Step 3: Designing Your Home

The process of designing your new home can be both an enjoyable and stressful experience. Put some effort into deciding what your needs and wants are. List them separately and unless money is no object, be prepared to make some compromises. This is where your list of needs and wants will help. For example, if you know you need three bedrooms, two baths and you must have an open floor plan, then design your wants around these features. If husband wants a computer room and wife wants a reading room consider one room for both.

We will help you lay out a general plan and then we will make an appointment with one of our home designers, that you will be comfortable working with, to complete your home design. It is often helpful to find a plan in a book or magazine that you generally like. This plan can than be altered to fit your life style. This can also help speed up the whole design phase. We will review your plans regularly to make sure you are designing in your budget and that your developing plan flows well. We will speak frankly with you if we believe your plan is heading in the wrong direction. Remember, any home we build is a reflection of us too. We want to be as proud of your home as you are.

Things to Consider When you are Designing your New Home:

•Must Haves vs. Strong Maybes - Determine what you must have in your new home. Next, decide what else you would like to include. Be willing to make some compromises unless money is not limited.

•Architect - Certified architects have at least a bachelors degree in architecture and have passed certification to wear the title. An architect is a good option for someone who does not really know what type of house they want but has the means ($$$) to have someone help them decide.

Home Designer - We generally use a Home Designer. A good Home Designer can also provide you with a quality home design and do not charge as much for their services. Bring your needs/wants list, pictures and ideas to our meeting with the designer to help him or her understand what you are looking for in a home. We are very good at helping you decide on a style of house and adding those architectural touches that will make your home unique. You will find that our design ideas are very good. We build your home with an architecturally designed appearance without the architects fees.

•Can I Afford that? - If you have not been working with us from the beginning, you are like most people wanting to build a new home, you probably have little idea how much house you can afford. That is the million dollar question. People often bring us a floor plan or picture out of a book seeking to know how much this will cost them. We politely tell them we can not answer that question without some research. This is because there are too many unknowns. That is where our Cost Estimate Worksheet comes in. Be weary of a builder or designer that will give you a ball park answer without doing the homework to back it up. For instance, what will have to be done to the lot to bring it up to buildable conditions?, ceiling height?, siding type?, trim?, interior wall finish?, flooring type?, plumbing fixtures?, appliances?, roof shingle type? and so on…and so on. If you decide to have a house plan drawn before you have chosen us as your builder, your best course of action to this million dollar problem is to set terms with your home designer, or architect so that you can get a preliminary set of plans. With the preliminary set of plans we can run through our Cost Estimate Worksheet and price out the house for you to make sure you are in your budget boundary. Then if needed, you can make changes to the plans to better fit your budget.

•Engineering - Once you have a final set of plans, they will need to be engineered and submitted to Building and Safety for plan review. You should have your builder look at your plans before they are submitted to the building department for review. It is important that a builder has a repoire with the house engineer to be able to smoothly get a set of plans through the building department and to solve any on site questions. A house can be miss engineered that can lead to unnecessary costs, building delays and future problems. A good builder should spot these problems. Remember, a designer and engineer draw the plans, your contractor actually builds your house. The two need to work together.

General Cost Guidelines

Below is a list of some general cost guidelines for helping you decide which features to add to your new home. This is not an all inclusive list but it should help you as you prepare to design your home. This list is not intended to scare you out of designing the home you need and want, but will hopefully help you choose those features you most desire while allowing you to eliminate expensive options you do not care much about.

•Roof Pitch ~ The steeper the roof the more it will cost you. As a roof gets steeper it requires more materials and man-hours to build and cover. For example, a 12 and 12 roof (that is 12" of rise for every 12" of run) might cost you three times as much in labor as a roof with a 8 and 12 pitch.

•Roof Coverings ~ Most roofs are covered with fiberglass (3 tab) shingles. They currently cost a contractor roughly $135 per square (100 square feet). Most tile or shake roofs can run between $375 and $500 dollars per square.

•Roof Type ~ Most new homes built in this area have either a hip, gable or combination of the two. We have found that a gable roof is generally less expensive.

•Ceiling height ~ Ceiling heights in excess of 8’ (the standard) have become popular in recent years. Just one extra foot in wall height can substantially increase the cost of your new home. This is because it will take an extra foot of lumber, insulation, drywall, exterior wall covering, paint and exterior siding, not to mention the labor involved. A possible more economical option, which might provide you the same sense of openness in your new home, would be to design in cathedral or trey ceilings where appropriate. While this will cut down your usable attic space it is generally a more cost efficient alternative.

•Angles on your new house will cost you more money. The least expensive home you could build would be a simple rectangle or square. As you add angles (protrusions) to your design you are increasing the amount of lumber to tie those angle together as well as the added labor involved.

•Framing ~ The simpler your design the less it will cost to build in terms of lumber and man-hours. Some people choose to have their exterior walls framed with 2" x 6" studs instead of 2" x 4" which is the most common method. The logical reason to choose 2" x 6" studs for the normal house is so you can add more insulation in the thicker wall. A 2" x 6" wall is of course stronger, but a 2" x 4" wall is generally plenty strong enough. If you plan to live in your new house for a long period of time the 2" x 6" walls may be the better investment over time, but it will take you a number of years to recoup your investment.

•Exterior Siding ~ There are many options available in exterior siding from cedar to stucco. There is also a wide variance in the cost of each. Masonite siding is the most popular inexpensive option in this area. Stucco, of course, is also popular because of its beauty and durability. You can generally expect to pay at least double or triple for stucco as compared to Masonite siding.

•Recessed Lighting ~ Recessed lighting has become very popular and can greatly add to the feel of your new home. However, if you are on a budget, consider using it sparingly for effect and not lighting whole rooms with it. You can expect to pay approximately $75 per light, installed.

•Floor Coverings ~ Carpet and vinyl flooring are your least expensive common floor coverings. They both come in a wide range of styles, quality and prices. They are figured on a square yard basis. Tile and wood flooring are the two more expensive widely used options. They are figured on a per square foot basis. This is often an area of confusion for those seeking to build a new home. You can convert square feet to yards by dividing the square footage by nine. For example, say you want to put ceramic tile in your kitchen which is 200 square feet in size. If you find out you can have tile installed for $8 per foot that may not mean too much to you unless you know what the less expensive option would cost. If you can have vinyl flooring for $18 per yard installed ( divide by 9) $2 per square foot, you can see that the tile will cost you 4 times as much. If you still want tile that is great, but some people would not chose it if they were aware of how much more expensive it is than another option.

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