Sunday, May 21, 2017

Save Money On Your Custom Home Architectural Plans

You've bought that piece of property that you want to build your dream home on, now what do you do?

You need a set of proper plans if you want to build that dream home, that means that you will need someone with the proper credentials to create them for you. In Ontario the person that draws your house plans has to have a BCIN number for the building department to even look at the plans for permitting.

Remember something, having drawings created costs money, the more time that an Architect or Architectural technologist takes to draw your new home the more money they will charge you for the completed set of plans.

There are several different ways that these professionals charge for their time, a lot of them will charge per hour and some will charge per job, one thing that they all will do will be to ascertain the amount of time they think they will have to block off for you as a client.

How you ask do they ascertain how much time they will need to block off for you? Well when they meet you if you have no clue what you want or when you want to start or anything else then they are going to have to spend a lot of time leading you through every step.

To help limit he amount of money you will have to spend on your plans here are some helpful tips to do before you ever sit down with your Architect:
  • Drive around the neighborhood that you are going to build in and get a feel for the other houses. This will help you understand how everyone else is building, whether they are building a walkout basement, raised bungalow, stucco, stone or other design ideals that fit the area.
  • From driving around take pictures of houses that you like. 
  • Surf the internet for anything you like, not just houses but front entrances, kitchens, dining rooms, great rooms, bathrooms, decks, outdoor space. Every picture helps with the design, the more detail you can give them the better they will be able to create your vision of a dream home.
  • Make lists. You need to tell your designer how many bathrooms you want, how many bedrooms you want, how many stories you want, ect.
  • You must come up with a budget number for the overall project. A good architect can design you an entire house that will fall into your budget. There is a rough square footage cost for a custom home, using this the Architect can design the appropriate size of home. If your budget is unobtainable then they will be able to tell you that you need to adjust it.
  • When you visit your vacant piece of property you need to decide where you want the house to be orientated, the positioning of the home on the property will greatly affect the design and layout of the home. 
  • You need to find out if you need septic and well or if there are services in the area.
Whomever you hire whether its an architect or an architectural technologist you need to come into the process with an open mind on what you want your home to look like and how the design will end up. Remember that you are hiring them for a reason and they are professionals that do this all the time, You don't have to allow them to give you what they think you want, but you also should not reject everything they say because it wasn't in your original thoughts about the house.

As long as the relationship between you and the professional you hire goes well then the final product will not only be what you want but it will also be something that stands the test of time, holds its value going forward for resale and is something that you and your family will be happy in for a longtime.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.   

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Homeowner Renovations Not A Good Idea

Just because you think you can do it doesn't mean that you should!

I've visited potential clients that when I walked into their home to quote a renovation only to find out that the job has already started, not by another contractor but by the homeowner themselves.

Usually it's the demolition that they have started, they started taking down the walls that they wanted removed to create the new space that they've been dreaming about. What stops them is either a friend or neighbour commenting that what their doing is dangerous or their spouse starts to get worried about the drywall that is cracking in other parts of the house.

I was once in a house that people had removed the bearing wall a year ago to make the kitchen and the dining room one big space. They wanted a quote to fix the cracks in the ceiling, once I asked how long the cracks had been there and then inspected the attic I realized that they had removed the main support wall that held up the roof.

Basically the roof was now slowly pushing down causing the drywall to crack, eventually the roof would collapse into the house, usually in the winter when there would be a large snow load.

The quote to repair the house with a beam, support posts and repairing and replacing the drywall was probably more then what they originally spent to open the rooms up in the first place.

The moral of the story is that just because you think you can renovate your own home doesn't mean that you actually should.

I see homeowner renovations that end up costing people more in the long run because they needed repairs after the fact and because usually the renovation didn't turn out the way they wanted it too.

Save yourself time and money and call a professional for your next renovation.

One other thing that has come to our attention is that homeowner renovations are starting to affect the resale of homes in the area. Because people have home inspectors they are finding flaws with the renovation work done once they've established that it was homeowner done renovations and that the renovation had flaws. This is causing people not only money in the value of their home but also potential buyers who are scared away from homes because they really don't know what the potential problems are that could be in the walls that will cause problems in the future.

Make your life easier hire a proper renovation contractor that is insured and understands what is needed to complete the renovation, you won't regret it.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

You Control The Cost Per Square Foot Of Your Custom Home Not The Builder

Just because you think you know what custom home builders charge per sqft doesn't mean that any kind of house you have designed is going to cost that amount.

When you talk to a custom home builder and they talk to you about the cost of building custom homes in square footage costs they are only trying to give you a number to help you with your budgeting, its not something that you should set as the cost of your house. The real price for the home will come when the plans are finished and you have chosen everything for it.

There are so many variables when pricing a custom home that I routinely find people shocked when they finally see the finished estimate.

Here's a little secret, custom home builders basically charge the same amount within a few thousand dollars for their fee to build the house.
The fee to build the house is different then the cost of the house. The fee is what the builder needs to make as profit so that they can pay their overhead and pay themselves.

You can design a house that costs 210 dollars a sqft, and then add things to it to make the house cost 350 dollars a sqft. How's that possible you ask?

Well the cost of building custom homes is pretty straight forward, where the cost starts to climb is how the home is finished.

Here are some things that really drive the price up of a house;

  • Stone on the outside of the building. It doesn't matter if its man made or natural stone, the cost of stone supplied and installed is far more expensive then traditional wood siding.
  • Fireplaces. There's nothing better then sitting in your home in front of a fire on a cold wet night, but fireplaces no matter if they are wood or gas cost a fair bit of money. Also most people have a fairly fancy surround of stone and wood or paneling around fireplaces.
  • Decks and porches. Nothing raises the cost per sqft of a house more then the outdoor space that you create. Porches are more expensive then decks because of the roofs built over them but both of them require foundations of either piers or sona tubes. You are basically creating more square footage of livable space that only counts to the sqft price.
  • Flooring. There is a huge variety of flooring out there to choose from. A lot of it is the same price to install but the cost to buy varies so much that it can directly affect the square footage price. You can buy cheap laminate flooring on sale at a big bx store for $2 a sqft, it will look cheap and fake and might not last as long as you want it too. Or you can buy eco friendly sustainable custom engineered hardwood flooring made just for you at $18 a sqft.
  • Windows. White vinyl windows that are of a good quality have come down in price, where wood or aluminum clad windows have not. There can be up to 100,000 dollars in price difference depending on how many windows you require and what options you choose.
  • Heating systems. There are so many different heating systems out there, it creates a price difference that can be unbelievable to most people. A simple gas furnace and ductwork can cost as little as $15,000 where a full geothermal and in-floor heating system could cost you closer to 100,000 dollars.
  • The size of your garages. Garages are always included in the cost of the sqft price of a home, so the bigger the garage you have attached to the house the higher it will push the price of the sqft price.
  • Th height and finish of your basement. Basements are included in the cost of the sqft of houses. The taller and bigger the basement the more it will drive the price of the house up.
All of these things listed above are controllable by you the homeowner, these choices will raise or lower the cost of the square footage of the house. If you want a lower sqft cost for you home then you need to make sensible decisions on these items and you should be able to get that house for the sqft price you require.

Remember that you have control over the above list, don't blame the builder when you end up with a high estimate price for you home, choose wisely and you won't be shocked.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.