There will always be some negative comments on any builder (or business) when the work with hundreds of buyers on the Internet. Many builders in the price range of first time buyers will a) build more homes than most and b) likely have some negative comments.
Talking to the BBB is good, in Houston...speaking with the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) might get you some information. Speaking with Realtors that work in the area this Centex home is being built is always a good idea. Looking up the neighborhood via the Internet is not a bad idea. Speaking to current home owners in that neighborhood who recently purchased from that same builder.
It has been my experience many of the "negative" comments about any builder could have been addressed simply if the buyer had a Realtor assisting them and the buyer paying for a 3rd party inspection and finding issues ahead of time VS relaying on the builders "home warranty".
Visit different builders and don't forget to look at resale homes. Many of these have had the "kinks" worked out and still offer the great features of a new home. Let us know if we can assist you.
Bernstein Realty, Inc.
I know you have been doing your research, but here are a few more sites you may want to visit.
http://www.ghba.org/ Greater Houston Builders Association
There isn't such a thing as an objective source of information for such a subjective matter. All structural components must meet building codes ... some builders barely comply, others go a bit beyond (and you'll likely pay for it).
Where is the home located? Personally, I'd walk through the development and speak with people who've already purchased homes from the builder. They'll be happy to talk to you about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Place considerable emphasis on how well the company has responded to issues within the warranty period ... after they have your money. To be fair, people are quick to point out the negative online, but generally don't go out of their way to post positive comments ... we love to complain!
While the builder might be the same, quality and consistency can vary from site to site because of the supervisors and subcontractors. Remember that the salespeople have likely never lifted a hammer in their lives, but pass themselves off as experts.
You need to be represented by a Realtor, even if the home is new. There is no cost to you as a buyer, although some builders will openly advertise a discount for coming in unrepresented. I can tell you that they're not going to let potential buyers walk, simply because they have someone on their side ... and remember, irrespective of their advertising, everything is negotiable. You'd be signing a contract authored by the builder's attorneys, not the state's real estate commission ... guess who it favors.
If you're looking in the Houston area, I'd love to work with you. If not, seek out a Realtor. Take a walk through the development and let us know about the homeowners' feedback. Best of luck ...