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What Homeowners Need to Know about Making Construction Easier
Whether you're building a new home or improving the one you have, home construction is intimidating. There are so many facets to home projects and so many costs to consider. Fortunately, there are ways to improve the construction process so that it is less stressful. That makes it much easier to enjoy the end product.
Research the Area
Before you start building or even start planning for future construction, you should be researching the area. There are many laws and requirements to follow as you are building or improving your home, and they can come from different sources.
The county may have requirements for specific building materials or levels of construction. Building near the ocean, for example, may require a specific type of window or doors for potential hurricanes. Preparations for hurricanes can extend inside the home as well with reinforced walls and special foundation materials. The same is true for areas that have tornados, heavy snows or rising water concerns.
Research not just the county laws, but the city and even neighborhood requirements as well. If you have your heart set on a three-story farm house design, don't imagine building it in a neighborhood where the homeowner's association doesn't allow more than two stories of colonial home. Cities may have additional zoning requirements for certain types of construction as well.
Finally, location is a huge concern for any building, but especially a home. Things like traffic patterns, public transportation and area schools will all impact not only your comfort, but your resale value as well. Find the right area, research it well and prepare yourself for the requirements of that area well before you start picking out tile and paint samples.
Choose Craftsmen Carefully
Once you have a location in mind and you've learned everything you can about the area, it is time to spend just as much time finding the craftsman and professionals to build your home. Making the right choice with professionals has many facets.
- Certified General Contractor - You will absolutely want a certified general contractor to oversee the project. The builder is your gatekeeper to everything else, so it is imperative to find the best in your area.
- Qualified Sub Contractors - A good general contractor should have good subcontractors as well. To reinforce this, ask ahead of time for your project manager's preferred subcontractors and do a bit of research.
- Multiple Estimates - Your construction project should start with multiple estimates. Ask for itemized estimates when possible to see how the project costs would break down. Then make your choice based on a combination of price, quality and references.
- Check References and Previous Projects - Professionals in the building industry know that their reference and previous works are critically important. Before any money changes hand, you should be in contact with previous clients and have inspected previous work.
- Hire Locally - By hiring local professionals you'll be better able to assess their work and their reputation in your community. You will also benefit from their professional contacts and special discounts within the local area.
- Retain a Lawyer - While the hope is always that a big construction project goes smoothly, there is always a chance that something will go wrong. Spending a bit ahead of time on legal advice may save you thousands down the road.
Finally, when it is time to make plans and actually start building, be sure that your new construction is done wisely. You can follow every rule and use excellent professionals and still make a mistake if you've overbuilt or you blow your budget making expensive changes.
If most homes in a neighborhood cost less than $300,000 and you arrive and build a home that cost $750,000, you're highly unlikely to ever see a decent return on your investment when you sell down the road. While it might feel good in the short term to have the biggest house on the block, overbuilding - building too much for an area - will be an exercise in frustration when it is time to sell.
Your budget for your new home should be in line with the area, and it should also allow for problems that may arise. What that carefully made budget will not include is ample funds to change things throughout the project. While some changes may need to be made as construction advances, other changes like opting for a new cabinet color or flooring after the original orders have been placed is a recipe for a budget disaster.
Best Ways to Save Money When Building a House
New construction homes are exciting. You are able to see your home built from truly the ground up. There are fixtures to choose and finishes to evaluate, and if you're not careful, all of those new shiny things can create a price tag that you're not particularly comfortable with. Beautiful new things can be expensive, but there are ways to control your budget when building a house without making sacrifices.
Buy a Problem Lot
The land can easily be one of the most expensive parts of building a new home. The perfect lots of land will command higher prices that the one that has a serious slope or that is oddly shaped. Those unusual lots are often termed “problem lots” and the sellers know that they will have to work a bit harder to sell it. These problem lots make a great opportunity for haggling and price reductions saving you money right off the bat.
Split a Lot
Another option to save money on the lot you'll need before you start building is to share the lot with someone close to you. If you buy multiple acres of property, you may have the option to build multiple houses on the property. This might be a great opportunity to build a smaller home for aging parents or to stay close to siblings looking to build their own new home. In this case they would be truly around the corner.
Look for Low Maintenance Building Materials
One way to save money now and down the road is to opt for low maintenance building materials. Cement siding or vinyl siding are much more cost effective in the short and long term than more expensive wood materials. The same can be true for wood-like vinyl floorings or engineered hardwood rather than ceramic or hardwood.
Invest in Structure and Safety
As you choose areas to spend your money, invest in the areas that are not particularly glamorous, but will offer you safety and comfort in the long term. High quality windows, doors and insulation are all worthy purchases that will continue to pay off in the long term.
This is also true for upgraded water heaters and air conditioning units. Do the best you can inside the walls and structurally as those items are much harder (and more expensive) to upgrade down the road.
Choose a Few Splurges
To create a luxury feel inside your home, you don't have to upgrade every single item. Consider the things that are most important to you and make those few items your primary splurges.
Cabinet hardware, for example, can look amazing at $5 per knob or $25 per knob. Unless you're in love with a particularly expensive cabinet handle, skip the expensive ones and use that money to invest on something that you're truly passionate about.
If your house is deeper than 32 feet, you're going to have to arrange for special tresses for your roof. Anything that requires special purchases and orders is going to have significant increases in cost. If you want a larger house, look at adding additional stories or making the house longer rather than deeper.
Homebuilding is not an area to go off half-cocked. That means you shouldn't get started on the process until you have everything planned out and all decisions made. Every change that is made during the construction process costs additional money, and the farther along the process is and the larger the change, the more you expect your new decisions to cost.
Create a Large Contingency Budget
There are going to be unexpected surprises any time you're working with construction. Plan for this by leaving yourself a significant portion of your budget to spend on the wiring or plumbing issues that come up.
A good deal of research ahead of time may also help you plan for additional costs like building fees, code changes, or inspection charges, but there is always something that arises and you'll want to be sure you can afford it when it does. On the plus side, that extra money you've put aside can be yours to spend on new furniture and decor if you wind up not needing the full amount.
Customize a Stock Plan
If you're building your home, it's appealing to design a home that is just for you. But a custom home design and blueprints can be prohibitively expensive. It may be much more cost effective to find a stock home plan and then simply add custom elements to your liking. The plans may be just a few hundred dollars versus the thousands that you'd spend to start from scratch.
Work with a Certified General Contractor
Finally, when you are building your own home, working with a certified general contractor can save you a great deal of stress and headaches. An experienced contractor will be able to help guide you through the process and offer suggestions to improve your new home or save you money in the process.
A certified general contractor who has worked in your area previously will also have a number of subcontractors that are reliable and qualified for the work that needs to be completed.
Building a new home will bring you a great deal of joy, but there are definitely times that you can expect frustration and stress. Making smart decisions and preparing for the full process ahead of time can alleviate a great deal of the drama and allow the process to be much more fulfilling.
The Top 5 Home Improvements for Resale
You home is supposed to be an investment. Generally speaking, you buy a house, the house appreciates in value and when you're ready to sell, you earn more for the house than you originally paid and you profit.
While profiting from your house is always the long-term goal, sometimes you have to help that goal along by improving your home to make it more attractive to potential buyers. Anyone with a house knows that there is always something to be improved. The trick is to spend your time, energy and money wisely on updates to maximize the return on your investment. These are some of the best home improvements to tackle first.
Replace Your Doors
While not particularly glamorous, replacing your front door with a new version can significantly improve your curb appeal, which also improves your resale value. The best replacement doors for value are steel doors with a half-light window and new hardware. Another big return is possible if you replace your old garage door. Both doors are a bit part of curb appeal, and new, shiny doors tell buyers to expect nice things throughout the house.
Add a Deck
A large wooden deck in the backyard is another great possibility for resale. Not only do you get almost all of your money back from the investment, but you create a visual lifestyle for potential buyers. As a bonus, you can enjoy the deck for years before you sell.
Replace Old Windows
This is an expensive update, but one that can pay off in the short term and the long term. Buyers will appreciate the updated curb appeal and the improved energy efficiency of the new windows. As the current owner, you'll enjoy a significant energy savings as well by replacing old single pane windows with updated models.
Add an Attic Bedroom
If you have enough attic space to hold a new living space, transforming that space will recoup you most of what you spend when it's time to sell. Taking a three-bedroom home to a four-bedroom home or making a new master suite where one did not originally exist in a home is very appealing to buyers.
Transform the Basement
Another opportunity to add valuable square footage to your home is to build out a basement into usable space. Some basements are large enough to add multiple spaces including guest rooms, bathrooms and media space. Even if you're just finishing one new living space, that extra square footage can be very profitable down the road and enjoyable for your family before you decide to sell.
Home construction can be stressful and certainly expensive. While you should always have an eye on resale with home improvement projects, it's also important to make changes that you can enjoy now. Often adding features and conveniences to your home that you've always wanted is the best reward - improved resale value is just a bonus.