The Mason area continues to be a hot spot for new construction, and for good reason! With a top rated school district, an abundance of recreational outlets nearby, a wide variety of shopping and dining, and close proximity to I-71 and I-75, new home buyers consistently add Mason to their top choice for a new home. As the 2109 selling season goes into full swing, we wanted to give you a brief outline of three of the most popular New Home Communities in Mason.
For more information, contact Mike Hines at 513.260.0424 or Jan Gerding at 513.608.3770 at Build Collective at Coldwell Banker West Shell. They can get you started on building your perfect home in 2019!
If you’ve built a custom home or are just thinking about building, you’ve probably heard the word ‘allowances’ thrown around. Typically, the term is used to describe one of the most confusing and overwhelming parts of the building process, but that shouldn’t be the case. I’m here to explain how allowances work and how to best capitalize on them with your builder.
So, what is an allowance? Well, just think of it as CASH!! What’s better than cash? When a custom builder prices out a home, there are several items that can’t be defined or selected up front. An example could be the cabinets or countertops. Since you can select virtual any item under the sun, a builder gives you a cash value that you can utilize to pick out items for your home.
Here’s an example: A builder offers you a $7,000 allowance for countertops. This could go towards whatever you pick: granite, quartz, cultured marble, soapstone…you name it! You’d head to a granite or countertop supplier, typically one the builder recommends (they tend to have preferred vendors), and make a few selections for them to price out.
A few items in the home that are often allowance based are:
Flooring (Carpet, Hardwood, etc)
IMPORTANT NOTE: When reviewing if an allowance is adequate, try to do some research! You can hop online, but more importantly, go to the vendors and suppliers. They can provide accurate estimates that include labor, materials, design, etc. You can also compare builders to one another keeping in mind that it’s VERY difficult to compare apples to apples unless you’re looking at the exact same plan, spec and allowances!
The good news is allowances are often traded amongst each other. Think of all of your allowances as separate buckets of cash. You can take money from one to help pay for another. If you’d rather spend your money on a high end appliance package because you’re a gourmet chef, then take a little bit off a few other less important items like landscaping or lighting.
Tips for managing your allowances:
If you know an allowance isn’t adequate, increase it! This can be through negotiating or adding cost to the contract. If you go over your allowances, you often have to pay cash at the end of the build. Why not increase it slightly and finance that amount. You always have the option of putting more cash down at the end, but at least you’re not backed into a corner!
Ask your builder for a list of suppliers and vendors. Go and meet with them briefly to discuss what things cost. A few meetings can give you peace of mind in knowing where you stand.
Tour Homes! Chances are your builder has a few recent homes that you can tour. Ask them what they spent on the kitchen cabinets, bath fixtures, etc. If it was built within the past year, those numbers should be relatively close.
Watch out for the internet! Chances are most items are cheaper online. You can buy everything on Amazon, but do you really want to outfit your house on there? Local Suppliers and Vendors might be a bit more expensive, but your builder uses them because they more reliable, they include installation (most often), and you know you can call them if there’s an issue. Builders always dread the statement, “I found this cheaper online!” so beware!
ALTERNATIVES: If you’re not comfortable with Allowances, there are alternatives that builders can occasionally offer. They’re not as common in custom building and often a little more restricting, but some builders might offer packages of selection items. This is common in production or semi-production builders. They offer lighting packages, countertop packages, or potentially option A,B,C packages that you can choose from. This is easier to manage and keeps you for over-spending, but are limiting because you can’t select anything under the sun! There is a time and place for this type of selection process so try to know yourself before jumping into this type of situation.
If you’re still with me now, that means you’re an allowance expert and you have nothing to worry about! Chances are you’ve selected (or will select) a great builder and will do the necessary research to feel comfortable. If you’re still a little weary, reach out to a new construction specialist/agent in your area! They can save you TONS of money!
Something special can happen when a builder has enough passion for design that they find inspiration when they’re not looking. This is the case for Graeme Daley of Daley Design + Build. Recently, he began designing a new lifestyle home that is inspired by Mid Century Modern living.
If you don’t know Graeme, he is the president and owner of Daley Design + Build, hence the name of course. The company is relatively new, but he’s not new to building game! He’s been involved in real estate, specifically design and building for the better part of a decade. Recently, he set out on his own with a company that focuses on what he feels like has been missing in custom home: Thoughtful Design.
Fast forward to Fall 2018. Graeme has spent the 1st half of this year working with his architects to design new plans that are truly inspired. They’re as much about as the look and feel as they are function. His most recent market home design is a take on the much loved Mid Century Modern. He’s spent hours trying to perfect the roof pitches and window placements to be sure that Carl Strauss would be happy. When you walk through the home, you’ll have angle ceilings with wide open spaces and light pouring in from the walls to ceilings.
Entrance of Orchard Trail
This specific plan is meant to be built on a lot in Orchard Trail, which is a lifestyle community just off Montgomery Rd near Weller. It’s designed to complement the existing craftsman style homes that have been built by using compatible materials, roof heights and presentations. We’re particularly excited to watch this home take shape and see Graeme carefully revive one of the past few centuries most cherished home designs.
Take a look at the Orchard Trail Web Page and let us know if you’d like to talk with Graeme about designing an incredible home in Orchard Trail or any of his other areas (Madeira, Montgomery or Indian Hill)!
If you’ve started to interview builders, you’ve likely started to see the difference on how they operate. They each have areas they thrive in and other’s not so much. But no matter their skill set or competitive advantages, you’ll ultimately get to the big step of reviewing and signing a contract with one of them. Even though this might be months from the first day you meet with them, it’s important to start asking questions early on their contract!
I bring this up because we’ve seen deals fall apart after drawings are finished and bulldozers are at the site because the Buyer or Builder didn’t agree on some facet of the contract. So, don’t wait until your 2nd or 8th meeting with the builder to review the contract, start EARLY!
And when you do, you need to know about the different types of contracts! Forget about the fine print, the overall premise of the contract is what’s most important in the beginning. What I mean by that is, how are you paying your builder? Is it a cost plus contract or a fixed price contract? This is a VERY important item to ask.
Below are the types of contracts and how each works:
Fixed Price Contract – The cost of building a home is essentially the sum of all the parts from foundation to countertops! A fixed cost contract puts the risk on the builder to price out all of the items accurately to be sure he has ample cost and profit in the deal for him. When you execute a Fixed Price Contract, the builder bids out the plan (typically) to all of his vendors and suppliers, adds allowances for items you need to pick, adds his profit margin and then gives you a price. The profit margin might be fixed on his initial pro-forma (which they may or may not share), but ultimately it will slide up and down based on the cost of each non-allowance based item. The spec sheet guides his choices to be sure he doesn’t skimp on anything in the house.
The Builder’s responsible for any overruns (not caused by the land).
You know your price from Day 1 of contract signing!
Your bank can easily give you a loan based on a for sure number (minus allowance overruns)
The builder will try to save money where ever they can.
It’s on you to stay in line with your allowances and be sure they’re adequate for your taste.
You might not see what your Builder’s profit margin is.
Cost Plus Contract – The alternative to a fixed priced contract is cost plus where you see each and every item that is needed to build a home. The Builder will get bids for each item and then take on a fee for themselves. This fee can be a cost plus or a management fee. Examples might be a 15% cost plus or $100,000 management fee added to the cost. Sometime it can be both! They can be floating depending on how the scale of the build carries out. The responsibility is on the builder AND the client to review the bids to make sure they’re accurate and there is enough buffer to make sure you’re covered. These contracts can fluctuate in price drastically depending on how things go on the building site and how well your builder priced each of the categories.
Full transparency because you can see each of the costs
You know exactly what your builder is being paid!
You can influence each item if you care to.
Builder profit can be tied to how much YOU spend.
The builder is less concerned about keeping price under control.
The price is always moving – positively or negatively!
As you meet with Builders, be sure to talk with them about how they operate on this regard. If you have a preferred way to go about it, you’ll want to be sure you let the builder know that from the get go! No sense wasting your time if you and the builder can’t agree on the framework for a future deal!!
As a bonus, here are a few questions to ask your builder about their contracts…
What is the deposit and when do I give that to you?
How long does it take to build a home and will the delivery date be added into the contract)?
Ask about their financial capacity to pay subcontractors and how quickly they are paid.
If there are issues with construction, timing, execution, how are they handled?
Do you finance the construction or do I need a construction loan?
I know this seems a bit overwhelming, but it’s important! An as always, feel free to reach out to Build Cincinnati to help guide you through the new construction buying process.
If you’ve been living in the City of Cincinnati, chances are you’ve heard about the tax abatement for new construction and remodeled homes. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, of course.
But, do you really know how it works??
Here’s a little crash course on the tax abatement and why it’s been such a driving force in the Cincinnati residential real estate market…
As you may know, when you build, add-on or invest in your home, your property taxes can and, most often, WILL go up! This is obviously true in the City of Cincinnati as other municipalities, but there is a special little incentive for those looking to invest in the City (all 52 neighborhoods). The Cincinnati Community Reinvestment Area (CRA) Residential Tax Abatement, as it’s called, offers property owners the ability to minimize their tax implications. This means that any improvements will NOT significantly add to your property tax bill. You would only pay on the amount of “pre-improvement” value, up to certain levels.
Let’s give a few examples:
Example 1: You purchase a home or lot in Walnut Hills. The value of that existing property is $100,000. If you then build a $400,000 Leed Gold Certified Dwelling (we’ll get into the LEED certification below) on the property, you would only be taxed on the $100,000 for 15 Years. The remaining $400,000 would be abated for those years thus saving you around $8,000 per year!
Example 2: You own a home in Oakley assessed at around $250,000 and have decided to add on to the back of the home. The renovation will cost $150,000. That entire amount would be tax abated for 10 year. It’s only 10 years as opposed to the 15 year new construction abatement because of the regulations. This still saves you almost $3,000 a year for 10 years. That’s almost $30,000 in savings!
So, how do you do this? First off, you’ll want to call a professional (a builder or us at Build Cincinnati) that understands the tax abatement and construction process. You determine what the best plan of action is for your house or lot and then review the abatement guidelines at the link below. Once construction is complete (and have an audit from a LEED professional if you did a LEED Home), you’d need to submit your application to the City with the necessary documentation, which includes an improvement spreadsheet, Certificate of Occupancy, LEED audit and a few other miscellaneous documents.
Now, the secret sauce: LEED Certification. The City of Cincinnati is one of the BEST places to build a LEED certified home because it saves you even more money. If you look at the link above, you’ll see that this energy certification has tiered savings based on the certificate level. As you’ll see, LEED Silver allows for up to $400,000 abated, LEED Gold is up to $562,000 and LEED Platinum is UNLIMITED.
Of course, LEED comes with it’s extra building cost, but that’s specific to the home you build and how much money you can spend! Be sure to choose a builder (Shameless Plug ALERT…like Classic Living Homes, Walker Homes, Ashford Homes, Quest Homes, Legendary Homes) that’s knowledgable on the process because this will prove invaluable. Also, an excellent resource on the subject is the Green Building Consulting in OTR. They have spearheaded the LEED process for many of our client’s homes.
Now that you’re armed with this information, doesn’t building and remodeling in the City sound that much better! Not only can you design a home specifically for you and your family, but you can save money in the process!
For more information on the Tax Abatement, feel free to reach out to our Build Cincinnati team members at 513-686-7676.