DENVER, CO – Prospective homebuyers researching the ins and outs of today’s real estate market have a myriad of resources on the Internet for a Homebuyer Checklist of things to consider from such sources as Ginnie Mae, Mortgage 101, For Sale By Owner, and others. These are handy guides to check for everything from location and price, to house size, number of bedrooms, desired amenities, schools, trash pickup, and virtually every detail that goes into home ownership.
As good as these Homebuyer Checklists are, what they don’t address are the needs of the custom home buyer. Chase Custom Homes of Denver, a specialist in building unique custom homes for each of its clients, believes that such buyers have an additional set of criteria when looking at custom homebuilding options, and is offering its own Custom Homebuyer Checklist to fill a gap in the informational marketplace.
First and foremost, there are two types of custom home builders in nearly every US marketplace, says Spencer Chase, CEO and founder of Chase Custom Homes, and the difference is very important.
One type of custom home builder is the so-called “production custom” builder, says Chase, and these are operations that have prepared a custom home community and pre-selected a set of criteria that applies to homes built within the environment. Sometimes referred to as “semi-custom,” these environments are at a fixed location, a defined community, lots and lot sizes have already been platted, and homes built there are often subject to a set of pre-selected options, or even community covenants, such as height restrictions, roofing and exterior covers, colors, even square footage. Chase himself has managed such semi-custom communities, and knows the plusses and the minuses.
“These ‘custom’ communities often include some very spectacular homes, and the developments are managed in a way that can speed up the construction and occupancy schedule,” says Chase. “However, such communities often offer only a limited number of floor plans. The homeowner can customize all of the amenities within parameters – and this is often a great choice – but not everyone’s vision of what they truly desire in a custom home is fulfilled.”
The second type of custom home builder, which is where Chase Custom Homes plies its trade, is a truly custom project, where everything from the location to every detail of the home is unique.
In each custom option, however, there are many more items on the traditional checklist that a homebuyer must consider. Buyers looking for an existing home, for instance, will check for price, neighborhoods and amenity proximity, but all the smaller details will be things left to the new owner once the purchase has been made. Buyers in new-home communities will be given the option of selecting such things as colors, wall coverings, appliances, fixture, certain upgrades and more, but these will come from list of options supplied by the homebuilder.
Custom home buyers, on the other hand, will be involved in every minute detail of the project: Selecting an architect, choosing a location, and everything inside and around the home from shrubbery, landscaping and sprinkler systems, to roofing, wall and floor coverings, windows and doors, appliances and fixtures. The custom home buyer will also select a builder and participate in the selection all of the subcontractors for such things as electrical, plumbing, and cabinetry. While builders like Chase Custom Homes are prepared to assist in every detail from pre-planning to move-in, the truth is that a custom home buyer will be intimately involved in more minutia than even the fastidious can contemplate. Homebuilder Chase’s advice: be prepared.
“Building a custom home is a rewarding experience, but it is not a hands-off proposition,” says Chase. “we advise out clients to do copious research on the real estate market, on lending options, architectural plans, and then be ready to spend a lot of time as almost a co-general contractor. The time commitment can be great, but the payoff is that you truly end up with the home of your dreams.”
Chase Custom Homes Homebuilding Checklist:
• Proposed Cost. Custom homes can be built in any and all prices ranges, but the best place to start is at least a rough estimate of the ultimately cost of the new home. This will help in in narrowing down neighborhoods to look for a building site, and then lead to a discussion of how much house can be built with the budget parameters.
• Location. You wouldn’t want to build a $1 million home in a primarily $500,000 neighborhood, or really a $500,000 home in a $1 million neighborhood. Location will also suggest lifestyle: will living there minimize car trips; are there shops and restaurants within walking distance (even in bad weather); are bike and walking paths nearby; it the area suitable for a commute to work; do the schools in district serve your needs; how is the access to favorite amenities, such as downtown, a favorite golf course, doctors, the airport? A beautiful home in the wrong place just won’t do. An experienced Realtor is probably the best way to go for location, as they will know the neighborhoods, properties available for redevelopment, and all of the necessary local tax and fee structures. (The Realtor also, of course, will be an invaluable resource in handling the disposition of an existing property.)
• Financing. Have a discussion with a banker and/or mortgage lender, or even multiple lenders, on the financing options available for both the construction phase of the project and then conversion to a long-term mortgage. Lenders experienced with custom home lending will understand the variable nature of a construction process and educate potential home buyers on what to expect.
• Architect. There are many of methods for searching out suitable custom home architects, chief among them the Internet and the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Look for architects, however, with the expertise you seek. For instance, look for an architect that specializes in designing homes, particularly homes in the price range being contemplated. Also, check the architect’s portfolio for style issues: if the firm has built a number of modern-style homes and you want Tudor, or vice versa, best to look elsewhere. Interview candidates: while expertise and experience are obviously key issues, a strong personal and working relationship is also a paramount concern.
• Decorators. With a truly custom home, a prospective homeowner has the unique opportunity of discussing décor, color schemes, and amenities before construction, even before the design phase. Talk about art selection and display solutions, special appliances and bathroom/kitchen fixtures, the incorporation of such amenities as stained glass, antique barn wood, Italian tile, lighting options, flooring and more. The list is long. Decorators experienced in custom homes and complete renovations relish the “blank canvas” opportunity and are great resources.
• Builder. Many homebuilding firms advertise themselves as custom home builders, however in many cases the firm is primarily engaged in remolding or building floor-plan” homes. Do extensive research. The builder will act as project administrator and, as such, will be your partner every step of the way. Ask about fees, fee structures, services provided above and beyond construction. Look at portfolios, even completed homes done by the builder to ensure they have the requisite experience to handle your dream.
• Custom home owner. A reputable custom homebuilder generally has previous clients available to talk with prospective custom home buyers, and family and friends probably know people who have built a custom home who would be happy to talk. These conversations will not only offer insight into the builder’s expertise, but also insight into what to expect from the whole process – the pain and the payoff.
Investing in a custom home is usually a once-in-a-lifetime experience done by people who fully expect the new home to fulfill all of their homeowner dreams for the rest of their lives. Spencer Chase believes in not rushing: the absolute best outcomes are realized by buyers who do their research, know what to expect, know what they want, and take the time to make sure they are prepared for and comfortable with every aspect of the process.
After all, he says, a Chase Custom Home creates an address for a lifetime.
For completer information on all of the custom home services and expertise provided by Chase Custom Homes visit http://denvercustomhomebuilder.com/