Construction Help and Frequently Asked Questions
I'm ready to build a new home, where do I start?
We always say it's best to pick your builder first. Many people go to an architect first. The builder is experienced and has built many homes in the past. Builders will know what the costs are before a tremendous amount of money is spent. We have encountered numerous clients that designed a home first and then went looking for a builder just to find out the dream house they designed is too expensive. Also, builders are on the cutting edge of trends, they can help design the new and exciting features.
The next step is to decide what plan you would like to build or contact the architect. The plan should be a reflection of your needs, lifestyle, and tastes. Here at Irvin we can help you custom design a home. We have many preferred architects that we'll work with to create your dream home or use can use our in-house designer. Already have that perfect home? Bring it in and we'll build from your plans. Or maybe you have a plan but it needs some modifications, an easy task for our in-house designer. We also have hundreds of floor plans we'll sort through with you in search of that perfect home.
We have picked a plan that is perfectly suited for you, now what? The next step is to decide what finishes you'd like to have in the home. The finishes are the reflections of your personalities, needs, and desires. Through an in-depth interview we will determine what sort of finishes you'd like in your home, from trim work to appliances. Irvin will then accurately determine which allowance figures to include in your home.
Once we have picked out the plan and decided what finishes to include it's time to sign the construction documents. The construction documents include the contract, the allowances, the building specifications, the change order agreement, the warranty, and the plans. These are all signed and the homeowner is provided with a copy.
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What should I look for in a builder?
The most important decision you'll make when building a new home is deciding which builder to use. It is a difficult task that should not be taken lightly. Hopefully this will help make your decision a bit easier.
1) Make sure the builder is licensed. In Florida builders are required to a take a rigorous exam after years of on the job training. Licensed builders are required to renew their license on a regular basis and must take several continuing education courses to keep current with building codes and trends. Never contract with someone that does not have an active license.
A Note: Always ask to see the builder's license. Is the name on the license the same as the person saying he is the builder, owner, or principal? The person holding the license is the one that holds the company together. If the license holder is an employee, sub-contractor, or friend there is little stability behind the company. This is extremely important and should not be taken lightly. If the owner of the company is not competent enough to pass the exam you should not be contracting with him or her.
2) Relating to number 1. Find out who the company owner is and talk with them. If you cannot speak to the owner you might not want to contract with the company. You may discover the company you're contracting with is actually a franchise or a joint venture. This name might be the greatest one around, but you'll need to look beyond it to the actual parties involved. Are the purchasers of the franchise experienced builder's, what did they do before the purchased the franchise?
3) Make sure your builder has experience with the type, style, size, and price range of home you're looking to build. Large homes are quite complex and require greater attention than smaller homes. Ask the builder to show you examples of his or her past work. Are the homes similar in size and price to the one you're looking to build? A good builder will use a trusted group of subs on all of his or her homes. If your builder predominantly builds small homes he or she will use those same trades people on your home. However, a builder or large homes will use trades people that have extensive experience in that type of home.
4) Investigate what trades people your builder uses. Does he or she use the same trades people on all their homes or do they solicit bids on every home? A builder that solicits bids is not looking for quality but rather the lowest possible price. That builder might use someone on your home they've never worked with before; how do they know how your house will end up then? Also, talk to the trades people. Do they like working for the builder? If the trades do not enjoy working with the builder they're not going to try as hard on your home.
5) Look at homes currently under construction by that builder. Investigate all stages of construction. A finished home can hide a lot of mistakes or poor quality materials. Make sure the homes represent the type of workmanship you'd like on your home.
6) Ask for a list of references. Not only of past customers, but of banks, suppliers, and trades people. Call these people. Ask the past customers about the experience and how the house is now. Ask the banks, suppliers, and trades people how they like working with the builder.
7) What is the builder's tract record? Has he or she been in business for 20 years or 2. Have they built 400 homes or 40?
8) Does the builder have an office and a staff? Be wary of builder's that work out of their trucks. These builders are not grounded and have nothing to lose. A builder with an office and staff are established and you'll always know where and how to find them.
9) Be wary of the lowest price builder. Every builder buys materials at the same price. If a builder gives you a lower price he or she has cut something out of your home. They might be using less skilled trades people or lesser quality materials. Also, be sure to compare apples to apples. There are many simple ways to slash the price of a home. Does the bid include often overlooked items such as clearing, fill dirt, poor soil conditions, landscaping. If need be ask the builders to give a complete price breakdown. If the builder refuses he or she has something to hide.
10) Is the builder active in the industry and community? Is he or she a member of the local builder's association? Almost all well-established builders are members of this organization. Has the builder been a past president or vice-president. If so, they truly care about the industry and what they do.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure you feel comfortable with the builder you choose. Trust your instincts and follow your heart.
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What should I look for in a floor plan?
When looking for your new home you should pay attention to two things; the floor plan and the elevation (exterior or curb appeal).
The floor plan is the actual layout of the house. Think of what your needs are. Do you need 3 bedrooms or 4? How many bathrooms? Would you like a living and a family room or just a great room?
After you've determined what your needs are look at the flow and livability of the plan. Do you want your master bedroom on the first floor or second floor? Would you like all your bedrooms to be on one side of the home or would you prefer them split up?
Another important thing to look for in a plan is it's orientation to your lot. If you have a lake or golf course lot a plan with as many rooms looking to the back is ideal. Almost all Florida plans orientate to the rear of the home and wrap around the pool area (also know as the Florida L plan). We're also seeing more and more outdoor living areas, including summer kitchens and fireplaces.
When choosing an elevation the simplest real of thumb is, is the home appealing to you. The elevation is what you'll see every time you drive up. If you find the perfect elevation but the floor plan does not work hold on to that elevation. A good builder can mesh your favorite elevation with your favorite floor plan.
Your builder should also be able to point out new and exciting trends that can be incorporated into your plan. The features are what make your house exciting and help considerably come resale time.
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I cannot find a floor plan that works for me, what should I do?
Contact us here at Militano Construction. We'll help find the perfect plan for you whether it's from a stock plan or from one of our preferred architects. Combined with our in house draftsmen we can help create your dream!
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Does Militano Construction have stock floor plans for me to choose from?
Yes. You are not, however, restricted to using one of our plans. We also offer in-house drafting services so we can modify our plans to suit all your housing needs. Or if you have plans already completed we would love to build them as is or offer our expertise in possible enhancements.
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What is the average length of construction?
The length of construction is directly correlated to the size and finishes of the home. A smaller home (under 2500 sq.ft.), nicely finished will take anywhere from 5-8 months, a larger home (2500-4000 sq.ft.), nicely finished will take anywhere from 8-12 months, and an executive home (over 4000 sq.ft.) will take up to a year or longer.
One thing to note: This time frame is based on construction only. Before we start construction 2-3 months can easily be spent drawing plans, engineering, and permitting. Once we've signed the contract we start a great deal of work. We engineer every plan we build. What that means is we have every home we build reviewed, signed, and sealed by a certified engineer. We also have to determine many calculations for permitting.
Once everything is prepared we take all the information to the local county building department. The county will review all the information to be certain the home will meet Florida building codes. On average permitting takes between 2 to 4 weeks.
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How do I finance my new Militano home?
There are 2 methods of payment for your new home. The 1st is cash. In cash deals the client will disperse checks to Militano Construction in draws as construction proceeds. (See "The Process")
The other method is to obtain a construction/permanent (CP loan) loan from a lending institution. A CP is like two loans in one. The first loan is on the construction of the home. It usually carries a different interest rate than the mortgage. As construction proceeds the bank will inspect the construction of the home and disperse funds directly to us in the form of draws. Once construction is complete the loan converts into a permanent loant or a mortgage. There is only one closing at the beginning of construction and the mortgage automatically converts over when the home is completed. There are several different mortgages available these days. If you are having any trouble obtaining a loan contact us and we'll put you in touch with one of our preferred lenders.
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How does the allowance system work?
Almost every home we build comes with allowances. Having allowances is like having cash to shop with for all your finishes. For instance, if you have a $5,000 lighting fixture allowance it's like Militano giving you a check for $5,000 to go to the lighting store to shop.
Because it's nearly impossible to always know what you want in the beginning allowances give you the flexibility to take your time and go shopping.
As a side note: Many builders will low-ball your allowances because it does not affect them. They simply need to make sure their fixed costs and margins are covered. Militano goes to great lengths to be certain your allowances reflect your desires. When receiving bids on your new home pay particular attention to the allowances. Everything must be compared apples to apples. With Militano there will be no surprises.
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Once my home is complete what can I expect?
Don't worry, after construction we'll still be there. We offer a 1-year structural warranty. This warranty is provided by Militano Construction and covers all structural defects on the home. At the end of one year we will provide you with one final walk through if you desire. Another great plus for you when building with Militano Construction is that most of our subcontractors have been with us for over 25 years and don't carry a stop watch when it comes to a warranty. Therefore your warranties with us are much greater than with other builders.
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