When Your Client is Building a Custom Home: The Dealer's Role

Posted by Jamie Kline on Oct 31, 2023 9:00:00 AM
Jamie Kline

building a custom home

For some future custom homeowners, the path to homeownership involves a more hands-on approach.

That’s why some Barden homeowners act as their own general contractors (GC) for building a custom home. Taking the lead in managing their home build, they'll be responsible – and liable – for making sure many major elements of their project happen.

So where does that leave you, the Barden Independent Dealer they'll work with?

To be sure, by no means does this mean that you're out of the picture or drastically limited in your involvement to make the project happen. Like we tell all clients who choose to build their custom home: A Barden home doesn't happen without a Barden Independent Dealer.

The Barden Independent Dealer's Role in Building a Custom Home

Just because your client is taking on the role of GC in building a custom home, that doesn't mean your role becomes obsolete. Again, without a Barden Independent Dealer the project couldn't happen.

In your capacity, you'll bring a level of expertise to the table. You’ll be involved – to some degree – in every step of the home building process:

  • Floor plan design
  • Interfacing with the Barden team
  • Supplying the framing package
  • Recommending contractors, trade workers
  • Managing payment schedules
  • Facilitating inspections

Floor Plan Design

As is the case with most Barden homes, there's almost never been a project where the future homeowner hasn't made some level – no matter how minimal – of modification to their floor plan. (And that's one of our favorite things about Barden custom homes – they're 100% customizable).

Sometimes the client knows exactly what they want to change and adjustments to the plan are fairly simple. Other times, there are instances where the client knows what they want, but it's a tall order that will require a significant amount of engineering. In more involved cases, the client hasn't yet figured out the details for their next home and needs a guiding hand to distill their vision.

Regardless of how prepared a client is knowing what they want for their custom home, they simply can't create the floor plan that meets their vision without a Barden Independent Dealer. 

Even if you serve as a sounding board to help the client work through making decisions, you're central to the process of making their perfect floor plan a reality.

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Interfacing With the Barden Team

Once the client commits to a floor plan and moving forward, it's time to tap in the rest of the Barden team.

Initially, that involves you working with our Drafting & Design Department to create the custom home's blueprints. If there are revisions, you'll help the client determine what changes they want made and communicate them back to the designers. This might involve several go-arounds depending on the client and the complexity of their changes.

With approved blueprints, the manufacturing of the home's panels and other structural components begins. You'll continue to be the point person between the client and our team. In addition, you'll help coordinate the work that happens in our manufacturing facility, making sure it's happening on schedule and that finished pieces are delivered as they're needed.

Supplying the Framing Package

To the end of our last section, about coordinating the delivery of the home's prefab building materials we make.

The simple fact is Barden does not sell directly to the homeowner no matter their ability or level of experience. From the panels and trusses to any other element of the home that comes with the build package, the client will need to work through you to obtain them.


While there are plenty of other elements of the home the client can source independently – say, countertops from a specific supplier – a Barden home's framing package has to come from Barden Building Products. This guarantees all of the benefits of our panelized construction method (efficiency, customization, etc), and safety. Using only Barden-supplied structural components ensures the integrity of the home because they've been engineered as a complete system. The homeowner won't have to worry about marrying together components from two different systems and hoping they'll work together with no issues later on.

A more simplistic point of view – a Barden home isn't a Barden home without the components that come from Barden.

Recommending Contractors, Trade Workers

When construction time approaches the biggest question the client will need to figure out is, "Who will build my home?" That's a broad question that goes beyond the builders putting hammer to nail – it also includes those prepping the site, installing utilities, or completing specialty jobs.

In most cases, the client building their own home hasn't made a career of that but are comfortable enough taking the lead on the project.

That said, their level of familiarity with area contractors or specialty trade workers is often limited. In a manner of speaking, you're the one with the Rolodex of contractors and trade workers and can recommend those who are reliable, reasonable, and reputable.

There's nothing worse for any homeowner to hire a contractor that leaves them wishing they hired someone else.

Managing Payment Schedules

What's the fastest way to stop a custom home build at any point in the project?

Not meeting its financial obligations as they're set. This can range from paying laborers at set points during their time on-site to making initial deposits followed by payments in full for building materials.

While the future homeowner is overseeing other elements of the build, the Independent Dealer can provide another invaluable service – managing the payment schedule.

A custom home build's payment schedule isn't as simple as paying for labor as it's completed or materials as they're delivered. In fact, it can become complex.

In most cases, the client will have a construction loan in place to pay for the build. Draws are made against that construction loan as items are completed and suppliers and contractors need to be paid. Without someone managing the financial end of things, it’s easy for the draw schedule and payments required by contractors and suppliers to get out of sync and be a real headache to work through. 


A Closer Look: The Custom Home Construction Timeline

Dig into exactly what our custom home building process looks like: 

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Facilitating Inspections

Throughout the custom home building process, there will be various inspections necessary to ensure that everything is up to code and safe for occupancy.

As the Independent Dealer, you can help facilitate these inspections by coordinating with contractors and trade workers to schedule them at appropriate times. Additionally, your knowledge of local building codes and requirements can prove invaluable in ensuring that everything is done properly.

Furthermore, as you have been involved in the project from start to finish, you will be well-versed in all aspects of the home and can answer any questions that may arise during inspections.

The Client’s Role

While the Independent Dealer plays a crucial role in the custom home building process, remember: with the client being their own GC, they're ultimately responsible for their project. They will need to make decisions and communicate clearly with all parties involved to keep the project moving forward smoothly.

In addition to working with you in your capacities, they'll need to handle:

  • Securing all permits
  • Obtaining insurances (general liability, workers' comp, and professional liability)
  • Managing building design work, adjustments, and approvals & making sure it all meets local building codes
  • Arranging site prep work
  • Hiring builders and specialty contractors
  • Overseeing all day-to-day project logistics

Resource: Our article, "How To Build Your Barden Custom Home," takes a deeper dive into what the client does when acting as their own GC.

Building a Barden Custom Home Requires a Team Effort

Even when the client is in the driver's seat of the project in an expanded capacity as their own GC, the bottom line is the same: they'll still need to work closely with a Barden Independent Dealer.

No matter the size or scope of the project, Barden Independent Dealers don't just sell and supply custom home packages. They're comprehensive partners in making our homes happen no matter what role the homeowner is taking on.

Interested in Becoming a Barden Independent Dealer?

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Topics: Behind the Scenes, Independent Dealers, Barden Independent Dealers

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