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    Top 5 home maintenance tips

    A home is one of the last products in the world to be built entirely by hand. Although quality materials and workmanship went into your home, this does not mean it does not require care and maintenance. A home requires care and attention from the day you move in. General homeowner maintenance can provide a quality home for a lifetime.

    Periodic maintenance is necessary because of a number of factors, such as normal wear and tear, climactic conditions, the inherent characteristics of various materials used in your home, and normal service required by the mechanical systems. Over time, natural variations in temperature and humidity also impact your home.

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    The Most Frequently Asked Questions in HomeBuilding

    What type of contract do you operate under?

    We generally operate on two types of contracts: contract cost or cost plus.  Contract cost means we give a total price on the cost of the project.  Arriving at this price involves bringing in subcontractors and suppliers who give written bids based on the plans for the project.  Any overages on allowances would have been paid on a change order during or at the end of construction and any money left over on allowances would have been credited at closing.  Generally, we place allowances on plumbing and electrical fixtures, flooring, countertops, landscaping, hardware, front doors, and paint and texture changes.

    On a cost plus contract, a final price of the project is bid the same as in a contract cost project and would include the same allowances.  However, there is no profit and overhead figured into the final cost. Within the contract is a provision providing a percentage to be paid to the builder above the cost to build the home.  Our percentage on a cost plus contract will vary by project. Another difference in a cost plus contract is that when the contract is signed, the client will receive a copy of the bid sheet used by the builder to arrive at the cost to build.  At the end of every month during construction, we would compile all of the bills from that month, total them, apply our builder percentage, and turn in an invoice to the client.  With this invoice, copies of all the subcontractor and supplier invoices for that month are included.  Under this arrangement, allowances are guidelines the client would use to determine if they are above or below the estimated cost.  Since bills are paid by the client monthly, there is no need for change orders.

    Is there a mark-up cost attached to items selected by the Homeowner?

    Our profit and overhead is taken on the total cost of construction so there is no markup on materials or labor.  There are several benefits to using our subcontractors and suppliers (which we will deal with in a later question), but since we are not charged retail cost on items from our suppliers and we do not mark items up, it is typically much less expensive to use our people.

    How is price per square foot determined?

    Price per square foot is figured based on the total living space of the project.  Put another way, this would encompass the area within the heated and cooled space.  So, if the project had a cost to build of $550,000.00 with a total living space (the heated and cooled part of the home, does not include garage, patio, porches, outside living areas) of 2800 square feet, the cost per square foot would be $195.00 per square foot.  Because this formula only includes living space, it can be misleading.  A home with a 2 car garage and a 10’ by 10’ covered patio will have a much lower cost per square foot than the exact same home that has a 3 car garage with a wrap around front porch and a 30’ by 40’ covered patio.  Of course, the type of flooring, fixtures, etc. can also dramatically raise or lower your cost per square foot.

    Are appliances handled on an allowance?

    Yes, we give an appliance allowance based on what appliances, brand, and configuration specified on the plans or the client.  As with other items, we tend to get better pricing on appliances than what you as an individual can get, and there is no markup from our side.

    Are you tied to the subcontractors you use, or can the Homeowner suggest someone they would like to perform a certain job? Do you provide a list of subcontractors and suppliers?

    Many of the subcontractors and suppliers that we have used have worked for Jim Bland Construction for decades.  You can be confident knowing that they are the best at what the do, are available on the job site to answer questions, and will stand behind their work after you move into your home.  However, this is your home that we are building and if there is another subcontractor or supplier that you have confidence in we would not object to fulfilling that request.  We have certainly found some great suppliers and wonderful subcontractors through connections made by our Homeowner’s.  At the end the project, we provide the Homeowner with a list of all suppliers and subcontractors who worked on the home as well as their contact information.

    When do finish out products/materials need to be decided—at what point in the process?

    By using the project management software, Co-Construct, we are able to keep track of all selections, schedules, and project costs. Every item that requires a selection is listed in the order that those selections are needed.  When you make selections, the items are recorded in Co-Construct so that we can all reference them during the build thus eliminating any confusion.  We will let you know as we are getting close to those time frame milestones.  Co-Construct shows all selections that need to be made and you are more than welcome to work ahead of where we are in the process.

    Is it permissible to purchase hardware, faucets, lighting, etc from an outside source? (i.e.: if you found a light fixture or a sink you really liked in a different city, etc.)

    Yes, it is certainly OK to purchase items from suppliers that we do not typically use.  We’ve actually discovered some very good suppliers from clients doing this.  However, we may not get the best pricing from a supplier unfamiliar to us and again we would not know how well they would service the item once it is installed.  But, we have used suppliers from all over the country, the internet, etc.

    When are walk-throughs performed? What is the process?

    Walk throughs are performed from the framing stage to the end.  We will walk with the framer, the electrician, the cabinet maker, the trim carpenter, and the painter.  Any other subcontractor can be walked as needed.  The process involves contacting you at least five days prior to the walk and establishing a day and time at your convenience.  The subcontractors we use have been chosen not only because they are the best at their trade, but also because they are able to work and communicate with our clients.  They know you will have their contact information and you are welcome to contact them with questions or concerns during the construction process.  Communication is of the utmost importance in this process, and we have no use for subcontractors that will not make time for the needs or concerns of our clients.

    What energy smart measures do you perform in your standard home? (type of insulation, etc.)

    We use spray foam insulation with the sealed attic system in almost all of our projects.  In some custom projects. We use a minimum of 15 SEER rated HVAC systems with heat pumps and de-humidification.  When we do plans for speculative homes, we pay attention to where that east/west axis is and either minimize the windows on those sides if the house is facing north/south, or design large covered patios in the rear and strategically plant trees in the front if the house is facing east/west.  We specify LED lighting everywhere it is available. In subdivisions where we have natural gas it is standard for us to use tankless water heaters, gas stoves, gas starters on the fireplaces with gas logs, and place drops on the porches for gas grills.  In custom projects where natural gas is not available, we encourage our clients to install propane gas to receive the benefits of using gas appliances, especially the tankless water heaters.

    Do you treat the soil for termites before building?

    Yes, this is a standard, non-negotiable item for us in the same way that engineered foundations are standard and non-negotiable.  You will receive a certificate at closing certifying that the treatment was done prior to the slab being poured and outlining the maintenance program.

    What kind of insurance do you carry to cover the home during the building process? If house catches fire, for example, does builder ins. or our insurance pay for the damage?

    We carry a Builder’s Risk policy specific to your home and Worker’s Compensation insurance.  If the house catches fire, items are stolen, vandalism, etc., our policy will cover the loss.  You do not need to take out your own insurance until we get ready for closing and you to take possession of the home.

    One of the most important goals of the Homeowner is to make sure allowances are accurate, so the building process isn’t full of surprises. What is the best way to arrive at allowance figures?

    The practice of using low allowance figures in an attempt to make the bottom line look better at contract time is the hallmark of a bad contractor.  The result of this is always angry clients when they can’t buy all the fixtures they need within their budget.  We handle it this way:  For flooring allowances, you let us know what type of flooring you want to use (type of plank, tile, carpet, etc.).  We then have our flooring supplier bid the plans according to those specifications.  We use their numbers to make this allowance so we know it will be accurate.  On plumbing and electrical fixtures, the best way to get accurate allowances is to do a dry run with our suppliers.  What this means is we take the plans and meet with the suppliers as if we were picking out our fixtures.  You’re not bound by any of these choices, but they give us a good figure for each fixture that we can use to set the allowance.  This takes a little more time on the front end, but we find that it eliminates those surprises and gives you a good level of comfort in the numbers attached to your allowances.  We usually can be very accurate on appliance allowances by getting prices on the types and brands of appliances you want to use.