South Custom



The Most Frequently Asked Questions in

Home Building

1. What type of contract do you offer?  We generally operate on one type of contract: contract cost.  Contract cost means we give a total price on the cost of the project.  Arriving at this price involves bringing in subcontractors and suppliers who give written bids based on the plans for the project.  Any overages on allowances would have been paid on a change order during or at the end of construction and any money left over on allowances would have been credited at closing.  Generally, we place allowances on plumbing and electrical fixtures, flooring, countertops, landscaping, hardware, front doors, garage doors and shower.

2. Is there a mark-up cost attached to items selected by the Homeowner?  Our profit and overhead is taken on the total cost of construction so there is no markup on materials or labor.  There are several benefits to using our subcontractors and suppliers, but since we are not charged retail cost on items from our suppliers and we do not mark items up, it is typically much less expensive to use our people.

3. How is price per square foot determined?  Price per square foot is figured based on the total living space of the project.  The living space includes all areas within the heated and cooled space.  So, if the project had a cost to build of $400,000.00 with a total living space (living space does not  include garage, patio, porches, outside living areas) of 3000 square feet, the cost per square foot would be $133.00 per square foot.  Because this formula only includes living space, it can be misleading.  Also,  when determining allowances and final cost, the type of flooring, fixtures, etc. can also dramatically raise or lower your cost per square foot.

4. Are appliances handled on an allowance?  Yes, allowances will be given on appliances based on the specifications of the client.  We have several relationships with vendors for appliances and are able to get better pricing on appliances than what you as an individual can get.  There is also no markup from our side.

5. What subcontractors do you use when building the home? Most of the subcontractors and suppliers performing the work, have been contracting with South Custom Concepts for many years. We employ some of the best contractors in the business and are committed to meeting our clients’ needs with integrity, efficiency and honesty.  From design through completion, we maintain open communication with you throughout every phase of your project. 

6. Once plans are complete, how long for the building process?  We project time to build from once the foundation is poured or pilings are set.  Typically, a 3000 square foot home will take 6 months to complete from the time of slab pour or pilings are set.  Of course, weather is always a factor and at times can be unpredictable.  We always do our best to stay on schedule and take all of these things into consideration.

7. When will selections of products/materials need to be decided—at what point in the process?  We have put together a comprehensive Homeowner’s Portfolio that can be used from the time the plans are completed and through the life of the home.  Within this portfolio, a selection deadline list details all of the products/materials to be selected and the respective deadline for each selection.  Once you make a selection , this information is updated in the builder copy of the portfolio.    There is also space to write your decisions,  and we will be communicating to confirm our selection matches yours prior to ordering. 

8. Is it permissible to purchase hardware, faucets, lighting, etc from an outside source?  Yes, we do have some clients that find that perfect custom sink or lighting fixture they would like to have installed during construction.  Pricing and Allowances have to always be considered when making purchases, and this is true for outside purchases as well as with the list of vendors provided in the portfolio.  .

9. When are walk-throughs performed? Walkthroughs take place continuously during all stages of construction until completion.  We will walk with the framer, the electrician, the plumber, the trim carpenter, floor installer and the painter.  Any other subcontractor can be walked as needed. 

10. What energy smart measures do you perform in your standard home?  (type of insulation, etc.)  We use spray foam insulation with the sealed attic system upon specific requests.  In some custom projects, we still us blown cellulose insulation if the client does not want to pay the extra cost associated with the foam.  For the past several years, we use a minimum of 15 SEER rated HVAC.  When we do plans for speculative homes, we pay attention to where that east/west axis is and either minimize the windows on those sides if the house is facing north/south, or design large covered patios in the rear and strategically plant trees in the front if the house is facing east/west.  We use vinyl clad instead of aluminum windows.  As I mentioned earlier, we use all LED bulbs in the future as the cost of these bulbs continues to fall.  We use tank ess water heaters, gas stoves, gas starters on the fireplaces with gas logs, and place drops on the porches for gas grills, and sewer and water.   We also use Low E, Argon vinyl windows.

11. What kind of insurance do you carry to cover the home during the building process?  If house catches fire, for example, does builder ins. or our insurance pay for the damage?  We carry a Builder’s Risk policy specific to your home and General Liability.  If the house catches fire, items are stolen, vandalism, etc., our policy will cover the loss.  You do not need to take out your own insurance until we get ready for closing and you to take possession of the home.

12. Is a list of all warranties/materials/electrical/plumbing etc. put into a binder/folder as a new home manual for the Homeowner?  As mentioned previously, our Homeowners Manual is a large 3-ring binder designed to be the book used to store the warranty, sub-contractor and supplier list, manufacturer’s warranties, appliance warranties, etc.  This is in addition to the selection schedule, contract, allowances, and home maintenance tips.  As these papers come in, we make copies for our manual and give the originals to you to put in your manual.

13. One of the most important goals of the Homeowner is to make sure allowances are accurate, so the building process isn’t full of surprises.  What is the best way to arrive at allowance figures?  We very much share your sentiment with this question, and hate the all too familiar practice of using low allowance figures in an attempt to make the bottom line look better at contract.  This ends up producing angry clients when they can’t buy all the fixtures they need within their budget.  We handle it this way:  For flooring allowances, you let us know what type of flooring you want to use (type of wood, tile, carpet, etc.).  We then have our flooring supplier bid the plans according to those specifications.  We use their numbers to make this allowance so we know it will be accurate.  On plumbing and electrical fixtures, the best way to get accurate allowances is to do a dry run with our clients.  What this means is we take your plans and meet with you the client as if we were picking out our fixtures.  You’re not bound by any of these choices, but they give us a good figure for each fixture that we can use to set the allowance.  This takes a little more time on the front end, but we find that it eliminates those surprises and gives you a good level of comfort in the numbers attached to your allowances.  We usually can be very accurate on appliance allowances by getting prices on the types and brands of appliances you want to use.  These meetings can also be done with your designer if you choose to use a designer.  We also have a relationship with a local designer who has assisted several of our clients.  With other allowances such as landscaping and cabinets, the more detail the architect puts into the plans the more accurate we will be with the allowances.  The architects we can recommend to you will ask you a lot of questions and spend time on these detail items.  They understand that the more information we have, the less we have to use guesswork to arrive at your allowances. 

To Our Future Homeowner:  We hope that our answers to these questions do not seem long winded or have taken a great deal of time to read through.  However, the importance that you have placed in going about this process is very admirable and well thought out.  We felt that answering these questions in any other way would be an insult to the care you are taking in choosing your builder.

We would like to again thank you for the opportunity to work with you on your new home.  I can say without hesitation that we will build you a home using the best materials available and the finest craftsmen in the area.  When we are finished you will have a home you can be extremely proud of and you will have confidence knowing that we will always be available to assist you in any way that we can.  I’m sure that many of the answers to these questions will raise additional questions.  Please do not hesitate to contact us at any of the numbers below to discuss any further questions.

Steve South

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