Frequently Asked Questions

Get the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to building a custom home.

1What’s your price per square foot?
Unfortunately, the figure is unique to each house since no two custom homes (or the lots they’re built on) are identical. If you’re looking at a custom builder’s display, a better question might be, “What’s the base price of this particular house, excluding the lot?”
2Is your price negotiable?
Not likely. While each builder uniquely calculates where he plans to make his profit margin, it’s rare to experience a discount in builder services. Choosing products and installers wisely in usually the best avenue for overall project savings.
3Can I buy my plans from a magazine or website?
If your local municipality doesn’t require sealed architectural drawings, these kinds of plans should be acceptable. However, this is very rare. We have found that general nation-wide-accepted plans have a large amount of unneeded construction and additional cost that do not fit our location.
4How long will it take you to build my house?
This depends on the size and scope of your project. Most homes in our market can be built in 4-8 months. However, the quality of up-front planning, along with unknown variables such as weather conditions and labor/material challenges, will be huge factors in the actual timeline.
5I’m not sure what I can afford. Can you give me a rough idea of what my house is going to cost?
Yes. Until the actual bids come in for the unique elements of your lot and house design, it’s very difficult to determine an exact cost in today’s market. However, we can still help you get your basic finances in order with the lending institution of your choice.
6Do you have a preferred lender?
Some builders do have preferred lenders. Feel free to shop for your own lender and compare its program to those being offered by your builder’s preferred lenders.
7When the house is done, can we consolidate everything into one loan?
Yes. This loan process is sometimes referred to as a one-time close. The loan for your existing home and/or your building lot is eventually combined with the loan for your new home. The previous loans are then paid off by your new home’s lender. Consult with your lender to see if he can offer this option.
8Should I have someone look at my existing/tentative site before I choose/purchase house plans?
Absolutely! If there are unique elements about your site that are not communicated early in the process, you’ll be wasting lots of time and money.
9Will my house have the same bells and whistles as your display?
Probably not. Most people want to see what’s available/popular when they visit a display home. Be sure to ask the builder for a list of the upgrades with current pricing.
10How much should I spend on options/upgrades over and above the base price?
A rule of thumb used in the industry is to spend no more than 20% of the total price in options and upgrades.
11A rule of thumb used in the industry is to spend no more than 20% of the total price in options and upgrades.
Your local taxing district should be able to give you a ballpark idea based on the taxable value of your finished house in conjunction with the value of the land. Your lender may also be able to give you an estimate.
12Is a third party warranty necessary?
The answer depends on how long you plan to stay in the house and if you’re willing to take the risk of structural problems upon completion. Warranties offer peace of mind. Plus, a warranty is a great resale tool if it’s still in effect when you’re ready to sell.
13Can I tour any of the homes you’ve built?
This will depend upon the builder and the willingness of his previous clients. If the answer is no, don’t get too discouraged. Just be sure to get the names and phone numbers of some previous clients you can call.
14Are the workers building my house on your payroll?
Most custom builders rely on quality trade partners versus employees. If your builder has reasonable quality control measures and a good on-site management presence, you will see no difference between employees and trade partners on the job site.
15I don’t have a lot yet. Do you have inventory lots?
Some custom builders will have inventory lots from time to time. Other custom builders will be aware of lots that can be purchased that fit your criteria. Don’t be afraid to ask.

What is the Best Way to Maintain My New Home?

Maintenance for New Homes by the National Association of Home Builders

So you’ve just moved into your brand new home. What should you do now?

One of the most important things to remember is that you are responsible for certain maintenance items to keep your house functioning properly. These tasks tend to be relatively simple. For instance, many types of heating and air conditioning systems contain filters to remove dirt and dust from the air. A home owner should change these filters when necessary.

Cleanliness is a factor that will make your home last longer and work better. Dust and dirt, if allowed to accumulate, can harm the finishes on blinds, cabinets, counter-tops, floors, sinks, tubs, toilets, walls, tiles and other items. If dirt does accumulate, make sure to clean it with a substance that does not scratch or damage the finishes.

On the outside of your home, make sure that gutters and downspouts do not get clogged with leaves or other objects. The exterior of your house is built to withstand exposure to the elements, but periodic cleaning will improve the appearance and, in many instances, prolong the life of siding and other exterior products.

When you bought your home, you probably received a warranty from the builder on workmanship and materials. This warranty applies to problems related to the construction of the home, but it does not apply to problems that arise because of failure to perform routine maintenance. For example, if your roof begins to leak after six months because of faulty workmanship, your warranty would cover that. If you develop a problem because water backed up in clogged gutters that you should have cleaned, the builder is not responsible for repairs. Also, some items, such as appliances, may be covered by manufacturers warranties and are not the responsibility of the builder.

You should familiarize yourself with the terms of your warranty soon after you move into your home. With all the excitement surrounding a move into a new home, most people have little desire to curl up in front of the fireplace and read a legal document. Nonetheless, you should not wait to read your warranty until a problem arises. Set aside an hour to learn what your rights and responsibilities are from the outset.

(Courtesy of Maintenance Made Simple – January 2006)

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