My father built my childhood home when I was a kid and I was lucky enough to learn from him during the process. Not only am I now comfortable with a mitre saw and a pneumatic nail gun, I actually enjoy home improvement projects. I can’t bring myself to pay for work that I know I can do myself, but when my husband and I were building our dream home, even I recognized there are some projects best left to professionals.Here are a few questions that I asked myself about each project to help me decide whether to hire a professional or do the work myself.How important is the space within the home? As a family of five, the kitchen was at the top of our list. Even though we had a blueprint, taking the plan to a firm that specialized in kitchen design allowed us to make significant improvements that we wouldn’t have thought of until using the kitchen. For example, they encouraged us to change the location of the sink to move it closer to the dishwasher. They also suggested we move a counter to open up the traffic flow through the kitchen. These could have been daily nuisances, but instead they are conveniences we’ll enjoy as long as we live in the home.How much time will it take you to achieve the same results? Finishing work like trim has to be perfect in order to have the proper effect. After much wasted time and materials we realized that installing crown molding and working with coping saws was part art and part science. Unfortunately, even with limitless time it was still difficult to achieve the same quality as a professional. Trim work, like crown molding or wainscoting, adds architectural interest and increases the value of a home. Hiring someone was well worth the money to us.Do you have enough knowledge? I, like most, think it’s easy to pick out flowers, shrubs, and trees. But I’ve learned to take into account that experts know more. There are so many different aspects they have to know about the plants they choose. For example, how tall will the bush or tree grow? What will it look like in different seasons? Does it need shade or direct sunlight, or a certain soil composition? Is it prone to certain pests or resistant to certain animals?A trained landscape architect like the one we hired has all of that information available when doing a design. Most professionals work with a nursery where you can purchase the items within the plan. An added benefit is many nurseries will discount the price of the design if you purchase from them. They’ll also likely have some level of guarantee for plants they install.Do you know your limitations? Be honest with yourself about your capabilities and what you can and can’t do. As an engineer, I’m perfectly comfortable measuring and putting up drywall. But mudding the drywall to cover up the seams is something I’m just not good at. If I want a wall to look seamless and smooth then I know it’s time to pick up the phone.Each project is unique, and each homeowner has a different level of personal expertise, quality standards, and available time. If you fairly answer the questions above, you’ll be able to quickly determine when your good intentions are outweighed by the need for professional intervention.
Is building a custom home in today’s Real Estate Market a good idea? As a home builder, we often get asked, “Is now such a good time to build?”. The short answer is “yes”, but to be truthful, we feel it’s always a good time to build, but right now is a great time to build, and probably the best time in decades and I’ll explain why.If you are asking the question stated above, then we can probably skip over your financial picture to an extent, it probably means you have an income, you feel pretty secure with your financial outlook, and you have a nest egg or equity in your existing home.For many people this is simply not the case, and for that, this is the number one reason why it is the time to buy a lot and build your dream home.We’re not suggesting you take advantage of those harder hit in this economy, but let’s be honest, a lot of people out there are motivated to sell their land at discounted prices and there are much more construction workers willing to work at a price at significantly lower rates than just a few short months ago (including the good ones).Material costs obviously make up a large portion of the home building budget, and as the economy goes, so do these costs. Oil prices directly affect many materials that include plastic as well as those fuel surcharges we all love so much. The price of copper as a commodity is half what it was a year ago, and even with so many mills being shut down, lumber material is close to what it was several years ago.Add the fact that interest rates are at the lowest in decades and you have the perfect storm for building a custom home.Eventually the economy will rebound, it’s anybody’s guess when that will be, but when the economic indicator’s improve for several consecutive months, investors will be fueling the demand for lots, interest rates will increase, oil and other commodities will rise and the cost of building a home will increase dramatically.We quickly glazed over the topic of interest rates earlier, but it’s really important to understand the costs associated with interest rates rising. Right now there are 30 year fixed mortgages that can be locked in as low as 4.5%. Financing a home at $450,000 is a payment of approximately $2,280 a month. Increase the interest rate to 6.0% and you are now only financing $380,000 for the same payment. That’s an amazing difference in buying power that you could have right now.Because the tax incentives are constantly changing, we’re not going to go into too much detail, but the federal government and your local utility company is also offering all kinds of tax rebates and credits for installing energy efficient products and buying a home now.So you really have to stop and ask yourself, based on everything you’ve read here and other place if you are willing to sacrifice all the monetary gains you could achieve right now, or is it worth waiting?Remember, with a custom home, this is the dream house you plan on being in for a long period of time. You don’t have to worry about the direction of the real estate market in the short term and you get to utilize these cost savings to add all the features you’ve ever wanted or seen at those home shows. Regardless, if done right, you will have instant equity in your home.