Simply put, there are a myriad of different ways to build a home. The outcome of your new home will depend heavily on the professionals you hire to build it, with the appearance, function, financial impact and emotional experience associated with your home’s construction all heavily impacted by this choice. Knowing this, it’s critical that you and your builder and/or architect are compatible. What’s right for you? In making your selection, there are some basic questions you can begin with:
1. Do you know what you want?
2. How involved do you want to be?
These fundamental considerations can chart two distinct paths in the planning of your new home, which are encapsulated in the differences between working with a small, custom home builder and a high-volume, production builder. Both have their merits and are ideal for certain types of buyers, so here are some the typical characteristics you can use to determine the best fit for you:
You’ve done your research. You’ve already established at least two or three of the following criteria for your new home: size, type (attached, detached, etc.), location, style or budget. You want to personalize your home by making selections from a range of curated options. Production builders cater to this sensibility by offering a fine-tuned, step-by-step process and a full-service, consolidated package of land and construction. The key benefits of working with a production builder are:
- Choose a lot within pre-established or master-planned communities, often with exclusive amenities for recreation and leisure
- Large-volume purchases of materials and frequency of construction equate to cost savings for the homebuyer
- Flexible pricing options/product offerings for first-time, upgrade/move-up and luxury homebuyers (think: “good, better, best”)
- Ability to easily customize elevation style, exterior materials and floorplan options without a significant impact on budget or schedule
- Tested, hyper-efficient, interchangeable designs with mechanical and structural systems optimized to work together
You want a one-of-kind design tailored to the nuances of your individual lifestyle. You understand your priorities but prefer to consult an expert to inform how those can be materialized in your home. It’s important that you’re fully immersed in the design process and you’re comfortable making choices about every aspect of your home — from how it’s positioned on the lot to the finish level of your drywall. This requires an intimate and time-intensive collaboration with a team of individuals, often both a builder and architect or designer. You’ll have in-depth, emotional conversations about your living habits and forge a close personal relationship together. Some of the benefits of choosing a custom builder include:
- Freedom to build your home on a lot you own or acquire
- Nearly unlimited amount of potential within your budget and the constraints of your lot
- Increased transparency and opportunity for negotiating during the building process
What Should You Ask?
Whether you choose to work with a nationally acclaimed homebuilder or assemble a boutique team of an architect and luxury builder, here are some general questions you can ask to determine if the fit is right for you:
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Can I tour or visit any examples of your work?
- Can you provide references of recent clients?
- What distinguishes your work from that of your peers?
- Do you offer a warranty?
- Do you have a financing plan?
- Who will I be communicating with on your team?
- What resources do you have to help me visualize my home?
- Can you identify any conflicts or inconsistencies with my vision for my home?
- How long will my home take to complete?
- How, when and what parts of the design can I change prior to construction?
- How and when will you determine the final price of my home?
- Who will manage the construction of my home?
- When will I have access to my home while it’s being built?
How Can You Determine Value?
Your home is a significant personal investment that requires considerable time, resources and energy to conceive. It’s critical that you start by determining what’s most important to you. Convey this to your builder or architect at the earliest possible stage to ensure that your priorities are aligned. This is the best way to guarantee your new home will match your ideal vision.
Guest blog courtesy of W.C. Ralston Architects, an architecture and planning firm that has built an enduring reputation for design excellence in homes, neighborhoods and communities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Learn more at www.wcralston.com.