establishment of their local reputation.

However, the town he worked in was quite large, and word couldn’t necessarily get around as fast as it could in a small town. So, he got permission from every homeowner whose residence he built to put up a sign in their yard advertising that his company had built their home.

That way, anyone passing by who might admire the home would see the name and phone number of the residential builder. He got lots of calls from people who said they saw his sign in a yard, and this made him proud, because he knew that his work had been found worthy.


The best advertising for a residential home builder is word of mouth. A good reputation in a community will get them more work than commercial advertising ever could.

My brother worked with a residential building company. When they started out, they would have long gaps in between projects, because not many people had heard of them.

Once they built a few really attractive, sturdy homes, they began getting more calls. Now, they have a waiting list, and they stay busy year round.

My brother used to stress out when it would rain for several days in a row, because they couldn’t work during that time, and he was losing precious pay on the only project they had going. Now, he doesn’t worry about it, because he knows that when the sun does come back out, the work will be there.

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