One of the very first steps of any custom home project is for the homeowners to assemble the right team to make their dreams a reality. Most homeowners ask themselves what comes first: “architect or builder?” Many homeowners start by hiring an architect or an architectural designer [we’ll refer to both as “designer” for simplicity] to draw up plans before seeking a builder to execute those plans. While this is an acceptable approach, designers don’t always know the potential costs of the homes they are creating. A better approach would be to include your builder in your meetings with your designer at the beginning of the project so that there is an expert in the room who can speak to cost and execution. We enjoy working with designers and being involved in the design process, even if we aren’t doing it ourselves. There are many incredibly talented designers in the Denver area and if that is who you feel most comfortable doing the designs for your home then that is the way to go!
As a design-build contractor, we would argue that the best approach would be to work with a design-build firm such as Timber Ridge Properties. A design-build contractor brings the designer and the builder together from the first design meeting through the end of the project.
By developing a partnership with a builder who will also help throughout the design process, you eliminate the risk of designing a home that is beyond your price range. As the one doing the actual construction, your builder will have incredible insight into the execution of the plans your designer is drawing in terms of cost, feasibility, and timeline. We’ve experienced the unfortunate circumstance where a designer draws up plans that the client falls in love with but ultimately cannot afford. When your builder is involved from the planning stage onward you know that your plans will be affordable and feasible.
Architect vs. Architectural Designer
You may be wondering, “What is the difference between an architect and an architectural designer?” Both professionals went to school for architecture. The main difference is that an architect passed the AREs and acquired a license. A good architectural designer has the same expertise as an architect, but they are not licensed. Without a license, the architectural designer commands a much lower fee to produce construction plans. If the neighborhood HOA where you purchased land allows, hiring an architectural designer to design your home could save you some money. A design-build firm can help guide you to the best professionals for your home. At Timber Ridge Properties, we work with several extremely talented designers in the Denver area that we are more than happy to recommend to our clients.
One Common Goal
Your designer and your builder should have one common goal: making YOU happy! During this collaborative project, you should all agree on the vision and consistently communicate about the budget, logistics, and plans. When your designer and builder collaborate from the beginning stages of the project you will avoid issues related to budget, change orders that impact your project timeline, and accomplish your vision for your dream home.
Timber Ridge Properties is a custom home builder and remodeler in the Denver area and has been working with designers to bring dream homes to life since 1985.
So, you’re thinking about building a custom home! The first step, after finding a custom home contractor to build your home, is to find a suitable lot on which to build. Why do we recommend finding a contractor before you even have land on which to build? Your contractor is a building expert. They most likely have knowledge that you don’t have in terms of what to look for in the soil, what might cause challenges, the zoning of the area to predict what the area might look like in the future, and more.
Here is a list of things to consider before purchasing a piece of vacant land or property to build on:
City or County Zoning requirements
Perhaps you’re looking for rural living and the lot you’re looking at is currently zoned to eventually put in a development.
Building setback requirements
Setback requirements may hinder you from building the home of your dreams depending on the lot size and your square footage.
What kind of soil does the lot have?
Soil types vary all over the Denver area. The soil plays a big role in the cost of your home’s foundation. You may be required to over-excavate and bring in better soil, pour caissons, or build a structural floor. All of these scenarios will increase the cost to build on the lot.
Is the lot a hillside or flat?
A hillside with a view is beautiful but, depending on the soil and the structure of the hillside, the lot may not be a viable build-site.
The topography of your lot will also determine if your home can have a walk-out basement.
What will it take to bring utilities and infrastructure to the property?
Power, water, and septic are modern necessities — it’s important to factor in how much it would cost to run a connection to a powerline, if there is a city water connection, or if you’d be drilling a well, and if the soil is viable for septic if there is no city sewer to which you can connect.
Is the property located or near a flood zone?
This could cause potential problems in the future. Your contractor could include flood mitigation in the building plan, but you may not get approval to buy the lot to build if there are potential flooding problems.
What will the adjoining properties look like when they are eventually developed?
This is a way of looking at if you’ll be right up against your neighbors or if you’ll be in a more private, open space. You may have an amazing view while the land is under development, but once all the homes are constructed your view becomes obstructed.
What kind of landscaping will you want your property to have?
If the property is located within the boundaries of a Homeowner’s Association, there may be specific landscape requirements. Some areas require a natural native landscape, while others will allow you to be more adventurous with your plantings.
Are you considering adding a casita, RV garage, workshop, pool, or other outbuildings to the property eventually?
It’s important to look into the future, no matter how distant projects like this might feel, to see if the land you’re considering has the space and zoning for outbuildings.
Keep your contractor on speed dial as you search for land to set your project for success. Having a lay of the land, literally, will help your contractor design the home of your dreams.
Family-owned and operated since 1985, Timber Ridge Properties has maintained a reputation for being Denver’s top custom home builder. What has kept us at the top? Award-winning high-end custom homes in a highly personal, boutique atmosphere. Our homes, which have been built throughout the Denver Metro area, are coveted for their high level of craftsmanship, quality of design, and attention to detail. Are you and your family thinking about building a custom home and want to get on our schedule? Contact the custom home building experts at Timber Ridge Properties today!
Choosing a custom home contractor can be difficult. It’s important to find the right contractor to make your custom home exactly how you’ve always pictured it.
The city of Denver and the surrounding areas, including Parker and Littleton, have long showcased many gorgeous custom homes. These days, it might seem like new construction is constant, but that’s for a good reason. More and more people have decided to stop settling for someone else’s design or renovating their home piece-by-piece and are now interested in building a truly custom home that fits all their needs. But who can you trust with such an ambitious project?
Building a custom home can be a significant investment for you and your family. You want a dream contractor for your dream home. Read on for 5 tips to help you find the ideal custom home contractor for your one-of-a-kind oasis.
#1 History of Success
One of the most important criteria to keep in mind when hunting for a contractor is simple: can they deliver on what they’re promising you? You want a contractor who can prove they’ve done great work in the Denver area, somebody with a history of success. It’s important to read client reviews and testimonials and get a full picture of how a contractor operates. If the contractor you’re looking at doesn’t have any reviews, that can be just as concerning as bad reviews. Think of choosing a contractor the same way you’d hire a new employee. You want to check their references.
It’s also worth examining specific projects that your contractor has done. Look through the gallery on their website and see examples of their work, don’t just read about it in a review.
As you read reviews, there’s a specific word to have in mind: communication. Communication is key in any relationship and especially so when it’s a relationship you’re investing time and money into. You deserve a builder who is going to keep you in the loop with project updates, design decisions, and any unforeseen complications. As you interview builders, ask them how they’ll keep you updated through the construction process. And remember, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. You want a contractor with a personal touch, one who knows what’s most important to you and treats you as more than just another client. It’s important to have a contractor who values your dream home the same way they’d value their own.
We hate to repeat ourselves, but your custom home is a significant investment. A truly personalized home with one-of-a-kind craftsmanship demands a contractor who is up-front about cost, but also open and honest about complications. Quality is worth paying for, but it can be frustrating when you feel like your budget isn’t being respected. As you communicate with prospective contractors, get a feel for how they treat your money. Remember – always get it in writing!
At the same time, don’t let price be your sole guide to choosing a contractor. You’re building a dream home – a unique place that you can call your own. Do you really want to lowball the personal space you’ve always wanted? You deserve somebody who is going to spend your money wisely without cutting corners or delivering anything less than exactly what YOU want.
When we say you want a contractor who is going to build what you want, we mean it. The best contractor you can have is a contractor who knows and understands what you want in your ideal home, not a contractor who is going to build what they THINK you want. The best contractors keep you involved in all steps of the process, from design to completion. They don’t just understand your vision, they share it. You deserve a contractor who is able to help you achieve your vision, while working within your budget and on-time.
#5 Timber Ridge
If you’re looking for a custom home contractor who meets all of those criteria, look no further. Here at Timber Ridge, you’re more than just a client to us; you’re a part of our family. Our history of proven, high-quality work in the Denver area speaks for itself. But don’t let us stop you from learning more. Read the glowing testimonials from our clients and peruse the custom builds in our gallery. We don’t have anything to hide. Our track record of delivering dream homes is unmatched. We will work within your budget and on-time to deliver a hand-crafted experience that you can’t find anywhere else. Let us be the dream contractor for your dream home.
Construction estimating is the process of anticipating the expense of building a physical structure. Construction budgeting is the process of collecting bids to compile the exact costs of the project. While the estimating process is helpful in guiding a homeowner through the decision process, the budgeting step is essential, and one of the most crucial in the construction process.
Not all construction estimates are created equal
A construction estimate is a broad range number given early in the stages of pre-construction, which allows the homeowner to decide if the project is financially feasible. Many contractors will quote a lump-sum construction estimate shortly after looking at the project without validating its accuracy. If you get an “estimate” like this, run the other way. A better approach is for the contractor to spend some time, after the initial meeting, itemizing each job cost to explain how that lump sum is derived. While this approach is more time-consuming, it makes the homeowner feel more confident and comfortable with the integrity of the contractor. An itemized estimate can typically be put together in a week or two.
When information and plans may not be complete, the estimator must blend known data, such as a building’s size and scope, with other details based on unit costs, assumptions, historical data, and best judgment. As the design is refined, the final budget is based more on solid information.
A construction budget may take months to compile numbers and all design aspects are needed before a budget can be created (i.e., architectural plans, engineering, and specifications). A budget needs to be as accurate as possible because profit margins (the livelihood of the contractor) are impacted if any budgeted costs for the project are off by even the slightest amount. Every successful project starts with a precise and accurate cost budget.
It is our goal to share the information in this blog post to inform clients, potential clients, and those interested in the home building and remodeling industry of all the elements and work that goes into each estimate and budget your contractor provides.
Types of Construction Contracts
In an estimate-style proposal, every labor activity and material in the project is listed in painstaking detail but is not validated for accuracy. Rather than being billed off the estimate, the homeowner is billed for the actual materials used, actual hours worked, and work performed by subcontractors. The contractor’s fee is expressed in the form of a percentage of the project cost. This type of contract is also called a time-material or cost-plus contract.
These contracts are the most transparent since you will see very clearly how much profit the contractor is making, but these contracts can be very large and complicated, since they may list hundreds of different line items. Nothing will be left out—not even peripherals such as permits, roll-off dumpsters, and debris pickup.
The downside of the cost-plus contract is that construction starts based on approvals of estimates, rather than firm bids. This means the total price at the end of the project may be far different from what you initially expected to pay.
An alternative contract is fixed-price or stipulated-sum. Much like cost-plus, early-stage itemized estimation of the project cost is the first step in deciding if the project is financially feasible. Step two, under stipulated-sum contracts, is to design the entire project from plans and engineering to final finishing touches. This is done before construction begins and allows the contractor to create an accurate construction budget using real bids. Knowing the final price of the project before signing a contract allows the homeowner an opportunity to organize funding sources and plan actual expenditures in advance. Specifying all of the finishes upfront also allows for the project to run more smoothly.
Why is the Estimate Important?
Accurate estimates win new projects and business for companies. In the bid estimation phase, construction documents, take-offs, and other direct costs are used to allow the estimator to determine an approximation of job costs. Customers and builders are concerned about the price of a project because of the financial impact of expenditure overrun and the failure of project completion. It is in the interest of BOTH parties to spend time researching and estimating the expenses. No one wants to lose money, and construction estimating provides a useful tool in project management.
At Timber Ridge Properties our main priority is communication. From our initial construction estimate to finishing touches we want you to understand every element of your project and feel as though you are great hands. There are quite a few contractors out there that will try to reel you in with an incomplete estimate that makes the deal look pretty sweet but in the end, there are hidden costs and fees that make your project even more time-consuming and expensive than it originally should have been. We believe in full transparency.
If you’re ready to start a large-scale remodel, you may need to deal with the ongoing fallout from the coronavirus-related economic shutdown. While do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are enticing, working with a contractor will help to mitigate its impact.
The problem, as we all know, started in March and April of 2020. Some states and localities halted all construction, and homebuyers in other areas canceled or postponed their projects. The sudden drop in demand led to plant closings throughout the building supply chain, from lumber mills to window, door, and appliance manufacturers.
Housing starts bounced back quickly, thanks to a lifting of restrictions and 3.5% mortgage interest rates. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that August 2020 starts were up 22.6% from the previous month and up 23.4% from August 2019.
Unfortunately, the supply chain has been slower to rebound. Some manufacturers have two-month order backlogs, and others have been struggling to get parts. For example, most refrigerator compressors are made in Mexico, where factories also closed for a time and are still catching up.
Between April 2020 and April 2021, the National Association of Home Builders said the “price per thousand board feet” increased by nearly 250% — from $350 to $1,200. Prices then soared past $1,400 in early May and have continued increasing since. While material prices are slow to correct, there are ways to get your desired home enhancements without breaking the bank.
A Possible Solution to Your Supply Chain Woes
A contractor and designer can help discover creative solutions that may be overlooked by a DIY project. Making small adjustments that only minimally impact the way the home looks and feels—otherwise known as value engineering—can get you the remodel you desire with less of a financial impact.
The value engineering process looks for ways to economize without sacrificing amenities or quality. One obvious solution is to choose less expensive products, but you can also tweak designs. For example, simplifying the exterior facade on all or part of the home—reducing the number of corners and trim details—will save labor and materials without crimping interior living space.
A contractor can also help mitigate backlogs and material delays. Current supply shortages include commodities like treated lumber, which is needed for areas that require moisture or termite resistance, such as deck frames and sill plates (the boards that secure the home to the foundation). Meanwhile, there have been delays in getting some manufactured products and options. For instance, some appliance companies are only making stainless-steel finishes at this time. Contractors who are continually ordering materials in large quantities may experience less of a delayed impact than a DIY’er.
One final point here: material prices, order lead times, and available options can vary from market to market, so a news story or the experience of a friend in another state may not apply. The only way to determine how these issues will impact you and your project—and what the proper response should be—is to discuss them with your contractor.
What to Expect Moving Forward
These unpredictable delays in the supply chain are expected to continue over the next few months, at least. Another way to mitigate the impact this has on your project is to make decisions fast and early. If you need to move into the house by a certain date, it’s more important than ever to speed up those design and product selections.
While the market turns faster than the supply chain, there is some reprieve on the horizon. According to the Wall Street Journal, prices for two-by-fours surged in May 2021 to more than twice their previous record, set three years ago when there were about 15% fewer homes being built. Now wood prices have since plunged back to levels resembling those before lockdowns cut supplies short and boosted demand.
July futures ended late August 2021 at $521.40 per thousand board feet, down nearly 70% from the high of $1,711.20 hit in May 2021, when wood-product supply lines were still being unknotted after the lockdown and before Americans began to shift spending from home improvement projects to vacations and dining out. More actively traded futures for September 2021 delivery settled at $612, which is $27 below the pre-pandemic high. This decline will benefit contractors, their clients, and DIY’ers.
If you have been holding off on your custom home or custom remodel because you’ve been hearing about the volatility of the building industry supply chain – things are looking up! Contact Timber Ridge Properties to move forward on your project. Remember, working with a contractor or designer will make the process easier and more cost-effective.