Linwood Custom Homes - Custom home packages including house plans

Award winning Custom Home Packages including house plans with site specific design.

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World leader in fiber cement siding and backerboard

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Reliable wood, vinyl and aluminum windows and patio doors

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Building It Right

Getting the best result

in building a custom home requires attention-to-detail and a good understanding of the construction process. There are many tasks to be completed which require skilled people to manage them.

The objective for most people who build a new home is to get a valuable return on the investment and a home that fits their lifestyle needs. Value is created when your finished home is worth more to you than the cost of construction.

  • Planning Your Project
  • Preparing a Construction Budget
  • Timing Your Build
  • Sourcing and Delivering Materials
  • Home Building Tips

Keep in mind that there are no shortcuts to achieving a successful result when building your home. It takes expertise, good planning and proper management to build your home right.

Planning Your Project

Good up-front planning saves time and money and helps you to stay in control of your project. Whatcom County Home Builders takes your design concept and helps you develop a realistic budget before you start construction.

Because construction is largely a sequential process, resources need to be scheduled on a timely basis. When building components or manpower is not available at the jobsite, it will cause a ripple effect. Trades that are booked for jobs will be delayed and the building completion timeline may be affected. It is often difficult to reschedule trades as they may be busy doing other work.

For this reason, changes to the design once the project has been started can be a major cause of increased costs and time delays. On-site changes that may seem simple can result in structural design issues and the need for additional materials and construction resources.

The key is to planning ahead is to include all the variables in the building process. This enables you to monitor performance against your budget on a timely basis and make decisions that minimize risk. Whatcom County Home Builders can help you in this process.

Preparing a Construction Budget

There are many variables that will affect the costs of constructing your home. The amount you need to budget for will be dependent on the size, location and complexity of the project. Whatcom County Home Builders helps customers understand the difference between "home construction costs" and "total project costs". Home construction includes the type of design you choose, the quality of finishing products you select and other considerations relating to construction. Total project costs consider site improvement, site preparation and availability of services.

Whatcom County Home Builders helps homeowners develop a realistic budget estimate that considers the details of the whole project using the proprietary Custom Builder XPM ™ estimating software. This provides comfort to homeowners that they can rely on a proper budget before construction work begins. This process also helps financial institutions validate the project when evaluating construction loans.

Using quotes based on simplistic per square foot pricing for the whole project in your budget can cause major problems. This approach is usually unrealistic and can result in substantial budget overruns. Homeowners do not want to find themselves in a situation where they cannot complete the project if the cost of materials and work involved has been underestimated.

Timing Your Project

Because of the high rainfall and gusting winds that are seasonal in the Whatcom County area, your home needs to be designed and engineered to withstand adverse weather conditions. It is important to select the right building materials, particularly roofing materials and windows. The components must be designed and warranted to withstand high wind-loads and resist water penetration.

People not familiar with the construction process often underestimate the time it takes to complete the project. Taking a project to completion will depend on the size of home, location of property, complexity of construction and frequency of inspections. Obtaining a building permit may involve demonstrating that there is sufficient drainage for water runoff.

To determine a realistic occupancy date, Whatcom County Home Builders uses a comprehensive work schedule detailing key milestones to keep the project on track. Each milestone is carefully planned to bring the project to successful completion and meet your projected occupancy date.

The best time to plan for excavation and foundations is between April and October to minimize construction costs. It is difficult to build efficiently in a water-saturated site. Building at the wrong time will cause construction delays and may increase overall costs.

Whatcom County Home Builders has a thorough understanding of local conditions. We can help you plan ahead to get your project started at the right time.

Sourcing and Delivering Materials

Whatcom County Home Builders serves the local and surrounding area. We are experienced in dealing with the special issues that arise when building in this region. We mainly work on projects within a one hour drive from Whatcom County.

The area around Whatcom County consists of a number of small population centers and is time consuming to get to a major commercial center. Not only is it important to plan ahead for local delivery of materials, it is even more important to have alliances with major national suppliers.

Whatcom County Home Builders has formed an alliance with proven national suppliers to ensure quality building materials are available when they are needed. These companies have the ability supply a full range of brand name building products to any region at everyday low prices. Our local suppliers support us with readily available standard products needed in construction. This gives our customers the best of both worlds and saves them money.

Home Building Tips

In any residential construction project, someone needs to take on the role of the general contractor. Depending on the circumstances, this person can be the homeowner or an independent professional. It is important to understand that the designated general contractor is the person in charge of the project and assumes all responsibilities and liabilities for completing the project in accordance with regulations.

Some homeowners choose to act as their own general contractor. If you have the time and expertise to be actively involved in the project, you can save a significant amount of money, especially organizing the finishing of the home. Most homeowners do not wish to take responsibility for the structure of the home, but many are quite capable of organizing finishing work.

Usually homeowners will need professional help during the building process to access the range of skills required to complete the project. A good option is to hire a project manager to help you with the technical aspects of construction.

The key elements to consider and manage include:

  • Selecting the right design and building materials
  • Getting building permits in place
  • Hiring qualified contractors and trades
  • Arranging and managing work schedules
  • Obtaining proper liability insurances
  • Scheduling for inspections
  • Preparing the building site
  • Pouring foundation in the right conditions
  • Getting the structure of the home to lock-up
  • Finishing the interior to occupancy

Any construction project is a major undertaking in terms of time and money. Most people expect to get a valuable return on their investment and a home that fits the preferred lifestyle. You can create this value by making sure that you make the right decisions and hire the right resources and expertise.

Site Specific Design

The first step is to develop a concept design. Typically people start with a look or an interior layout that they like. This is then taken to a preliminary plan, which can be used to develop construction blueprints and a preliminary budget.

KEY TIP: Use a site specific design to make sure that your design can be built on your property

Material Selection

There are thousands of building components with different performance characteristics to choose from. You need to spend adequate time when choosing the right materials. Material purchasing requires a special skill set. It takes a professional to accurately determine the right quantity of materials needed from finalized blueprints. The reality is that changes are far more costly when they are made during construction.

KEY TIP: Choose the right quality and combination of building materials

Getting Permits in Place

Building permits need to be in place before you can start construction. Some land preparation can take place prior to permits, but you need to be aware of local guidelines that may restrict work.

The objective is to obtain all approvals so that you can get foundations in place prior to peak season or adverse weather conditions. You can always delay construction, but you can't move it forward without permits.

KEY TIP: Apply for permits as soon as you have your construction blueprints

Hiring the Right People

Hiring the right builders and trades is crucial to the success of a custom home project. To do this you will need to understand your role and responsibilities in the construction process as well as what factors you should consider when selecting qualified builders. The right contracts need to be in place so you are protected from common risks that are associated with construction projects.

Your project will need local builders and trades who are familiar with your type of construction. Once you have identified qualified candidates, you will need to evaluate individual quotes. This should be based on the expertise offered and the ability to see a project or job through. Selecting builders and trades based on the lowest hourly rate is not usually the best choice. Trades need to be properly licensed and insured so they do not transfer the risk of lawsuits to the homeowner.

Having meaningful written contracts with all builders and trades is essential. The key elements are scope of work, procedures for changes, payment terms and provisions for sign-off at the time of completion. The contract should also address responsibilities for work related injuries, damages to third parties and other liabilities. There are a lot of issues to be considered when hiring contractors and trades. This is why many homeowners retain the services of a professional project manager.

KEY TIP: Hire qualified builders with the right experience

Advantages to Hiring a General Contractor

In any residential construction, someone needs to take on the role and responsibility of the general contractor (GC). Depending on the jurisdiction and applicable laws, this person can be the homeowner or an independent professional. It is important to understand that the GC is the builder in charge and assumes all responsibilities for completing the construction project according to regulations.

Independent general contractors may use their own employees or hire subcontractors and trades. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: hiring all people needed to complete the project, coordinating their schedules, overseeing their work and paying their invoices for work completed. The GC also has an array of other responsibilities and duties that require special expertise.

A hired general contractor will take on most of the construction liability and is typically responsible for the project from start to finish. This is why the contract price of a professional, experienced GC reflects the responsibilities, tasks and associated risk taken.

KEY TIP: Hiring a qualified general contractor reduces risks

Advantages to Hiring a Project Manager

A project manager has many of the responsibilities of the general contractor. Generally, project management is distinguished from general contracting because the role performed is advisory in nature and has a much more limited liability. Responsibilities can vary depending on the level of involvement required and a subsequent contract is signed accordingly. Because of the limited nature of the role, project management costs less than general contracting.

Project management focuses on directing and coordinating human and material resources throughout the life of a project. It involves predetermined objectives of scope, cost, time and quality control. Depending on the arrangement, this may include selecting the right project participants, proper coordination and control of work, evaluation of quotes, procurement of materials and managing communications.

KEY TIP: Hiring a project manager gives you flexibility and cost savings

Preparing a Realistic Budget

There are many variables that will affect the costs of construction and ongoing maintenance after the home is built. In addition to costing the actual construction, you will need to consider issues including access, site preparation and availability of services.

Getting a fixed price on the entire project is generally not feasible due to the complexity of building a custom home. Qualified builders and sub-trades can only provide you with realistic construction quotes based on a site specific design and the type of materials that will be used.

A combination of fixed prices and realistic allowances is the most accurate budgeting method. You should use a comprehensive construction worksheet.

KEY TIP: Plan and budget your project based on accurate information

Defining the Scope of Work

Your budget forms the basis of "scope of work" in the construction contract. Make sure you have a detailed written contract with your builder that includes clear definitions of what is included in the scope of work. Generally, homeowners will hire a contractor to build their home to lock-up or turnkey.

Verify that the labor costs are realistic and the quantity and quality of materials are properly estimated before you enter into an agreement. Due to the nature of custom home building, completion dates will be usually be projected on a best efforts basis.

KEY TIP: Aim for maximum cost certainty

Financing Your Project

There are a number of options available to finance your project. Depending on the size of your project, you can often use credit lines based on the equity you have in your home. For larger projects, you may need construction financing that is convertible into a term mortgage. This way you can take advantage of favorable interest rates.

In some cases, financial institutions may require an accurate budget that details all aspects of the project, which can be independently validated. You need to make sure that money is available on a timely basis so your project can go ahead as planned.

KEY TIP: Get financing in place as soon as possible

Site Preparation and Foundations

Preparing the building site includes clearing the land and excavating so that foundations can be formed and concrete poured when the weather conditions are right. Site services need to be brought from the property line to the home. This usually involves excavation for line placement. This work needs to be scheduled when roads can be accessed by heavy equipment and when foundation work can be done.

Foundations are poured in three stages. First footings and then walls must be poured before construction can start. The interior slab is usually poured once the main floor is in place. Cement cannot be poured below freezing temperatures without special procedures. It is important to get the foundations in place as soon as blueprints are available and permits have been obtained.

Foundations must then be backfilled to protect them from weather and other potential wear. Prior to backfilling a protective coating is placed on the outside of the foundation wall. Drainage also needs to be installed around the base of the wall at this time.

KEY TIP: Be ready to build at the most favorable time

Construction to Lock-up

Once foundations are in place the construction of the home to the lock-up stage can begin. Lock-up means that the home is weatherproof and secure. Before this work can begin foundations will have to pass inspection. Lock-up work is a sequential process and includes:

  • Framing of walls, stairs and roof
  • Floor structure
  • Installation of roofing material
  • Rough-in of utility services
  • Installation of windows and doors
  • Application of siding

Lock-up is considered to be complete when walls, floors, roof, windows and exterior doors are in place. An inspection will take place to determine the structural integrity of the home and if there was compliance with building codes.

KEY TIP: Schedule inspections on a timely basis

Finishing to Occupancy

The management focus of finishing work is to choose the finishing items that give you the value and look you want in line with your budget. Working with a professional interior designer may be a timesaver. Good people will have knowledge of available products, how they perform over time and where the best places are to shop. Finishing your home mainly involves organizing products and trades.

Before you can get an occupancy certificate, a final inspection needs to take place. The purpose is to identify any outstanding work required to meet building code standards. Once occupancy has been granted, you can move in and enjoy your beautiful new home.

KEY TIP: Organizing your own finishing work saves money

Whatcom County Home Builders - Member of Washington Builder Network - 1.866.582.8453