Frequently Asked Questions
GO AHEAD, ASK ME ANYTHING!
We build your kind of home. Our clients bring us their plans, or sometimes just their ideas of a home, and that is where we start. In our office we will hold an interview with you, our client, to flesh out the details and specifications for your home—or your addition, or remodel.
We want to know what your idea of “home” is, what you like and how you want your home to look, feel and function. Our job is to build what you want, not what we like to build; although we will offer you numerous options, suggestions and recommendations based upon our years of experience in this business.
Very importantly, we will also need to know what your investment will be, what you anticipate to spend for a completed project. With all of this information compiled in our estimating program we will assemble a package that includes everything we’ve talked about and all of your decisions.
Then we present to you our estimate, the cost to build your project, complete.
I am glad you said “about.” When I’m at the car dealership having my oil changed I enjoy window shopping for new vehicles. Amazing that you can still buy a nice little sedan for around 16K (a very little sedan) and next aisle down resides a tricked out SUV for 75K. So, how much does a car cost? Of course the answer is; it depends.
Likewise with home building. There are a multitude of variables. Here are just a few:
- Is your project in the city or up in the hills?
- How’s the access?
- Will we be including a septic system, or is water, power and sewer available?
- Very importantly, what is the site like—level, hilly or steep slope? Will we contend with ground water?
How about natural characteristics, such as trees and landscape features, you’ll expect us to preserve and care for. And size—there is an economy of scale; that is, a small house costs more per square foot than a larger home.
All of these details and many more must be taken into account. Furthermore there remains the level of quality and finishes in the home (just like your new car) which can be summarized as: starter home, move-up home and luxury home.
Within these categories, there is an assumed level of quality. Our business model dictates that we build to the very highest level of quality within each of these categories.
Alright, you did say “about” so let’s cut to the chase.
For each category: $200/sf and up, starter; $330/sf and more, move-up; $450/sf and the sky, luxury—at today’s cost, that is.
If nothing else, cost per square foot is a moving target.
Very good questions; with pretty simple answers: We don’t leave anything out of our estimates. In order for this to be information you can “hang your hat on” what you’ll need to know is how much you will spend to ultimately complete the project; to walk in the door and say it’s done; how much will you have invested.
It won’t do you much good if we left out some important detail—like the roof! Just kidding. But how about that septic system, or the driveway, or appliances—all the things that must eventually be accomplished to call the job complete and ready for move-in day.
This is how one “estimate” might appear to be less than another—by not including every detail. We feel it’s better for you to know up front what you will ultimately be spending on your home.
Now for that “square foot” question. The very simplest way we’ve found to answer this question is to make some assumptions.
First of all, we figure square footage as the total square feet of finished living space in the home. In that cost per square foot of finished living space we assume the home will have an attached two car garage, an entry porch and probably a basic backyard deck.
The home will reside on a slab, a crawl space or an unfinished basement, so one of these will also be included in the cost per square foot of living space.
Finally, and this is crucial, we assume you will need all of our professional skills—every bit of advice we can offer; our honest, frequent and timely communication; that we will take care of you and every detail necessary for thorough project completion; and that the value of our many years of building experience is yours for the duration. Speaking of duration, when the job is done we also assume you will think of us as your “Builder for Life.”
Our business model requires that our relationship with you will continue for as long as we are needed. Once we’ve built your project, we are at your beck and call, always.
Our core of trade contractors—excavators, concrete finishers, plumbers, electricians, wall finishers, roofers, stone masons and so on—are professionals like us. Most have worked for our company many years and we consider them the best in the business. The trades that haven’t met our expectations for quality, fairness and ability to meet our schedule are quickly eliminated from our contacts.
Thus we know our trade contractors give us their best price every time; what it will actually cost for them to perform the job to our standards and their own fair compensation.
We will not damage our valued relationship with our trades by expecting them to cut costs, or corners, to get our work. This philosophy has served us well, which in the long run is a plus to our clients as well. And every project we build is built for the long run.
Now you’re talking about “spending a dollar to save a dime.” I suppose you could hire us to drive all over the country, or spend innumerable hours on the phone or at the computer to get a dollar off here and a buck there. It’s not worth it.
Competition for materials and supplies in the Flathead Valley is intense enough that all our suppliers are doing their best to sell their products at the lowest price they can afford. We prefer to stick with those suppliers who deliver on schedule, carry the latest products and service what they sell.
In turn, we do work hard to find the products you need from all available sources, and if not available locally we source products from anywhere in the world—amazingly possible in our modern era.
I thought you’d never ask! This is by far our favorite question. But hold your horses. There is a ton of prep work that must precede ground breaking, or even moving our tools and equipment onto your site. In the best case you have come to us with complete plans including specifications and details. That would be the case if you’ve worked with an architect. If not, then that becomes our job.
With an exhaustive interview we can develop your plans, flesh out the specifications and details, help you with product selections; and only after gathering all this information can we perform our estimate. The estimate alone can take us several weeks before ready for your review. Usually you’ll ask for some fine tuning and number crunching.
Hopefully then with your ultimate approval it’s time for us to draft a written contract, which we all must approve and sign. The contract will specify a “good faith down payment”, which is up-front money we use to secure applicable permits, order materials and schedule our trades.
Within days our team will have visited your site to lay out excavation perimeters, or in the case of a remodel, we will plan the staging for your job. At that time the ground will be moving and the dust will be flying. Your job can be underway within a month to two months after our first contact.
As I’ve said before, building a home is not all that different from rocket science. I wish our clients could see the myriad parts and pieces that must be assembled correctly for their home or project to come to fruition. Most likely you’ll just see the fun and exciting stuff, but many decisions are made behind the scenes, all in your behalf.
We’ve been building long enough to make some predictions, things that could go haywire. We build some of this into our estimate, but almost inevitably surprises do happen. This is where open and honest communication becomes paramount, and it is an area where past clients have appreciated our diligence.
Often the “contingency” we’ve built into our estimate and contract will gloss right over the majority of surprises and we hardly mention them. Should a surprise become a bombshell we can always devise a solution that works for everybody.
Hey, if this was easy they’d call it golf!
Changes may be more inevitable then surprises. This is where collaboration comes into play. We’re good at that; it’s the creative process that keeps our job interesting.
So go ahead, throw us a challenge. With our client (that’s you) at the helm we gather our team of skilled professional trades, along with your contractor (that’s us) serving as the conductor to determine how we can configure your changes into a better, more pleasing, enhanced functioning and cost effective product.
Although the word on the street is changes are expensive and contractors bristle at the thought of making changes, that’s not us.
Building and remodeling is an organic process and there is absolutely no reason to not take advantage of unforeseen opportunities, opportunities that make your job custom built and reflecting your dreams.
Have More Questions? Contact Leo today!
We're excited to talk about your project.