Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Rules Before You Call A Builder About A Custom Home

As August and the summer vacations rolls to a conclusion my email has lit up with people interested in building custom homes.

That's great for business except for one little problem, 75 percent of the emails I receive are people that have only just started thinking about building a custom home. They don't know what anything actually costs and they really don't know what the house they want to build will look like because they don't have plans.

Now everyone has to start somewhere when starting on the road to building a custom home, there are certain things that people want to know before they start down that road of building a new cusotom home.

Here are some rules to use when you want to build a custom home, these are rules and recommendations that you should know and consider before you call a general contractor asking for quotes or advice;

  1. The average cost of a custom home to build is $210.00 a square foot. This is the starting point of the cost custom homes, its hard to get lower priced then this but the cost goes up from there depending on how fancy you want to get in your home.
  2. Custom homes are expensive, if your only thought is that you can build a home cheap don't bother trying to build a custom home.
  3. If you are worried that you can't afford a custom home to the point were you don't even want to get drawings done then you shouldn't bother.
  4. There are a lot of extra costs to building a custom home above the square foot price.
  5. NOBODY prices custom homes per square foot, that is only to help people with budgeting.
  6. If you want to know the costs for permits and other fees in your municipality you should take the time to call your local building department.
  7. Drawings are going to cost you money, the more expensive the custom home the more that you should be paying for your drawings.
  8. Most custom homes are time and material plus a management fee on top. That is industry standard.
  9. There is no way to get a proper price on a custom home without a set of official drawings.
  10. If you want help finding the right piece of property or with designs of your custom home be prepared to pay someone for their time.
  11. The larger the home you want to build the MORE IT WILL COST YOU!
  12. Custom Homes are not a used car, there are no big deals, the cost of constructing a custom home is the cost. There is no real with to make it cheaper.
  13. Quality costs money. A properly quoted custom home should be pretty close to the same price from every company, the only difference will be how much they charge for a management fee. If you get a price that is a lot lower then any others then there is a reason, there's something missing from that quote!
  14. Understand that your contractor is going to know more then you, expect it and take there advise. If you believe that you know more then your contractor then you either picked the wrong contractor or you don't need a contractor as you don't want to listen to them.
  15. Just because you are building out of the city doesn't the cost of your custom home will be cheaper. Construction costs are the same everywhere, don't be surprised when the cost to build up north is the same as in the city.
  16. Be prepared for your contractor to offer you upgrades, these upgrades are for your benefit, some will cost you more and some won't, but remember there for your benefit to make your new custom home better.
  17. To finish the basement will cost you more money.
  18. Doing things different will cost you more money. 
  19. Don't be afraid to have your home built out of newer materials, technology is making homes better built.
  20. If your in a hurry to build and move in to your new home and you haven't started your going to be disappointed because designing, getting permit approvals and building the actual home is going to take a longer time then you think.
  21. Be prepared to not to get everything in your custom home that you want unless you have a budget that is very flexible.
  22. Do not get more then 3 prices for anything to do with your home, it will only waste your time and confuse you.
There's probably many more that I could list but this is a good list to get started with, if you understand what your getting yourself into when wanting a custom home built and that there are costs associated with them and that custom homes are not something that you get a deal on or something you shop for like a used car then you won't be disappointed when you start talking to custom home builders you will be prepared and understanding.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

What To Do With All That Free Advice On Building A New Home

So you have decided to build yourself a custom home, you've found the perfect piece of property and you have hired an architect to create your dream onto paper. But everywhere you go, everyone you talk to has an opinion about what you are doing and a suggestion on what you should build in terms of style, materials, functionality, placement and building techniques.

You will receive so much unsolicited advice from people "who know", the longer you listen to the advice the more confused you will become as after a while it will start to conflict with each other.

You will be told the best way to keep the house dry from rain, the best way to position windows to deal with the sun, the best way to layout your kitchen, the only way to plan out your bathrooms, best way to construct the walls, the best way to insulate. Then people will tell you that the insulation that you were to told to use is not good, that there have been "so called problems" that its dangerous, that this type of window doesn't last, etc, etc, etc.

These people will be your friends, neighbours, brothers, sisters and all manners of relations. You will also get advice from people you don't know, friends of friends and everyone will tell you how "you have too do it this way, there's no other way!"

If you take all this advice to heart and decide to use it then you will be so confused that you will be paralyzed when it comes to making real decisions about your new home.

What you need to do is limit the amount of information from other sources to a minimum, you can listen to people, thank them and move along.

Who should really be listening too?

You should be listening to professionals, there are a lot of professionals out there, you will meet enough of them before your done building your new custom home that you don't need outside advise.

When I say professionals I mean your Architect, Interior Designer and of course your Builder. The sub-trades that the builder brings in are also good to listen too on certain issues.

Your Builder is the most important person, they are the one person that you should be listening too. If you hired the right builder then you should have no reason to not trust what your builder is saying to you. Remember that the builder has the most hands on practical experience with how your house functions, fits together and works for the people living in it.

If you have questions about parts or all of the house and its construction ask your builder, a good builder likes a lot of questions, when a homeowner asks a lot of questions that means that the homeowner is engaged in the build and they trust their builder enough to ask them important questions.

This type of relationship between builder and client is very healthy and important in the home building project.

So when you are given all that free unsolicited advice from everybody just smile and nod, once your new custom home is built then you can become that person giving advice that nobody asked for!

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Should I Waterproof My Addition?

I had a question/comment on a post I wrote about waterproofing, the person had an addition built to an older home and the contractor recommended that they tar and dimple board the foundation to waterproof it. After reading one of my posts about what the proper waterproofing is and what is simply damp proofing they had decided that since I stated that tar and dimple board was not waterproofing but it was actually damp proofing then they shouldn't bother installing it on the new addition or anything at all.

Also the existing home foundation does not have any kind of waterproofing or damp proofing so they decided that there really wasn't a need for it in the new addition, as the old part of the home could flood easier so what was the point.

Now the thinking makes some sense when you think about it, that the existing house doesn't have any protection so why bother with the new addition because they are all connected as one so what's the difference right? Wrong.

Just because the existing house doesn't have any protection is not an excuse to be cheap and not try and protect the new foundation.

Let me clarify a couple of things about what I was talking about when I said that tar and dimple board wasn't waterproofing;

  1. Tar and dimpleboard is not waterproofing it is considered "damp proofing"
  2. T & D does stop moisture from penetrating the concrete foundation.
  3. T & D will eventually dry out and fail, where other forms of "waterproofing" will not.
  4. T & D can be easily damaged from outside forces.
Tar and dimpleboard is far better then nothing, it is just the bargain basement version of water protection for your foundation, the cost for the proper waterproofing is worth it, but if it's between spending a little bit of money for tar and dimple board compared to NOTHING then please people buy the tar and dimple board!

Now your probably saving what's the point as the rest of the house doesn't have waterproofing;

Well you should dig up around the whole house and properly waterproof the existing foundation to match the new addition foundation this will guarantee that you have little to no issues in the future.

If that's not in the budget then you need to protect the new addition as water penetrating a new foundation is not a good thing; 

  • Water saturating a new concrete wall will eventually cause damage over time. 
  • Once water has saturated the the concrete in a freeze the concrete can be damaged.
  • Mold can form inside the new foundation causing health problems.
  • Floor joist can be damaged from the moisture penetrating the foundation.
Modern additions with modern construction practices do not do well with water and moisture, they fail a lot faster then older construction.

So please, everyone at least do the minimum when it comes to protecting your foundation, this is not the place to try and save money.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.