So You Think You Might Want To Build?

By Bill Kraeling

With construction roaring at a pace not seen since the last decade, and with limited real estate inventory to choose from, many people are making the decision to build or extensively remodel their homes. Building a quality custom home can range from five months to a year, depending upon complexity, materials, and size, but getting a custom fit for you and the way your family lives is priceless. Remodeling allows for the flexibility to stay in your current home, while upgrading key areas to achieve a better fit and function. A good builder can help you understand cost to make changes, and shepherd you through the entire process to make the best use of your space, time, and money. Building or remodeling in a historic district demands even more skill, knowledge, and understanding about design guidelines.

Having or finding the land often solidifies the final home plan when starting the custom home building process. Knowing the elevation, setbacks, whether it is a corner lot, etc, are all things that affect what you can actually build. Considerations like window placement for privacy, footprint, exterior material selections, and size based on neighborhood covenants are essential decisions that must be made before finalizing plans to build. Walking the lot with your builder is an important step in the process as site development and improvements are a big budget items.

Custom building a home allows you to get exactly what you want. Selecting a design/build firm allows for significant cost savings as the builder and architect work hand in hand to give you a home that fits your needs within the budget you can afford. Design equates to cost, so having both involved from the very beginning will help you hit the balance of features and budget. A good builder in a design build scenario can help move you through the entire process with less stress and the exact outcome you want. As long as you are upfront about your budget, there is significantly less disappointment with this type of arrangement. However, beware of builders that throw out price per square foot numbers without seeing plans and specifications.

Take the time to select a builder that is professional, organized, and who communicates well. Look at some of their work and feel comfortable genuinely building a relationship with them. Be prepared to really get to know your builder, and most of all, help them understand how you live and what is really important to you. It’s part of the process for building the home that you will enjoy living in when it’s filled with the right details. Details matter in construction and proper planning is what defines the success of the project; no matter the size.

Detailed specifications go hand in hand with good design and proper planning, whether remodeling or building. If it is not specified in the construction documents, then it’s often the builder’s choice to pick. Good builders will visualize your home and all the details within it. If you are unable to make choices up front for some items, we generally assign allowances to that particular category. ETL Construction builds good bones into every home and never skimps on quality or takes short cuts, so our allowances are always based on quality and are transparent with the cost assigned to those items. We also set those allowances predicated on realistic levels of finish given what we know of each of clients.

If the housing market doesn’t fit your needs, your current home is too big or too small, and if remodeling is too structurally restrictive, a custom home may be the best solution for you. Get to know your builder and let the builder get to know you. Trust and confidence is built through planning, and in the end, a lasting relationship is built along with the house of your dreams.


Bill Kraeling

Bill Kraeling, Former U.S. Army Aviation Officer and Founder of ETL Construction, has brought his standard of attention to detail to every project created. Adept to building all architectural styles and working with budgets of any size, for over 15 years every decision has been built on quality, integrity, professionalism and client satisfaction.