Frequently Asked Questions
We take pride in always being available to answer our clients’ questions, no matter how small. We’ve collected some common questions and answers here to help you start learning about the process of building a custom home.
Don’t see your question here? Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help.
What does it cost per square foot to build a new home?
This is a common question. Our answer: there is never a set cost per square foot to build a new home. There are so many different parameters that go into the selection of amenities that can vary greatly from one project to another. While our selection of professional artisans does not change from project to project, the scope of the work they perform can vary greatly depending on the customer’s desires. While one customer may be fine with $20,000 in whole house appliances, another may feel $60,000 in appliances is important to them. Natural stone floors, exotic natural stone countertops, outdoor living spaces, natural stone veneers, foundation wall heights, etc., can all make a significant difference in the overall cost based on the square footage of a home. Some homes also build out less per square foot based simply on the overall design. For instance, boxes are cheaper to build than homes with lots of offsets that require more lineal footage of exterior walls.
What is the difference between semi custom home builders and true custom home builders?
There’s an increasing trend in every builder anymore including the language “custom home builder.” While it’s true there are a lot of semi custom home builders in the Kansas City area, it’s also true there are only a select few who are truly custom home builders. A true custom home building company first creates one-off designs on paper with an architect based on the client’s desires. They then have the ability to accurately price, build, and deliver not just the completed project but also a happy client in the end. A lot of companies have stock plans they build over and over, with the term “custom” simply implying moving a wall, changing materials, or adding on to the templated plan. This is a lot different from a company whose sole focus is a total unique, custom design that has never been built before.
What kind of portfolio of homes should my builder have?
It only makes sense that the building company’s main portfolio of homes completed compares closely with the home you are looking at having constructed. If a client is looking at a smaller tract home, it does not make sense to have a true custom home builder who specializes in upper bracket custom homes build the project. That certainly doesn’t mean a custom home builder doesn’t have the ability to do it, but it stands to reason that with his or her level of expertise, along with the level of craftsman doing the work, the project would wind up costing more than it would if the work were performed by the tract home builder.
The same can be said for the tract home builder trying to build true upper bracket custom homes. His or her level of knowledge and expertise, along with the same tradespeople he uses, will not result in a home of the same quality. The most important factor to remember is that every builder employs tradespeople to build your home. If a builder primarily builds lower-priced tract homes, he or she will use those same tradespeople, who don’t have the same experience, in a upper bracket custom home. This is very important to remember because the quality of your home is only as good as those who helped create it!
How important is a building company's background?
Extremely! While it is true every company has to start somewhere, it’s also true that it makes sense to hire a company with a long-standing reputation in the industry. You want to make sure the owner of the company has a background with years of experience in the type of project you are looking at having completed. You also want to make sure the owner is the actual license holder for the company, that he or she has a strong financial background within the industry, that he or she constructs homes on a full time basis, and that he or she can give you numerous customer references.
How do I compare builder proposals for my home?
The most important factor is that you compare apples to apples. There are so many cost inputs that go into a new custom home that it is easy for a builder inexperienced with the process to exclude things without even knowing it. Every cost input should be spelled out in detail so you know exactly what they are including and excluding. You’ll want detailed specification sheets that spell out everything from the size of footings and what to do with bad soils under the foundation to the strength of concrete, retaining wall heights, and the final touches. These detailed specifications, which should be at least 10 pages long to accurately spell out the scope of work they are proposing, eliminate any potential grey areas that may pop up during the construction process. By demanding this, you are setting yourself up for a successful building experience.
What is the difference between cost plus and a fixed price?
These are the two most common ways for a builder to propose a price in regard to your new home. Either way can work fine as long as you know the builder is accurately bidding the project. If you are looking at going the cost plus route, you must demand proof showing the builder has received written bids on your specific project from all relevant contractors to be assured you are getting an accurate representation of the costs. Too many times we hear of stories of cost plus jobs going way over budget because the builder threw out an unrealistically low number on the project with no written bids to support it. When comparing builders and going this route make sure to follow our suggestion, as we do this with each project we propose!
On a fixed price agreement, also make sure to check the allowance amounts when comparing costs from one builder to another. There can be a substantial difference in overall costs when a builder chooses to low ball allowances, as the client may not be educated enough to realize those numbers won’t actually get him or her what they are expecting. You should hold allowance numbers a builder gives you in “high regard,” as they should have a close idea of where you will be on those if the time is spent up front discussing your tastes and expectations. Also, a good builder whose background and portfolio closely match your project should be able to get close with those allowances based on experience with the size and price of your custom home.
Who will actually be in the field supervising the construction of my home?
This is a critical component of the overall quality of the project and also the enjoyment the client will experience throughout the build process. The field project manager/superintendent is the first and also the last set of eyes to make sure everything is done correctly on your project. There are so many tradespeople involved in a custom home that someone must be onsite daily to manage and make decisions that will reflect immensely in the overall quality and also the longevity of the project.
This is one of the core tenets of what we believe and why Bryan and Ryan are on each job site every day. We believe our experience building homes over the last 25 years puts someone on site daily with a vested interest in the company and therefore someone to whom doing things the right way is of the utmost importance. You will find a majority of builders place a superintendent on the job and the builder/owner may never visit it while it is under construction! This is not to say there aren’t some qualified foreman out there, but the vast majority of the time you will see big turnover in employment, which can leave your project up in the air as far as who is actually running the job. It can also place an individual who does not have a lot of construction experience in charge of running your job—and remember, in this case he or she is the person calling the shots, not the owner who you contracted with!
How do you select your subcontractors and vendors?
This is a great question and one you should not overlook when selecting a builder to craft your dream home. What we’ve found over the last 25 years building homes is that there is a difference in the quality of all tradespeople based on their portfolio, background, and experience level.
Every tradesperson who steps on a job for Cecil & Ray Homes is one who has been properly vetted, and that vetting can only happen through prior experience with them on our jobs. We do not want to find out whether or not a tradesperson is qualified when he or she is working on your home, making you the “guinea pig,” so to speak. It’s taken us many years to assemble a group of craftspeople who we know through prior experience will do the highest level of work. That is the recipe for success in our industry!
Where do you construct homes?
We are equipped to build homes all over the Kansas City metro area, including both sides of the Kansas / Missouri state line. We have built from the the north side of the metro, all the way south past Miami County, to out west as far as Topeka. We have also built numerous homes on acreage big or small and are highly familiar with site development on acreages too.
How do we get started on the build/design process?
If you’re ready to build your dream home, contact us for a consultation. We like to spend a lot of time upfront to get a feel for what you’re looking for in your new home. We can then start the design process with one of our award-winning local architects and begin to design your new custom home!