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What is Customer Satisfaction?

Research shows that good processes are key to a great building experience. The best builders know which experiences homeowners find most frustrating, and they work tirelessly to avoid them. Industry studies show that homeowners’ biggest complaints are about their builder’s processes, especially around scheduling, budget, work habits, and customer service. Smart builders use data from […] Read More »

Making Sense of Allowances

For best results, narrow down the options up front Allowances—that is, budgeting general costs for items before the specific items are chosen—are a fact of life on many projects. Some homeowners have trouble making decisions before work begins, most commonly for appliances, cabinets, floor coverings, and plumbing and electrical fixtures. In those cases, the builder […] Read More »

Built for Success

Quality homes and satisfied customers don’t happen by accident. The best builders have systems to ensure those outcomes. If you have a complete set of construction documents, including accurate blueprints and product descriptions, then material and labor costs won’t vary much between equivalent professional builders. Most of the price difference will rest with the builder’s […] Read More »

The Multi-Generational Home

These amenities will make the home more comfortable for all family members Anyone planning a new home might want to consider age demographics. For instance, recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau projects the over-65 population growing from 47 million in 2015 to 71 million by 2030, and most older people who answered a 2016 […] Read More »

Change Management

Post-contract changes need not be a problem, but they absolutely need a clear process Professionals who build fantastic homes for satisfied customers share some important traits. One trait is an obsession with details, and another is clearly communicating those details to the homeowners. Great builders are great communicators, and part of being a great communicator […] Read More »

Hidden Benefits of Building New

The advantages of a new home go beyond the obvious. The allure of a new home fires the imagination and ignites the spirit. We’ve all dreamed of living in a home with our version of the perfect gourmet kitchen, a beautifully appointed office, and a luxurious master suite. Having everything just the way you envision […] Read More »

Raising the Performance Bar

The best builders engineer their homes for health and comfort Efficiency, health and comfort—a great new home delivers all of those. But creating that home using today’s construction methods takes more knowledge than most people realize. That knowledge is one of the benefits of working with a professional builder. Lots of homeowners ask questions about […] Read More »

How long will this take?

Builders hear this question a lot. The answer, as with most such questions, is “It depends.” But on what? People who haven’t built before often have an unrealistic concept of how long it can take to plan, budget, and build a home. Many variables can affect the timetable. Three that stand out are design, permitting, […] Read More »

Avoid Costly Mistakes

How professional builders avoid some of the most common and costly construction mistakes. Most people judge a home by the obvious: a floor plan that’s a joy to live in, a streetscape elevation that wows passers-by, great natural lighting, and lots of storage. The list goes on. But some less obvious details have just as […] Read More »

Better Than Bidding

Identifying the best pro to build your new home starts by clarifying your wants and needs. Should you heed the conventional advice about getting price quotes from different builders? Maybe, but once you understand the complexities and uncertainties that go into a bid, you will see why there may be a more effective approach. The […] Read More »

First Impressions

The best builders know that the initial meeting is about earning your trust A big factor in someone’s choice of a builder is their comfort with the first person they meet from the company, whether it’s the owner or a salesperson. Natural rapport is important, but gut feelings also play a role—feelings some homeowners aren’t […] Read More »

Eliminate Surprises by Clearly Defining the Job

Building a new home is one of the most important investments a family will make. In many cases it represents the single largest financial investment. The home is designed and built to provide years of pleasure, comfort, and security. It is the physical manifestation of “family” and the place where celebration and joy are expressed […] Read More »

Have Questions? Ask the Builder

Prevent surprises and delays by getting answers from the top. There are lots of things homeowners can do to keep their building project running smoothly. Number one is making timely product choices, but another key step is to direct all change requests and questions, no matter how small, to the builder or the builder’s representative […] Read More »

Solid Ideas for Controlling Concrete

It’s easy to take concrete for granted. Most of us think of concrete as something stable, enduring, and strong. We believe that once concrete is set as a foundation slab, patio, driveway, or path, it’s there to stay. While it’s true that concrete is arguably one of the most stable building materials available, it nevertheless […] Read More »

A Strong Finish

The quality of the paint job can make or break the look of a custom home. Many homeowners expect plumbers and electricians to be expensive but are shocked at the prices charged by other subcontractors. One example of this is the professional painting company. Although people tend to see painting as intuitive work, there’s a […] Read More »

Plan to Succeed

A complete set of plans and specs will eliminate problems and help ensure a smooth project. Never underestimate the importance of good plans and specifications to a successful new home build. These crucial documents need to be fully completed to generate a realistic price, schedule, and contract. Too often, however, they’re left undone. The plans […] Read More »

Working with a Professional Builder: Does It Really Matter?

How homeowners benefit from an established builder’s systems and relationships Over the past decade, many new contractors have emerged as homebuilders. This has given homeowners more options, tempting some to choose a contractor based strictly on price. Bad idea. It’s nearly impossible to compare apples to apples when collecting competitive bids, especially for a complex custom home. […] Read More »

One Room, Many Uses

Flex spaces, or flexible-use rooms, are increasingly common in modern housing to address homeowners’ needs to accommodate their changing lifestyle and allow them to “age in place”. Flexible-use rooms provide important options to homebuyers. Whether they be young couples with a growing family or retirees needing creative outlets. A den might one day serve as […] Read More »

Construction Quality

As a professional builder, our company takes pride in creating high-quality homes. So we’d like our homebuyers to understand the difference between a well-built home and something less. What do we mean by “quality”? It’s not a mystery—construction quality is easy to see when you know what to look for. We’ve found that the best […] Read More »

Bring on the Natural Light

Walk into any new home and you’ll immediately notice a big difference from many older homes: an abundance of natural light. Because of poor thermal performance, windows and glass doors in older homes were necessarily scaled down. Today’s builders, however, are able to take advantage of advanced technologies, a wider range of sizes and styles, […] Read More »

Homebuilding Myths: Get Three Bids For Best Results

As the housing industry becomes more sophisticated and conscientious about achieving genuine and lasting homebuyer satisfaction, the level of professionalism among builders continues to reach new heights. As a result, potential clients searching for a builder to create their dream home have a much deeper pool of talent from which to select. Today’s professional builder […] Read More »

Prefinishes: The ‘No-Name’ Construction Phase

After the structural framing stage and the installation of the preliminary—or “rough”—plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling components are complete, there is a no-name phase of construction we’ll call the “prefinishes.” The reason this stage of the process has no common name is because of several different activities—by several different trades—occur during this time. All […] Read More »

Have Questions? Ask the Builder

It’s natural to have questions and changes when building a custom home. Prevent surprises and delays by getting answers from the top. There are lots of things homeowners can do to keep their building project running smoothly. Number one is making timely product choices, but another key action is to direct all change requests and […] Read More »

Tracking Cabinet Trends

As professional builders, we keep our eyes on emerging trends in the housing industry, from new structural materials and energy-saving systems to interior finishes. One of the big trends we’re tracking—and accommodating for an increasing number of our homebuyers—is the use of cabinetry in a greater variety of rooms and areas in the house. No […] Read More »

Take Pride in Your Home

There is no feeling that matches that of homeownership. It’s something we see all the time among our clients: a certain satisfaction and well-earned pride in their new home. It’s not something that can be measured, like an interest rate or price appreciation, but pride in ownership is a powerful and worthwhile reason to buy […] Read More »

Pros and Cons of LVT

Lots of homeowners are interested in this popular flooring—here’s what you need to know. Although the word “vinyl” raises some people’s eyebrows, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is actually a high-quality engineered flooring material. In recent years, LVT has become wildly popular, even among well-heeled homeowners. It’s easy to see why: with looks similar to hardwood […] Read More »

The Opening Act: Preparing the Site

If you’ve ever driven past a new subdivision, you’ve likely seen a fleet of earth-moving equipment, multiple colored stakes in the ground, and the beginnings of streets, sidewalks, and foundations. These are the tell-tale signs of the building site being prepared for construction. Site preparation includes several steps. Most, if not all, of this information […] Read More »

Who Will Build My House?

The challenge of labor makes selecting the right builder more important than ever. Homeowners are rightly concerned about rising material costs and unpredictable supply chains, but both will likely stabilize. A more intractable long-term challenge is about who will do the work to build our homes. This is the big topic in today’s building industry. It’s harder […] Read More »

The Regulatory Minefield

Government red tape takes time, money and skill to navigate. That’s why you need a pro. Some people don’t realize how highly regulated the construction business has become. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the costs of complying with government regulations now account for nearly a quarter (24.3%) of new home prices—30% more […] Read More »

Where’s My Garage Door?

Why supply chain issues persist and how builders mitigate them Although professional builders do everything in their power to keep home construction on schedule, they face more challenges than ever. Most have to do with back-ordered products—ongoing fallout from the pandemic. The supply chain affects every builder in the country, but as an illustration, let’s […] Read More »

Fighting Moisture

No one wants to think about house moisture. As professional builders, however, we are aware of the dangers created by moisture infiltration and we are in a position to prevent it. That makes it our responsibility to lead the discussion. Prevention of moisture infiltration—and the mildew or mold that can follow it—is a critical objective […] Read More »

The Homeowner’s Role in Building a Custom Home

Homebuilding has changed significantly over the last hundred years, especially since the 1950s, when the housing industry boomed after World War II. Building a home in a classic, hands-on way is far from standard practice these days, as home construction has evolved from a trade or craft to a systematized process with many moving parts. […] Read More »

Shelter From the Storm

Resilient design is a hallmark of a quality custom home. A growing topic of discussion among builders in recent years has been resilience. Homes designed and built for resilience will weather all but the most extreme environmental conditions and remain livable during power outages. They offer homeowners true shelter and peace of mind. The most […] Read More »

What’s Your Real Market?

The answer will have an impact on the selections you make and the final home cost. Potential clients often ask for our homes’ average cost per square foot. The question is understandable. Price per square foot is a metric the real estate industry uses to gauge the competitiveness of resale homes, and homebuyers have internalized […] Read More »

Why Do Estimates Take So Long?

The work of building a price and schedule for your custom home is a project in itself There’s a reason that quality project estimates don’t happen overnight. Every home is a collection of thousands of individual components that range from large-scale assemblies like walls and roofs to small items like doorknobs and faucets. The builder […] Read More »

Choose Your Builder Wisely

The low-bid, budget company may cost more in the long run. Here’s why. Does your builder have the size and—more importantly—the management systems needed to handle a custom home project? If not, the final cost in dollars and frustration may be more than you bargained for. There are innumerable ‘horror stories’ on the Internet about […] Read More »

A New Home Will Help You Breathe Easier

How professional builders create a healthy indoor environment. If you have concerns about how healthy your new home will be, you’re not alone. In a 2021 survey of 551 American homeowners commissioned by York (a manufacturer of home heating and cooling systems) 62% of respondents said their home’s indoor air quality needed improvement. And in […] Read More »

Preplanning Before Groundbreaking

On time, on budget, and exceeding customer expectations starts with a thorough preconstruction plan. To finish a complex project on time and on budget, the professional builder must have a thoughtful, thorough and well-developed preconstruction planning process. It can feel like a slow way to start, but the time spent upfront pays off in more […] Read More »

How Much Will It Cost?

You can get more for your money by not starting with that question. Whether it’s a $7 million custom home or a $70,000 kitchen remodel, no one wants to pay more than they have to. So it’s no surprise that the first question many people have for their architect, interior designer or builder is about […] Read More »

Protect your Investment: Maintaining Your New Home

A smart maintenance schedule will help keep a new home healthy and good-looking for years to come. If low maintenance is a priority, then having a new home built is a great choice. In a study by the National Association of Homebuilders, 73 percent of new homeowners reported average monthly maintenance expenses just one-fourth (25 […] Read More »

It’s Always Sunny in TV Land

Home shows don’t reflect the reality of building a new home. Who doesn’t love a good drama, especially one they can imagine themselves a part of? With that in mind, it’s no surprise that home and garden shows enjoy loyal viewership, and that HGTV has earned a spot as one of the top ten cable […] Read More »

What Interior Designers Bring to the Table

These important team members help create safe, comfortable spaces that are perfectly tailored to your needs Homeowners sometimes ask what, exactly, interior designers bring to the table. It’s a valid question. You’ve lived in homes all your life and know what you like, so choosing products, colors and layouts shouldn’t be complicated, right? The answer […] Read More »

Looking Beyond Sticker Prices

Installed costs vary greatly from product to product, but the builder can help manage them Cost control is top-of-mind for anyone building a custom home these days. That includes keeping final product costs as close to the estimate as possible. With this in mind, some homeowners browse at design centers and box stores, then come […] Read More »

Insulation: Stay Cool without Sweating Energy Bills

New homes are built to save energy, and a primary component of that goal is insulation. The definition of insulation, however, is rapidly expanding as homebuyers and energy codes demand even better energy-use performance from new homes. Today, there are far more options than those rolls of fiberglass you see on the shelves of big-box […] Read More »

Why Changes Are So Costly

Change orders have always led to budget increases and schedule delays, and it’s not getting any better.  With inflation showing up in the news and at the grocery store, some homeowners are asking what they can do to keep construction costs from escalating. Part of the answer is to choose the features and products you […] Read More »

Excellence vs. Perfection

Famous football coach Bill Walsh was known for demanding perfection from his players during practices, even though he knew they would never attain it. His philosophy was if you don’t strive for perfection, you don’t have a chance to achieve it. As professional builders, we follow the same philosophy; plan for perfection to attain excellence. […] Read More »

The Changing Role of Allowances

Price chaos for materials has made budgeting more complicated. Here’s what you need to know. Most people are familiar with allowances—a way to let homeowners create firm budgets for items that haven’t been specified at the time of contract signing. For instance, if the homeowners and builder concluded that $30,000 would support the quality of […] Read More »

Top 5 Questions When Given a Builder Reference

You just left an impressive presentation with a professional homebuilder, one among the few you’re considering for your new home project. In addition to a brochure about his business and highlights of his recent work, he provided you with a list of recent homebuyers for you to call or email to ask about his quality, […] Read More »

Who You Gonna Call?

How do you identify a great custom builder—and choose the best one for your needs? There’s an oft-repeated quip that building a custom home is as much about the experience as the result. Yes and no. It’s true that you will invest more emotion into the design and construction process than with an off-the-shelf tract […] Read More »

All Quartz Is Not Equal

Even if the budget is tight, this is not the place to economize. Here’s why. If asked to describe your relationship with your home’s products, only a few would warrant the term “intimate.” One of the few is your kitchen counter. You gaze at it and rub it daily. You trust it not to contaminate […] Read More »

Controlling Project Costs

A successfully managed budget is a partnership between the builder and his homebuyers Custom builders work hard to make sure their clients get the home they want at a price they can afford. Cost-control strategies include value-engineering the structure, writing clear product specifications, and managing the construction in the most efficient manner possible. Controlling costs […] Read More »

The Best House You Can Build

There are codes and there are standards. A great home requires both. There was a TV commercial for kosher hot dogs that first aired in the 1970s. With a surprised and disappointed Uncle Sam as background, the narrator described how government authorities allowed the company to use ingredients like artificial colorings and non-meat fillers. The […] Read More »

Home Price Reality Check

Consulting with a builder before drawing the plans will save expense and headaches. Most custom builders have had clients show up at their office with a set of finished plans that, in reality, will cost 25% to 30% more than the clients’ target budget. Fortunately, this problem is easily avoided. Working with the builder on […] Read More »

A Home for All Ages

The best accessible features are really just good design By some estimates, the decade from 2011 to 2021 saw a quadrupling of households with parents and grown children. Last year’s increase was especially sharp—the National Association of Realtors reported 15% growth in demand for multigenerational homes between April and June of 2020. As home prices […] Read More »

The Problem with Competitive Bidding

Some big obstacles stand in the way of the three-bid advice Folk wisdom, online articles, and basic instincts advise homeowners to solicit bids from several qualified contractors. But three major obstacles get in the way of making those bids realistic and useful: the need for detailed plans and job specifications, the need for comparable bidders, […] Read More »

What Drives a Home’s Price?

Builders need a lot of information to arrive at an accurate number Every now and then a homeowner will call to ask how much our new homes cost per square foot. The answer, of course, depends on a range of variables. Some of these are obvious, and others less so. The differences everyone grasps have […] Read More »

Why Builders Must Be Learners

Continuing education is no longer optional. What do today’s best builders have in common? Although the answer includes many items, there’s a common thread running through each of them: commitment to ongoing learning. The know-how needed to build high-performance, durable homes is evolving faster than ever. That’s why top builders commit to continuing education in […] Read More »

Managing the Great Supply Crunch

In the future, you can tell friends and family what things were like during the Great Supply Crunch If you’re contemplating a new custom home, you’re no doubt aware of rising costs for lumber and other building materials. That problem has gotten plenty of media coverage. But price isn’t the only challenge. There’s another issue […] Read More »

Minimize Stress When Building Your New Home

Building a home can be stressful. Savvy homeowners choose a builder who will make it less so. But beyond making certain the company is licensed and insured and has provided detailed pricing and a professional contract, how do owners determine whether a company will deliver on its promises and not tax their sanity? The answers […] Read More »

Battery Powered Homes

This cutting-edge technology is growing fast. Is it right for you? With solar panels sprouting on roofs from sea to shining sea, their big weakness is hitting more homeowners where it hurts—in the wallet. New technology aims to cure that weakness and to make solar a more profitable investment. Solar has become practical in nearly […] Read More »

Controlling Allowances

Strict allowance policies benefit homeowners as much as builders. Why do builders prefer that the homeowners choose every single item that will go into the house before they break ground? It’s not just for the builder’s convenience. A choice postponed may end up being made at a time when the homeowners are feeling a lot […] Read More »

It is Your Choice

The Professional Builder walks a fine line. It is our job to balance a new home’s cost and construction efficiencies while customizing our home design and specifications. We work closely with our clients to develop the ultimate look and feel of their new home so that it meets their needs and reflects their unique taste. […] Read More »

How to Fight Escalating Lumber Prices

The essential skill of value engineering Lumber continues to be THE big issue in homebuilding. As we write this in May 2021, costs for framing lumber and plywood are three times what they were a year ago. That’s right—they’ve tripled. It’s insane. They might go even higher. An April 14 Business Insider article predicted a further 12% […] Read More »

The Finishing Touch

We’ve compared a home’s framing to its skeleton, wiring to its nerves and insulation to its muscle. Now it’s time to talk about exterior finishes—a home’s “skin”. We’re very fortunate to be designing and building homes in a time that offers a vast array of exterior finishes, including siding (or cladding), roofing, trim, and hardscapes. […] Read More »

Is the Customer Always Right?

The short answer is no, and here’s why that’s a good thing. Some builders are what one might call ‘order takers.’ They do anything the homeowners want within the constraints of budget, timetable, and zoning or code regulations. That’s understandable: everyone wants happy customers and positive reviews. But the best builders understand that an anything-you-want […] Read More »

Develop your Building Team: Earlier is Better

Traditionally, people have been conditioned to follow a certain, linear path to building a new home. That is, hire an architect or designer to create the plans, select a builder and then maybe bring in a stylist or interior designer to apply the finishing touches. But the reality is that this step-by-step approach to getting […] Read More »

The New Science of Building

Creating a durable and efficient home is no job for amateurs. There’s a common but flawed perception that older homes are more durable than contemporary housing, with fewer mold and moisture problems. While it’s true that some newer homes have had well-publicized mold issues, they are by no means the rule. These moldy homes do […] Read More »

Wasting Water and Flushing Dollars

Most “green building” conversations emphasize energy efficiency. By contrast, the issue of water — its scarcity, purity, and significance to sustainability — is often overlooked or discounted. That’s because, in North America, we take water for granted; not only is it cheap, it is relatively abundant and clean. But while an average bathtub may hold […] Read More »

Why Builders Must Be Learners

Continuing education is no longer optional. What do today’s best builders have in common? Although the answer includes many items, there’s a common thread running through each of them: a commitment to ongoing learning. The know-how needed to build high-performance, durable homes is evolving faster than ever. That’s why top builders commit to continuing education […] Read More »

Managing Change

Building a new home is a dynamic and exciting process. As professional homebuilders, our goal is to make the process smooth and transparent for our clients. Once the job is underway, things happen quickly, so we work with clients to make decisions well ahead of time to help ensure they get their new home on […] Read More »

What Makes a Project a Success?

It’s as much about the experience as the result. Some homeowners have asked: How does a builder know when a project has been a success? Well, there’s good news—the answer to this question is one of the things that define a great builder. To a pro, every successful project crosses the finish line with three […] Read More »

Stylish or Trendy?

Want to make sure your new home doesn’t feel dated in a few years? Then you need a good interior designer. One great thing about a new custom home is that you get to create a space perfectly tailored to your needs. Once that’s done, however, your satisfaction with the space will depend largely on […] Read More »

What Your Builder Can’t Control

Homebuilding is a highly specialized and complex process. And like builders themselves, no two clients are exactly the same. Some homeowners are very interested in the home building process, while others are more content to follow the lead of the builder and be available only when needed. Most clients fall somewhere in between. Regardless of […] Read More »

Future-Proofing Made Simple

A few key devices and some basic wiring will make your home ready for just about anything Homebuilders are sometimes accused of resistance to digital home technologies. That’s not quite the case, but we have seen many high-tech devices hit the market with great hype, only to quietly disappear two years later. The best service […] Read More »

Clearing The Air

How a new custom home helps you breathe easy This article is more technical than most, but it addresses an important issue for today’s homebuyers: how healthy their new home will be. That concern is no surprise, given that we’re getting outside less often than ever. A 2018 YouGov survey of 16,000 people in North […] Read More »

What Quality Looks Like

Builders are always talking about “quality,” but few can explain what that means to their new-home clients. This should not be a mystery; construction quality is easy to see when you know what to look for. As a professional builder, we not only take pride in creating high-quality homes, but also in making sure that […] Read More »

Little Room for Error

Stricter code requirements and modern materials have raised the stakes for today’s builders Today’s homes are engineered for comfort and health. Their walls are sealed to eliminate drafts, and they include thick thermal insulation as well as high-performance heating, cooling and fresh-air ventilation systems. They’re a far cry from older homes. They’re about to become […] Read More »

Foundations of Quality

The word “foundation” evokes thoughts of strength, permanence, and solidity—the basis for everything that follows. A home’s foundation is simply the most important part of its construction and overall performance, if not top of mind among homebuyers and owners. The reason there are different types of residential foundations has to do with the soil and […] Read More »

Why Changes Are Costly

Even small changes made after work begins can have surprising effects on the budget. Here’s why. Minimizing change orders is one of the most effective things homeowners can do to control costs. The reason is that seemingly small changes can have cost impacts beyond the builder’s control—costs that ultimately are borne by the customer. We’re […] Read More »