Does your builder stack up?

Learn the New Luxury Playbook at Luxury Connect | October 18-19 at the Beverly Hills Hotel

In case you hadn't noticed, we live in uncertain times. For homeowners who are in the enviable position of being financially confident enough to build a custom home or undertake a major remodeling project -- and they're still out there -- the economy has nonetheless manufactured an additional layer of anxiety: Setting aside concerns about construction competence, the question of the hour is whether the builder/contractor of choice is financially able to see a project through to completion. It's tough to gauge how many builders and major contractors have been struck down in the Great Recession. However, the National Association of Home Builders said in January that its membership had fallen 15-20 percent from its 2005 peak of more than 200,000. And the residential construction industry has lost more than 3 million jobs.  Obviously, many builders are surviving the housing downturn and relatively few end up with clouds over their reputations for failing to pay their subcontra...