Newphire's Custom Home Building Process
While there are many ways to go about building a custom home, the system that we propose here is a collaborative approach, with all of the significant parties (client, architect and builder) involved from the outset.
Step 1- Purchase a lot
Location, location, location… That is usually the first driver in decisions to purchase a lot. Is it a reasonable commute to work? What are the school systems like? How far to a grocery store or medical care? These are all factors that folks typically think of when looking for land, but most people don’t put as much thought into how much it can potentially impact the performance of their home. If you are hoping to build a custom home and have yet to buy a lot, we would love to help provide input on the decision. We will, free of charge, visit whatever number of lots you may be interested in. We will weigh in on how your lot selection could help or hinder the performance of your future home.
Why would a builder care what lot you purchase? Certainly the choice of which lot you purchase can directly impact building costs. For example, we can assist with basic estimates on how much you may need to spend to clear and grade. More importantly, we can help determine how easy it will be orient the house to be passively heated and cooled. In many subdivisions, HOAs severely restrict where you can put your house and how you may orient it to the road. It may be impossible to orient your house in a way that makes sense to the cosmos given the constraints on the lot. How could we address the potential for overheating if the view you love on your lot faces due west? These are all important considerations, and ones that should be thought through before any offer is made on a lot. Utilize our free expertise to help ensure that you wind up with a lot that works with your vision, and not against it. The architect will want to design the house based upon the site, so this is an important first step.
Step 2- Find an Architect
We have a few preferred architects that “get it.” The design of your home is not about their ego, it is about helping put your vision to reality. In addition, these architects will keep in mind that the goal is for a home that works as a system to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool it. As such, they will orient the house properly on the site, provide for adequate overhangs, eliminate thermal bridging as much as possible, and be thoughtful of the need for ventilation.
Step 3- Design Process
The design process is largely between the architect and the homeowners, but it is important that the builder be kept abreast of decisions and potential designs so that any causes for concern can be addressed in a timely manner. The builder provides important feedback as to the rough cost of design using multipliers at this point. The idea is to rein in any features that are out of balance with the budget before too much time is spent on the design of said feature, and before the client falls in love with some detail that is not economically feasible for them… There are usually several iterations of the plan and rough estimates during this phase.
Step 4- Final Plans/ Final Estimate
Once all the revisions are made to the plans and everyone is happy, a final estimate is completed. It should be very clearly noted that this is an Estimate, not a guaranteed cost of construction. The final estimate is compiled by having all of the various subcontractors and vendors price out the work and materials needed based on the final set of plans. This estimate is based on quotes, not multipliers.
Step 5- Sign the Fixed Fee contract
If the estimated cost of construction is in line with what has been budgeted, the contract is then signed by the builder and the clients. The Builder’s Fee is set as a fixed percentage of the estimated cost of construction. As such, the builder knows that he will be paid for the work, and all purchases toward the house or commercial building will be at our wholesale prices. We are all on the same side of the table trying to deliver maximum quality and performance at the stated budget.
Step 6- Get to work!
Once the build begins, the architect and builder reverse roles - the builder takes the most active role now and the architect serves as a consultant. The architect will undoubtedly be called on a few times by either the builder or homeowner to clarify, brainstorm, and sometimes modify the plans. Ideally, you stick to the plans as much as possible as changing mid-stream is always more costly than changing when it is still lines on paper… The team should meet on a prescribed schedule that works for all concerned to monitor progress throughout the build.