Building Your Dream Home in Lincoln – May 2021

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Your home is far more than a compilation of bricks and mortar. It’s the place where you build your family and memories, a place that delivers a sense of peace and celebration, a gathering place for family and friends, a place for thoughtful solitude, and a place that gives you a sense of accomplishment. G.K. Chesterton put it well: “The truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment on indulging in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks.”

When you get the opportunity to build your dream home, you have a monumental task in front of you. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to go it alone. Lincoln is home to experts in the entire process, starting with finding the right spot to build to putting together an accurate budget of costs and financing to mapping out just the right size, layout, materials, and technologies, to designing and furnishing the insides, and then settling into your dream in real time. A good place to start is with project planning and financing, so you know just what you can afford to invest for construction, long-term maintenance, and your mortgage. Keep in mind, too, that materials costs have increased dramatically since COVID began, so you’ll have to plan for a little sticker shock on that front.

Protecting Your Investment

Simply put, the housing market in Lincoln right now is on fire, with 2020 recording the most single-family construction permits filed in more than a decade. When you’re ready to get started on your homebuilding project, West Gate Bank (westgate.bank) is a premier option in Lincoln for home-construction financing, including construction loans and mortgages. They’ll walk you through the entire process and make it as painless as possible for you. You don’t have to be an expert in construction planning and finance, either, because they have all the expertise you’ll need and will share it with you in terms that you can understand.

Taylor Ashburn
West Gate Bank

“When you choose West Gate Bank for home construction financing, our team of experienced lenders will help you through every step in the construction project, helping to protect you and your investment,” said Senior Vice President, Manager of Residential Construction Lending Taylor Ashburn. “We pride ourselves on meticulous and thorough management of your project from start to finish. By having a dedicated Construction Loan Department, your project is in good hands as we monitor the monthly construction draws, conduct on-site inspections, track lien waivers, and reconcile your project budget against the actual spend. If something doesn’t look right, we will let you know.”

Once your build is complete, West Gate has a team of mortgage lenders ready to assist you with the permanent financing of your new home. They are proud to service mortgage loans locally, which means they won’t sell off the servicing of your home loan to another bank. They also have an option for customers to lock in their mortgage interest rate up to nine months in advance of the completion of a new home. Taylor recommends getting pre-approved for your home construction as early in the process as possible, so they can tailor it to your specific situation—and include every possible cost in your budget, including anything that is attached to the house, as well as exterior items such as a fence, landscaping, or pool.

“Get pre-approved as soon as you can, so you know what you can afford,” he said. “Sometimes your financial situation might be as unique as the home you are planning to build. This is where working with a local bank is crucial. We are not a “one-size-fits-all” bank and can tailor your loan to your specific needs or financial situation, both for your construction loan and your mortgage.”

Comprehensive Construction Loans

First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO, fnbo.com) is another fabulous option for financing construction of your dream home. They offer construction loans for up to 90% of the cost to build, plus the lot, and to cover the builder’s contract—including everything from appliances to sod to sprinklers, but not including new furniture. Generally, construction loans come with 12-month terms, with interest-only payments, and FNBO will make sure you can feel secure about the interest rate on your loan.

Noelle Jacquot
First National Bank of Omaha

“We offer Extended Rate Lock options for permanent financing so that the borrower can build with the peace of mind that they are safe should rates increase while they are in the middle of construction,” said FNBO Senior Mortgage Sales Manager Noelle Jacquot. “I would suggest looking into financing options prior to contacting a builder. In doing this, we can make sure that the borrower is aware of their budget and deal with any potential issues up-front.”

FNBO has seen an increase in inquiries for construction financing in recent months. With such a low number of existing homes on the market, it makes sense that people are looking into building. During the beginning of the COVID-19 restrictions, they saw a steep increase in home improvement and remodel projects. Lately, however, that has shifted toward both new purchases and building. This means that builders are busy, so you should try to get on their schedule as soon as possible if you plan on building a home in the next year.

“If you are looking into building a new home, I wouldn’t wait too long,” Noelle said. “I know a lot of the quality builders in our area have been extremely busy. But also be aware that the cost of materials has increased substantially in the last year and those costs don’t show signs of declining.”

Don’t Forget the Reserves

With the Lincoln housing market booming big-time in 2021, there are very few existing homes on the market, so it is a good time to consider remodeling your existing home or building your own from the ground up. Union Bank & Trust (ubt.com) has all of the expertise and financing products available to walk you through the planning and funding stages.

Jason Firestone
Union Bank & Trust

“We offer lot loans, construction loans, and a full line of home-improvement loans, including Home Equity Lines of Credit,” said Union Bank & Trust Vice President – Residential Construction Jason Firestone. “It is always recommended to contact the bank first before starting the process of building to ensure that you have proper financing in place and to know what you would qualify for on both the construction loan and the mortgage loan. It is always important to keep in mind that, inevitably, you will run into unexpected costs and overage while building, so it is very important to have cash reserves, if possible, to make sure the project can be completed and still be able to quality for mortgage financing in the end.”

Union Bank & Trust can provide financing that includes any costs associated with the land and building the home. Typically, the bank will only finance up to 80% of the total cost or appraised value, whichever is less—and they won’t let you get in over your head.

“At Union Bank, we pride ourselves on being honest with our customers so they understand what they can and cannot afford, so they are not setting themselves up for potential issues in the long term,” Jason said.

A Unique Hybrid

When you get your construction and mortgage financing in place, it’s time to design and build! Oftentimes, that means hiring a variety of contractors who have to work together, and it can get difficult to manage at times. That’s one reason that we recommend Jonathan Curtis Design (facebook.com/jonathancurtisdesign). They do it all!

Jonathan Curtis
Jonathan Curtis Design

“We are the general contractor, the builder, and the designer,” said Owner Jonathan Curtis. “We’re a pretty unique company doing what we do. Over the years, I’ve become well-rounded—from fine cabinetry to building a deck, addition, roofing, the whole thing, and I’ve been able to acquire incredibly talented artisans to join the team. We’re not an ordinary contractor. We have the ability to talk to a client with real-world experience, knowing how to build for them, having an eye for detail, keeping up with design trends, and coming up with some of my own. It makes for a unique hybrid.”

Design services by Jonathan Curtis Design include the exterior of the home, as well as the interior, but not necessarily furnishings. They have expertise in color and texture pairing, material selection, scaling to size and fit, and maximizing use of space. In short, they provide cohesive thinking to create the character of the home you want.

“We can build any size house you want, but what we are trying to do is fill the void between the trendy tiny houses and average, larger-build homes,” Jonathan said. “We build small homes that are very well-constructed with well-thought-out use of space, and ones that don’t look like most homes that are being built today. Keeping quality and unique design high on our list of priorities helps ensure that your dream home will look different than the cookie-cutter homes that are out there. We’re looking more at the $300,000 range and less, though we have the ability to build multimillion-dollar homes, too. The end result is that we can build you a home that you will be proud to live in!”

Bringing Your Vision to Life

Bo Jones
Tru-Built Construction

Over the last 20 years, Tru-Built Construction (tru-built.net) has also grown to be a premier commercial and residential contractor for new construction and remodel projects with dedication to high-quality work and making people’s visions come to life. During the design process, these can be useful for communicating your vision. As one of the co-founders of Tru-Built Construction, Bo Jones says that many people do not anticipate the time needed to develop, design, and plan a project because they assume that the actual construction is the longest step.

“I always advise to start planning early,” Bo said. “Most people are surprised that the planning stage can actually take longer than the construction itself. During this phase, you’ll have to consider your site, your budget, the home’s design, and legal permits.”

Not an Interior Designer? No Worries.

Even though the cost of your interior decorating may not be part of your construction loan, it’s crucial that you consider the cost of finishing off the inside of your dream home as you plan your budget. Kay.Stock (kaystock.com) can help you get there. Owned and operated by Kayla Stock, Kay.Stock provides a range of services for both residential and commercial interior design.

Kayla Stock
Kay.Stock Creative

“Space planning is one of the first services I can provide as a designer, helping my clients understand the function, flow, and dimensions of their dream home,” Kayla said. “This can also include 3D modeling, allowing the client to see their space come to life. From there, I help my clients create their dream palette, with assistance on material selection, cabinetry design, electrical and plumbing fixtures, and finishing touches. During this process, I can act as a project manager and source contractors to get the job done right. I also help my clients find the perfect furniture and décor to either compliment their existing pieces or completely create their space from scratch.”

Design trends come and go and then often come back. Kay.Stock will help you ensure that you create palettes that might include trendy concepts but won’t be dated in a year or two. That said, trends can be a great way to ramp up areas in your home, at the same time keeping them interchangeable by including the trends in things like artwork, furniture, and décor.

“One of my favorite trends right now is green kitchens,” Kayla said. “If you haven’t explored this yet, hop on Pinterest and take a look. Something about the soft, muted green cabinetry is so effortless to me and makes me feel so calm and relaxed.”

Whether it’s green kitchens or something else altogether, Kayla recommends that clients peruse the internet and other design sources and keep all of the great ideas that are running around in their heads. This will help you narrow down your style, colors, finishes, and so much more. It will also provide you with a palette to give your designer or builder to help them find the perfect solutions that also fit your budget.

Focal Points that Wow!

As you consider materials for the inside of your dream home and your outdoor living spaces, you’d be remiss not to check out the masterpieces that Zeng Granite, Inc. (zenggranite.com) can create. For the inside, they provide high-quality, beautiful quartz and granite countertops, large-slab wall features for floor-to-ceiling fireplaces, focal walls, and showers. For your exterior, Zeng create patio kitchens and barbecue countertops beside a grill or firepit that will wow the neighbors and your friends and family. They are the ultimate professionals in creating their masterpieces, too.

Jennifer Haralson
Zeng Granite, Inc.

“It takes a skilled stone fabricator to make the finishing touches of a home hide all the unsquared corners and uneven surfaces,” said Jennifer Haralson, integrator for Zeng Granite. “A true stone fabricator is necessary for quality granite and quartz installations.”

Some of the latest trends in stone surfaces in residential construction are amazingly thin and beautiful ultra-compact surfaces and porcelain tiles. The “tiles” for these products are sometimes as large as 10-feet-by-6-feet slabs, but only 4 millimeters thick. They require a specialized fabrication and installation process, for which Zeng Granite is certified to complete. These huge tiles remove the undesirable and disjointed look that grout gives a fireplace or shower. Because of the complexity of installation, however, Jennifer recommends doing your homework before hiring someone for any job involving your dream-home construction.

“Get many references for your homebuilder and contractors,” she said. “A nice website and one interview is not enough to see if they will give you what they promise. Zeng Granite works with selected builders in Lincoln and Omaha who hold the same values as we do: Family. Education. Safety. Longevity through Quality.”

A Class Act

In searching for furniture for your dream home, your interior designer and/or you cannot miss the beautiful, classy choices you’ll find at Barnwood & Leather in Lincoln (barnwoodandleather.com). Their furniture lines give them the ability to help you select and design unique pieces that will fit well in many different home styles—rustic design, transitional, eclectic, or modern farmhouse—customized to bring your dreams to life! Customer service and customization are important to them, too. They special-order many of their pieces so that customers have the right size and configurations, as well as fabrics, leathers, woods, and colors, to fit their space and their aesthetic desires for their home.

Brenda Clark
Barnwood & Leather

“Barnwood & Leather specializes in adding the finishing touches to your new home by providing custom-designed leather and fabric home furniture options, along with a wide variety of dining room, bar, bedroom, office, and accent pieces for your entire home,” said Co-owner Brenda Clark. “We love helping you create cozy spaces in your home, and our customers love the warm, inviting feel they create in their homes when they add furniture made from repurposed, natural materials. Our line of barnwood furniture is made from 100% reclaimed wood, hand-crafted one at a time, all made in the U.S.A. We also feature a growing selection of unique pieces built by Nebraska-based furniture craftsmen made from local, available resources.”

The Color of Dreams

Jeff Walters

Jeff Walters
Walter’s Painting

When you invest your heart, soul, and finances into building your dream home, one of the things that is crucial to tend to in the construction process is building your home’s curb appeal, as well as the appeal of your indoor paint. The unique build of your dream home and all of perfect interiors you pick out to match for your vision won’t mean a thing if you don’t choose a complimentary paint color—and a painting company upon which you can rely to do your space up right! We highly recommend Walter’s Painting (walterspaintinginc.com) for the job. Walter’s offers first-rate exterior- and interior-painting services, in addition to power washing, refinishing of decks and other outdoor areas, staining, painting cabinets, and basically any coating application you can think of. Walter’s has been proudly offering painting and special-coatings services in the area for nearly 30 years. They offer efficient, reliable service with minimal disruption to your commercial activity—and their record for on-time and on-budget results is sterling.

“Walter’s Painting uses only top-quality products and qualified painting crews experienced with helping clients make the most informed decorating and painting decisions,” said Owner Jeff Walters. “With our team of well-trained and experienced painters, we understand what homeowners expect from a painting company, and we are at the ready to deliver.”

No Such Thing as Too Much Storage

When you plan the inside of your dream home, the cabinetry you choose can make or break the whole character you’re going for. But Usher Custom Cabinets (www.bbb.org) can help you design the perfect fit for your dream-home personality and the character you want it to exude. Usher Custom Cabinets has been around for more than 40 years and, from the start, build a reputation for excellence in cabinetry and craftsmanship, which is something the original owner, Dean Usher, instilled into the company for the long term.

Neal Chloupek
Usher Custom Cabinets

“We specialize in residential custom cabinetry, and we tailor every job for the individual client,” said Owner Neal Chloupek. “We design, build, and install all of the cabinets we produce, and because we are a small shop, we are able to focus on the customer’s needs. I present them with 3D rendering and virtual walk-thrus so that we can really hone in on what they need. Because we customize the cabinetry for any room you choose, we are able to build for your home’s specific design and use the wall space with the greatest efficiency. We are a no-pressure, old-school shop that takes pride in all the jobs we do, no matter the size.”

Neal warns that people building new homes often underestimate the total costs for everything included in building a home, inside and out. But there are so many options for cabinetry in your home that you can peruse to choose a look or combination of looks that suit your taste to a tee.

“I always encourage all buyers to spend the time looking at the things they want and finding pictures of dream homes so that we can modify them to fit their budget,” Neal said. “Storage always seems to be the biggest issue when it comes to overlooked features. You can never have enough storage.”

Take Advantage of Technology

When you are designing your new home, it’s important that you not wait until the end to think about technologies that you want. Including things like Wi-fi, security, and entertainment technologies in your plan from the beginning can make it far more effective and efficient than trying to squeeze it in after your home is built. For quality coverage, contact Simply Smart Homes (simplysmarthomesne.com).

Addison Collingsworth

Addison Collingsworth
Simply Smart Homes

“We provide Wi-fi to enable, security to protect, utilities to save, and entertainment to enjoy,” said Simply Smart Homes Owner Addison Collingsworth. “One of the biggest things people imagine for their dream home is how their entertainment is going to work. We can make sure that every inch has Wi-fi for your TVs, computers, and game consoles at fast speeds, so you’ll never have to worry about it. We can provide whole-room audio for your kitchen, family room, and theater sound systems, plus accent lighting around your pool or bar to highlight them—and without breaking the utilities bank. Just don’t forget to plan for it until it’s too late in the construction process. We can help you do the wiring and prep work before drywall goes up, so everything is out of sight and out of mind but always reliable.”

Simply Smart Homes provides wiring not only for your entertainment appliances but also for a security system that will keep all your new furniture, floors, appliances, and the like protected for your family. What’s even better is that you’ll be able to control all of it easily from apps on your phone and include things like locks that lock themselves or garage doors that will close themselves when you forget. In short, you will have the system to control your entire home in the palm of your hand.

“We consider ourselves the digital do-it-all contractor,” Addison said. “We make sure everything sings the same song and tune and that homeowners don’t have to worry about what to buy. We make sure it all fits in its own very tightly-knit ecosystem.”

Close Your Eyes

Building your dream home is an exciting time, with so many aspects and variables to ponder. Another of the crucial pieces of the construction process is the electrical work—as it is literally in every corner and room in the house. Oak Electric (oakelectriccompany.com) Master Electrician Matt Collins has a couple of recommendations to help you contemplate your electricity design.

Matt Collins Oak Electric, Inc. headshot

Matt Collins
Oak Electric

“First, I would like to encourage someone who is building their dream home is to close their eyes and ‘live’ in the home,” Matt said. “Think about how you would go about your daily life. What kind of lighting do you want? Do you want dimmers, can lights, mood lights? Consider using LED lighting for both inside and outside your home. Where do you want your switches and outlets to be? Also, now is the time to contemplate where you might want or need data ports. As an electrician, we are frequently being asked to make changes after the fact. Thinking ahead will help save you money and time in the long run.”

Second, Matt strongly encourages including a security system in your new home. A home security camera system is an excellent tool for home protection; it can work both as a deterrent as well as a recovery tool.
“This is your dream home,” Matt said. “It’s an investment, so not only do you want to protect your property but, more importantly, you want to protect your loved ones inside.”

Tint Your Way to Comfort

Like wired technologies, it’s important to consider your windows early in your planning and design process. Of course, you know that energy-efficient windows can save energy and money, but did you know that tinting your home windows can add another layer of savings and comfort for your family? It’s true, and Pro-Tint (pro-tint.net) is where you want to go to have it done in Lincoln. With more than 45 years of industry experience, you can count on them to install window tinting solutions with expertise and confidence, all toward protecting your investment and increasing your comfort, privacy, and safety.

Kristie Strahm
Pro-Tint

“It might surprise you how many options are available for window tinting,” said Pro-Tint Owner Kristie Strahm. “They include sun control window films, which prevent fading and glare, block heat and harmful UV rays, add years to the life of your furniture, and extend the life of your cooling system. Pro-Tint also offers Safety and Security Film tints to protect your home against flying glass shards, at the same time protecting you against break-ins and blasts.”

Yet another option is Dual Reflective (DR) Window Film, which is ideal for both commercial and residential window applications, where reducing hotspots, increasing occupant comfort, and conserving energy are equally important. DR Interior Window Films deliver excellent solar performance and are the ticket for maintaining a great view to the outside. They provide more than 99% UV block to limit fading and sun damage; an excellent level of heat rejection to reduce energy required for cooling; and outstanding glare control for enhanced comfort for your family and guests.

Creating an Outdoor Oasis

As we’ve heard, landscaping can be included in your construction loan, so it’s another thing you need on your planning list for budgeting—even though landscapers are among the last in on the building project. Luxury Landscape (luxurylandscape-llc.com) is a fabulous company to help you design and build your dream landscape and outdoor living areas.

Jackie Svoboda
Luxury Landscape

“Outdoor living rooms are all the rage right now,” said Co-Owner Jackie Svoboda. “Homeowners love spending their time outdoors and enjoy a welcoming space to relax or entertain. This can include a well-constructed patio large enough for comfortable outdoor furniture, a fire feature for cool summer nights, a pergola overhead to provide shading during hot summer days, and a special place for a grill. Most customers love the idea of a water feature but feel they don’t have the space for it. This is where we really shine!”

Luxury Landscapes custom designs and constructs water features for smaller spaces, whether that be a bubbling boulder just off the patio or a water wall that is custom-designed to sit on the patio. Other trends they see gaining popularity are outdoor landscape lighting and inclusion of a privacy screening.

“Our clients will share that they love their neighbors but would enjoy a little privacy for their deck or patio,” Jackie said. “We totally get it! We have been having a lot of fun designing and constructing privacy panels, in all different designs, that don’t offend the neighbors. In fact, these panels are so beautiful that they look like a special design feature or a focal point in an outdoor oasis.”

Luxury Landscape is known for being highly unique and creative in their designs and the options they offer their customers. They listen to your every want and need and learn how you plan to use the outdoor space. What’s more, their customer service and crew are exceptional, from the first contact until well after they’ve completed a project. That’s why they have a high rate of repeat business and what makes them a perfect fit for helping you show off your dream home.

When it comes to planting trees at your new home, Eagle Nursery (eaglenurseries.com) is another great option. They provide advantages including instant curb appeal, plus shad. When choosing which kind of tree to plant, an Eagle Nursery expert will help you choose a tree that will not only survive but thrive in Nebraska’s turbulent weather. Experts at Eagle Nursery have extensive knowledge about native Nebraska species of plants and trees that will help you build a flourishing ecosystem in your landscape.

In order to keep a landscape healthy, irrigation systems are used to keep yards watered throughout the spring and summer. In addition to offering services to install, inspect, and program sprinkler systems for your dream home Hunt Irrigation has seen innovations which can save homeowners from wasting hundreds of dollars on water each year. Now that is a dream come true!

In the last few years, sprinkler manufacturers have introduced pressure regulated rotors (oscillating) heads, for which the optimum pressure for a rotor is 45psi. Pressure regulating rotors offer the same savings as their counterpart—the fixed spray. By having Hunt install the regulated rotors, you can expect to see a return on your investment in just two years of operation.

One Final Look

Even a new house can have issues, so it’s always a good idea to have an independent set of expert eyes inspect the house prior to you moving in. Things sometimes get overlooked, and pre-move-in is the time to find them. King’s Home Inspection (kingsinspections.com) can lend you their eyes for the job.

Randy King
King’s Home Inspection

“New houses can have termites,” said Founder Randy King. “This is usually the farthest thing from everyone’s mind, which is exactly why it is a good idea to do a termite inspection, so that if the pests are present, they can be dealt with immediately, so there is no chance of damage.”

Another issue often overlooked is radon. radon is an odorless, colorless gas that causes lung cancer. While most houses are built with Radon Resistant New Construction, or RRNC techniques, that is no guarantee that your radon levels are low. Most new construction houses are not measured upon completion to determine the actual radon levels, so it is wise to have a radon test done, to ensure your levels are low and safe. One of the reasons that checking radon levels is important is that while builders in this area are required to include certain features and techniques that pertain to radon, many are unsure of exactly how these radon-reducing measures should be implemented, and most do not actually test for radon prior to occupancy. It is important to have an independent inspection and radon measurement taken. Radon is prevalent in Southeast Nebraska, quite often in very high levels.

“I am a Certified Master Inspector—the highest designation of skills and proficiency in my field,” Randy explained. “I have over 20 years of experience in home inspection, radon measurement, and termite inspection. I have a background in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, and thousands of hours of training and continuing education in my areas of expertise.”

Please Fence Me In!

Rachel Kroese
Empire Netting and Fence

Fencing is a crucial part of your dream landscape and if it isn’t done as professionally as your landscape and home are, it can bring down your entire aesthetics. That’s where Empire Netting and Fence (empire-fence.com) comes in. They provide safety and security to your home or business, and they create your fencing with materials that match your style and budget. Empire Netting and Fence also specializes in netting and construction of sports fields and sports complexes.

“From timeless classics to trendy new styles, we have what you’re looking for,” said Marketing Manager Rachel Kroese. “Your fence is an investment in your home, and we love to be involved with projects that will help better the lives of the people in our community.”

Building your dream home is a huge undertaking, and as you can see, there are a multitude of pieces to the puzzle. Fortunately, if you contact the experts featured here, you can make your build a lot less stressful—and your dream home the realization of your vision!