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| Ten Steps To A New Home
The underlying principle of custom building is to create a total environment where your living spaces work for you, rather than against you.
The most important step in your quest for a dream home is finding the right builder. Why? Because you are selecting not simply a builder, but a partner in your dream. You want a person who will touch every part of your new home, from the plans, to the dirtwork, to the foundation, to the studs, to the trim, to the hardware on your front door. He or she will need to have not only true organizational, budgeting, and planning skills, but be a talented negotiator as well. After all, this person will be the main point of contact with all the subcontractors, suppliers, and vendors. He or she will need to work to ensure they not only do the job right the first time, but ON time.
That's the rule-of-thumb percentage breakdown for what weight you need to place on workmanship (70 percent), contracting ability (20 percent), and a combination of fiscal and communication skills and personality (10 percent).
The trap of the three-bid myth
You don't begin a job interview by discussing salary and benefits. Why would you begin the process of hiring a building contractor that way? The simple answer is, you shouldn't. Very often people draw up the plans for their home and then send them out to three contractors for bid. They then select the contractor based on bid alone, giving only a cursory review of the four key things they really need to know: the builder's reputation, the builder's references, the builder's insurance, and the builder's license.
If you're buying a car, you would compare price because you are comparing a specific model and make of car. With a home, many factors will impact the cost and products will differ a great deal.
Do your homework. Do your homework BEFORE you finalize your plans. Get references. Call the references. Ask former clients about quality, completion time, budget control, and whatever else is a priority for you. But the most important question of all -- Would you hire this contractor again? -- will most likely tell you everything you need to know. Not only will you be better prepared, your builder will feel confident that you have selected him for all the right reasons, and so will you.
One part dream, two parts drawing, three parts tempered reality
You've found your builder partner. Now what? Begin by defining your dream. Do you entertain formally? Do you have young children? Do you want visual or acoustic openness, or do you prefer isolation between your main living areas? Do you love to cook, or will you spend most of your time on a deck?
Whether you have purchased plans, need help locating a residential designer or architect, or have already selected one, your builder can help move your dream home from concept to paper to reality.
Worry less at the beginning about colors and textures. While the difference may indeed be in the details, those details will come later. For now, focus on the function and goals of your living spaces. Creating a home that is an extension of your and your family's personality means fine-tuning the balance between the practical and the "vision."
Gregg Custom Building gives you the distinct advantage by guiding you through that balance. We work with you to discover design and construction choices based on your needs, your values, your goals, and your lifetsyle. There's no substitute for experience. You can trust our experience as we work together with you building not just your home, but mutual goals and tempered expectations.
Step 3. Location, location, location
Site selection or neighborhood analysis.
Just as you did with the vision of your home, you must again ask yourself a series of questions about your preferred lifestyle. These questions must be clearly addressed and completely answered. Why? While you may be able to make design alterations on a house plan, it's next to impossible to change a bad site once the house is built.
The choice of your lot affects your budget, the design and placement of your home, and your lifestyle priorities. Some top considerations might be physical site conditions, such as terrain, plants, etc; neighborhood restrictions; accessibility; or proximity to work, leisure activities, or friends and family.
Once you have a few sites in mind, spend some time there. Visualize how the driveway should look and what's the most logical placement for it. Look at the drainage. Visit during different times of the day, and during or after different weather conditions. Pay attention to sound or noise levels. Look for signs of erosion problems. Are you close to an airport? Is the lot in a designated flood zone? Will you need additional insurance for any reason?
Lot selection is a decision only you can make. But this is also where good communication with and trust in your builder can be an enormous help. Based on your needs, preferences, lifestyle, and budget, your builder can help you narrow down your choices and be an important communication link to your designer to make sure land and design are properly linked.
Step 4. Financing. Contracts. Change orders. Allowances. Oh. My.
Homeowners building a custom home may typically need a construction loan and a permanent home loan. What's the difference between the two? Granted, both loans are secured by a mortgage on the property. But a construction loan is a "temporary" or "interim" loan and provides the financing needed to get the house built. Either the builder or the homeowner will obtain the construction loan. Talk to your builder about the most productive, efficient, and cost-effective way to handle the construction loan.
Contracts, change orders, and allowances
There may be close to 300 cost items associated with a custom home building project. Your builder will generate a budget using his knowledge and experience of the costs for labor, permits, sitework, the building supplies needed for construction, and the details you both discussed in developing your selections for interior details and exterior details. These selections will be anything from carpeting, woodworking, stonework, bricks, siding, and on and on.
But what if you change your mind during construction? What if that gray marble fireplace just doesn't look right and you want a deck instead? Not to worry. Your builder will provide you with a change order that reflects the change along with the corresponding affect on cost and time. This is exactly what it sounds like, an order to change a cost item.
One more thing. The contract will include cost ranges for hard-to-estimate categories. Wallpaper. Light fixtures. Carpeting. Cabinets. Those cost ranges are normally called "allowances." If your selections in those categories cost you more than the allowance, you pay more. If your selections cost less than the allowance, you pay less.
Step 5. "I'm a fool to do your dirt-y work, oh,yea.."
The plans have been revised, re-revised, and re-re-re-revised based on a variety of elements. The contract has been signed, the work plan and time line approved, and financing secured. The builder and owners are in full partnership to produce a good quality, well-built project. Let the staking begin!
Step 6. The frame takes shape
After the foundation is dug, the basement poured, and the flooring in place, carpenters begin nailing studs together to form the walls and the next exciting step takes place. The walls are erected and the skeleton of your new home takes shape. Before long insulation board or other types of insulation or vapor barriers are installed, roof decking is put in place, and exterior sheathing is applied.
Step 7. It's all in the details
Before long, the details move inside. Plumbing, wiring, tile, ceiling textures, paint, wallpaper, countertops, tubs, showers, and more. It's easy to get carried away as you select colors, textures, appliances, but remember to pay attention to your allowances. Keep in mind that your builder compiled those allowances based on mutually agreed upon goals and expectations.
Step 8. Final walk through, the dream lives
Suddenly, what was once just pencil lines on a piece of paper is now standing before you in full 3-D. It's time to move in. Or is it? Two words for you - Punch List. Not a phrase you'll hear every day. But before you can be sure that every detail is complete and your new home is ready for you, you will need to do a very thorough walk through and check every detail in every room, no exception. Compile a list of any incomplete or incorrect items. Is the dry wall "bumpy" in one room? Are the closet shelves level? Are the hot-and-cold taps reversed in the master bathroom?
Make sure that every item is corrected or complete before you move in. You've waited this long for your dream to come true. It's worth the time it takes to get it right BEFORE you settle in. You won't be sorry.
Step 9. The bank says you need a "what?!"
As your project starts to wind down, be sure to contact your mortgage lending institution to get a detailed checklist of all the items you will need to have completed or bring with you at closing. Your loan officer should be able to give you a check list of the items required for a smooth closing. Be sure to allow enough time should you need to secure reports, etc., that you don't already have in your files.
Step 10. Move in. Your dream home awaits.
You've waited long enough. You've spent a great deal of time thinking about our dream house -- envisioning every aspect. You have a lifestyle that's unique, and you want to live in a home that reflects your own personal taste and style. It's more than an attractive fireplace. It's more than a beautiful door. It's more than crown molding, winding staircases, or ceiling fans. It's about your lifestyle. It's about your dreams. It's about finding the solutions that will help make both a reality. Whatever your vision, Gregg Custom Building will help bring that vision to life. How? By helping you articulate your lifestyle and translating that into living spaces that enhance and embrace the way you want to live.
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