Budgeting for your custom home
One of the first questions many prospective clients ask is how much will my house cost to build? This is a valid and important question but also is one that is difficult to answer. Because every custom home is different, the cost to build them will also be different. Many things effect the total cost. The site location and topography for example is the lot flat or is it on the side of a cliff? How many floors? Will there be a garage and if so is it attached or not, how big? Is the design a simple one or more complex? Then of course there are many choices in finishes that all come at a different cost. Things like cabinets, counters, windows, doors, flooring etc…. all are available in different price points. These questions and the decisions that go along with them are what makes building a custom home fun and what makes the house truly yours!
Our preference is to be involved from the beginning. If we can work together with the client and the designer we have a much better chance of meeting the budget expectations and creating a design that works well. Once that design is complete we can gather accurate prices from the various subcontractor and suppliers we use to complete the budget. Even at that point it is important to plan for contingencies. It seems like there are always a few things that have to be changed or some other unknown circumstance. If we can work together to create a comprehensive budget to go with the design and include a reasonable contingency in the budget it is very likely your total costs will come in at or under budget.
So while the costs vary considerably to build a custom home, proper planning can ensure that the finished product is exactly what you want and within the budget.
Green Your Home with a Certified Green Professional
More and more, home owners that are looking for ways to save energy and be kind to the environment when they build, remodel or renovate a home are seeking help from a Certified Green Professional (CGP).
Home builders, remodelers, designers, and contractors with the CGP educational designation understand green building. Today, there are more than 5,000 CGPs in the business of helping consumers build a new home or remodel their existing one.
These professionals know how to combine good, cost-effective building science with an ever-expanding selection of products and materials to build or remodel a home with sustainability in mind. They are trained to incorporate energy, water and resource efficiency, improved indoor environmental quality and sustainable and locally sourced products into their projects – and to teach you how to best take advantage of these features.
Trying to build or renovate a home to be green can be a complex, confusing process without some professional guidance. Terminology such as low-E windows, dual-flush toilets, tankless water heaters and ENERGY STAR ratings doesn’t make a lot of sense without some explanation, and with the ever-growing number of products on the market today promoted as “green,” it’s hard to know which ones will actually achieve your goals.
A CGP uses the National Green Building Standard, the nationally approved benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green homes, to help you understand all the factors that should be considered when building green and work with you to decide what is appropriate for your project. They will help you choose the right products and advise you on how to ensure everything works the way it is designed to and operates at maximum efficiency.
You can be certain a member of the building industry with a CGP designation is a trained professional. CGPs must complete three days of classroom instruction and have at least two years’ building industry experience before they earn the designation. They also are required to adhere to the CGP Code of Ethics and complete 12 hours of building industry and green-related continuing education every three years.
If you are building a new home, a CGP understands how to best take maximum advantage of the natural contours of the land and how to preserve water quality on site. For example, they will design a home’s window placements to either promote the sun’s heating effects in the home in colder climates, or offset it in warmer regions. They’ll recommend trim, cabinets and flooring that don’t use harmful solvents and sealers, and they’ll show you how you can save water inside and outside your home.
Many CGP remodelers and builders encourage home owners to have their new homes, additions, or renovations certified under the National Green Building Standard, which involves two independent, third-party inspections by trained verifiers to ensure compliance.
To find a CGP in the Durango & Bayfield area, contact the Home Builders Association of Southwest Colorado at www.hbasc.com go to the National Association of Home Builders’ designation directory at www.nahb.org/designationsdirectory and type in “CGP.”
I’m proud to say that Kurt Will, owner of Will Construction is on that list!
Radiant in floor heating and wood floors
Lately I have been asked a few times about installing wood flooring over radiant heat. Many people believe this can’t be done or is a bad idea and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. While it is true that wood will expand and contract somewhat with temperature change and humidity change there are steps we can take to minimize this movement so it doesn’t cause any problems.
It is important that the home’s heating system be running and comfortable as if the house was lived in. The new wood should be stacked in the living area so that air can circulate around it allowing it to acclimate to the homes conditions. The temperature, humidity, and the moisture content of the wood needs time to stabilize before the installation. This can happen fairly quickly or sometimes can take a few weeks. If using an engineered wood this will take much less time and is less of a concern. If using solid hardwood make sure you buy a quality product to begin with, acclimate as necessary and it too will work fine. Installation techniques vary depending on the product and the sub floor materials. Here in Durango we are often working with Gypcrete or Concrete for a sub floor with radiant heat. In both cases Engineered wood can be floated with no problems. Solid wood can be nailed if we install wood sleepers before the Gypcrete, or if no sleepers we can prime and then glue the wood floor.
Regardless of the installation technique or whether it is engineered or solid wood, these floors are beautiful and perform great.
2013 might be the best time ever to build
I recently attended a real estate forecast put on by our largest local real estate company. This is a huge annual event and always a good source of current and historic information about our market. This year one of the main points was a lack of inventory. Because of the recent recession new home building slowed dramatically. Because of that very few builders have been building anything that wasn’t already sold. So if you are now in the market to buy a new home it is very likely you can’t find one to buy. However there are still plenty of lots for sale and they are still selling at great prices. This makes it a great time to buy a lot, hire a builder and design and build the home of your dreams! Designing and building a custom home is a very rewarding and fun process and when it is over you get to move into a home that is designed just for you. Interest rates are so low that most people can afford more than they think they can.
If you ever wanted to have a new home in Durango or Bayfield Colorado, now might be a great time to do it!
Subcontractors and Employees
When building a new home one of the first things most people think about is how much will it cost. There are many decisions to make and most of these can effect cost in one way or another. Some of the most important decisions we have to make as your builder is who to use for subcontractors and employees. This is one area where cheaper is not necessarily best. Often times what appears to be a cheaper option is definitely not the best. Quality and value is what is important here and we have found that sometimes it just makes sense to use a more expensive sub or employee. To a certain point you do get what you pay for. We want to use high quality professionals that we know will get the job done on time and to our standards. Beyond that we want to know they will be around to stand behind their work should any warrantee issues ever come up.
At Will Construction we are committed to using only the highest quality subs and employees. These are people we have worked with many times before, they do a fantastic job for a fair price and we know we can count on them. This is the backbone of our organization and one of the most important decisions we can make regarding the construction of your new custom home.
Concrete foundations & slabs
I believe that cost control and quality control are an important of building any custom home. One of the ways we do that is by completing some of the most important structural work using in-house employees. Most often we do the concrete foundation as well as the framing ourselves. On the rare occasion that we do hire a subcontractor, we use crews that we have a long history with and trust completely. This short video shows our employees working on a recent basement slab pour.
Because our employees work well together, enjoy what they are doing, and are proud of the results, our clients know they can expect the highest quality job. We know we will have to frame on the foundation and getting it right makes the rest of our job easy.
Deck & Rail example
In a previous post I talked about options for deck and rail materials. Since we recently completed a deck remodel using composite decking and aluminum railings I thought I would share a couple of photos. The deck is “Evergrain” brand and the railings are a factory product that comes in different lengths and styles. The rails are cut to fit on the job for a custom installation. The finished product is virtually maintenance free and looks great!
Decking- Composite vs. Redwood
One of the many choices people face when designing and building a home is what kind of decking material to use. Typically the choice comes down to either redwood or one of the composite materials like Trex. There are advantages to both.
The biggest reason to use the composite materials is maintenance. Unlike redwood, with the composite material you don’t have to stain and seal the decking. It is virtually maintenance free. It is however not as strong as wood and for that reason we sometimes will use redwood to build rails. Another advantage is warrantee which varies among manufacturer but is something you don’t get with redwood. The material can stain however and if it does can be difficult to clean. The composite decking material is more expensive to install but for many people the lack of maintenance makes it more than worth it.
Redwood on the other hand is a natural material and when properly taken care of will remain beautiful indefinately. Redwood is naturaly resistant to decay so when it is stained it holds up very well. Staining is something that will need to happen on a regular basis though. Depending on the exposure to weather and sun you might need to re-stain the deck as often as every year. Redwood is a stronger material than the composite choices so it works very well for railings and usually can span longer distances so sometimes less framing material is needed. Redwood is less expensive than the composite decking.
In all, both materials work very well and there are good reasons to use both. Consider carefully when planning your next deck project and you will be able to enjoy the space for a very long time!
Improving the value of your home
Many people would like to improve the value of their home. There are many different options when it comes to home improvement and some will effect the value much more than others. Of course adding space to the home in the form of an addition will certainly add value. There are also many things you can do in terms of remodeling that will help too. Here are just a few ideas that are relatively inexpensive to complete but will really dress up your home:
Painting inside or out.
Installing new siding.
Replacing old roofing material.
Replace old windows and/or doors.
Install new carpet.
Replace or re-finish interior trim.
Adding a deck to create some outdoor living space.
Replace old plumbing and light fixtures.
Re-finish or replace cabinets and countertops.
These are just a few of the many ideas to dress up your home. Certainly there are many more and they are only limited by your imagination. We would be happy to help you with any contruction projects you might be considering. Please call anytime at 970-884-9830.
Aquariums and Ponds
One of my hobbies involves indoor aquariums and outdoor ponds. I particularly enjoy an aquarium with live plants and Discus fish inside and a natural pond with waterfall and koi fish out in the yard. I have succesfully kept both of these for many years at my house. Now if you know very much about either of these setups, you know that taking care of them can be time consuming. I have utilized proceedures to automate much of the maintenance tasks using some built in systems. For example in my discus tank, water changes happen automaticaly and unattended!
If you are considering a new home or remodel, I can help build in systems to make beautiful aquariums and/or outdoor water features easy to take care of. Call me anytime at 888-875-3984.