Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Contractor

Success in building a new home is closely related to who you choose to be your contractor. The right builder can make the construction process enjoyable and rewarding, the wrong builder can make it one of the most stressful times in your life. After you purchase house plans for your project consider these five points when looking for a contractor.

1 Reputation: Word of mouth is one of the best friends to a good builder and is how they find most of their work. Ask friends, family or someone else you can trust if they have had any recent experiences with contractors and who they might recommend to you. Visit subdivisions where new homes are being built and find out which builders are well spoken of. Be alert to any negative feedback, but make sure you consider the source, if the feedback is coming from the competition it may be biased.  Check with the local building officials to see if the contractors are known for building to code or cutting corners.

2 References: If possible make a short list of three different available contractors and then ask for references. Preferably speak to clients whose projects are similar to yours and are completed. Find out whether the contractor was easy to work with, if they were over or under the estimated price and if so the reasons. Make sure you get several references and take the time to follow up, one reference from a friend or family member is usually a warning sign. If the builder is new to the area you may not want to be his first client.

3 Quality: As with any major purchase, quality is very important. The contracting world is filled with stories of home owners being left with poor quality work that needs major repairs or becomes an insurance nightmare. Ask to physically see their completed work so you can get a first-hand look at the quality and finish. Even economical homes using less expensive materials should be square, solid, and look good. Spending more at the beginning to get good quality work will save you in the long run.

4 Communication: A good contractor needs to be a good communicator, a contractor that is hard to reach and slow to answer messages during the bidding process will be worse during the build. Pay attention to how the builder responds to questions you might have and whether he takes them seriously or brushes them off. In this day and age the internet is a very important tool in construction, make sure the builder has an email address and checks his emails regularly.

5 Pricing: When the time comes to review any pricing take time to carefully compare all the bids. The best contractors may take a little longer to come back to you with their final pricing because they are more thorough. Check the allowances for different items in the estimate, some builders will come to you with a lower price to build but when it comes time to choose flooring, lighting, cabinets, or other finishing items you may find the allowance does not allow for the finishing you desire. Far too often the contractor with the lowest estimate ends up costing you more in upgrades of finishes.

These are just a few points to consider when choosing a contractor, the main thing is to take your time and take the decision seriously. Don’t commit yourself to a builder until you have considered all the facts, and don’t let them pressure you into deciding before you are ready. With careful planning and a good set of house plans choosing a contractor can be an enjoyable and educational part of your new home build.

Five Things to Consider When Purchasing Home Plans

Construction DrawingsChoosing house plans can at times feel like a daunting task, with thousands of choices in floor plans and house styles even the most experienced person may at times feel lost. Here are five things to consider when looking for your next home plans that can help you narrow down your search and find the best design to suit your needs.

1 Budget: It is always good to start with a budget for your project and how much are you able to spend on the construction of your home. Make sure to factor in expenses for site servicing, landscaping, appliances, home furnishings, moving, and all other costs associated with the build of a new home. Check with a few different local contractors to see what the average cost per square foot is to build a home in our area. Make sure you give them an idea of the quality of finishing that you would like to have as the price can vary greatly between low and high end finishes. Not all areas will cost the same to build so ask about the cost of finishing basement areas, main floor areas, second floor areas and garages. Once you have these prices you can use some simple math to find out how many square feet your new home can be.

2 Site: Check with your realtor or local municipality planning department to find out the required setbacks for your property to determine how wide and how deep you can build on your lot. Consider the slope of the lot as well to see what type of home will best suit your property. Find out if you have any easements, covenants or other subdivision or municipal restrictions that will affect the size of the building pocket.

3 Size: Consider your personal needs, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you require, whether or not you need other rooms like a mud room, pantry, storage room, theater room, den or the like. The size of rooms you are accustomed to now and whether these could be bigger or smaller. If you want a garage or carport think of how many cars you want to keep and whether you need workshop space or storage space for bikes, kayaks, or tools. Make a wish list with minimum and maximum room sizes and list which rooms are optional and which are absolutely necessary.

4 Style: Choose an architectural style of home, this is generally a personal preference, however you may want to contemplate some other things in this decision. Find out if your subdivision has a building design scheme that requires a certain architectural style or any specific architectural features. Look at the neighborhood and give thought to what style of home will complement the look of the existing homes, even a nice house can stick out like a sore thumb if it is too unique. Find out what trends are popular with home styles and try to pick a style that is not on its way out, like fashion trends, home styles don’t stay popular forever. Remember your budget when selecting a style of home as certain features and styles are more expensive than others.

5 Plan ahead: It is very important to choose a home plan based on whether or not you plan to stay in the home for just a few years or long term. If you are going to sell the home you will want to make sure you pick a plan that will appeal to the future potential buyer in the neighborhood you are building. Building an expensive home in an area suited to families may leave you with a home you cannot sell. On the other hand if you plan to stay in the home for many years you want a design more specifically suited to your needs.

These are just a few main things to consider when purchasing your next set of home plans. The key is to give it some good thought before you begin your search, this will help you avoid becoming overwhelmed by all your choices. With good planning and a good search engine hunting for your next house plan can be fun rather than frustrating.

Five Things to Consider When Budgeting Your New Home Build

One of the most important stages in planning your next home build is to consider a budget for your project. Here are five things to consider in preparing a budget that will help you in picking the right home plans.

1 Mortgage: If you are considering a budget for your project it probably means you are needing to borrow money for your build. While the banking institutions may have learned a lesson by their reckless lending practices that lead to the housing crash of the last decade, part of the blame was on those borrowing the money. Take time to make a budget for all the expenses in your life, factor in utilities, car expenses, schooling, clothing, entertainment, strata fees, insurance, and whatever you can think of. The bank may say you can borrow a certain amount of money, but when you factor in these other expenses you may find that making the payments means you will have to work so much you will never have time to enjoy your new home. In recent years young couples or families starting out have come to expect a level of comfort that in previous generations took decades to achieve. Take time to determine a low end and a high end to what you can reasonably borrow and make payments on and then stay within that range.

2 Property: The cost of property is a major cost in the construction of a new home. In many communities as property becomes more scarce subdivisions are popping up in areas where the conditions are less than ideal. Make sure you consider all the possible costs connected with your property and include these in your construction budget. These extra costs may include bring site services such as electricity, natural gas, water, and sewer to your home. Some properties require retaining walls, geotechnical analysis, riparian studies, landscaping, sceptic fields, blasting, or land infill that can drive up the cost of the project by tens of thousands of dollars. If you have not yet purchased your property make sure to do careful investigation into any extra costs.

3 Furnishings & Finishes: It is one thing to build a new home, it is another thing to live in it. An all too common scenario is when the home reaches the final stages of the project compromises start having to be made on finishes and furnishings. Allow a buffer in your budgeting for unexpected costs that may come along during construction. If you end up not needing to use the buffer you will either have to borrow less or you will have more money for finishing upgrades. Also, take a good long look at your furniture and determine ahead of time what needs replacement. A new home will usually have more room that needs to be filled with furniture, artwork, and at times the old sofa that fit so well before just doesn’t make the cut.

4 Upkeep: All home require upkeep, almost from the day you move in there are lawns to mow, walls to touch up, and fees to pay. Ensure that you allow money in your budget for upkeep of the home, or when choosing building materials spend a little extra for materials with a longer maintenance free life. Consider using energy efficient windows, appliances, and lighting. Add extra insulation or upgrade to better flooring or exterior cladding to add life to your home.

5 Timing: In real estate and new construction, timing is very important both in when you buy or build and how much time you allow yourself for planning a project. Avoid getting into the housing market or taking on extra mortgage payments when prices are at all-time highs. If you are selling a home during a boom make sure you plan your re-entry into the market so that you don’t lose equity. Selling when the market is low can work for you if you buy back in the same low market. In may place it is the price of property that drives the drastic ups and downs in the market, construction costs generally take longer to go up and down. Give yourself ample time to plan out your project and factor in all the costs. When people plan poorly they end up paying higher prices or having to hire a contractor because he is available and not because he is the first choice.

These are just some of the things to consider when preparing a budget for your new home. Remember, bigger is not always better, and some of the most expensive homes in the world sit empty most of the time. It is often the course of wisdom to go slightly smaller in size with your home plans then to push yourself to the limits and find you cannot afford the finished product. Take the time to consider your budget and you will certainly be happy with the end result.