Q: How much can you build my home for?
A: We can build your home for the same or less than any other quality home builder, while managing a far greater scope of work and delivering an exceptional experience. Our budget process puts clients in control of their project costs and how their money is spent. That means we can build your home within your budget requirements, as long as it is realistic. Also, we are very experienced at developing accurate early-stage control budgets that are extremely useful during the planning process.
Q: What is the typical cost of one of your homes?
A: The hard costs of our projects range from $250/sqft to over $1,000/sqft. There are many factors that drive construction costs including the project site, architectural details, structural requirements, home size, equipment, and finish selections. We have completed many homes on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between, while delivering exceptional finish quality, service, and value to our clients.
Q: What are the different costs associated with building a home?
A: Hard costs are those expenses related to the physical construction of the home. 99% of the time, a builder’s bid includes only hard costs. Landscape and site development costs include pools, BBQs, firepits, retaining walls, plantings, exterior lights, fencing, sport courts, water features, and other site features. Soft costs generally include expenses related to architectural design, engineering, specialty designers, permits and fees, supervision, consultants, insurances, financing, and special inspections. Furniture and furnishings are not typically included on a builder’s budget, but are significant project costs that should be considered from the beginning of a project. We are experienced in estimating all of these costs for a project. Even if we don’t manage all scopes of work (i.e. certain soft costs and furniture/furnishing), we can estimate and track the ENTIRE project budget for you. Having full project cost visibility enables clients to make better decisions during planning and throughout construction.
Q: Why is your budget estimate higher than the other bids that I have received?
A: Our budgeting approach is to be comprehensive, accurate, and conservative so that clients can make good decisions about their design and selections. If your bid documents are prepared properly, your contractors’ bids should not be more than 5% apart. This is rarely the case as there are usually wide fluctuations in contractors’ bid prices and they are next to impossible to compare on an apples-to-apples basis. Assuming you are dealing with reputable builders that carry the proper insurance and hire subcontractors with the same, the following are typical explanations for the wide bid range: overlooked scope, exclusions, unreasonably low client selection allocations, disconnect between client/builder quality expectations, lack of plan detail, insufficient site review, different builder construction specifications, different mechanical equipment.
Q: How do you charge?
A: We typically charge on a “cost plus” basis, where a fee percentage is applied to the total construction-related costs that we manage. The fee percentage that we charge is the same or lower than other local quality home builders. There are instances when a project’s plans are sufficiently complete that we will consider structuring a fixed fee or fixed cost agreement.
Q: With a cost plus fee arrangement, wouldn’t you be incentivized to drive up costs since you make more the higher the budget is.
A: On a pure mathematics basis, this is correct. However, we have a long list of very happy clients that have experienced our strong commitment to cost control. Importantly, any savings that we generate along the way is returned to the client. On the other hand, fixed price contracts incentivize the builder to deliver the minimum level of acceptable quality so they pocket any saving and leave the client exposed to volumes of change orders.
Q: How long will it take to complete my project?
A: The length of a project depends on the site, accessibility, size and style of the home, finish details, landscape scope, and timely client selections. A typical 4,500sqft house with no basement on a ½ acre lot takes between 9 and 12 months. A basement usually adds another 2 to 3 months to a project. Larger and more complex homes can take from 14 to 30 months to complete.
Q: At what phase of the planning process should I hire a builder?
A: We are able to add the most value when we are brought in at the start of the design phase. Aside from comprehensive project management, we are able to develop control budgets and schedules that support critical decisions early in the process. Additionally, there are many essential specifications that we provide to the architect and engineers that impact the design and budget. These include mechanical and equipment requirements, building envelope specifications, and many other design considerations that are very costly and time consuming to add when the plans are complete. We save our clients many months and tens of thousands of dollars during the pre-construction phase.
Q: I don’t want to get locked into working with a builder during the pre-construction phase. What are my options?
A: We believe that it is in your best interest to select your project team upfront, including a builder. Some of the main reasons include: 1) there are mass amounts of information shared during the design phase that are difficult to capture and share at a later date resulting in critical information loss; 2) the need for essential construction specifications, mechanical equipment accommodations, and other considerations to be identified and included on the plans; 3) budget and schedule feedback loop throughout the design process, and 4) value-engineering along the way.
Q: If we have an architect already, can I bring him or her in?
A: Absolutely. Custom Dreams does not have an in-house architect. We have worked with several architects on our client’s homes. We are happy to work with the architect that you have already selected or provide you with a list of qualified architects based on the architectural style and budget requirements. We are also experienced in defining the architect’s scope and contract structuring depending on your needs.
Q: We have never built a home before and don’t know what the best way to approach it is.
A: Most of our clients have never built a home and many wouldn’t consider the undertaking until reviewing our testimonials and speaking with our clients. Much of the hesitation to building a home is related to not knowing the process and the countless horror stories from friends. We believe that the two main keys to a successful project are: 1) surrounding yourself with qualified professionals, and 2) having one project manager leading the entire project from start to finish. We know every step of the process and make it fun and easy for our clients to build a custom home.
Q: We don’t have time to build a home.
A: With the right team in place, the home design and construction process will be fun and smooth. We have clients that meet as little as once per month to check in on their projects. Much of the communication can be done over the phone and via email. We also share weekly photos on our project blogs, which allows clients to track progress and share the home with friends and family.