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Home Building

Once you decide to build a house, you’ll soon discover that the list of decisions to make seems endless, and that the process can be alternately exasperating and anxiety producing. But in greater measure, it is also exciting and exhilarating. The smell of freshly cut wood, the sounds of construction and the transformation of a site from a big hole in the ground and piles of materials to a finished house is one of life’s most satisfying experiences.

While many decisions will be driven by budget constraints, don’t be blindly guided by cost, especially the cost-per-square-foot figure that many owners regard as the gold standard for value, with lower always being better.


Builders on Floor Plans: It?s All About Adaptability


To home builders, a winning floor plan is one that can be deftly modified over time to reflect changing priorities of buyers. Katherine talks with builders and analyzes examples of plans that have been adapted successfully.


Crossover Design Works for Young and Old


In home building “crossover features” designed to appeal to one group of buyers resonate with others. For example, builders find that details intended to help older buyers stay in their houses also appeal to much younger buyers because these details can make a house feel bigger, add storage and help parents with the care of very small children.


Top 5 Must-Do Home Maintenance Chores


While many home maintenance chores can be done “as needed,” here’s why five should be done regularly: change air filters on the heating and air conditioning system; clean gutters; repaint exterior; recaulk exterior; and check furnace and air conditioning once a year.


Diligent Home Maintenance Pays Off at Resale


Homeowners today are likely to put off regular home maintenance chores, even the straightforward must-do’s that are cited. Neglecting maintenance — and selecting cheaper materials when building a new home — can cost at resale time.


Buying an Unfinished Foreclosed Home


We are a nation of bargain hunters, especially in real estate. And what could be a better strategy than this? Snap up a foreclosed, partially completed house for a song and finish it. You’ll end up with a really nice home for less money than you’d need to buy an existing house. It can be done, but it's much harder than it looks, and you won’t save a ton of money.


Prefab Homes: Why We?re Not There Yet

  Affordable factory-built homes that realize economies of scale are a long-time goal in the building industry. An exhibition in New York at the Museum of Modern Art included intriguing, full-scale models, but so far there’s no proven, cost-effective alternative to the 175-year-old method of wood frame construction used by most U.S. home builders.

Generation Gap? Choosing and Using a Backup Power Generator


Standby generator or portable? How much can you expect to pay for each? What are the pros and cons of various options? Here are tips that will help you jump-start your shopping.


Durability Is a Big Deal


In every housing market in the country, the houses with the most cachet, that command the highest resale prices, are invariably the ones that were built with quality materials and a fanatical attention to building details to keep water out of the structure. 



Value Beyond Cost Per Square Foot


New home buyers’ insistence on evaluating quality in terms of the best deal and the lowest cost per square foot has consequences that they don’t’ appreciate. The builder who offers the biggest house for the lowest cost has most likely compromised quality at every step of the construction process.


Going With the Faux in Building Materials


Fifty years age, look-alike materials looked fake and cheap. Today, they look like the genuine article. More importantly, they require little or no maintenance, and most homeowners couldn’t be happier. The material that is most often substituted is wood because it suffers the most from weathering. Most wood siding and trim on new houses now is “faux.”



What Home Buyers Do That Drive Builders Crazy

Contractor and client   At some point in the home-building process, every buyer will say, "This builder is driving me crazy." The buyers can also drive the builder crazy. While buyers will complain to anyone who will listen, the builders are generally a more circumspect group. Most are reluctant to tell their side of the story. But offered the cloak of anonymity, a number from around the country offered their observations.

Be Realistic About New-House Construction Standards

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New house construction   All buyers want their new house to be built with love — and perfect in every way. But this is not realistic. Their house won't be built with love; it will be built to the normal standards of the industry. A certain amount of imperfection is inevitable and acceptable. Defects would be considered part of the "character" of a resale house and should be expected in a new one.



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