Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lumber Prices Increasing

Lumber prices have taken a large jump, particularly softwood lumber, which includes framing lumber for new home construction. Much of the soft lumber used for construction is imported from Canada. The imports were governed by NAFTA and the Softwood Lumber Agreement. The Softwood Lumber Agreement expired last year, and the current administration has signaled it wants to do away with or renegotiate NAFTA. In response, Canadian mills have reduced exports, and increased prices. Most recently the US administration announced duties of up to 24% for softwood lumber imports. So until some kind of new agreement is reached, lumber prices are going to be volatile, and will probably continue to rise. This will translate into higher costs to build or remodel your home, and make it difficult to budget in the cost of lumber for construction. One of the ways we are working to help on the cost increases is through a builders coop. We get a discount on our lumber (among other building components), plus we are working to get locked in pricing, which will reduce the risks of large increases between our quotes and the time we order. That will help keep cost increases down, and help reduce the risk of cost overruns during construction.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Getting Started on a Remodel

There are a lot more variables for getting started with a remodel. Are you wanting to simply update a bathroom or kitchen, or add more space? Does the current layout work, or does it need to be reconfigured so that it improves the functionality of the space? If doing an addition, what are the limitations for impervious coverage, setbacks, tree ordinances, and other legal restrictions for your location? Other factors include the location of existing water and wastewater lines, the size of the existing AC unit, etc. It just takes a lot of thought up front on what you want along with what can physically and legally be done. It also requires thinking through what can be done within your budget. We are glad to meet with you early on to discuss these items. That way you have more information to make informed decisions on your project.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pricing out the plans

This is another part in the series of getting started. I previously posted about getting the plans done (yes, it was a long time ago, I am back on it again). Once the plans are finalized, it is time to send the plans out for quotes. This is the time to decide on certain items such as metal roof verses composition shingle, spray foam insulation verses batts and blown, etc. We can get quotes on the various choices so you can make an educated decision on what is built into your home. It is important to note that the different decisions will impact an array of components. A metal roof requires a different roof decking than comp shingles, tile roofs require more framing for the extra weight. Spray foam insulation requires a different sized HVAC unit, with different venting. It also will need return air included in the system for air quality. An experienced builder is needed to understand how a change in a single component can impact a wide range of other components used in the construction of your home. Decisions on these items need to be made at this stage so that the construction phase goes smoothly. Otherwise, some choices will no longer be available, or you have to go in and demo what has already been done so that everything is built correctly. It just takes the proper planning at this stage so that the construction stays on track and on budget.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

design phase

The most difficult part of building a new home can be just getting started. This is the third part of a series on how to get started with your new home project. You have come up with stock plans you like, or have a good idea of your floorplan. The next step is to get plans that are in your budget. We have people who have spent a lot of time and money on their plans without our input. Then we price it out, and it is way over their budget. They have to spend more money changing the plans, or worse, trashing those plans and starting over. Getting help early on is critical to make sure your plans and budget are going to come together. We like to work with you and the architect during the design phase so that everything is coming together properly. If you are purchasing a stock plan, we can offer input on changes (almost everyone makes some changes, that is what a custom home is about). We will then provide a rough cost analysis. This ballpark estimate provides a good idea of what it will cost to build that plan. That way you have the information needed to decide if that plan is going to work. If it is too high, then you know to look for smaller plans before purchasing them. If you have more room in the budget, then it can be expanded, or you can add to your selection budget. If you are having the plans drawn, we can provide input during the design. We have been doing this a long time, and have a lot of experience in what works and what should be avoided. Ballparks can be done on the sketches and drafts. That way you know that the plans are working within your budget during the entire design process. This allows you to make intelligent decisions, and saves you money at the plan stage.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The most difficult part of building a new home can be just getting started. This is the second part of a series on how to get started with your new home project. You have come up with some basic requirements on what you want in your plans. What is the next step? It is to start working on plans. There are two basic ways to get your plans. One is to purchase a stock plan from an architect or clearing house, the other is to have them drawn. It is very rare that someone finds the exact stock plan that works, but changes can be made. The original architect can make the changes, or many times, a local architect can purchase the plan from the original architect and make changes. That way if the original architect is in another part of the country, you can still meet with someone locally. Plus, the local materials and codes will be considered. The other method is to have the plans drawn by a designer or architect. This allows you to have an original plan, and it is designed specifically for your lifestyle. Sometimes the lot will dictate the plan, which may require a new draw. A new draw may be the more expensive option, but not always. This is what we are here to help with. Helping you decide if changing a stock plan or if an original design will work better for you. Next time, how to consider the size and options for a plan while staying in budget.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lot Issues

If you are looking for a lot, I am sure you have noticed that lots are getting more and more difficult to find. The lots closer in typically have topography, tree, or other issues. They would already have a house on them it they were an easy build. The left over lots can usually be developed, it just may be more expensive and take more thought during the design process. Most of the local municipalities have tree regulations, so check to make sure you know what they are. If there is a large tree in the middle of the lot, you may be severely limited in what you can build. It will depend on the size and location of the tree. If you are in Austin, development regulations change depending on the location. The size of home allowed, height of the house, and even location on the lot can be restricted. Be sure you understand the regulations for that specific location before purchasing. We are about to start a house in the Austin city limits that has a large slope from the street, fill dirt, and a heritage tree. The slope determined the location and slab height of the house, plus defined the location and length of the driveway. The fill required piers for the foundation, and we obtained a tree permit to remove the tree. It is almost dead, so it was not a problem. Had it been in good shape, the driveway would have to have changed, and the house probably flipped to make it work. It helps to get input from people who have experience working on this type of project. We are glad to meet with you at a lot to discuss options and issues.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lumber Costs Going Up

We are members of a buyers coop to help keep our costs down. Through the coop, we can track lumber pricing. One thing to note is that lumber costs have jumped big time over the past year. Local lumber costs have risen approximately 5% over the past month, and have increased 33% from March 2012 to March 2013. It seems lumber companies are trying to get their pricing back up to where it was before the recession. Hopefully the cost increases will slow down, but I doubt they will go lower. If you are thinking about building, now would be a good time to start.