Spring is the season when construction projects begin in full force, and building homes is definitely one of them. Have you ever wanted to build the house of your dreams but had no idea where to begin? Would you like to have a greater understanding of the entire process before committing? Does it look like a big, scary project full of variables that add up to one major, cringe-worthy intimidation factor? Chances are you are in the majority. Even though building a home isn’t for everyone, there are distinct advantages and benefits to making this life-changing decision and we want you to know about them before you dismiss this as something that isn’t feasible!
Utilizing Local Home Builders
When ranking the importance of all of the decisions you will make when building your dream home, choosing a builder is right at the top.
Jeff Mann of Mann Customs Inc. emphasizes the importance of being prepared, and knowing several key things:
• Know that building a home can and should be a fun and rewarding experience.
• Know your builder. Clients who have selected Mann Customs, Inc. asked for referrals and references, checked with the Better Business Bureau, and selected us because we have experience, integrity and satisfied clients.
• Know your numbers. Try to have a general understanding of what you want to spend and what you are qualified to spend, and talk with local lending agencies or your bank and make sure you are comfortable with your decision. Mann Customs Inc. will provide our clients with a detailed estimate that follows along with the building process once things get started.
• Know your area. Selecting a lot/building site is an important decision. Every new building development has specific requirements that can affect the style and budget of the home.
He explains, “At Mann Customs, Inc. we are a ‘Custom Home Builder’ meaning we build a home to fit our clients and we guide them through the entire process and help to make the many decisions easy. We discuss how the client lives today as well their plans for the future. We help them make decisions taking into account how they will use their home–are they a growing family or empty nesters? We work with our clients throughout the process in determining all choices from the direction they would like the home to face to cabinet styles to landscaping, from concept to completion.
When you purchase an existing home you are adopting the previous owners design needs and finish selections and fitting your needs into what theirs were. However, when you build a new home, you’re building that home to fit your family’s needs and lifestyle. For this reason at Mann Customs, Inc. we want the client to be involved throughout the process and we ask them to plan on regular meetings with us. We have been building custom homes for the past 41 years, and in that time we have guided many clients from conception to completion of their dream home, so we bring plenty of knowledge and experience to the table during these meetings as well. We encourage an open line of communication between Mann Customs, Inc., suppliers and sub-contractors and we provide realistic timelines and updates to our clients.
My advice to anyone who is contemplating building their dream home is to take your time to become comfortable with what you are about to do. Having confidence in the site, the floor plan, the costs and the builder allows the entire process to be an enjoyable and satisfying experience. Also, build your dream home for you and your family; we try to keep our clients focused on the long term because as far as design goes, trends are just that—trends. They come and go so we try to focus on the newly developing aspects of this industry while maintaining the integrity of the home so that it will always be in style. And finally, enjoy it. Building a home is a major step in your life and it needs to be an exciting and positive experience.”
At Vistar Homes, their philosophy is simply to design and build unique and affordable houses that people will love to call home. Their innovative construction techniques help them to deliver a quality home with efficiency and value. Lois Hartzell of Vistar Homes, Inc. states, “Vistar proudly builds unique homes to fit your lifestyle. We strive to make all of our homes just a bit different from your average home, while still incorporating all of the features you are looking for. We specialize in a variety of styles including new-urbanism, two-story, townhome and ranch. During the planning stage the major things to consider are the size of the home and how the floor plan is going to work with your needs and wants. This includes designing the rooms to work with how you live and where your furniture is going to be placed. Also, planning for the future is very important. Will your home be easily sold later? Or is it too unique and won’t be marketable in the event that you need or want to sell it? While building your own home provides the benefit of designing things where and how you want them, as well as to your individual taste from color schemes to choice of materials, it is important to find a balance or at least consider some options that are in demand.
A great, and somewhat universal, selling point for new homes is energy efficiency. The amount of money people save now on utility bills can really add up, in addition to being kinder to the environment, which benefits your family and your community. An excellent example of how materials make a difference is that currently, people are backing away from granite countertops in favor of quartz. Quartz is not only more durable, but it is also stunning and will appeal to a lot of potential buyers. Depending on the home builder you work with, this may be an add-on to consider. For the first time homebuilder, it is crucial to realize that “add-ons” will affect the final price of the home, and to plan accordingly as a little here and a little there could end up increasing the price tag to more than you can afford. As my clients are usually either a first- or second-time homeowner, I always encourage them to meet with my suppliers before we even write up the contract. This gives them an idea of what is available, and allows them to choose what they want so that we know what the overages are going to be when we write up the contract. At Vistar, when someone sits down with us to start the building process we do our best to make sure that all costs are known. This is very important to us, and makes the process so much more fun and exciting for everyone.”
She adds, “During the process of building a home, it is also really important to be prepared for delays and to be aware that the whole project takes time. In Nebraska, our weather is unpredictable and each season seems to offer something that will hold up the building process. During the spring, the biggest obstacle is rain. As a great example, it is much better to wait to start digging the foundation than having to figure out how to drain the swimming pool that has just formed! Also, the beginning stages of building can be slow going and may seem to drag on forever. However, once the framing begins you really start to see it come together. So my advice is to be patient and positive; the builders do have a plan and there is a method to the madness to ensure that everything gets done.”
When approaching the many decisions about what you want and don’t want, Bob Schultz of Schultz Construction advises, “With respect to building a home, it is important that everyone benefits but more so that the consumer doesn’t suffer. Affordability versus getting exactly what you want can be tricky sometimes, but you will never go wrong allocating a little extra money for higher quality features. Little things all add up together to make a big difference and a lot of cheap materials that are being used in homes simply don’t hold up very long and will need to be replaced, which may cost you even more money in the long run. At Schultz Construction, we track everything with a system of codes so that our subcontractors get paid and so that our clients know exactly where their money is going and can be secure with the quality and workmanship that is going into their dream home. Everything down to door handles and fixtures can be accounted for, so you know that the price tag of each item will match its real worth. This also helps keep things moving smoothly with your financial institution. To avoid being ‘nickel and dimed’ to death during the process, you may want to consider planning for a cushion or in a range instead of an exact dollar amount, especially to provide for features you decide you really want later on during the build. However, there are certain things that can be misleading as it pertains to your budget, such as averaging the total cost by square foot. When properly evaluating the space, your kitchen might cost around $350 per square foot while the closet in your guest bedroom might only cost $50 per square foot. This is something to consider when planning for how you will stay within your budget, as far as deciding what to include and what you can do without.” He adds, “In this industry, what works for one person or family may not work for the next. That is why I feel it is very important to talk with the client directly about what they envision their home to look and feel like, and features that they prefer or best fit their lifestyle, and to educate them about what they can expect throughout the process and how best to utilize my services and expertise as their builder. I’m also very hands-on and I believe that a builder should be on the site at least once a day. I love what I do, so this is not an inconvenience for me but a way that I can stay involved and keep the project moving along for my clients.”
Third Generation Builder also specializes in creating unique floor plans for each of the custom homes that they build. They have assembled a great team of trusted and qualified subcontractors in order to provide their clients not only their dream home, but a home with quality and integrity. JR Knopp, a Nebraska Home Sales Realtor who represents Third Generation Builder, advises, “The first thing to consider when building a new home is to get an idea of what you are looking for in a home and what you’re looking to build. A good example is planning the type and flow of the house. Do you want a ranch or a two-story home, or do you have a certain floor plan in mind? Also, which amenities are on your must-have list and what materials do you want to use? The next step is to find a good builder who produces the best quality for the price. As the average consumer may not understand what to look for, an agent will help you understand and differentiate between all of the options available to you. The team at Third Generation Builder really excels at providing a wealth of ideas for our clients–we even have an idea book that our clients can download, you can access several walk-through videos on YouTube of our past builds, and we have several floor plans that we can use as a point of reference when creating a unique floor plan for our clients. Once you have an idea of what you want for your dream home, the next big hurdle is finding a good lot to build it on and right now in today’s market, those are premium and not easily or cheaply acquired. Once you have an idea of what type of floor plan you like and a lot to build it on, the next thing is to decide what you want the inside to look like.
It is crucial to know what you ideally would like to spend on your new home, and knowing your limit is very important too. At Third Generation Builder, what we’ve seen is that people tend to spend about 5% more than what they initially planned on in the beginning on upgrades or changes from the initial agreement. Most people also don’t realize that things do change during the process of building. From seeing it on paper to seeing in real life, many clients realize that they wanted some things done a different way. It happens all the time, and the most important thing is to let the builder know how you wanted it done right as you spot it instead of later on when the home is mostly completed and things are harder to change. Don’t be afraid to say something—it will be worse if you don’t as it ends up becoming a big problem later. Just like going to the doctor, I encourage asking as many questions as you can as well as bringing up anything that does not make sense to you or looks off. This provides the opportunity for clarification and allows us to make sure that there’s no loose ends or dislikes down the road. We are building the home of your dreams, so it is our goal to do everything we can to make this happen. Communication is key between you, your agent and the builder. We at Third Generation Builder really pride ourselves in open, honest and timely communication as well as staying on top of things and keeping track of any little issues that come up. Another thing to remember, especially in Nebraska, is that delays due to weather conditions are very common no matter what season you choose to build, and this is beyond most builders’ control. Even though it seems like everything comes down to last minute, there’s a lot of moving parts that are beyond the builder, so planning a loose timeframe is the best way to set yourself up for success.
A major benefit of building a new home versus buying an existing home that is worth mentioning is that at Third Generation Builder, we provide an excellent warranty on the homes we build. If anything goes wrong or is defective we will come back and fix it at no charge. If you buy an existing home, you are financially responsible for any updates or repairs that need to be made as a result of regular use.
The best part of working with Third Generation Builder is that we strive to be experts in our craft. We stay up-to-date on the newest trends, have access to a wealth of information and if we don’t have it we will find it, and we work with our clients every step of the way to lighten the burden of coming up with all the options, choices and decisions that go into building a brand new home. We really pride ourselves in our customer service and value our relationships with our clients. Once you build a home with us, it will feel like we are a part of the family because of the close relationship we form during the whole process, which really makes it easy and exciting to build with us.”
While utilizing multiple sources for advice on building your dream home is definitely wise, ultimately it is you who should be comfortable with all of the decisions you will be making. Furthermore, one of the best decisions may be to hire a professional! Mike Benker of the Home Builders Association of Lincoln says, “The magazines, do-it-yourself or design shows, and opinions or advice from your family and friends are great, but they can be confusing, frustrating and overwhelming too. Knowing your budget, expectations and exactly what you are looking for all help with the design and construction process. If you don’t know these things, many professionals are able to assist by asking questions in order to learn your taste, desires and comfort level. Attending an event such as the Parade of Homes, meeting the perfect builder, stumbling upon the perfect location or house plan can all trigger the start of the process to building or purchasing a new home. Alternatively the process could begin simply from a solid family decision or necessity. For those who are considering building a home, you are about to become a part of a team. Each team member has a responsibility to deliver on their commitment. Communication is a key factor and vitally important in successfully building a new home. If you are not familiar with today’s high performance homes, finding a builder with an already assembled team makes the process much easier. Before signing a written contract, visit one of their projects, ask for references and make sure details are clearly spelled out. A little due diligence up front will make the process and move-in much more enjoyable!”
Benker adds, “When looking for a home, whether new or existing, the choice often comes down to one’s vision or desires for their home and location. Although a newly built home may not have mature trees, fully developed parks or an established neighborhood hang-out already, these items can come with time and you may have the opportunity to create the memories in developing them. The new home however will include the latest structural and life safety code requirements, energy efficiency standards and design for today’s lifestyles. Other opportunities may include selection of the exterior or interior design of the home, sustainability features, recreational spaces, color schemes, the inclusion of custom finishes or a family heirloom. Today’s technological advances are not only found in electronics, but also with the drought and disease resistance landscape and available extended life products for siding, roofing and decks. All of these items make the new home more affordable and better for our environment.
Although the Home Builders Association of Lincoln (HBAL) may be best known for the events such as the Nebraska Builders Home & Garden Show, Spring & Fall Parade of Homes and Tour of Remodeled Homes, others will visit the www.hbal.org website to access our ‘Find A Pro’ page to search for builders, remodelers, various trades or suppliers. Additionally, resources such as ‘Tips on Choosing a Contractor,’ ‘Benefits of Using a Professional’ and other helpful links can be found here. At HBAL we are proud to showcase our builders who build homes today that can be built more safely, more efficiently and with greater performance features than any time in history!”
From the standpoint of a home inspection professional, Randy King of King’s Home Inspections, LLC adds, “A General Contractor or Builder who is a teacher—who can educate someone on the sequence and steps necessary to make building a home happen—is definitely someone you want to work with. I also encourage anyone looking into building a house to interview different builders and find one with whom they can communicate well, who is flexible and who is able to give them an accurate estimate of what they will wind up with. Most builders offer at least a one year warranty, and most have a clean-up crew that does final detail cleaning before the home is occupied as well as a crew that goes through the house and tests all lights, outlets, appliances, fireplaces, sprinklers, and so on to ensure proper operation, and issues that arise during the first year are addressed under warranty. A good builder spells out his warranty; exactly what is, and is not covered. A booklet or workbook for the first time homebuilder to use as a guide is also a very valuable resource.
As far as new trends in home building, Radon Resistant New Construction (RRNC) is now being promoted by the Nebraska Radon Program (a division of State of Nebraska Health and Human Services). The smart builder offers RRNC as an option during the design and construction process. We all know we have high levels of Radon gas nearly everywhere in Southeast Nebraska. It only makes sense when building to install RRNC into your home to minimize the health risk from this cancer-causing gas. To install RRNC during the building process is easy and inexpensive; far less costly than to retrofit a house. RRNC tactics include tying the tile drain system into a vent stack that exits the roof of the house, thereby creating a natural chimney effect, which in turn creates a slight vacuum under the house and vents the soil gasses (which often include Radon gas) that may accumulate under your floor. Another approach is to lay plastic down over the sand layer just before the concrete floor is poured, which creates a vapor barrier. This inhibits soil gas movement into the home. In the event that Radon levels still happen to measure high, it is easy to install an electric fan on the vent stack in the attic space and convert the passive system to an active one; and far less costly than to install a complete mitigation system. Scientists are working out standards for uniformity on RRNC, but the basic concepts are widely understood and agreed upon. Once built, it is wise to have your home tested for Radon gas every two years, as soil conditions change, which changes the pathways that Radon can enter your home.”
Energy Efficiency and Security Solutions
Incorporating controls for your new home’s systems, which can be included in the building plans, will increase the energy efficiency of your new home. Pat Killeen, owner of sister companies Engineered Controls and Control Depot, explains, “It’s no secret that heating and cooling account for the bulk of a home’s energy usage; depending on the size of a home, it can easily average over $1,000 annually. Switching from a manual to a programmable thermostat is one simple way to save as much as $180 a year. The most basic programmable thermostat can be self-installed in an hour and comes with preset temperature settings for different times of the day. Many of Honeywell’s latest models offer greater control, easier programming, sophisticated displays and color options, and even offer Wi-Fi communication via the Internet. What if you’re on your way to a long vacation and you suddenly realize you forgot to turn down your home’s thermostat? If your home is equipped with a Wi-Fi communication thermostat from Honeywell, you can tap into the system through a personalized web portal anywhere there’s Internet access—simply log in to check on your HVAC’s performance and make adjustments on the fly. Today’s sophisticated home automation systems allow you to change security, video and thermostat settings from your smartphone, tablet and PC. In addition, you can control the lighting, music, window treatment motors, and a wide range of other home technology products.
When it comes to providing cutting edge residential technology for homeowners, Honeywell has a new service called Total Connect (TC) that should make a dramatic positive impact on home control technology. Honeywell’s Total Connect will allow the homeowner to remotely monitor and control their home (or business) at any time and from anywhere. With Total Connect, you can take advantage of all the amazing benefits next-generation digital technology has to offer – including enhanced communication and the ability to stay connected to your home and business from anywhere in the world. The state-of-the-art security, lighting and HVAC controllers provide you with an affordable way to control your security system, video cameras and heating and air conditioning needs all in one simple-to-use system. End-users can receive alerts via emails, view live video and control and access their security system, control lighting and lock and unlock doors remotely and more. The simplicity and comfort that Honeywell’s new wireless Prestige IAQ HVAC system provides offers a full-suite of wireless enabled accessories that help to meet homeowners’ comfort and security needs. Items such as universal predictive delta T alerts and diagnostics, water sensor alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and filtration alarms are just a few of the added benefits of owning such a home automation system. The system also provides customizable reminders for humidifier pad or UV lamp replacement.
With Total Connect, you have the ability to customize system and alert settings, download free mobile apps and more at the Total Connect Comfort web portal. Home and business owners can program security and HVAC schedules, view and change heating and cooling system parameters including indoor temperature and humidity setting, view outdoor temperature and humidity, receive diagnostic parameters, receive alarm emails and more. They can also perform these functions wherever they are with Honeywell Total Connect Remote Services. A built-in web server lets users control their systems anywhere in their homes on smartphones, tablets, web-enabled TVs or any compatible wireless mobile device anywhere in the world.
Honeywell also recently introduced its latest connected home innovation – the Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with Voice Control. The new voice technology allows consumers to simply say, ‘Hello, thermostat,’ to activate and control their home’s temperature. A first-of-its-kind consumer device, the Wi-Fi Prestige Smart Thermostat with Voice Control utilizes advanced far-field voice-control technology, which breaks through the ambient noise of a busy household and recognizes commands such as ‘make it four degrees warmer’ or ‘make it much cooler’ — even from across the room. Upon installation, the thermostat immediately recognizes the homeowner’s voice and adjusts the temperature setting based on their request. This is the first cloud-based voice controlled solution that will get smarter over time, adding more commands based on its interactions with homeowners.”
When planning for the windows in your home, it is advantageous to consider 3M Solar Control or Fasara Decorative Window Films from The Tint Shop. According to Keith May, owner of The Tint Shop, aside from decorative enhancement, increased energy efficiency is probably one of the biggest reasons that people add window films. 3M Solar Control Films can be virtually clear, safe for all glass, and can reduce the heat coming through the glass by almost 70% while not changing the exterior or interior appearance of the glass at all. In fact, the heat rejected by 3M window films can save you enough on your air conditioning costs that it can pay for itself in 2-5 years, depending on usage, square footage and a few other factors. All 3M films also block 99% of UV light entering through the glass, which will keep flooring, woodwork, decorations, drapes, blinds and other interior furnishings from fading. Decorative or “frost” films are being utilized more and more in modern interior design, and there are many styles, finishes and textures available in the 3M Fasara line for every taste and situation.
3M Window Films also come highly recommended by The Skin Cancer Association, ASID, and are Energy Star Rated. If you think 3M Solar Control or Decorative Window Films may be right for your dream home, May suggests doing a little research online first. You can visit The Tint Shop’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/tintshop.inc.68504 to check out their Photo Gallery of homes they have done, or better yet, visit 3M.com/windowfilms to get product specs, warranty info, and even test out their Window Film Simulator tool. Or if you simply have a few questions you’d like answered before you set up a free estimate, you can always call The Tint Shop at (402) 466-1355.
A security system is something that can easily be incorporated during the initial building phase, and not only will it ensure your safety, protect your investment and belongings, and provide you with peace of mind but it can also save you money in the future. In fact, most insurance companies offer a discount for having a home security system; often up to 20% off your policy. AlarmLink USA also utilizes Total Connect by Honeywell as a master control for their security systems, which also offers you the same features to control other systems in your home such as lighting, HVAC and more remotely through your smart phone, tablet and PC. Additionally, AlarmLink offers great system options such as a panic button in the master bedroom for quick access to 911, remote wireless access to surveillance so you can see your home or even turn on lights while you are away, and secured gates and doors with access codes for entry just to name a few. This also offers a great deal of flexibility, energy savings, and peace of mind. You can even access security footage from your cell phone, PC, laptop or tablet. R.J. Lipert of AlarmLink USA emphasizes that they can tailor a system to your specific needs and requests, and as a locally owned and operated company they are available to address any concerns or provide assistance at any time, day or night. He emphasizes, “Because the lives and assets of our clients are at stake, we are committed to the flawless execution of Intrusion Systems, Camera Surveillance, Door Access Systems and Fire Alarms. We can work with the builder to install our systems during construction, and then provide instruction on how to operate the system once you are ready to move in. This way, we seamlessly incorporate a security system so that homeowners will never have to worry about their new house being safe and protected.”
Financing The Project
Before you start planning for the building process and shopping for features, you will want to know what you can afford. Exploring financing options for building your dream home is just as important as exploring the options that your builder offers.
Lisa Bynum, Mortgage Department Manager for Security First Bank, explains, “Every part of the process is equally important, so it’s hard to prioritize them. With that being said, the first thing that all prospective borrowers should do is pre-qualify with a lender to determine how much they can afford to spend on a home. During that process, they should ask questions of the lender to develop an understanding of how construction, and then permanent financing, works. Second, it’s vitally important to work with a reputable builder, and to get more than one bid before making a final decision. Lastly, they should be prepared to provide a considerable amount of information to their lender for the loan approval. Rules, requirements and regulations surrounding mortgage lending in the last few years, and again at the beginning of this year, have changed regarding how loans have to be underwritten. Security First Bank is committed to providing the best customer service possible, which we define as providing education to help borrowers make decisions that are in their best long-term interest, and by offering a variety of programs to meet their diverse needs. Our goal is to build long-term, consultative financial relationships that go beyond one mortgage loan. We want our clients to be prepared for an in-depth approval process, but at the same time to know that these regulations are a positive force in the industry. Regardless of whether you’re a borrower or a loan officer, the business of real estate lending is ever-evolving! That is why a solid relationship built on communication, trust and education is what we strive for.”
Travis Gunderson, Mortgage Loan Officer at Midwest Bank, also offers several pieces of advice that he would share with someone who was thinking about building a home for the first time.
1. Meet with a mortgage lender to determine what size of home you can afford to build, what the lot will cost and the amount of cash reserves you should have on hand before starting the project. Knowing the anticipated cost of the project and expected cash reserves is the first step in the construction loan process.
2. Find a good builder. You’ll be working closely with your builder throughout the project so it’s important to find someone whom you can trust, someone who communicates well, and someone whom you feel comfortable working with.
3. I always review the fees associated with construction financing with my customers and explain how we can lower those costs when it comes to financing the permanent mortgage loan. Knowing the costs of financing up front is beneficial for everyone.
4. I like to explain how the bank handles disbursements between the builder, the title company and the borrower to ensure everyone is protected. In this situation, this is the borrower’s first experience with a construction loan and a good banker is a valuable resource and consultant throughout the process.
5. I suggest the customer understands how overages and upgrades are handled and how excessive overruns can impact permanent financing. Midwest Bank will monitor the construction budget throughout the process and let the customer know how the actual construction costs compare to budget. The end goal is to secure permanent financing on the new home and we don’t want excessive overruns to jeopardize the permanent loan.
Gunderson adds, “There are several ways that Midwest Bank assists clients with the financial side of a residential construction project. Before the project begins, we can help the borrower understand what they can afford and what cash reserves are needed to build their dream home. We will finance the construction loan with convenient interest-only payments and monitor construction and expenses throughout the project. At the end of the construction period, we will work to lock in a favorable interest rate for the permanent mortgage loan. It is very important to be aware that regulatory oversight of the mortgage industry increases every year and can sometimes cause delays in loan closings. I advise my clients to be organized and prepared to provide tax returns, the construction budget and construction contract, deposit and investment account statements and W2s upon request. If you are prepared and quick to respond to the underwriter’s request, you’ll help keep the process moving forward and on track for a timely closing. Also, remember to keep 10% in reserve for upgrades and plan for home furnishings. The builder will budget for major appliances but may not allow for items such as window treatments, and completely furnishing a new home can require a lot of pieces. These types of items are easily overlooked and can be costly, so make sure to plan ahead so you’re not caught off guard. Midwest Bank has been in business for over 60 years helping families across Nebraska create memories in their dream homes, and we invite you to visit one of our nine banks to experience community banking at its best.”
Nick Sassaman of Cornhusker Bank also speaks to a few things that people should be aware of when building. “It is important to understand that cost overruns are very common. Changes and upgrades happen during the process. The key is to communicate often with your builder and the bank, and to document the change and cost before it occurs, to avoid financial surprises. It is common for the building process to take several months at the very least. During this time there are several financial factors that could impact your approval for permanent financing. These items could include job changes, opening new accounts such as car loans, credit cards, etc., and any derogatory marks on your credit such as late payments or legal judgments. The key is to proactively communicate with you Banker.
When visiting with people who are building for the first time, we advise them of the various steps needed to complete a successful transaction. First, they should visit with a Cornhusker Bank Lender to determine their loan eligibility, both for the construction financing and the permanent mortgage financing which pays off the construction loan when the home is complete. Having a pre-approval in place from the bank is a proactive approach to the building process and essential to determine the size of the project. If they have an existing home, it can be determined at this stage if they need to sell first before building or if they can afford to carry both homes financially. Either way, it is suggested that they speak to a market professional to determine a market value.
Second, decide what, where, when, and who they want to build with. Often times, what and where a family wants to build will determine which builder they may use due to land availability and the type of home they choose to build. Land can be connected to a builder or group of builders. Also, some builders specialize in select floor plans while others build all types and price points. A plan that fits the prospective homeowners’ needs must be determined. When to build is another decision that takes great thought. The build process may be 5-12 months or more in duration, depending on the project size and weather conditions. If they have a current home they must sell, a sales strategy should be taken into consideration which includes when to start marketing that home. The market time for a home to sell can depend on location, price, type, and condition of the home.
Finally, after consideration of the steps above, they must select a reputable builder based on the type of home, location, time frame and floor plan that all fit into their allowable budget determined in the first stage.
In banking, underwriting requirements and rates are always changing. The key is to partner with your lender and complete your due diligence up front. Loan products continue to change to meet the needs of all types of homeowners, both new and repeat. Likewise in construction, fashion trends are always changing. I encourage prospective homebuyers to do research online, attend open houses, and work with their builder to best choose their dream home while maintaining their budget. Consulting an interior designer is also an option and most builders work directly with these professionals to give you a completed project.
Cornhusker Bank offers both the construction loan needs along with the permanent financing package to allow both stages under one roof while limiting costs and creating efficiency while avoiding duplication. We have multiple options of application which include both online and in-person processes to meet the needs of all applicant preferences.”
Stephanie Boyes with Peoples Mortgage, also known as “The Mortgage Genie,” agrees that buyers should do plenty of research, as there is no such thing as being too prepared or reviewing too much information when it comes to building a home. She says, “I think ultimately just knowing your options and doing your research can be important. Many people I visit with may be out looking for land before really determining their options on builders and financing. Not all builders are created equal and it is important to know whom you will be dealing with. My services are unique in that while I don’t do construction financing, I do provide the permanent financing for many clients after the home is built. There are many local builders who will finance the home and construction of the home without requiring the client to do so on his/her own, and it is an option worth considering for a variety of reasons. It is also worth mentioning that there are now long-term interest rate locks available for my clients so that if their home project takes up to a year they can still lock in at today’s rates, which are quite low. Also, there are many ‘rehab’ loans available for clients that they may not be aware of which will allow them to finance in repairs on an existing home. This is great for people who are trying to sell their homes in order to build a new one. My best advice is just to know what options are out there in terms of financing and partnering with the right builder. Some people I meet with think that building a home and managing the project on their own is a good option, however, I strongly suggest simply partnering with the right professionals in order to make the experience as smooth as it can be.”
There are many reasons why having a good lender is just as important as having a good builder. Wayne Kreikemeier of The Nebraska Bank of Commerce (NBC) explains, “A good lender will make sure your financial world provides a strong foundation for your new loan; that the payments and terms are something you can afford and who will be there to educate you and answer questions at any time throughout the process. You should also keep in mind that using the same lender for the construction and permanent financing can streamline the process and save you time and money in certain cases. I make it a point with every customer to get to know him/her and understand his/her preferences, needs, expectations and knowledge. Once I have an understanding of what these are I am able to properly suggest and advise a loan product that makes sense for them and compliments their financial goals.”
He adds, “Rates have been trending upward over the past 12 months and are forecasted to continue their upward movement. The time between starting construction and locking in permanent financing exposes the customer to potentially higher interest rates. An extended lock program can mitigate this interest rate risk. A mortgage loan is a great tool to help you achieve long term financial success. The type of loan, term of the loan, interest rate and down payment are each a factor that can be tailored to suit you and your plan. Your mortgage lender should work alongside other industry professionals to get you into a mortgage loan that fits into your overall financial plan.”
One of the last things most home buyers think about is how they will title of their home; often times they don’t realize there are several options until they show up at closing and are asked what it should reflect. In property law, a title is a formal document, such as a deed, that serves as evidence of ownership. While many financial institutions will direct you to the title company they work with, it is important to be aware that you may also choose your own. Dually important, you should understand the different ways to title your home and have already weighed your options and figured out which is best for you prior to closing. TitleCore is a great local resource, as their team can answer all of your questions and assist you with making an informed decision about how to title your home as well as whether you should consider related options such as Title Insurance.
Planning for Exterior Features
When planning what the landscaping of your new home will look like, getting started early in the design process is the key to making sure that your landscape wants and needs are budgeted for and that the landscape design will enhance the design features of the home. Ray’s Lawn & Home Care’s new home landscape design process starts with a consultation with lead designer and co-owner, Ken Svoboda. His architectural and building knowledge is of great value when helping a customer through the sometimes difficult process, and his landscape design drawings are still done by hand with great detail and always at no charge to the customer. Ray’s is a family owned company that has been providing services to the Lincoln community for 48 years. They specialize in customer service and attention to the details necessary to make the process of home construction as painless and pleasurable as possible.
Regarding planning your landscape design for your new home, Svoboda says, “First of all there’s nothing to fear; landscaping should be fun, exciting, enjoyable and some might even say therapeutic. Secondly and probably most important, make sure you’re working with a professional with experience, references and someone that you feel very comfortable with. It’s very important that you work with a landscaper who does more listening than talking. Initially I like to get to know my potential customers by hearing about their vision for the landscape. Do they want to relax outdoors with their landscape oasis or do they want a more hands-on experience? Nearly every one of my customers who is building a new house has a very distinct vision of his/her new home. Now in most cases it’s not that these customers have acquired great design talents; it’s because the internet is full of websites that offer them more ideas than any of the printed material that has been around for decades. Customers are coming to me with website links, pictures from Pinterest and Houzz, and layouts which I then adapt to their wants, needs and budget. Google ‘landscape ideas’ and you have 119 million choices. The more the customers are involved the more likely they will be to have their dream come true, which is my ultimate goal.”
In fact, the most recent trend in outdoor features has been the ever-increasing use of indoor appliances adapted for outdoor use. Svoboda adds, “We’re asked to work with contractors and designers to construct outdoor kitchens with pizza ovens, grills, extra burners, granite countertops, refrigerators, wine chillers and of course, flat panel TVs. These outdoor living and family rooms are easily becoming as important as the interior family rooms. With the increasing availability of LED lighting choices the sky, and budget, are the limits when highlighting your landscape. This trend is even more evident when working with homeowners who are constructing a new home. The landscape design is being incorporated much earlier in the planning process of the home due to the value and desire of outdoor living spaces.”
Ruth Hietbrink, a Customer Relations Representative of Black Hills Energy who works directly with homebuilders, also notes that homeowners have become increasingly creative with using natural gas as an energy source for features such as outdoor fire pits, natural gas grills, pool heaters and new, modern styles of fireplaces or beautiful outdoor kitchens that give homes more living space.
When considering how you will utilize natural gas in your new home, she advises, “Natural gas is a safe, reliable energy source for your new home. Natural gas enables ‘warmer’ air to be emitted from a high-efficiency furnace or fireplace and allows for more temperature control when cooking on a natural gas range. Your builder will walk you through the process of selecting a natural gas furnace, fireplace, range or other appliances when you’re planning your home. Prior to building your home, you’ll need to contact Black Hills Energy to submit an application for natural gas service. You can visit www.blackhillsenergy.com to submit an application, call us at 888-890-5554 or you can indicate your preference for natural gas when you file your building permit. It’s important to submit your application as soon as possible to ensure installation will be completed at the correct time in the building process.
Generally speaking, Black Hills Energy maintains the gas line that runs from the gas main to your home. This involves a gas meter which will be connected on the outside of your home. The required location for the gas meter is 5 feet back from the front of the house on either the right hand side or left hand side for easy access. Black Hills Energy takes responsibility for repairing lawn damage that occurs as a result of the gas service line installation and will restore the area.
After submitting your application for natural gas, your gas line will be installed and you’ll need to work with your plumber to connect your home’s piping. Once your home is ready for natural gas to be turned on, you’ll need to contact Black Hills Energy to schedule a time to turn on your new meter. Please allow 48 hours for a service technician to respond to come to your home. Billing will begin after the meter is turned on. Your meter will be read on a monthly basis electronically and you have several payment options available. Also keep in mind, if you are doing any projects around your new home in the future, please ‘Call Before You Dig’ by dialing 811.
At Black Hills Energy, we work together with home owners, builders and developers to meet and improve safety and environmental practices. We have been a partner in the communities that we serve over 100 years, bringing the benefits of natural gas to homes and businesses. If you have any questions on new residential gas in Lincoln, please feel free to contact me directly at (402) 437-1814.”
The exterior appeal of a new home is just as important as the interior, and Sue Crawford of Precast Products says, “Planning ahead is crucial whether you hire a professional or will be doing the work yourself, as many facets of a home’s exterior are partnered with or will factor into what is going on with the building process inside. It is truly amazing how many options are available for each product you may be considering. For example, there are a number of different color choices and sizes for flagstone and bulk landscape rock mulch. Precast Products is a material supplier, so we are able to work with you or your contractor throughout the project to guarantee you know all the available options in order to make educated decisions on what you like, need, or will be the best fit and will tie into the rest of your design. Precast Products offers all types of quality landscape material from brands such as Versa-lok and Anchor retaining wall products, as well as pavers for patios.”
Choosing Interior Features
Building a house isn’t just about construction of the house itself; there are many decisions that go into personalizing both exterior and interior features. One of the most important interior features to plan for is the flooring throughout your new home. Jacque Lee of Emo Flooring says, “When considering flooring for a new home that is being built, I always advise our customers to select materials and colors that are suitable and practical for their everyday lifestyle, not necessarily what is trending in the latest design magazine or TV show. I also recommend planning ahead and selecting materials well in advance of when you are hoping to have the flooring installed due to lead times on materials and scheduling installation. You should be prepared for a two week lead time on materials and a two week lead time for scheduling an installation date at the very least. At Emo Flooring, we have Interior Designers on staff who can help with the selection of flooring materials as well as the selection of corresponding paint, countertops, tile and backsplash, and so on. The current color trend in flooring is a grey toned palette that works with every material: carpet, tile, vinyl, LVT, laminate and even hardwoods. Wood grained porcelain tile is also a current trend, as we are starting to see a comeback in polished porcelain tile. Engineered hardwood is a very popular choice for many due to its superior structural stability over a solid hardwood. This material is perfect for a home that will be lived in, such as families with kids and pets or in high traffic areas. There is a wealth of options, and we can help you make an informed decision on what fits your lifestyle best.”
Plumbing is another essential system in your new home that should be installed by an experienced and trustworthy professional. Lindsey Reinke of John Henry’s Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning explains, “You typically get what you pay for when building a home, so my recommendation is to stay away from anything that seems really cheap or too good to be true and opt for having quality equipment installed. Your health and comfort should always be the most important consideration, with energy savings trailing a close third. It makes sense to install a humidifier and excellent air filtration equipment to protect your lungs. Lennox has the #1 rated air filtration system and Trane is in a close second place. Both systems will improve the quality of your life. Through the years, we have found Lennox and Trane equipment to be an excellent choice for our customers. Lennox and Trane equipment holds up well during challenging Nebraska weather extremes, and their factory support and warranties are very user friendly.
As far as services offered by John Henry’s, we have found it takes serious ongoing training to stay ahead of the technical advances in heating and air conditioning equipment. Because of that strong need we consistently train our technicians in-house and at various training seminars. Our technicians also have computers in the field that allows them instant access to manuals or bulletins on all equipment, which has proven to be an excellent support system. In our line of work, we improve a lot of existing systems that were incorrectly installed in the beginning, mainly due to improper sizing or design. We also consistently find homes with rooms that are uncomfortable. There are always ways to fix the problems, but from our experience in the field, I can’t stress enough how important it is to make sure everything is done right the first time.
Among everything else I’ve mentioned it is also important to make good decisions in choosing plumbing fixtures. Avoid fancy faucets that are difficult to find parts for because at some point those faucets will need to be repaired. There have been over 6,000 types of faucets through the years, so there is a pretty good chance that the repair parts may be discontinued at some point and will not be readily available when you need them. Moen faucets historically have been a great choice. The quality is excellent and price is very reasonable. There are faucets to fit all needs. It seems the Moen commercial says it the best, ‘Buy it for looks. Buy it for life.’
Finally, make sure to get the equipment that you have installed in your new home serviced so it operates efficiently and lasts. Manufacturers typically require routine maintenance to keep from voiding warranties as well.”
A sunroom is definitely at the top of the list of things that would be a part of any dream home. If you have not been in a sunroom, all you have to do is spend a little time in one to really understand how amazing they truly are. The main selling point, among many, is that you can be exposed to nature no matter what the temperature or weather is like outside. It is quite a luxury to have the option to “feel” like you are outside while you enjoy the comforts of being inside. Aside from an extra space that you and your family will surely enjoy, a sunroom is also a very desirable feature as a selling point and adds a significant amount of value to your home. A sunroom will give you years of relaxation and satisfaction, and can easily be incorporated in the planning phase of building your dream home.
Window coverings are also an essential interior feature which should be included in your project budget. You are building your own beautiful dream home, and the window treatments should reflect the quality of the home itself. They also serve to make your home environment safer for you and your family, and offer increased energy efficiency as well as motorized options for enhanced security and convenience. Budget Blinds provides a wide variety of products especially for your windows, including blinds, shutters, shades, curtains and drapes, coverings, films and screens. Their expert Design Consultants will measure your windows, do the ordering, inspect your window coverings on delivery, bring them to your home, and install them perfectly. Even better yet, everything is covered under their “No Questions Asked Warranty!” Budget Blinds takes pride in making it easy for you to get exactly what you want, and they also allow you to choose from a selection of samples, swatches and styles so you can see what their products will look like before you commit.
Building a home is likely one of the major investments you will make in your lifetime, and that is not to be taken lightly. As this is a collaborative venture, make sure you have the best Lincoln has to offer on your team in order to turn the vision of your dream home into reality.