Constructing your home
If you are considering building a home on or near the coast may I suggest you start by reading a FEMA publication “Coastal Construction Manual” and pay particular attention to Volume II chapters 13&14. There is a wealth of information in there about how to build it right.
Designing and building your home
As you begin your quest to design and build your perfect home, the one that is just right for you, may I suggest you read an exceptional book written by Marianne Cusato titled “Get Your House Right“.
Selecting Your Builder
Some things to consider when selecting a builder:
As a homebuilder, I strongly encourage you, wherever you might live, to select a homebuilder that lives nearby. It’s often very easy to think, ‘oh, I know so-and-so knows a builder, I’ll just ask them and use that guy.’ While this might be an easy way to find someone to manage construction, this usually creates a few problems.
First — and perhaps most importantly — this creates a mis-alignment of incentives. Homebuilding is a very intimate process for most people — typically, the home you are building is your only home, your ‘safe space’, your retreat from the worries of the outside world. Selecting a homebuilder that won’t see your home frequently dis-incentivizes them from creating a home that will be and will remain beautiful — it encourages them to build it quickly, cheaply (to maximize their own profit), and with a minimum input of thought and effort. It encourages them to build a home that will too soon degrade and start falling apart, a home that cannot meet its full potential. A builder that lives nearby will spend the time necessary to ensure that your home is one that will retain its integrity and beauty for years to come, a home that will stand for generations, a home that will not need its siding and roofing replaced after six years, a home that will not fall out of style within ten years. They will invest this time because they will have to see and think of your home frequently — it’s not just a one-off.
Second, this creates problems with maintenance. Over the course of a career, a homebuilder will construct dozens if not hundreds of homes. Your home is your temple, and if something goes wrong in your temple, you want it fixed — immediately! If your homebuilder doesn’t live nearby — if there isn’t the chance of running into you — when something goes wrong, more often than not, they will be ‘busy’, ‘unavailable’, or may simply never return your call. A homebuilder that lives in the area will be on top of problems that arise with your home, if not simply because it is easier for them to get to your home, but because there exists the distinct possibility of an awkward run-in at the bagel store.
Third, consistency. A homebuilder that doesn’t live nearby may simply not be attuned to the subtleties of style and construction needs in your area. If you live in a coastal region and your builder comes from inland, they may not understand the particular strain put on a house in a coastal environment, and the adjustments that must be accordingly made during construction. They may not ‘get’ the style of your area, and may build a house that doesn’t gel well with the rest of the community. A local builder quite literally lives and breathes their local area — they know when they need to use one material over another, they know the subtleties of other nearby homes — they likely built many of them. If you’re anything like me, you want a home that will require minimal upkeep, stand for generations, and have a timeless but unique appearance. For this to be possible, you need a local builder.
If you live in the Jersey Shore region and want an experienced builder with an exceptional understanding of the coastal area, styles, and environment, give me a call — I’d be happy to speak with you and lend my advice — or refer you to a local builder in your area if necessary.
The cost of a new home is divided into three primary parts. (1) The costs to prepare the property for building. (2) The costs of the materials used for building. (3) The labor costs paid to the tradesmen to build your home. Additional costs are for architecture, permits, utility connections, survey fees, and, in the State of New Jersey, an assessment based on the value of your home made to COAH — a tax used for building low and moderate income housing. Lastly, a fee, also based on the value of the new construction, is collected for a new home owner’s warranty.
The methodology used by most builders when determining the cost for your new home is to request bids from the people who will be supplying the materials and labor to construct your new home. Once the estimates are received from suppliers and sub-contractors (mason, framer, sider, roofer, plumber, electrician, surveyor, etc.) the contractor typically ‘marks-up’ the estimates from 10% to 25%. You will never see this cost or know about it. The contractor will then present you with a proposed contract detailing the total cost to build your home. This contract will contain a line item indicating ‘builder’s mark-up’ (10% to 20% — in addition to the aforementioned hidden mark-up) above a ‘builder’s profit’, before concluding with a final net cost. You may or may not see the actual cost break down on the components for building your home.
This is where Imagineered Homes differs dramatically from other contractors. We obtain the bids, showing you the actual costs as obtained from the suppliers and contractors on their letterhead — before we total the costs. We mark absolutely nothing up on the bids — we are totally transparent. Additionally, we do not have a ‘builder’s mark-up’. We actually prefer that you pay the sub-contractors directly, and in phases following pre-determined completion benchmarks. We collect no bulk payments for redistribution to sub-contractors — this is meant to ensure that you have complete control of the cash flow to both suppliers and contractors and that you receive a finished product that you are entirely happy with. We charge a flat fee to construct your home, typically 45-60,000 dollars depending on complexity. Under certain circumstances of demonstrated special need, we will charge less. If you plan to construct a Taj Mahal, a Gatsby-esque mansion, a floating home, or one built in a treetop, we’ll have sit down to negotiate a fair price. We do not maintain a fancy office, have a fleet of trucks, drive expensive cars, or live lavish lifestyles. Our passion is simply to design and build beautiful homes. We like to see the extra +/- $100,000 that you would pay other contractors go into your home.
Imagineered Homes is a company comprised of myself and an extraordinary group of subcontractors. I am an extremely experienced homebuilder and designer with over 45 years of industry experience — and you simply won’t find a more seasoned, transparent, or professional team than Imagineered Homes.
I know that in divulging these ‘contracting secrets’ some builders will be prompted to argue their case. I urge you to ask them for a breakdown of their costs and to, on your own, show your plans to outside sub-contractors to check and verify the pricing. I urge you to do your homework before choosing a builder to construct your home. I think that you’ll find we’re telling the truth, and I hope that when you do discover this, you’ll consider us to be your partner in the homebuilding process.