Regular pumping of your septic system every five years maintains the effectiveness and longevity of your system, reduces nutrient leaching over time, and helps protect the groundwater and drinking water supply. Contact the Frederick County Health Department, (301) 600-1726, if you need help locating your septic system, test you water for bacteria, or obtain contacts for licensed labs in your area that can test for harmful substances.
When deciding to build a home, you’re embarking on a process that may involve a lot of choices. Room layout, size, fixtures, paint colors, flooring … the amount of decisions seem never-ending.
One of the first decisions you’ll have to make in the design-build process is what sort of builder to work with, which determines the type of home you’ll receive. There are three main types of builders:production, semi-custom, and custom. Here’s what you need to know about each type:
Production builders are often the ones you see developing entire new neighborhoods. They usually buy huge tracts of land and build the same small portfolio of home designs over and over again.
There are little (if any) possibilities for changes and modifications with production builders. So homes built by production builders look and are very similar. Many of these builders also develop neighborhoods and build homes before there’s ever a buyer involved.
Their limited portfolios allow production builders to give you a price quote quickly and easily, as they know every associated cost for a given plan they offer because they rarely, if ever, vary.
Due to their bulk purchases and rigid designs, production builders offer the cheapest homes and their product typically reflects that.
Semi-custom builders offer a wider array of designs and floor plans, but they still operate with a limited product offering.
There is more flexibility to modify plans and choose finishes than with a production builder, however the semi-custom builder will still demand that you choose from a standard set of specifications, fixtures, and finishes that they control. This approach gives you more choices to personalize your house while still demanding limits to your taste.
Semi-custom builders will typically build on your lot (spot lots) and sometimes have small groupings of lots that they control.
Semi-custom homes tend to cost more than production homes for several reasons. One, they aren’t mass producing in the quantity of production builders, so their cost of doing business is higher. Two, providing varying plans and finishes cost more money to manage and produce, and those cost are passed through to you, the consumer.
However, for many home buyers, semi-custom is a happy medium between a production home and a true custom home.
Due to the nature of the design-build process, it’s likely that a custom builder will never build the same house twice. While a custom builder may have some basic layouts and designs you can view as inspiration for a starting point, most everything in the custom design process is up to you.
True custom homes are nearly always designed for specific lots. So, you should decide on your lot first before beginning any detailed design work on the home.
Having a plan concept in mind is fine, but a custom home should be designed with the land in mind, not simply drawn and plopped on your lot. Your builder and design team should take topography, orientation to the sun and view exposures, and lot finishing costs into consideration as part of the home design process. If they don’t, they aren’t really “custom builders”.
In design-build custom homebuilding, you should have a say in every component to be in your new home as well as your design.
Whether it is flooring, windows and doors, exterior finishes, or heating and cooling system design and equipment, the builder should be receptive to your ideas and input.
Ultimately you should look to your builder for guidance in these decisions. After all, that is the experience you are paying for when building your home with a custom builder.
Custom Home Builders in Maryland & Virginia
At HURD Builders LLC, we pride ourselves on creating custom homes to fit you, your lifestyle, and your build budget.
Custom home building doesn’t automatically mean that the home must be expensive. Yes, you’re going to pay more than buying an “off the shelf” home product. But, you will receive so much more in terms of value by working with us.
Our hands-on approach to designing and outfitting your new home with you ensures that you are receiving what you want, and not paying for what you don’t want. We will steer the process as best as we can to meet your desires while staying within your budget.
Please contact us for a consultation regarding your plans and dreams. Or, check out our portfolio. We will be honest and polite…promise! We look forward to hearing from you.
Choosing to build a home from the ground up is valuable investment that will pay off in many ways. But it is still an investment, and a big one at that. We’ve already explored how the land you choose can impact the cost, and how differences in calculation methods can change the price.
The design you choose also can have a significant impact on how much your new home will cost.
Custom vs. Pre-Existing Plans
A custom home will likely cost more than a home being built in a development that has standard floor plans and is reproduced over and over. Creating a custom design comes with an additional price tag. However, it provides the benefits of having your home designed to your specifications, your budget, and without features that you don’t care to have in your home. It is up to you to decide if that is worth the money, or if you would be fine building from a pre-existing plan with little to no modification.
Going custom doesn’t necessarily mean your home will be a lot more expensive. Still, the more elaborate the design and the finishes, the higher the expense. Some people love the idea of an extremely unique home, and if that’s you, that’s great! If you’re under a tight budget, consider how you can make your plan unique without expensive design elements. Simpler roofs, and plans that efficiently stack living spaces on separate floors. Also, try to integrate the garage into the house footprint. Detached and semi-detached garages drive up construction costs.
Getting creative with your home design can go past just the floor plans and the facade. You may have some ideas that involve materials that aren’t common. Specialty products such as woods and stones that may not be readily accessible can look great and function much better than some typical materials; however, unusual products often come at additional cost. That explains why one doesn’t see them consistently used in other homes.
Are you hoping for a lot of large windows providing a lot of natural light? Maybe an extra door from the garage to the front yard? Or specialty siding? All of these factors might be desirable, but will increase the cost of your home. The number of windows and doors and the type of finish you want on your exterior are all things you will want to consider in your home budget.
Your new home will need to have plumbing, electricity, and climate control (HVAC). You may even wish for some extras, like a home security system. You have some control over what size and type these are! Fancier systems may be pricey but could end up being worth the money when it comes to energy efficiency and reliability. Talk to your builder about your options and see what works with your budget and will be the best fit for your home.
We have already discussed how the outside of your home will impact your cost, but we all know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts! Interior finishes are the things that will add comfort and style to your home. You should consider unseen aspects such as insulation packages, along with the visible style-oriented choices such as trim, painting, lighting, appliances, flooring, and plumbing fixtures.
Some fixtures will be pricier than others, especially if you’re looking for a unique feeling in your home. Still, if you shop around, you can find really cool stuff that doesn’t cost a fortune. Obviously though, materials such as granite and silestone will hit the wallet much harder than formica and vitreous ceramic counter tops.
The driveway, porches, patios, decks, and landscaping may not be on your mind as you create the plan for your custom home, but they factor in just as much as every other detail to the cost! As you get excited about designing your home, don’t forget about these aspects as well. Of course, some of these items can wait if your build budget is already stretched thin.
Decide what factors are most important to you and go from there. Perhaps, in order to have that extra natural lighting you are willing to compromise on the ultra-premium refrigerator you had your eye on? It is a process of give and take.
Consider your priorities and decide what you want your dream home to be. Consult with the professionals here at Hurd Builders, LLC when you’re ready to begin the process of making that dream come true! We will provide you the tools and information you need to make good decisions.
This post is Part 2 of our blog series, Home Building 101. In this blog series, we provide professional insight into the process of building a home.
Last month, we discussed how different methods of calculating square footage in a home can lead to wildly different measurements for the same home. But have you ever thought about how the cost of the land a house is built on can impact the per-square-foot price of a finished home?
There’s no doubt you’ve already looked long and hard at the available lots to build on. The criteria upon which you choose your land is similar to what you would consider if purchasing a finished home. You look at neighborhood, commute to work, access to amenities, and (of course) price. When considering a lot on which you’ll build, you also are likely to consider the characteristics of the land itself – whether it’s level or sloping, if there are any ponds or streams included in the lot, and whether the plot of land is wooded or clear.
When building new, you not only have to calculate the cost of the physical home in the per-square-foot pricing, but also the land that house sits upon. So, a 2,000-square-foot home on a $25,000 represents a cost of $12.50 per square foot. But if you are building that same home on a $60,000 lot, the per-square-foot price increases to $30.00 per square foot – $17.50 per square foot higher!
The neighborhood itself can have an impact on how much that square footage will be, not just based on the price of land. Some subdivisions require conformity, so you may be required to include brick, stone, or stucco for the front elevation. These requirements will increase your overall price. Additionally, more desirable neighborhoods are likely to draw higher lot prices, further driving up your building cost.
Amenities (which are often reason for choosing a lot) can also drive up the cost of a lot. Communities need money to maintain walking trails, clubhouses, pools, playgrounds, etc. They raise this money through higher lot prices or fees while living in the neighborhood. Again, you should consider these mandatory fees in your per-square-foot calculations so you can gain a more realistic picture of how much your home is really going to cost, and how you may have to price it in the event of a future sale.
Want to learn more about how land price can impact your square footage costs, or are you in the market for quality land in a great location? Contact the professionals at Hurd Builders. We can guide you through every step of the home-building process.
This post is Part 1 of our blog series, Home Building 101. In this blog series, we provide professional insight into the process of building a home.
Calculating square footage is often one of the most confusing metrics of a home. Unfortunately there is no “industry standard” for calculating the square footage of a residential property, which means many builders are doing it differently.
This can be problematic for many reasons, but the most important reason is that a home’s value easily can be miscalculated. There is a cost for every area of your home, so shouldn’t every square foot be accounted for? As a result, the cost per square footage can vary greatly, which may negatively or positively impact your property’s value.
Whether you are buying a home or selling a home, take some time to learn what actually goes into calculating square footage.
What Methods Are Used to Calculate Square Footage?
The methods used differ based on who is building the home. Some builders measure a home’s size from the outside of the wall framing. Other builders measure to the outside of the siding material. With these variances, an all-brick home may be hundreds of square feet larger than the same exact home with a lap siding.
Individual builders may also choose to include every square foot of the home in the calculation, or they may choose to omit non-livable areas. For example, the second story area of a two-story-high entryway may not be included in the home’s total square footage since it is considered “unwalkable” area, even though the homeowner is paying to heat the space and it is considered to be a premium design feature for many homes.
What Is Included in the Total Square Footage Calculation?
What is the total square footage of a home’s living space? This answer is often a misrepresentation of what the actual home size is. Your calculation may include the finished areas of your home, such as the bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms, but what about the unfinished areas, such as the basement or attic?
You need to consider what areas of the home you plan to include in the total square footage calculation and what areas you leave out. A space is unlivable if the homeowner will not be spending a regular amount of time there due to restrictive environments, such as an attic with a sloping ceiling or an unfinished basement with exposed concrete walls, framing, or wiring.
The finished space in a basement or attic is considered much less expensive than the finished footage on the main floor of the home. Why, you may ask? The foundation, walls, and roof are already set in place for a basement and attic. It is also assumed the people living in the home will get more use out of the main living areas. If the price per square foot of the home was calculated based on “finished” square footage, that figure is typically lower for homes with finished basements or attic spaces since homeowners will not be spending
What about a home’s patio enclosure or three-season room? This might include a screened-in porch or deck. Those areas may be considered livable areas of the home, especially if the roof covers those outdoor hybrid spaces. However, square footage metrics often leave these areas out, which dilutes the total value of the home in appraisals.
Typically, garage space is not counted towards the home’s livable square footage metric, either. This is troubling since garages are not free to build. In theory, they should be reported in a home’s square footage calculation to estimate the total value of a home. A four-car garage should impact the price per square foot as compared to a one-car garage since the value is higher, right? You would think, but unfortunately this is not the case for many builders.
Disparities in Metrics
The sad truth is this: Cost per square foot comparisons are meaningless if the square footage of these areas are counted differently by various builders and real estate agents.
Many home buyers want to know the true cost of a home; however, this is often difficult to determine. The cost per square foot seems like a fair way to ensure you’re not getting ripped off. However, the way builders and real estate agents calculate this number can be misleading.
Calculating square footage is necessary for appraising any home. If you’re a home buyer, you need to do your research to find out what the true square footage of livable space is. If you’re a home seller, you need to be transparent in your calculations by distinguishing which spaces are livable and which spaces are not.
If you want to learn more about calculating square footage, contact the professionals at Hurd Builders. We understand the ins and outs of calculating the true cost of your residential home.