We at Better By Design LLC have been providing builders and homeowners high quality, accurate construction plans for over 20 years now. Through experience, we’ve developed a practical process and we’ll guide you every step of the way. What we sell is service! We know you can buy house plans many places.
Choosing a Builder
You may not realize it. But the builder you choose is much like choosing a trusted business partner. You’ll be working with this person on a daily basis every day for months. It’s important to feel comfortable, have mutual respect and trust and enjoy being with the builder you choose. BBD team members know all the local builders. We can recommend who we believe might be a good fit for you. Please read this article to learn how you can be certain you choose wisely!
7 Common Mistakes
In over twenty years of drafting house plans, we’ve seen our clients make every mistake there is to make. Your dad probably told you to learn from your mistakes. But it’s better for you if you can learn from other people’s mistakes. Here we explain the seven most common mistakes we’ve seen people make when planning to build a home.
In twenty years, we’ve answered tens of thousands of questions from homeowners about the building process. We rarely get a question we have not answered many times. So here we ask and answer some of the most common questions so you don’t even have to ask.
First, please spend some time on this website. Our LEARNING CENTER has ARTICLES to help you as you plan and build your new home. Our HOME NEEDS AND UTILIZATION INVENTORY will help you think through your requirements and desires for each room.(The Inventory is not required to be completed. It’s a guide to help you prepare for your first meeting with us.) And we have numerous stock plans in our ONLINE PLAN STORE. There you may find the right plan for you. Or you may find several plans with elements you like. We will take those elements and work them into a custom design just for you.
Then please call for an appointment for your free INITIAL CONSULTATION at one of our offices located in New Albany, IN or Louisville, KY. Tell us about your dream home. If you have a sketch of the home you have imagined, bring it along! Also bring photos, clippings or floor plans. Bring anything that will help communicate the style and features you are looking for in your new home. It’s at this meeting where we will try to catch your vision for your new home. After your free Initial Consultation, a $100 NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT is required before the actual design work will begin. This $100 will be applied to the cost of your completed house plans.
You’ll be notified when your PRELIMINARY PLAN AND EXTERIOR VIEWS are ready to view- Then you’ll get to see the Floor Plan and several 2 dimensional ‘Elevation’ views of your new home. You may receive these by email in a format that allows you to mark comments, questions and redlines right on the plan to be returned for revisions. Or you may request an appointment to meet with us at our offices. Before receiving your Preliminary Plan you’ll be asked to make a PAYMENT OF 75% OF THE TOTAL CHARGE based on the plan square footage of your new home. Payment may be made by cash, check or credit card in person, by phone or online. It is important to remember that plans should not be put into use for pricing, permits or any other purpose until paid for in full!
We aren’t mind readers. So we don’t always catch the full vision in the first meeting. Not to worry! We work through this process with you step-by-step. So mark up your preliminary plans with questions, things you like and things you want to change. Then schedule a meeting to talk through it all. Then we’ll make the requested revisions and get the plan back to you. We may go back and forth a few times until we get it exactly the way you want it.
Once the revisions are made we will print your FINAL PLAN SET. Your set will include all the plan elements your builder will need for pricing, permits, ordering materials and construction of your new home. Included in the plan set is the foundation/basement plan, main floor plan, 2nd floor/bonus plan (if applicable), elevation drawings (front, rear, left, right), cross sections, and details.
– Plan pricing is calculated on the square footage of your home at a rate of 65 CENTS/ SQUARE FOOT (living area above grade). Finished basement areas are charged at a rate of 35 CENTS/ SQUARE FOOT. You will receive your Final Print Set when your balance is paid in full. Additional plan sets can be printed for an additional fee.
IT’S THAT EASY!
Further Changes and Consultation: $95 per hour
If you require further changes after your final prints are finished, we’ll assist you at an affordable hourly rate. You may need to make some changes before construction begins. Maybe you want different window sizes, or want to move a wall. Whatever your need, we will help.
All Prints are Available in Various Sizes and Formats
8 ½ X 11, ARCH Super B size 13 X 19, ARCH D Size 24 X 36, or other sizes and scales upon request.
And we can email your plans in pdf, jpeg and other formats at your request.
How to Choose the Right Builder to Build Your New Home
By Bob Linnert, Owner BBD
Probably the most important choice you’ll make during the planning stage of building your new home is the choice of your builder. For a period of time ranging from 6 months to a year you will be working with your builder as closely as you do with many of your co-workers at your job. But few co-workers have the ability to affect your future happiness, comfort and finances as much as your builder will. So it would be difficult to overestimate the importance of this early decision.
That being said, let’s look at some suggestions I have for you based on years of experience in the industry and dealing with literally hundreds of builders and their clients. First I’ll suggest a process for making the right choice, and then I’ll give you some specifics to help you make the process work.
1. Make a long list of potential builders.
2. Narrow the list to a short list of 3 potential builders.
3. Ask for a detailed bid for building your new home.
4. Make a decision.
1. Make your long list of potential builders.
Do some homework. Get names of local builders from advertisements and signs at construction sites. Ask family and friends who have built within the last few years for their recommendations. Then go to each builder’s website or ask for a company brochure or portfolio to see how that builder presents his business. Also, most builders have a reputation in the community for being high-end or low end builders in terms of both quality and price. Check out their reputations. Eliminate any builder that you believe is not a good fit for whatever reason. Only list the ones that you would seriously consider for building the home you’re going to live in. This should get you a long list of 6 to 10 names of builders you might consider.
2. Narrow the field to 3 potential builders.
A) Call each builder on your long list for an appointment. And if you call and leave a message take note of how long it takes to get a call back. If a businessman does not return a call within 24-48 hours he is either so busy he doesn’t need the work or he’s just not interested enough in his business. Now don’t be unreasonable. Builders have families and weekend plans just like you. But if you don’t get a call back within 48 hours or the next business day following a weekend, mark that builder off the list.
B) When you meet, it should only be for a short time to make introductions and to get some initial, but very important information. Ask the builder for names, addresses and telephone numbers of several people he has built for- one whose home is under construction now, one who’s just moved in and one who has been in their home for 2 or 3 years. If a builder cannot or will not give you names and numbers, mark that builder off the list. And remember; after you’re in your new home, be willing to talk to other prospective homeowners to give a reference for your builder (positive or negative).
C) Now it’s time to go to work. Drive past each of the homes the builder refers you to. Do they look like the quality of home you’re looking for? Walk through at least one he is currently building. See if, in your opinion, the site looks like it is the worksite of a group of professionals. If the site is strewn with trash and gives the impression that those who work there are not concerned with safety or quality of work, mark that builder off the list too. Then be sure to talk to each of the references each builder gives you. Ask them how that builder was to work with. Where there any problems with getting in touch when needed? Where there quality issues? Cost overruns? Long delays without explanation? Did problems appear after a year or two? And did the builder correct problems as a matter of professionalism and personal pride, or did he have to be threatened before taking action? Most importantly, does the builder do what he says he will do?
If you perform this due diligence at this point, you’ll never be sorry. Avoid the temptation to cut corners. Don’t fail to make the necessary calls and visits. You may spend a number of hours over several weeks to narrow your list to 3 builders. But the 3 left on your short list should all be builders you can trust equally and that you feel you can work with closely and comfortably. Once you get to this point, it’s time for the builders to get to work
3. Ask for a detailed bid for building your new home.
One reason I asked you to narrow your list to only 3 potential builders is for your own sanity. There will be so many variables to consider in your final decision that it would be almost impossible to make a fair comparison between more than 3. The other reason is that creating a reliable bid takes a lot of work for numerous people. Since only one builder will get the job, it’s a bit unfair to ask ten different builders to spend all the time required just to give you a bid. And remember, every builder will be asking all of his subs and suppliers for their bids. So an accurate bid will take time and will involve ten or more people before your builder get back to you.
Ok, don’t tell me you didn’t expect this. Here’s where I tell you that you must have a complete set of plans to get the process started. A builder cannot give you an accurate and reliable bid using a guess based on an estimated square footage. And a plan sketched on a napkin while you drink coffee just before going to meet the builder is not any better. The shape of the house, the contour and pitch of the roof, the number of windows and cabinets and many other factors can drastically affect the cost of construction. If a builder can give you a price and wants you to sign a contract without seeing a complete plan and taking time to make a detailed estimate of construction cost, you probably better go see another builder. And of course you want the best plan and the best value. And you need go no further. Search our website or contact us about a custom plan at Better By Design LLC because, ‘We Plan to Make Your Dream Home a Reality!’
You may also consider having our Better By Design team to provide you with a materials takeoff. You can learn more about that under the SERVICES tab on our website. If you provide each bidding builder with a takeoff, you know that you’ll be comparing apples to apples as far as the materials go.
Now that the commercial is finished, let’s get back to the point. You’ll almost certainly have to meet with each builder at this point. It will kind of be like he’s interviewing you to find out what type of construction you want and the kinds of finishes and fixtures you would like him to bid. The builder will likely have his subcontractors look at your plans and give him bids for their part of the work. Then the builder adds in all his labor and all the materials, etc., including his intended profit. If done correctly, he’ll build your house on paper and you should receive a bid listing what each element of the construction will cost. Many builders will list the floor coverings, fixtures and finishes they recommend in their bid along with the cost for each. This is called the ‘allowance.’ Once you’ve chosen your builder, you’ll go to his suppliers and choose the actual floor coverings, cabinets, and fixtures, etc. If you choose something different than what he has allowed, there will be a change order and the cost to build will go up or down accordingly. You should allow at least 2 weeks for the builders to get back to you with a final bid. In some cases they may need even longer to get a quote on materials or labor from their subcontractors. The more complex the home, the more work and time is involved. So even 3-4 weeks is a realistic time to wait.
4. Make a decision.
Now that you have bids from all 3 builders on your short list the ball is back in your court. Now it’s time to make comparisons, interview the individuals and make your choice of builders. So here are my suggestions on how to proceed:
A) First compare the bids at a glance. You may notice big differences. If one bid is highly detailed and another is only a couple of lines, go back and ask for more information. Tell the builder what specific information is missing from his bid and that you will need that information if you are going to consider his company to build your new home. Let him know that the other bids included this information and that you must have it to make a fair comparison and choice. For example, if the other bids have line item prices for bath fixtures and one bid has none, then ask for the information you need. Without complete information you cannot make a reasonable decision. If a builder simply will not give you the information you need, you may need to drop him from your short list and ask another builder for a competitive bid. Once you have three bids that are comparable it’s time to get down to specifics.
B) Take a look at the bottom lines of each competitive bid. The bottom line price should not be the deciding factor, but it’s a good place to begin comparisons. Most builders will give you a ‘cost plus’ bid. That means that they will show you what each element of the construction costs them. Then at the bottom they will add their profit as a percentage of the costs. If there is a large difference between your bids check their profit first. One builder might be using an 18% markup while another builder uses 12%. If this is the case, talk to the builders to find out how they arrived at their markup. And there may be room for negotiation.
You may notice a big difference in certain line items. For example, one builder may just assume you will use standard bath fixtures. But another builder may have asked you and found that you are expecting brass fixtures. This could create a significant difference in the bids. And there are dozens of items where this same scenario could play out. So it is partly your responsibility to be sure you give all the builders the same information.
Next I recommend you make a chart with three columns. At the top of each column write the total bid each builder gave you. Then compare each element of construction individually. For instance, one builder lists his cost for a certain brand and grade of windows for your home to be $7000. Another builder lists $4500 and the third $7300. This could be that 2 builders asked you about the size and style of windows you want, and the other just assumed you wanted the smallest and cheapest. So you gotta be willing to do your homework on this. Get online and go look at the window manufacturer’s websites to see what the differences are. Then make notes in each column to remind you what the plusses and minuses are. Do this for each element of the construction- cabinets, bath fixtures, flooring, roof material, copper or synthetic plumbing, deck material, and so on, and so on, and so on. Yeah, it’s a big job. But you should be aware of what elements will make up the new home you’re going to live in. And you owe it to yourself to make a fair comparison between the builders. You may need to go back to the builder that assumed what you wanted and tell him to update his bid.
Now you have to look at the chart you’ve made and decide which home will best fit your needs and your budget. At this point you may have a feel for which builder is giving you the best deal. But don’t just go sign a contract. You have more work to do!
C) Your next job is to have another meeting with each of the 3 builders you are considering. This is your final interview with them. You’ll want to cover all of the following points as well as any you think of on your own.
- First ask about anything you still need to know about the bid for comparison.
- Ask about his policy for change orders.
- Ask how long it usually takes for him to call you back if you need to talk to him. (You too must make yourself available to him so you do not hold up construction. You MUST work as a team!)
- Ask each builder for the names and contact information for several of his main subcontractors. Then follow up by calling them to get a recommendation as well as to make certain they are acceptable subcontractors for your job. If a sub tells you the builder schedules work but doesn’t have the jobsite ready, that might indicate a lack of good management skills. And a builder having bad credit with subs will almost surely cause delays and possibly liens being placed on your property. This is unacceptable.
D) And finally it’s time to weigh your options and decide. If you’ve completed your due diligence, there is probably a nearly obvious choice at this point. That is not to say that one builder will stick out as a good builder and the other two will seem bad in some respect. It is only to say that when you learn so much about a person, his company and his style of doing business, one of them will just seem to fit. Price and workmanship are very important. But personality, communication skills and availability are of equal importance.
Remember, you MUST work as a team to successfully build a good quality home without huge cost overruns and long delays. So don’t leave those personal traits out of your decision process.
Well, that’s about all I can do for you. The work and the decision is all yours! I wish you all the best as you go through this exciting and sometimes stressful process.
Bob Linnert, Owner Better By Design LLC
Just one more thing. If you already know you’re going to use a certain builder, please don’t ask other builders to bid the job just so you can use their bid to apply pressure to your chosen builder hoping he’ll lower his price. And if you intend to act as your own general contractor, don’t ask for bids from builders just to get the names and prices of their subcontractors. These things are not acceptable business practices. You expect your builder to deal with you with honesty and integrity. You should be willing to do the same. And if you’re considering being your own general contractor please read my article, ‘The Seven Most Common Mistakes People Make When Building a Home.’ Believe me; you’re fooling yourself if you think you will save money that way!
The Seven Biggest Mistakes That People Make When They Are Building a New Home
(and what you can do to avoid them)
by Bob Linnert, Owner, Better by Design, LLC
Congratulations! Building your new house is an exciting event. You have worked hard for this moment. You have saved and dreamed. Now it is time for that dream to become reality. Why does this time become a nightmare for so many homeowners?
I have been in the drafting and design business for over twenty years now. I have personally seen many mistakes made by homeowners, mistakes that cost thousands of dollars to correct. These are mistakes that could have been avoided with just a little bit of forethought. After a while I noticed that I was seeing the same mistakes being made over and over again. And I realized that if I see these mistakes so frequently, it would be helpful if you knew what they were before you have a chance to make them. In other words, learn from other people’s mistakes rather than your own.
My greatest service to you will be telling you what these mistakes are and how you can avoid them. What you do with the information is up to you. Please read this report all the way to the end. Then you will be armed with the information you need to make your dream home a reality.
1. Here is number one. It is number one because it is so important. No matter what your brother in law tells you, do not act as your own general contractor! You have probably heard that all houses are basically the same and all you need to do is hire a plumber and a roofer on your own and you will save 15% or more on the cost of your house. Haven’t you heard that? “Why pay a general contractor? He is going to do the same thing you could do but he is going to make a cut too.”
I can’t begin to tell you all the ways that is wrong. (But let me try.) First, you do not have the relationship with all the subs (subcontractors, such as plumbers, sheetrock and concrete finishers, etc.) that a general contractor would have. You might say “Why do I need to have a relationship? They are never going to work for me again.” And that is exactly my point. They are never going to work for you again. But they make their living from repeat business with general contractors. So if you are on a tight schedule, but so is a contractor that they work with all the time, whose work is going to be put off and whose work is going to get done? Exactly. The sub knows that he will never be working for you again so you are not as important.
Now, this may be a headache, but it’s even worse. What if your electrician has a rush job for his usual general contractor so he doesn’t show up at your job when he is supposed to? That means that your sheetrock installers can’t start when they were supposed to be there. So they have to leave your job and try to squeeze you in later, at their convenience of course. That means that other subs can’t do what they are supposed to do and it goes downhill fast. There isn’t much you can do about it.
Here is another one. Although this shouldn’t happen, many subs will cut more corners and use inferior materials when they don’t have a general contractor looking over their shoulders. And sadly, you won’t know about it until it is too late.
Here’s something you may not know. When a plumber works for you, he will charge you a higher price than he would charge a general contractor. Why? First, because he can. A general contractor can keep his costs down because the sub wants to keep working for him. You don’t have that luxury. There is another reason subs charge you more. Homeowners can be hard to work for. A homeowner might say, “The knot hole on this flooring plank is not in perfect symmetry with the knot hole on this one. You will have to rip out the whole floor.” There really are people like that. Because there is the uncertainty of dealing with a homeowner and because the sub has no history with you and doesn’t know if he is going to get paid, he is going to charge a higher price to cover himself. That is just the way it is. And if every sub has done this, that house has cost you more than the general contractor would have charged, and you think you saved a fortune.
If there is an issue with the quality of the work done, he is more likely to bend over backwards to make the general contractor happy than he would you. Like I said, he is not going to have to work with you again. And last, here is a biggie. You do not have the knowledge to monitor the quality of work that is being done on your house. A serious error could have been made in the foundation which will cost thousands of dollars down the road. Because you are not an expert, you may not find out about this for weeks. By that time, he has already cashed his check. Good luck getting your money back. Now, if you had a general contractor working on your house and that happened to him, he would have to pay to get this corrected, not you.
Can you tell I am really serious about this? And no, I am not getting kickbacks from the contractor’s association.
2. Here is the second big mistake that is made over and over again. People think they’re smart to save money by not buying good house plans. Please take my advice. Get and use a good set of plans. I can’t stress that enough. You might think I am just a wee bit prejudiced since that is my business but I am serious.
Whether you buy my plans or someone else’s, get them before you even hire the contractor. A good set of plans is worth its weight in gold. No, it’s even more than that.
It is worth its weight in gasoline!
During my years as a designer of roof and flooring systems I think I saw it all. People would walk into the office with floor plans drawn on a napkin, photocopies of a page from a house plan book, a photograph of a house that they liked, or worse, nothing at all. They would have a vague idea in their head but no real concept of what the house was supposed to look like.
People think they are saving money by not buying plans. Nothing could be further from the truth. All they see is that “I saved $400 up front. How smart I am.” But they don’t realize how many mistakes are made without plans. If there are mistakes that are made because you didn’t invest in plans, these are not the contractor’s fault. So guess what? You pay for these mistakes. Mistakes will cost you 10 times more than what you would spend on plans. It is just not worth it!
Let me spell this one out. First, without plans you cannot get an accurate cost estimate for building a house. You can’t make an accurate materials list so you won’t know what the materials will cost. Without plans, a contractor will not know how difficult the house will be to build so he cannot give you an accurate estimate of the labor. You are shooting into the dark. Unless you are independently wealthy, you should want to know what this house will cost before you start to build it or you could be in real trouble.
Without good plans, how are the subs going to know exactly what to do? The plumber may plan on the sink in one place but the electrician wires the disposal in another. Incomplete or nonexistent plans will inevitably lead to misunderstandings, expensive tearouts, delays, and conflicts between the subs. It all comes back on you.
Without a good set of plans, marks and notations could be interpreted differently by different people. One plan may have some changes marked on it while another copy given to a different sub doesn’t have those same changes. Mistakes will be made. And when they happen they cost you money. If there is a tearout, you pay to put it back right. You have to buy the new materials. And you don’t get a volume discount at the lumber yard when you buy just a couple of items. You need an accurate materials list so you can order an entire lumber package to get the best discount. BBD offers Materials Takeoffs. You can learn more on our website under the SERVICES tab.
And let’s not even talk about the delays that this will cause! While you are waiting on additional materials, other subs are standing around and that runs up your costs even more. Get good plans. They will pay for themselves many times over.
Then before you start have your contractor look over the plans to make sure they are workable. I have seen many plans that have a nice picture on the front, but they are just unworkable. The supports might be in the wrong place or the second story doesn’t line up with the first story. There could be any number of other problems. It may surprise you to know that most plans purchased from plan books or the internet have never been built.
Contractors end up bringing these plans to someone like me for corrections before they can be used. Someone has to pay for these corrections. Since feedback doesn’t go back to the original designer, these same plans with the same mistakes are sold to the next guy. And by the time you pay to buy the plans and pay to have them corrected, you have bought them twice.
All of the plans on our website are for houses that have actually been built and any little mistakes have been corrected on the new plans. These are all 100% builder tested and ready to go. To view some great examples of house designs, go to www.bbd-plans.com. But, I repeat, whether you buy mine or someone else’s, use good plans. It is a must!
3. The next one goes almost without saying. Choose the right general contractor. The Yellow Pages is not the place to find a good general contractor for the biggest investment of your life. Getting the wrong general contractor will be the biggest mistake you can make. You know that everyone sounds good in their own advertising. You have to dig a lot deeper than that.
Do you know anyone who has built a house recently? Who did they use? Were they happy with the experience? Is the house right? Get referrals from people that you trust. Once you get the names of a couple of contractors, check them out for yourself. Interview them. Ask to see some of the houses that they have built as well as some that are being built at the present time. Go see theses houses. Talk to the owners to see if they are satisfied. If a general contractor does not want to cooperate with you in all of this, don’t even consider him.
Check out the homes under construction. Even a novice can get a feel for the quality of a jobsite. Is the site neat or does it look like a pigpen. This is one good test of how much pride a contractor takes in his work. Look at the framing. Are there a lot of warped boards being used? Does it look like everything fits the way it should? Remember, he will probably build your house the same way he is building this one. Would you be happy if this house were yours?
Ask the contractor for references AND CHECK THEM! You know that he will not give you names of anyone that was not satisfied so when you speak with these customers, ask them if they know anyone else who was a customer of this contractor, especially those that did not have as positive an experience. Call them as well.
Ask him what subcontractors he uses. This is important. Talk to his subs. See if they fit your standards. Ask them if they would recommend this contractor, or is there someone else who would do a better job. Ask the subs for references as well.
Do not skip this step. There is nothing that will cause you more grief in your building experience than starting with the wrong builder. NOTHING! Get it right the first time. You will be glad you did. Remember, the cheapest price rarely ends up being the best value.
4. Here is something that many people do not consider. Make sure that you are building the right house for your lot. If the lot slopes up you do not want a plan that calls for a walk out basement at the rear. If it slopes sharply to one side or the other make sure that your plan fits that grade or you may end up with your garage 6 feet off the ground or something equally absurd. Do a little bit of study. You may be able to build the house you want but be forced to build its mirror image because of the contour of your lot. And, by the way, don’t make the mistake of buying a set of plans where the house is the reverse of what you actually need. Many people will buy these plans and then take them to a “print shop” where they will scan them and spit out a “mirror image”. The only problem with a mirror image is that not only are the walls printed backwards. The dimensions and all instructions are printed backwards too! This is just an accident waiting to happen! Someone may look on a plan where a room is supposed to be 21 feet long, but since the numbers are backwards, he may cut all his boards 12 feet long by mistake. “Fives” may be mistakenly read as “twos”. Printing of important detail notes will also be written backwards, making them very difficult to read. Because of that, most of these may be overlooked, causing big problems.
BBD is able to do true mirror images of any of our plans. But unlike so many others, all of our dimensions and notations will be printed correctly, not turned around backwards. This is because it is done by the software we use to draw the plan instead of being “mirrored” by a digital copier.
Additionally, from a financial point of view, you want your home to be an investment that will keep and even increase its value. Here is a tip. Do not build the largest home in the subdivision. If you do that you will not get the maximum return on the dollars per square foot that you have invested. When you build the biggest house, you have actually just increased the value of all the homes around yours. (Don’t expect a thank you.) But while your big house increased their values, you guessed it, their smaller houses decrease the value of your house when it is time for you to sell it.
Actually, the best thing you could do is to build the smallest home in the subdivision. That way the higher priced homes around yours bring your value up.
5. This next one is critical, especially if you are making the mistake of acting as your own general contractor. Even if you have a general contractor, don’t allow this one to happen because it will cost money, time, aggravation, and could change some of the features of your house.
What is this calamity in the making? Let me just give you the solution. MAKE SURE THE CONCRETE IS RIGHT! I can’t tell you how many times I have been on a job site where the slab or foundation was wrong and that affects everything that takes place after that. I am not even talking about being structurally unsafe. If the house is just a little bit out of square, by the time you get to the other end of the house, everything could be off by several inches. If it is not level, trusses may not line up correctly resulting in buying new trusses to make up for it or using costly labor to modify the ones you have. Everything will have to be reworked. EVERYTHING! You may as well just throw your plans out because none of the dimensions are right. You have to have the foundation right or nothing will be right.
If you are your own general contractor, make sure that the right grade and strength of concrete is used. Make sure that all piers and supports are exactly in the right place or you will end up with settling and cracks. Do not settle for anything less than perfection from this sub.
6. Here is one that most homeowners would not normally consider. Use engineered products wherever they are available. Engineered products are roof trusses, beams, floor systems, etc. They are engineered, designed and sized to do every specific job. For instance, when your house is designed with roof trusses, every detail of the roof structure has been considered. You can be sure that all weight loads have been calculated and that the loads will be applied only to load bearing walls or beams. Using rafters and ceiling joists is almost a guessing game. Is the span too long? Did the contractor use big enough supports? Is this going to hold up if I get 36 inches of snow on the roof?
Here is something else. When a roof truss system is used the weight of the roof falls exactly where it supposed to be: on load bearing walls and beams. With “stick framed” construction, the weight can be shifted over to walls that were never intended to be load bearing. They may not be properly supported from underneath. Now, you may not notice a problem right away, but eventually the floor will begin to sag. You will drop a pencil and have to chase it halfway across the room because it rolls away. Or you will see this when the sheetrock above your doors starts cracking. Using roof trusses will keep this from happening. Why go through all of that? Engineered products are exactly that. They are engineered for your house and you have peace of mind that they will not fail. Trusses are a little more expensive than rafters. But they are so much easier to install that the money you save on labor offsets the extra cost of the materials. It is faster so you can get the house under roof quicker, keeping water out. Don’t settle for less.
Don’t overlook engineered floor systems either. I could go into all this technical jargon about uniform loads and point loads, span distances and specific deflection criteria etc. But you don’t care about all of that. This is what you care about: There may come a time that you have 10 giggling, pillow fighting, teenage girls on one waterbed in an upstairs room. You don’t want to worry that that the bed is going to come crashing through the ceiling. An engineered floor system will never allow that to happen.
You don’t want to have improper support in your floors. You don’t want to feel the floor sinking beneath your feet as you walk. And, of course, the big one: You don’t want to hear creaks and squeaks every time that you take a step. Engineered floor systems will prevent all of these headaches. Go with the best right from the start. You will be glad you did.
7. OK, here is the last one. Decide what your needs are before you build and then build to meet those needs. If you know that children are in your future, build with them in mind. If it is elderly care, plan for that as well. If this is to be your retirement home, what will your needs be then? Does your home need to have wheelchair access? Here is something to consider. If you need more square footage than you can afford at the present time, consider lowering the cost of the replaceable interior appointments. Use a cheaper grade of carpet, cabinets, windows, and even doors because these will all need to be replaced eventually anyway. You can upgrade at that time. It would be much harder to add square footage then. There is nothing worse than building a new house that is already too small the day that you move in.
OK, so what’s the bottom line here? You have spent the last few minutes reading about some mistakes that can cost you money, lots of money, and of course aggravation. No one wants that. It is my job, my profession, and my passion to make sure that everyone who comes to me has everything they need to build their dream house with no hidden “surprises”.
If you follow the recommendations in this report, you are going to save thousands of dollars on the building of your new home. That is a promise. It all starts with choosing the right contractor and choosing the right set of plans. You are on your own for choosing the contractor. But I can certainly help you with the plans. As I mentioned earlier, all of my plans have been builder tested. Every one of them has been built and the plans do work. From experience I know the places where contractors will need greater direction and there are extra detailed drawings of those areas. Each of these house plans was drawn to the most exacting specifications you will find. And probably most important to you, they are the best value around. Go ahead, log on and check out what I have to offer at www.bbd-plans.com. I know you will find something you like. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
-Bob Linnert, Owner