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Laminate Floors vs. Engineered Hardwood Floors

Laminate flooring is fast becoming a popular choice over engineered hardwood floors for homeowners across North America because of its durability and cost effectiveness, both important aspects to consider in today’s economy. Laminate is also more environmentally friendly and easy to install.

The core of laminate flooring is made of highly pressurized wood fibers, agricultural waste and resin. A decorative paper is added to the surface and covered with a durable melamine resin. The special backing creates a moisture barrier, making it the ideal flooring choice for kitchens, bathrooms and basements.

Laminate typically has three rating levels, based on the use of the room it will be installed in. Low-use laminate is perfect for the bedroom or similar rooms that have low traffic. Average-use is made for the rooms that the whole family frequents, but where the flooring wouldn’t receive as much abuse, such as living rooms and dining rooms. High-traffic laminate is designed for just that, heavy traffic. This rating is ideal for rooms where durability is most important, such as kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms.

Many people look to solid hardwood because of its natural beauty and use of all natural materials. This type of flooring is comprised of solid pieces of wood, but homeowners may want to consider which room they are planning to place it in. Solid hardwood floors do not hold up to water and moisture well. When placed in a high humidity environment, the boards will warp and buckle over time. Homeowners should check to see if the materials were obtained in a sustainable forest in order to maintain an environmentally friendly project.

Although engineered hardwood is made similar to laminate (with a high density core), its top layer consists of a thin piece of natural wood covered by several layers of veneer. Both engineered hardwood and laminate flooring are comparable in durability, but there’s a distinct difference in price-point. Laminate varies in price from $1-$6 per square foot whereas engineered hardwood costs anywhere from $5-$15 per square foot, depending on the finish and type of wood. That’s a considerable difference especially if you’re planning to cover hundreds of square feet.

Thanks to today’s technological advances, laminate flooring has come a long way from the boring designs and feel of the 1980s. Homeowners can now enjoy a floor that looks, feels and sounds like real wood without having to empty their wallet.

Source: http://www.house-energy.com/Floors/Laminate.htm ; http://cleanmyspace.com/hardwood-vs-laminate-vs-engineered-hardwood-floors-whats-the-difference/

Pros and Cons of Custom Homes Vs Personalized Production Homes

This is part three of our series of articles comparing custom homes to personalized production homes. This article will focus on the pros and cons of custom homes vs. personalized production homes.

If you are considering the purchase of a new home, you may be trying to decide whether to have a custom home built or buy a personalized production home. There are very distinct differences between the two, so you should spend some time learning the specific details of each before you make a final decision.

custom homes vs production homes

Some of the questions you will need to have answered are:

Cost: What is the square foot cost for each type of home?

Time to Build: How long does it take to build each type of home?

Pros/Cons: What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of home?

Options and Selections: What options and selections will you get to choose?

Warranty: What level of new home warranty should you expect with each type of home?

Touch Points: How much personalized service will you get from each type of builder?

Learning everything you can about the different types of new homes selections available will allow you to make a more educated decision about which option is best for you and your family. Please read our series of articles on this topic for more information and answers to all the above questions.

Custom Homes

Advantages:

  • You will be able to choose the location of where your home is to be built.
  • You will get to decide the details for every product and feature of the home.
  • Your new home will be unique from every other home.
  • The quality and functionality of the home will meet all your requirements and standards.

Disadvantages:

  • Custom homes are expensive to build compared to personalized production homes.
    • A custom home builder is not able to buy the supplies needed in bulk, making the materials for the home more expensive.
    • Labor will be more expensive as a custom home has never been built before and many details and problems will have to be worked out during construction.
  • In most cases you will have to find and purchase your own land to build the home on.
  • Custom homes take significantly longer to build than production homes.
  • You will have the added expense of hiring an architect to design the home, or have purchased plans modified, as well as finding a contractor who builds custom homes.
  • A custom home will depreciate faster than a production home.
  • It is difficult to get the home appraised for the total build cost. Thus, most banks will not lend the entire amount needed to build the home requiring a significant down payment from the homebuyer.

Personalized Production Homes

Advantages:

  • You have the flexibility of choosing from a variety of price points.
  • The land comes with the price of the home.
  • Production home builders offer a variety of floor plans to choose from.
  • There are fewer decisions to make which leads to less stress and less hassle.
  • A personalized production home is much less expensive to build than a custom home.
  • A personalized production home can be built much faster than a custom home.
  • A selections coordinator will help you make the best selections for your new home to personalize it to fit your needs.
  • Production homes are priced to meet comparable appraisal values enabling homebuyers to borrow the entire amount of the cost of the home depending on the type of loan chosen.
  • Many production builders offer comprehensive warranties such as the McKee Homes 2-10 Warranty Program that covers the structure for up to 10 years.
  • In many cases, you will have the added benefit of living in a community with access to amenities such as: golf course, clubhouse, fitness center, pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball, volleyball, a park, playground and walking trails.

Disadvantages:

  • You won’t be able to design every aspect of your new home.
  • You won’t have as much input in how the home is constructed.
  • You won’t have unlimited land options from which to choose.
  • Because production builders build a large number of homes each year, they cannot offer as many touch points with their homebuyers as custom home builders.

The Bottom Line

The decision about whether to buy a custom home or a personalized production home is a very personal one and one only you can make. You should take as much time as you need to study all your options, and then will you be able to make the decision that is right for you and your family.

If you find yourself torn about which direction to take, you may want to visit some personalized production home builder locations to get a feel for what they have to offer. If after that you don’t find anything that suits your needs, you can always contact a custom home builder to compare the costs and options they have available.

How Long Does It Take To Build A House?

This is part two of our series of articles comparing custom homes vs. personalized production homes. This article will focus on the amount time it takes to build custom homes vs. personalized production homes. The time needed to build a house is an important aspect of a home buying decision especially if the buyer is selling their current home and/or is relocating to another area for work or military reassignment.

new house under construction

If you are considering the purchase of a new home, you may be trying to decide whether to buy a custom home or a personalized production home. There are very distinct differences between a custom home and a production home; therefore, you should spend some time learning the specific details of each before you make any decisions. Some of the questions you will need to have answered are:

Cost: What is the square foot cost for each type of home?

Time to Build: How long does it take to build a house?

Pros/Cons: What are the advantages and disadvantages of each type of home?

Options and Selections: What options and selections will you get to choose?

Warranty: What level of new home warranty should you expect with each type of home?

Touch Points: How much personalized service will you get from each type of builder?

Learning everything you can about the different types of new homes available will allow you to make a more educated decision about which option is best for you and your family. Please read our series of articles on this topic for more information and answers to all the above questions.

Custom Homes: Time to Build

The time it takes to build a custom home will depend on the size and complexity of the home, where it’s being built and the time of year. It could take anywhere from 10 to 16 months to build, depending on its size and assuming everything goes according to plan. This time frame is based on the lot (land) being clear and ready to build on and that there are no construction delays due to weather conditions, change orders or any other factors beyond a builders control.

One of the biggest variables in custom home build time is the customer. There are many decisions that have to be made along the way, and if they are not made in time to get selected items when they are needed, the contractor can lose weeks of time during the build process. Change orders will usually extend the build time as well, and can cause substantial delays if they occur later in the build process rather than near the beginning when the structure has not yet been built.

In addition to the time it takes to build the home, you will need to account for time to have the home designed, or purchased plans modified, as well as having the plans approved by the local building department. For an architect-designed custom home, the design process can take three-to-six months or longer plus an additional month for permitting. If you are having purchased plans modified and checked by an architect, the timeline is considerably shorter, but can still take two-to-three months including permitting.

Personalized Production Homes: Time to Build

The building process of a personalized production home usually takes between three and four months to reach completion; however, it can sometimes take up to six months, depending on the weather, construction supply delays and any requested customer design changes that are implemented along the way.

Because the floor plans offered by production builders have been built many times before, there are usually no delays in getting them through the local building department and starting home construction. The contractor knows exactly what materials are needed to build the home as well as the subcontractors that will be used. The subcontractors know what materials they need for the project as well because they have worked on the same or similar floor plan before. This allows all materials to be ordered at the proper time to ensure that the home construction flows smoothly.

The production home builder, or their selections coordinator, will meet with the home buyer to go over new home selections and options before the home construction is started to ensure that all selection items are ordered and will be available when they are needed to avoid delays.

Just as in custom homes, the buyer is the biggest variable in production home building, if they buy the home before it is built. If they are not available to make selections in a timely manner, or make changes along the way requiring change orders to be generated and produced, there can be delays in the build time.

Most production home builders have developed good processes to avoid delays and can get a new home built with final inspection complete before the projected close date so the buyers can move in when needed, especially if they are on a tight schedule because of relocation or the sale of another home.

The Bottom Line

If you are on a tight schedule, or have a specific date that you need to move into your new home, but you still want to have a home built so you can make personalized choices, going with a personalized production home is a safer bet as custom homes can often take longer than expected to build.

The decision about whether to buy a custom home or a personalized production home is a very personal one and one only you can make. You should take as much time as you need to study all your options, and only then will you be able to make the decision that is right for you and your family.

If you find yourself torn about which direction to make, you may want to visit some personalized production home builder locations to get a feel for what they have to offer. If after that you don’t find anything that suits your needs, you can always contact a custom home builder to compare the costs and options they have available.

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Can I Choose Options That Are Not Part of the Standard New Home Package?

Once a homebuyer chooses their floor plan, and finalizes the paperwork involved in securing the home of their dreams, our expert Design Consultant will schedule an appointment with them at our design studio located at 109 Hay Street, Suite 101 in Fayetteville, NC to go over all their selection options. See our New Home Selections Process article.

Some of the selections or personalization can be done at the same time as the initial paperwork.  Also, at this point, some homebuyers may want to choose their interior colors, exterior colors and features, bathroom and kitchen tiles, and plumbing and lighting fixtures.

McKee Homes come with beautiful standard features, which are listed on the “Standard Feature Sheet”, available on our website neighborhood pages, and can be found at the model home in the homebuyer’s desired neighborhood.  A McKee Homes’ Sales Representative and/or Design Consultant will also be able to share these standard features with you.

If a homebuyer would like to choose an option that is not included in the standard feature package, then the Design Consultant will create a “Change Order,” which will be added as an addendum to the homebuyer’s contract.  If the change increases the price of the home, the homebuyer is required to pay 50% of the additional cost in order to have the change order accepted.

To ensure that McKee Homes adheres to the time allotted to build a home, change orders should be completed within 21 days of signing the initial contract.  If a change order is requested outside of the allotted change order time, an additional $250 will be charged per change order, if McKee Homes can accommodate the change at that time.

It is important for the buyer to understand that any changes made after drywall completion will extend the closing date by the number of days that it takes to complete the work specified in the change order.

It is normal for a homebuyer to feel excited and a little bit anxious during the home-buying process.  McKee Homes’ employees are committed to making this experience a positive one.  They are available to answer questions and help the homebuyer in anyway they can.  The homebuyer can also visit the McKee Homes website at www.mckeehomesnc.com.

By Amy Kahler and John Rives

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What selections do I get to choose for my home?

When a homebuyer asks the above question, they are really asking, “How much can I personalize my new home?” The answer depends upon if the homebuyer is purchasing a presale home, which is a home that has not yet been built, or an available Showcase home, which is a home that is either completely built or is in the process of being built.  This article will focus on the presale home-buying experience.  If a homebuyer purchases an available inventory home, the amount of personalization that can still be done will depend on the house’s build process stage.  Please see the McKee Homes Building Process article for more information on each stage of the building process.

Once a homebuyer, chooses their floor plan, and finalizes the paperwork involved in securing the home of their dreams, the fun begins.  Some of the selections or personalization can be done at the same time as the initial paperwork.  Also, at this time, some homebuyers may want to choose their interior colors, exterior colors and features, bathroom and kitchen tiles, and plumbing and lighting fixtures.

If the homebuyer is not sure of what selections they want, that’s okay as our expert Design Consultant will schedule an appointment with them at our design studio located at 109 Hay Street, Suite 101 in Fayetteville, NC. The design studio has a variety of selections available to touch, see and experience, including carpet samples, kitchen and bath tile, exterior finishes, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and kitchen cabinet options.

Normally the selection’s process follows the sequential order listed below:

  1. Exterior selections: siding type and color, front door and color, roofing type and color, window, trim and shutter color.
  2. Interior selections: paint color, counter tops, cabinets and flooring.
  3. Plumbing and lighting fixtures
  4. Appliances

For a complete list of selections, please see the McKee Homes Selections Process article.

If a homebuyer is unable to visit the design studio, other arrangements will be made to accommodate the buyer’s needs.  All the homebuyer’s questions regarding selection options will be answered during this appointment.  To ensure that McKee Homes adheres to the time allotted to build a home, we encourage the homebuyer to make their selections within 14 days of signing the new home contract.

McKee Homes come with beautiful standard features, which are listed on the “Standard Feature Sheet”, available on our website neighborhood pages, and can be found at the model home in the homebuyer’s desired neighborhood.  A McKee Homes’ Sales Representative and/or Design Consultant will also be able to share these standard features with you.

If a homebuyer would like to choose an option that is not included in the standard feature package,  the Design Consultant will fill out a “Change Order Form”, which will be added as an addendum to the homebuyer’s contract. See our Additional Options and Change Orders article for more information about this process.

It is normal for a homebuyer to feel excited and a little bit anxious during the home-buying process.  McKee Homes’ employees are committed to making this experience a positive one.  They are available to answer questions and help the homebuyer in anyway they can.  The homebuyer can also visit the McKee Homes website design studio page.

By Julie Russo and John Rives