• Modern Rustic Country Custom Home in Decatur, Texas

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The custom home builder’s job is, in simple terms, the following: Deliver the ideal home you’ve always wanted. But, to arrive there, you have a couple of different paths to choose from — the more traditional architect-builder path, or the design-build path. Each approach has its advantages and also its potential drawbacks. Custom Home Builders — The Solo Architect. An architect’s job is to design an ideal home based on your needs and desires.

When the plans are completed, you then have to search out a builder who is capable of turning those plans into the actual home you’re going to live in.

It may also require you to contract any number of specialists for things like cabinets, counters, or tilework.

There can be a lot of headache involved when you bring in multiple teams who are not coordinated and supervised by someone who understands the big picture.

Another Potential Problem

In the real world, money is a limiting factor.

Builders have to deliver on the construction of those plans, and they know there’s a price tag on every inch of that...

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It sounds like a dream come true — a smart home with solutions to every inconvenience that owners of conventional homes are all too familiar with. A fully automated home sounds cutting edge and innovative; all those features and technological gadgets may seem like a really good idea. They could be fantastic, without a doubt. But, there’s a lot to consider before setting out to design a home around technological conveniences. It’s important to be realistic about both the advantages and disadvantages that smart home solutions could bring to your dream home.

Let’s talk about some of the advantages.

Smart Home Solutions — Wireless Technology Provides Endless Possibilities

There are all sorts of available gadgets and smart functions available on the market to make your home “smart,” to increase convenience and control of your home’s features, by automating the functions partially or entirely.

Here are some examples of popular smart home solutions:

Security Features

Cameras and motion sensors can monitor your home’s exterior 24/7,...

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Insulation is a really important part of constructing a comfortable home, and that insulation is rated, evaluated, and regulated by this deceptive little number called R-value. Used to commercially rate insulation, the R-value was adopted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect consumers against unfair, deceptive, or misleading sales claims.

The R-value information for home insulation products has to be displayed on many types of marketing materials, and at the point of sale, in the hope that disclosure will prevent consumers from being misled by false statements about insulation efficiency.

But, this rating is out of date and doesn’t work very well. Let’s discuss the reasons it’s not an effective measurement.

R-value: A Metaphor

We’re at a social or business gathering, and I hand you a paper Dixie Cup.

While you’re holding it, I pour it full of piping hot coffee.

You shout in pain because it’s REALLY hot, so I give...

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When you set out to build your dream home, it’s supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime type of event — it should be a positive experience from start to finish, something that’s handled smoothly and professionally from beginning to end. When you work with a design-build firm, you guarantee that your dream home is going to be handled by one team the entire way through, that there are no chances for things to get confused or go off the rails when work is handed off from your architect to your contractor to your various subcontractors.

What Building a Home Looks Like When You Don’t Choose Design-Build

To start with, the conventional build process requires you to find the right architect, one with a solid resume, someone who understands what you want and can draw up plans that fit exactly what you have in mind (or who can help you come up with a design if you’re not sure what you want).

Working with someone who has experience teasing out the intangibles of your dream home, someone you can communicate well with, someone who listens and carefully and...

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How much does it cost to build a house? Depends on what you’re building. The cost to build a house in Texas varies widely, and the variation only gets worse when you get into custom home building. As we exclusively build custom homes, a house we build may be anywhere from $300,000 to well over a million. Though I’ll happily give you a range based on data from HomeAdvisor.com, the truth is, this information probably isn’t going to help you much. According to the above website, the average national price to build a home is about $300,000, but a custom home is generally going to cost significantly more than this.

You also have to keep this in mind — national numbers like these take into account houses that are much, much cheaper than you’re probably looking to buy and houses that are much, much more expensive than anyone except the very rich can afford.

Our clients tend to have high incomes, but very few home builders are building houses in the 8-digit range, and those...

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Of all the things my clients struggle with when it comes to their home, building materials rank near the top. A lot of customers come to me and ask, almost right off the bat, how much I charge per square foot, and I have to politely explain why worrying about the cost per square foot to build a house is nonsense.

But even for those who understand that the quality of the materials dictates how much the house is going to cost, I still think there can be a big disconnect between how much a certain material or component costs, the quality of it, and how that will affect the home in the long run.

Building a house is complicated — it takes a long time, it’s an involved process with many steps, and, because you’re building a custom house, working in the custom pieces and making sure everything is going to work exactly as planned within the design can be more time consuming than one might expect.

A lot of...

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I think the best way to approach this question—“What’s the cost per square foot to build a house?”—is through an analogy. And really, when you apply the line of thinking behind this question to any other product, you start to realize how ridiculous it really is. Let’s say that you want to buy a custom computer—and you’re going to have Local Computer Guys build it for you.

You drive down to Local Computer Guys, you tell them you want a custom computer, and they’re in—they can’t wait to build you something that blows you away.

So you ask (what seems like) a straightforward question:

“What’s the price per square inch for this thing?”

Local Computer Guys just stare at you. They say, “Well… that’s not how this works. You’re paying for the components of the computer!”

“It has nothing to do with the amount of space in the machine!” they tell you in a huff, “It’s all about the cost of the pieces! Three high-end processors are going to cost you quite a bit more ‘per square inch’ than three low-end processors.”

“Once you choose the components,...

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The process of building a home is very different than buying an existing home (to say the least), and many people are understandably confused by the financing aspect — new construction loans work a little bit differently than loans for existing properties, but that doesn’t mean they’re out of your reach (or that buying an existing home is your only option).

The main point I want to get across about new construction loans is this:

Don’t let the added complexity of getting a construction loan deter you from looking into building over buying.

Look, I get it—buying has a few advantages over building. You get to move in right away (the whole process is obviously faster), and, well…

Honestly, that’s kind of it.

People will tell you that buying an existing home is cheaper than building a home (and frankly, if keeping things cheap is how you look at home buying, you might want to shy away from building a new home). Maybe that’s true on the front end—it may look like you’re saving money over building a new...

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I get this question all the time: How long does it take to build a house. Or, more accurately, people ask me this: How long will it take to build my house? It’s a great question, and it’s something that we’ve gotten down to a science (as any great design-build firm should). For most of our customers, this is the first time they’ve built a home. Unless you’re in the construction industry yourself, no one would expect you to know how long the process takes or what it involves.

So, I’m going to give you our answer up front (our answer because we design and build custom homes much faster than the rest of the industry), and then I’m going to walk you through the process.

We Usually Finish Custom Homes in 4–5 Months

This is about 30% faster than the standard in our industry, but this should give you some idea of what to expect.

Maybe you’re sitting at your computer or on your phone or tablet right now and you’re wondering: “How long does it take to build a house? Why does it take so...

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In an ideal world, this wouldn’t be an issue, but here in Texas, homebuilding is unregulated.

What does this mean? It means anyone can build your home — and the same goes for design. They don’t have to pass any tests or answer to any regulatory boards to ensure they know what they’re doing.

They also don’t have to take continuing education courses, and they are rarely penalized if they build a low-quality house or if their design has small flaws, or even severe ones.

Now, this isn’t to say builders are out there building houses that collapse in a week — we still have building codes in each city here in Texas (though they differ from city to city).

These building codes are enforced to greater or lesser degrees, depending on your city, and they ensure you’re not moving into a deathtrap.

That being said, they’re not robust — these codes are in place to make sure your family is safe, but they won’t stop you from being inconvenienced or paying a small fortune to fix an ongoing issue.

It’s also pretty common to run into...

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