If you thought that building your dream home was only feasible if your last name was Rockefeller or Vanderbilt, then think again. Building your own home is a viable option for many – from first time buyers to those seeking their last ‘retirement’ home, anyone currently looking for a home should consider building a new home because it is more affordable than ever.
Mortgage rates are extremely low at present, particularly in the Maryland, DC and VA region. A 30-year, fixed rate mortgage can be as low as four percent. That is considerably less than was the case this time last year. In addition to the financing, the actual costs of building materials are also at record lows, which has driven down the overall construction costs of new home building. Lumber and drywall – both of which are essential components of a new home construction project – are far cheaper than in past years and represent a large savings on materials in any construction job.
Thanks to the recession, contractors and home builders are proving to be more competitive than in recent years, and some even offer incentives and programs to win business by making new home building an option available to everyone. You can even ask for additional ‘extras’ to be added in for free to make your home building dollars go further. However don’t be blinded by offers of cheap this or free that. You’re making a large investment and you need to ensure your money is in safe hands. Look to see if the home builder or contractor is highly rated at the Better Business Bureau; are they well established and have they been around a ling time? Read recommendations by others who have used these building professionals, and see if they have won any awards for their work within the community.
Another positive reason to build your own home – and one that can save you considerable money in the mid to long-term – is that a new home can be built using green methods and with green materials. A new home will be completely compliant with all the current codes and won’t need to be ‘improved’ for years. It will also be far more energy efficient than a home built 10, 20 or even longer ago, and you can expect utility bill savings of 30% or more every year over those of an older home. New homes built to certain standards can also qualify for reduced insurance premiums and discounts.
Lastly, a new home will meet your requirements exactly. You get to choose the floor plan, the features, everything. Who wouldn’t want that?Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2013 at 10:09 am. Filed under Uncategorized
Custom homes have been a rarity in Maryland since the bubble burst in the middle of the last decade. Generally this has been a good thing for purchasers, because the slump in the construction industry means that contractors and builders are more eager for work and if you’re savvy you should be able to drive a good bargain. Shop around some of Maryland’s custom homebuilders and you can probably find some sweet deals to for the taking.
One of the biggest drawbacks with giving the go ahead for a new home construction is the financing. There are various loan options out there and by being shrewd you can work them to your advantage.
Since the market crash the banks – bless them – have been reticent to make risky loans, and new home construction loans are considered among the riskiest. However, with the huge amount of foreclosures since the crash, the banks have found themselves with thousands of REOs (real estate owned properties) on their hands. Many of these are homes that began construction but were never finished. The banks want these off of their hands, so the opportunity is there for the prospective new homebuyer to get a construction perm loan and set in motion once again the new home construction process.
Of course a more traditional method is to obtain a new construction loan, although as already stated, the banks aren’t overly keen to sign these with just anyone. But if you do qualify, then once again you’re in the driving seat thanks to the current state of the construction and new home building industry. A new construction loan or ‘end loan’ will enable you to select from pre-designed layouts but add your own upgrades and custom touches. The financial responsibility for the building work rests with the builder, and you get a highly personalized brand new home, albeit not one completely drawn up from scratch to your specifications.
If you absolutely have to have your dream home designed from a clean sheet of paper, a lot loan will secure you the plot of land on which to design your dreams. Lot loans are relatively cheap today (once again due to the housing/building market crash) and a low interest lot loan is definitely a route to consider.Posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 at 2:47 pm. Filed under Uncategorized
Mar 27, 2013
Majority of U.S. Homeowners Believe Now is a Good Time to Renovate, Houzz Survey Finds
Largest-ever Study of Home Remodeling and Design Reveals Top Drivers, Challenges and Spending for U.S. Renovation Activity
Palo Alto, Calif., March 27, 2013 — Significantly more U.S. homeowners are moving forward with renovation projects compared to this time last year, according to the second annual Houzz & Home survey that garnered more than 100,000 responses from the Houzz community of 14 million monthly unique users. A majority of the homeowners surveyed also believe now is a good time to remodel (53 percent), and 58 percent of those planning projects in the next two years will hire professional help. The study also found that three-quarters of homeowners believe that now is a good time to buy a home. Together with last week’s Commerce Department report showing the rate of single-family home construction at its highest level in four and a half years, the results of this study point to a strengthening economy, housing and renovation market.
The 2013 Houzz & Home survey is the largest survey of remodeling and decorating activity ever conducted, covering historical and planned projects, the motivations behind these projects, and the impact of the economy on home building, renovation and decorating plans among Houzz users across the United States and around the world. The study yielded detailed data at the national, regional and metropolitan area level, which Houzz used to examine regional differences in priorities and spending.
The number of homeowners who say they will delay their projects because of the economy has dropped to 45 percent from 52 percent last year, and homeowners are more likely to cut back in other areas, such as vacations and other big ticket purchases, rather than delay or decrease budgets for their home plans. While improving the look and feel of the space is still the key driver for recently completed projects (83 percent), the number of homeowners who remodeled to increase their home value has increased to 54 percent from 47 percent in 2012.
“We’ve collected an unprecedented volume of data from the community, and we are pleased to share the synthesis and findings with everyone looking to renovate or decorate their home,” said Liza Hausman, vice president of community for Houzz. “This data will enable us to empower the community with powerful resources they can use to make better decisions around building, remodeling and design projects.”
Bathrooms and kitchens top America’s renovation project list again this year, with 28 percent of respondents planning a bathroom remodel or addition, and 23 percent planning a kitchen remodel or addition in the next two years. In terms of dollars spent, kitchens command the lion’s share. Over the last five years, nearly four in ten home improvement dollars have gone into kitchens and survey data indicates future spend is likely to follow the same trend.
Over the last five years, homeowners on average spent $28,030 to remodel their kitchens, however spending varies widely at different budget levels. Homeowners spent an average of $54,942 nationwide for a high-end kitchen, $22,390 for a mid-range kitchen, and $7,133 for a lower-budget kitchen.
The study also found that homeowners renovating at the higher-end were more likely to go over budget than those doing more modest renovations, though a significant number reported going over budget at all project levels. Fifty-six percent of those doing a high-end renovation, 42 percent of those who did a mid-range renovation, and 31 percent of those whose renovation was lower-budget also spent more than expected on their projects.
Other Key U.S. Findings:
•Spending more time in a room does not necessarily correlate with decorating dollars. Homeowners report spending the most time in their family/TV rooms, but not the most money there. Nobody was willing to admit to spending significant time in their bathroom – but apparently the time we do spend there is worth significant investment. The percentage of money spent on kitchens and bathrooms far exceeds the percentage of time spent in these spaces.
•A majority of the homeowners surveyed who are planning to complete a project in the next two years will hire a general contractor (58 percent), and a third a kitchen/bath (36 percent) or carpet/flooring professional (34 percent). Twenty-three percent plan to hire architects and 22 percent interior designers.
•When it comes to hiring a professional for their project, 67 percent of homeowners surveyed rated a “personality I can work with” as a 5 (very important) on a 5-point scale.
•34 percent of U.S. homeowners cited making their home more energy efficient as a key driver for completing their most recent project.
When it comes to home remodeling, nothing adds more instant visual impact, value and curb appeal as a front porch does. Whether you’re intending to sell your property, or to improve it with a timely remodel for your own comfort and enjoyment, a front porch – or back facing porch – will be a welcome addition to your home.
An important consideration when deciding on a porch, particularly a front porch, is the design and style. A porch should keep with the style of your home because it will play a large part on the visual impact of the property, particularly in the case of a front porch, which will be one of the first features anyone sees.
Of course this doesn’t mean a porch has to exactly mirror a home’s existing style. It’s a remodel that can be used to enhance its beauty, so careful design work will be important in the overall finished look of your home once the remodel is complete. Don’t let the porch become the sole focus of attention or unbalance the appearance of your home, but make sure it provides a pleasing visual impact that is otherwise lacking. In other words – keep it in proportion.
Functionality is another thing to think about in-depth when in the planning stages of a remodel. Will it be an area you’ll want to spend long lengths of time in? Does it need to be large enough to accommodate the whole family or additional guests? Does it need to have multiple access/exit points? These are all things you should discuss with a specialist home renovation and remodeling contractor.
Better Homes & Gardens recommends for any porch to have six basic features to ensure it is functional and comfortable year-long, no matter what your local climate:
i. Air conditioning and heating to modulate humidity and temperature.
ii. An insulated floor and ceiling and in the floor to reduce energy costs.
iii. Electric radiant heat floor warming (concrete slab construction only).
iv. Double-glazing with UV light reduction to minimize energy costs and protect furnishings from sun fade.
v. Window screens to keep out bugs.
vi. Window treatments to control sunshine and add privacy.
Porches come in all shapes and sizes, so a little pre-planning or a discussion with a local home remodeling contractor will undoubtedly pay dividends as work progresses. From the simplest addition of a modest pediment above a front or back door entryway, to a fully screened in wraparound porch, there are many arguments from both home designers and renovation/remodeling contractors that the costs of a porch remodeling are almost always worth it.Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 at 4:44 pm. Filed under Uncategorized
Articles in the glossy magazines about lavish renovation projects, programs on the television about remodeling rooms around the house, hardback books lining the shelves at Barnes & Noble on the subject of home improvements, and flyers in the mailbox from Lowes and Home Depot urging us into DIY projects… There’s a lot of it about and it’s becoming somewhat confusing, particularly the question; what’s the difference between remodeling and renovation?
When writing the words ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ many people get muddled up and use them incorrectly, and the same is often try of ‘remodel’ and ‘renovate’. So before we can decide which of these home improvement projects is best for what we need, first of all we need to fully understand exactly what they both refer to.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary says to remodel is “to alter the structure of”, and that to renovate is “to restore to a former better state”. But when it comes to remodeling or renovating a property, that line is often blurred – even by those within the contractor industry.” A Simple way to put it would be to say that renovation does not add any new space to your house,” says George Papaheraklis, President of Finecraft Building Contractors in Gaithersburg, Maryland, “it restores life to a home and it gives the place a fresh feel.”
“Remodeling on the other hand allows for a completely new look and sometimes new function. Someone who has lived in their house for a while may be inclined to remodel their house – or sections of it – so they retain the comfort and familiarity of their home, but with the luxury of a newly remodeled area.”
So renovating is returning a room or space to a former glory following a period of neglect (doing up a disused guest room by repairing some water damage, adding a walk-in closet and giving the place a fresh coat of paint, for example) whereas remodeling is fundamentally altering how an area looks and functions (ie: gutting a kitchen, reprofiling the floor plan, moving sinks and plumbing, designing new cabinetry and rebuilding from the ground up).
In essence a renovation can be as simple as making good minor blemishes and hanging new wallpaper, although it can become as thorough as completely stripping out a bathroom and reinstalling all-new fixtures and fittings. Remodeling is a far more drastic approach that will not just change the appearance of the room but will change the layout and functionality as well – reprofiling doorways and windows, rerouted plumbing, etc.
Of course renovating and remodeling are both considered investments in a property and can add considerable value, however a remodel will usually cost substantially more. Ultimately everyone has different criteria, but if you’re working to a budget a renovation will probably achieve a new look you’ll be happy with at a fraction of the cost of a remodel.