For most people the idea of building a new home seems like climbing a very steep mountain. They know that once the peak has been reached the view will be worth it but they seem fixated on the trip up there. For these people there is an old saying. When asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” the answer is, “One teaspoon at a time.”
Like any other big project new home construction is actually a multitude of small operations that fit together much like a puzzle. The end result is a beautiful shelter that provides heat, water, lights and sewage disposal in a safe and functional manner. A residential builder has to have all these items have to be in place in order for the unit to receive the occupancy permit.
During the boom in home building after World War II most homes in subdivisions were cookie-cutter types. The trim and other decorations were different with each home but the basic shell and layout were identical. Because the workmanship and materials were excellent these homes are in great shape over fifty years later.
Today most people who want to build look for a custom home and builders are constantly working with new and different home plans. The great thing about a buying a set of home plans from an established home designer is that all the aspects in the blueprints have been tried and tested. It’s like using the cookie-cutter approach that worked many years ago and the various contractors are following something that has worked dozens of times before. Of course it is not completely custom but the costs are easy to figure out. Because at the end of the project no on wants to have to go back to the bank and ask for more money due to a miscalculation in costing.
When building a home the plans have everything to do with the price. New home construction costs begin with the lot and finish with the landscaping so there are many places along the journey that can affect the total price of the home. An architect can be a watchdog on pricing but so can a good contractor. In many cases a “turn-key” operation is a good way to go because the contracting company is responsible for everything and, as the name applies, when the home has been completed the home buyer is given the keys and moves right in.
Septic System: It all starts with the property. Is it rural or under a city’s bylaws? It is acreage or a single lot? These are some of the question that will decide how many parts of the home will go together. For example, a beautiful lot in the country may not have enough space for a proper septic system and an engineered on will have to be built. This may be because the land will not pass a percolation test where the drainage into the subsoil is too slow for adequate sewage treatment. In this case the price could be more than three times what a normal septic system would cost.
Power: If the home is to be built in the country another thing to investigate is the power. How far away is the service? In some parts of the country the power companies charge up to $2000 a power pole to bring electricity to the home so this could get expensive. So it is best to have all this figured out before buying the lot.
Direction: Another consideration for buying a piece of property is the direction it faces. Most people in northern areas like a southern exposure to take advantage of the sun in the winter. The warming effects of the sun, called passive solar energy, will do a lot to decrease the energy bill.
In addition, the wind direction has a lot to do with the comfort of the home. Building on the crest of a hill is great for a view but the home is subject to a pounding from the wind-blown rain and snow that not only makes the home colder but the exterior weathers more quickly. In southern areas a hilltop exposure could drive up air conditioning bills because there is no relief from the sun.
Hiring the right home builder contractor has everything to do with how smooth the building project will go. If a reputable contractor is chosen there is a good chance that the project will go smoothly. Contractors get all the permits, hire the subtrades and set the building schedule so, in effect, they are the generals of the building trade.
We all like cheering for the underdog however building a dream home is not the right time to give a new company a break. Because even if the price is lower many home builders end up paying more for the home in cost-overruns and lost time. And after the place is occupied a reputable contractor will come back and fix things whereas “low-ball Charlie” may not be around and the homeowner will have to hire someone to fix problems.