Building a custom home is exciting. You dreamed of this stage of life for years, packed your vision board full of ideas, and are ready to bring those visions to life. But making your dream home a reality takes more than adding items to your cart and waiting for the finished process. It requires an experienced builder who can walk you through the custom home building process.

How do you choose the right custom home builder for a project that is so close to home? St. George custom home builder, Dennis Miller Homes, breaks down all the top questions to ask when building your own home.

These questions include a wide range of topics to target areas that will impact your experience most, such as experience level, floor plans, cost, contingencies, licensing, references, and more. We will also discuss the steps to take when hiring a custom home builder.

To ensure you partner with the best custom home builder, here are six questions to ask and why they are important.

How Long Have You Been a Custom Home Builder?

Residential real estate might be all about location, location, location, but custom home building is all about the experience. It would be best to be confident in your home builder's abilities to build your dream home.

To help you gain that confidence, ask, "How long have you been a custom home builder in St. George (or the area you are hoping to build)?" This should be the first question you ask when vetting a custom home builder.

Knowing how long a custom home builder has been in business and their experience in the area will help you determine whether they have the skill and knowledge to build your new home. If your future builder has a history of building in Southern Utah, or St. George, Utah, you can leave your first meeting confident that they are well-versed in local regulations and zoning.

You will also have the reassurance that they have relationships with vendors throughout the area to source materials and fully bring your design to fruition.

Our team also recommends finding out if your custom home builder is a general contractor. Not all builders offer general contracting services. But it is often useful to partner with one who is both.

Do You Build from Existing Floor Plans or Is My Home Totally Customizable?

You'll want to know your builder's custom home building process. Just because a builder says he is a custom home builder doesn't always mean their process will meet your exact needs.

During your initial meeting with a prospective custom home builder, discuss their design process. Will you choose a custom home design from the builder's collection of existing floor plans? Or will they offer a custom home building process that makes your homes completely customizable?

 You won't need to write off a builder who allows you to customize existing floor plans. There might be a floor plan that you are willing to work with and make your own. However, a custom home builder should give you the freedom you need to build a home entirely from scratch.

At Dennis Miller Homes, we have everything you need to build a custom home tailored to your lifestyle. Our design + build services include a three-tier model that allows you to customize as much or as little as you need.

For instance, follow Tier 3 to create a one-of-a-kind floor plan with a team of luxury home builders, interior designers, architects, and more. If you don't need that many options, you can modify floor plans designed by another builder or select one from our stock portfolio.

Whichever process you prefer, have an open dialogue with your home builder to understand the design model you will follow when building your own home.

What Will Be the Final Cost of My Home?

One of the advantages of going custom is that you determine the cost of your home. As you vet custom home builders, discuss your budget. Does your builder believe they can build a home that matches your vision while sticking to the numbers you had in mind?

Hundreds of variables affect the final cost of a custom home, including location, design, time of year, the current market, and more. Talking with your custom home builder about cost will help you decide whether this path is right for you.

Dennis Miller Homes uses a long-hand bidding process to show buyers the approximate project costs before anyone signs any contracts. This bidding process will give you costs upfront to ensure you can design within your budget.

Then, as you make future design decisions, you can see whether items fit within the bid's allowances or if you need to adjust.

We (and our clients) prefer showing this cost transparency because it removes any of the usual guesswork and provides the best home-building experience possible.

How Will Contingencies Be Handled?

Along with discussing the budget, you will need to ask your builder about contingencies.

Recently, custom home builders are dealing with soaring lumber prices that are impacting the market more than many buyers realize.

If these problems arise, how will your future home builder handle them? What happens if there are cost overruns? Will they add surcharges to your bid or back out of your contract?

While you can't plan for everything, knowing how your builder plans to handle billing on the front end will ensure that you aren't surprised on the back of it.

What Licenses and Insurance Do You Have?

The State of Utah requires custom home builders to have a Utah contractor license. To receive a license, applicants must complete an approved education program, pass trade, and business law exams, and complete a license application packet.

Along with these requirements, custom home builders need a minimum of two years of full-time related experience. You will also want your home builder to carry insurance. Everyone who works on your project should have insurance coverage, including subcontractors. Then you won't be held liable if an accident occurs.

As you search for your St. George Custom Home Builder, look for the following licenses, accreditations, and insurance coverage:

For further information, please refer to R156-55a-302b. Qualifications for Licensure – Experience Requirements.

Who Are Your References, and Can I See Your Portfolio?

Another important thing to ask your home builder, to understand their experience and skill level, is to see their portfolio. Look at their website to check on photos of past projects. Look at this portfolio of properties and visit any in-person if you can.

You should also ask for references and phone numbers as you meet with them.

Don't be afraid to call these references and ask for more information. Check to see how the builder worked with these clients. Discuss communication styles, how they handled disputes if they lived up to promises, and any other question that might provide valuable insight.

It would help if you also asked whether the homeowners had any issues down the line with warranties, improper installation, poor materials, building, etc. If they did, how did your home builder handle it?

Along with talking to these references, look online for other client reviews. You can get a clear idea of how your home builders treat clients by reading online testimonials. These reviews are a great way to sense how a company operates before or after your initial consultation.

Take the time to consider a range of reviews, whether they are five-star ratings or reviews that are less than a rave. 

If you notice a particularly bad review, check to see if the company addressed the situation or did nothing to redeem it. If they openly respond to the client to offer solutions, you can rest easy knowing they care about every experience. 

You can also ask your home builder about any of the red flags you noticed while scanning reviews. This dialogue, along with reviews and references, will give you a good idea of how your custom home builder will operate as you build your own home. 

Browse our collection of St. George custom homes to see how Dennis Miller Homes can bring your dream home to life.

Other Question to Ask Your Future Home Builder

Custom homes are exactly what they sound like: they're one-of-a-kind. If you engage with a custom home builder, they are more likely to build a home that meets your exact specifications. Together, you will decide everything from the site of your new home to the floor plan. While custom homes take longer to build than other types of homes, the result is significantly superior.

Because custom house construction requires more involvement than other types of home construction, you'll want to be diligent in your search for a builder. Here are a few other questions to ask as you make your choice: 

Asking these questions before signing with a home builder will build your confidence and ensure you pick the right team for the job. Use these questions as a starting point. 

Together, you can have an open conversation with your custom home builder that will guarantee you partner with the finest builder for your new St. George home.

No matter which custom home builder you enlist for your project, do your due diligence. A good custom home builder will offer insightful answers to all your questions, even if they aren't what you expect. They should also keep communication lines open to build trust with you as their future client. 

Steps to Take to Hire a St. George Custom Home Builder

Here's how to hire Dennis Miller Homes to build your next custom home. We're available to answer these questions and more. 

Dennis Miller Homes is Your St. George Custom Home Builder

Dennis Miller Homes believes in transparency through every step of the home building process.

From the very beginning, you can count on us. We care about your goals, your vision, and your expectations. 

Our custom home building process begins and ends with you. From the first meeting and design to the final walk-through and hand-off, we will be there to ensure that we meet all your needs. 

The Dennis Miller Homes custom home building process includes: 

As a team, we will do what it takes to make you feel comfortable with our partnership. Whether that means bringing in your own architect or turning to us for references, Dennis Miller Homes has what it takes to make your dream home perfect. 

We have over 35 years of experience building homes throughout St. George, Utah. From the newest lots in Bloomington Hills to Hurricane and more, the Dennis Miller Homes team has the skills, knowledge, and experience to build strong homes and even stronger relationships.

Put our hard work to the test — contact Dennis Miller Homes to begin the custom home building process. We will create a work of art that is all you envision and more. 

Buyers looking for a new home often ask, "How much does it cost to build a custom home?" The cost to build a custom home depends on a range of variables, including the specified location, size of the home, and more. Although many people confuse custom homes with multi-million dollar McMansions, building a custom home means choosing your price.

HomeAdvisor estimates that a custom home can cost anywhere between $350,000 to over $1 million. At Dennis Miller Homes, we tell our clients there is no firm price on building a customer home in St. George, Utah. Instead, our custom home building process allows you to customize your home and budget.

Because you decide which style, features, and amenities you want in your home design the total cost of those will depend upon your selections.

When you work with us, our home builder in St. George, Utah will work with you to set a comfortable budget, whether $400,000 or $2 million.

Our team will present you with a proposal at the beginning of the building process that includes a long-hand bid. This bid will have several different allowances to give you an idea of how much money you will pay depending on your home design.

For example, the long-hand bid often includes an appliance allowance. If you don't use your kitchen as often as other areas of your home, you might decide to install appliances that aren't as high-grade as we included in the bid. On the other hand, buyers who enjoy cooking might want to upgrade their kitchen appliances.

Based on your decision, you can update your budget to reflect how much money you spent on that allowance. Then, you can decide to allocate money from a different allowance or adjust your final budget.  

No matter which option you choose, our team will be by your side to regularly update you on where your money is going. We want you to stay informed throughout the process to make design choices to help you reach your end goal.

Average St. George Custom Home Cost

Unlike quick builds, prefabs, or used homes in St. George, custom homes are original designs informed by our clients.

Dennis Miller Homes' custom home-building services will help you build a home that reflects your lifestyle and budget. Working with our St. George custom home builder, you will be guided through every step of the design and construction process. 

You will select everything about your new home, from the location to the floor plan to the finishing touches by collaborating with our design + build team. Before you begin the custom home building process, to ensure you understand the cost of building your St. George custom home, our team has outlined a few variables that may affect the final price.

Let's discuss.

Factors that Affect the Cost of Your Custom Home

The Current Market

The current real estate market can dramatically affect the cost of your new home. If homes are selling at a higher price, you can expect to pay more to build a custom home. If the market is low, you might pay steady or, even, discounted prices. 

Other market factors that come into play when building a custom home are lumber or other material costs. The laws of supply and demand means that prices sometimes fluctuate.

It is up to you to decide when it’s the right time to build a custom home.Some homebuyers have a flexible timeline while others must begin the building process immediately. Our team will work hard to meet your timelines and ensure you get the best price for your custom home. We are on your side. 

Custom homes come with a custom price tag. No matter the current standing of the Utah real estate market, there are always benefits to building a custom home, including:  

Location

Although the estimate for construction in the United States is $150 per square foot, that cost fluctuates depending on where you build. For instance, the construction costs for building a custom home in St. George, Utah, are vastly different than they are in Los Angeles, California, or even Salt Lake City, Utah.

The price discrepancy is due to changes of the price of materials, building permits, labor, and other fees by location. No matter where you build, there is always a potential for unforeseen costs. For example,  rocky surfaces require special machinery to remove, which may affect your budget. 

Our team will analyze potential build sites to provide you with an estimate and alert you to any factors that may increase your costs.

Project Scope

Another location factor that impacts price is the project scope. The size of your custom home will directly impact the cost to build it. Generally speaking, increasing the size of your home or the amount of work that it will take to build your home will increase the total project cost.

If you choose to build your custom home on a lot with sloping, you will pay more for grading, foundation work, and retaining walls. If you select a large lot, you may spend more money on landscaping. Other factors may include adjustments for water table levels, reclamation needs, and tree removal.

When you choose the right custom home builder, you can collaborate and agree on a project scope that fits your budget.

Complexity of the Design

How much design work your custom home requires will affect the final cost of your project. For example, if you need a fully customized home plan drawn up by our team, it will cost you more than if you were to alter a replicated design. At Dennis Miller Homes, we offer it all.

Our three-tier design model ensures that you have the home-building services you need to fit your budget.

Specifications

The major advantage of building a custom home is customizing your design. As discussed earlier, your specifications determine the cost of your new home. You will spend more money on larger homes with luxury finishes than mid-grade finishes in a mid-size home. The cost is up to you.

Installing optional features in your custom home will also drive up the cost. One feature that many St. George homeowners love to install in their custom home is an outdoor pool.

While swimming pools are fantastic in a hot location like southern Utah, installing a pool will cost you more money. The variations on swimming pools range from custom designed pools vs. prefabricated liners, hot tubs, fountains, stone and concrete work, slides, or diving boards. 

Our design + build construction team can estimate the cost of your planned outdoor swimming pool in the original bid for your custom home. Together, we can determine how to design a custom home that includes all of your wishes for the right price.  

Other Factors To Consider

Along with the typical construction costs, there are a few more factors that will affect the final cost of living in your custom home. Some overlooked items are landscaping, fencing, and furnishings. 

In addition, a custom home requires having some maintenance items on hand. For many first-time homebuyers, these can be a surprise. Ladders, garden hoses, lawnmowers, and other tools for your home’s daily maintenance and upkeep come with a price tag.

Once you’ve built your beautiful new dream home, you’ll want to decorate it with furnishings that compliment the space and match the finishing touches in your home. Furniture and other home decor can be an added expense.

Landscaping around your custom home may also cost more money than you might expect. Many buyers have an idea of what the exterior of their home will look like but forget to budget for a sprinkler system, sod, plants, trees, and bushes, and outdoor furniture.

Our Dennis Miller Homes design team can work with you to create an allowance for every aspect of your new home, including interior design and landscaping.  

Cost of Custom Home Building at Dennis Miller Homes

Although building a custom home doesn't include a straightforward price tag, working with the right builder will allow you to comfortably stay within your predetermined budget. Let Dennis Miller Homes be your constant throughout the custom home building process.

Our St. George custom home builder offers complete cost clarity to our clients. In the beginning stages of building your custom home, we will draft a long-hand bid that includes approximate project costs.

Then, you can shop around using the allowances that we decided on together. We will provide complete transparency, so you know where every penny is going towards your new custom home's cost.

Trust our home builders to ensure your dream home fits your budget.

Build your dream home in St. George, Utah, by contacting Dennis Miller Homes today.

My wife and I are getting ready to move. When we try and formulate a strategy or even think about where to start, we feel overwhelmed. We have reached out to many friends and family to get their advice on the best way to approach the process. We received really good and practical advice that we are excited to implement. Because moving into a custom home in St. George home can sometimes be the hardest step in the entire process, I thought it would be a good idea to share the things we have learned.


(1) Keep it small

The first piece of advice we received was to stick to small and medium-sized boxes. Intuitively, it would make sense to fit as many things in large-sized boxes to be efficient in the number of boxes used and the number of trips from the trailer into the house. However, for those doing the hauling, it’s much easier to move more small boxes with fewer things in them that fewer heavy boxes, even if it means more trips. Plus when you organize the trailer it’s much more convenient to have smaller boxes that you can twist and turn than large boxes that take up a lot of space.

Which leads to our next point.

(2) Keep it Uniform

 

For the sake of organization, it is wise to keep your brand of boxes uniform. Whether you get boxes from Home DepotLowe’s, or somewhere else do your best to have them all be from the same place. The different brands have slightly different sizing making staking an organizing tricky. Keeping the boxes uniform will make stacking much more simple and sturdy.

(3) Overestimate Trailer Space

It’s easy to underestimate the amount of items that you having stuffed in the nooks and crannies of your home. When you go to move into your new custom home, you’ll be amazed how quickly the trailer or moving truck will fill up. Whether you rent a moving vehicle, borrow from a friend, or use your own, make sure you play it safe and overestimate the capacity you’ll need to get all of your belongings from one destination to the other.

(4) Have a Labeling Strategy

One of the hardest parts about moving is keeping all of your boxes straight and making sure they are put in the right rooms at your custom home. In the chaos of moving, and with many people asking “where does this one go?” it is easy to get flustered. Having a labeling strategy makes all of the difference

We recommend writing on the top of boxes for your own personal reference. For example “Sally’s Shoes” or “Billy’s Books”. However, don’t stop the labeling there. Those labels alone will surely have people asking you the question we mentioned above. Instead, we recommend getting colored tape that you slap on the sides of your boxes that are coordinated with each room in the house. Red goes in the kitchen, green goes in the master bedroom, and so forth. That way, you tell people the color code once and everyone can help each other in remembered what color goes where.

 

Furthermore, putting the tape on the sides of the boxes will make it more visible for individuals taking the stacked boxes from the moving trailers.

(5) Plan Ahead for Protective Materials

In the moving process it is easy for fragile items to be damaged or even destroyed. No one wants that to happen. Protective moving materials becomes essential. Plan a few weeks ahead by getting free newspapers from grocery stores every time you go. Newspaper is great for protecting dishes and stuffing in glasses. Price shop for bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is great for wrapping family portraits and timeless keepsakes.  Also, make sure you have plenty of moving blankets to protect furniture from getting scuffs and scratches.

(6) Warm Up

By Far, the best advice we received was to warm up by playing the classic game of Tetris. After all, getting all of those odd shapes to fit snug into a moving truck is a talent in an of itself. What better way to practice packing than playing Tetris with family and friends?

(7) Have Fun

As always, it’s important to remember to have fun. As stressful as moving can be, remember that the moving process is the culmination of  your dreams of having a custom home coming to reality. Order some pizza, make up different contests for the movers, and create a memory. There is no better time to start making memories in your new home than move-in day.


What are You Waiting For? Design Your Custom Home Today!

Owning a home is a goal that the majority of American’s share. Making the transition to home ownership is an exciting opportunity, and, for most, a landmark point in one’s life. There are a variety of barriers that keep this transition from happening. Qualifying for a loan, affording a down payment, or timing in one’s life all prevent renters from becoming owners. However, at Dennis Miller Homes we have discovered another obstacle for prospective homeowners: the fear of maintenance.

Much like death and taxes, having to maintain a house is an unavoidable fact of life. As a renter, a tenant can simply call the landlord or property manager when aspects of the home need to be repaired, changed, or updated. However, when people their own home, that responsibility falls on their own shoulders. Many people are hesitant about owning a home because they fear that responsibility. The fear doesn’t come from having to do the work, but rather knowing how to do the work.

For this blog post we decided to help eliminate that fear and enable you to take steps to owning,  or better yet building, a new home. We’ve come up with 6 common home repairs and tips on how to conquer them.


(1) Fixing a Leaky Toilet

Not only does the constant running of the toilet water get annoying, but it can also be costly. With the water continually running, your water bill is sure to skyrocket; and plumbers these days are not exactly cheap. Follow this link for a step by step guide on how to fix the problem so that you can save time and money.

(2) Cleaning the Refrigerator Coils

Energy efficiency in homes is a dominating trend in the housing industry. A top “energy sucker” is the refrigerator. Keeping the coils clean will help your appliance run efficiently and extend the life of the product. Refrigerator coils are usually on the back or underneath the fridge. Use your vacuum or a coil brush to get your coils to a cleanly state.

(3) Unclogging a Drain

Most people try attacking a clogged drain with Draino or Liquid Plumber. However, we recommend having a plunger and/or drain snake on hand. Once you have used those tools, combine baking soda and vinegar to pour down the drain. Most people typically have those ingredients on hand and it will help you avoid the harsh chemicals of the typical de-clogging products.

(4) Accessing Breaker Panel

Breaker panels are typically located in one of three places: the garage, a utility closet, or in the basement. For larger homes, more than likely there are different panels for either side of the house. We recommend labeling the different breakers as soon as you move in.

(5) Changing HVAC filters

This topic goes back to the energy efficiency of your home mentioned earlier. The more consistent you are with changing your HVAC filters, the more efficient your system will be. This is pretty easy to do. Simply remove the grate holding the filters in place, pop the old one out, and then insert the new one.

(6) Igniting Water Heater

There is nothing worse than running out of hot water in the middle of a shower. For one reason or another, the pilot light in water heaters will go out. Knowing how to ignite the pilot light without having to call a handyman is critical. Every water heater model is different. Older model usual require you to manually ignite the pilot light whereas newer models have built in igniters. Read the instructions located on the water heater to know how yours works.


Being a homeowner is a wonderful adventure. Coming home every day to a place you get to call your own is a very satisfying feeling. Don’t let the fear of maintenance keep you from experiencing the pride of ownership. At Dennis Miller Homes we are more than willing to come back to your house long after closing and make sure your home is running smoothly and efficiently.  Don’t let the fear of maintenance keep you out of the game. Experience for yourself the pride that comes from owning your own home.


What are You Waiting For? Design Your Custom Home Today!

Today’s issue marks the final installment of our Custom Home Process mini series. As St. George’s premier custom home builder, we like knowing that our clients have had a tremendous experience from start to finish. We started by talking about selecting the perfect building site, outlined the creation process, explained the benefits of our design phase, gave tips on obtaining a bid from your home builder, as highlighted important features of the construction phase.  Today we wrap up the series by talking about closing and moving into your new home.

The process of a home can be broken into 3 subcategories: Final Walkthrough, Closing Documents, and Handing Over the Keys.

Final Walkthrough


Once all parts of the construction phase have finished and a “CO” has been obtained we will conduct a final walkthrough. During this process we will walk into each room admiring what has been created.

This is the time for your critical eyes to come out. As this final walkthrough takes place, make sure every little detail is exactly how you want it and the finished product meets expectations. Feel free to open and close cabinets, check appliances, light fixtures, etc. This house is yours to move into so make sure you love it.

Closing Documents


Once we have done the final walkthrough and tightened up any loose ends, closing documents will be signed. Certain title documents will need to be signed and notarized with the right legal professionals, contracts with your builder will be finalized and the proper exchange of money for services will take place. Just like any legal document, make sure you read what you are signing thoroughly

Handing Over the Keys


The only thing left to do is hand you the keys to your home. With a smile, we will thank you for the experiences we’ve shared together and the opportunity we had to build your home. We will then present you with our closing packet which will include the details of the home warranty, access to some of our preferred vendors in St. George and the surrounding area, and other pertinent documents. The house is now officially your home.

Welcome Home!

This mini series has been enjoyable for us to create. It has helped us take a step back and look at the different opportunities there are to make sure our clients have an incredible experience building a home. Whether you choose us, or another contractor to build your home, we hope that the concepts we outlined for you will help ease the stressful process that is often associated with building.  Remember, it’s not about creating a final product in a house. Instead, it’s about enjoying an experience as you watch your dreams of having a custom home come to life!


What are You Waiting For? Design Your Custom Home Today!

For those of you who have been following our mini series, you know that we have been talking in depth about the building process and how to make it less stressful. We started talking about the perfect building site, then moved on to the creation process, highlighted the design phase, and finally talked about the bidding process. By putting extra effort upfront in each of those respective steps, the next stage in the custom home process will be much more enjoyable.  Today we are talking about the construction process.

When you get the construction phase of building, the goal is to be able to go on autopilot. If you have done the preliminary steps the right way, especially the creation and design phases, you should be able to sit back and let the professionals do their thing. So, in giving tips for the construction phase, the best tip we could give is to go back to our recent articles and make sure you’re familiar with the preliminary steps of building a home.

However, there are unique opportunities that happen during the construction phase that we want to make you aware of. These opportunities will help you feel more apart of the building experience and ultimately make you love your house even more.

Walk-Throughs


If you have gone through the right steps in selecting the right home builder, then we would advise in taking a laissez faire approach during the construction phase. The home builder is a professional and knows the necessary courses of action to ensure a gorgeous final product. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be completely hands off. As a matter of fact, we advise the opposite.

It is important that you schedule regular walk-throughs of the property where both you and your home builder can walk side by side throughout the property.   This critical time will allow you to ask questions in regards to the progress of your home to the contractor while they are on-site. Also, this time will enable the contractor to ask clarifying questions to you ensuring that you are getting the product you want. Making sure these walkthroughs take place will speed up the building process and ensure that you and your professional are clearly communicating.

Monumental Steps Of Building


One thing we like to do here at Dennis Miller Homes is allow our clients to take part in the construction process. After all, this is the place you will call home. We want you to feel a connection to your house and start making memories the moment we break ground. There are a few parts of the building process that we feel are monumental and that we want you to take part in.

Ground Breaking

The first step of the actual building process is breaking ground to pour the foundation. You have seen ceremonies for large construction process where ribbons are cut and shovels go in the ground. Although your home won’t be a skyscraper in New York, it will be the place that houses your family and memories. Be the one to put the shovel in the ground first and start the building process.

The First Wall

Another monumental step of building house is putting up the walls. When the framed walls go up, the structure and personality of the home start to take shape. Come help our crews lift your first wall and experience something special. One of our previous customers left us a very thoughtful review highlighting how much that moment meant to them.

Painting

Paint seems to pull out the personality of the home owners. Once the walls are painted, a client will start to see some of their personal style infused within the home. Have some fun and help us roll on some paint for the wall of your choosing. Everytime you walk by that section of your home, you’ll remember that moment with fondness.

Rolling Out the Carpet

Rolling out carpet has always been a symbol that royalty has arrived or someone important has showed up. You will be the King and Queen of your home; therefore, you deserve the royal treatment. When it comes time to lay the carpet, assist our subcontractors by unraveling a roll of carpet or two.


Although you want your home to be perfect, make sure you enjoy the construction phase. Much like a kid growing up, before you know it the fun and excitement of watching your dream home come to life will be gone. Take part of those monumental moments of building a custom home and make sure you create memories long before you move in. After all, we aren’t just going to build you a home, we are here to create an experience for you and your loved ones.


What are You Waiting For? Design Your Custom Home Today!

We hope that all of you have been enjoying our mini series as much as we have enjoyed creating it. Building a custom home should be a an enjoyable experience and a process you remember with fondness. We hope that our first three articles provided you with tools that will help you conquer your next build. As a recap, we have talked about selecting a building sitethe creation process, and the design phase; and we’re not done yet. Now it’s time to talk about obtaining a bid from your custom home builder.

One major thing we highlighted in our last article was how important it was that we have our architect in-house. Because we have our architect in-house, we’re able to make adjustments to a client’s floor plan without having to charge them for a redraft. That advantage becomes critical during the bidding process. If for some reason we came in a little too high or too low, we can always add or take away components to the plan.

When it comes to the actual process of bidding, we usually take one of two approaches with clients. We either bid out the project with our standard allowances, or we go with a customized approach.

Standard Allowances


The Standard allowance approach is what most home builders will use. It’s the industry standard, and pretty straight forward. That standard allowance process is where a builder will draw up a client’s plan, and then based off of that plan they will start bidding the house as if the client were to put the standard components in their home. As the building process occurs the builder will then send the customer to their preferred vendor, tell them what the bid allowance is, and then have them pick components (such as light fixtures or appliances) that fall within that allowance.

The advantage to the standard process is that it speeds up the bidding phase and gives the client a little more time on making a final decision on paint color, counter tops type, floor coloring, etc. However, the main disadvantage to this process comes when a certain product a client actually wants is not in the allowance budget.

We’ve heard stories of individuals who got a bid from their builder and thought they were getting a steal of a deal. The contractor gave them a price based off the builder’s “standard allowance”, the contract was sign, the customer was excited, and the building commenced. Unfortunately, when it came time for the customer to pick out the features they wanted, they realized that the bid they were quoted only allowed for features they absolutely did not want. The customer ends up having to file 5 or more change orders and that killer price that they thought they were getting starts to climb very rapidly.

Ultimately the customer is left dissatisfied.

The Customized Approach


While Dennis Miller Homes will certainly bid a home using the standard-allowance approach, we typically prefer clients to use a customized approach. When we build your home, especially a custom home, we want you to have the features and components you want. Therefore, rather than give you our allowances, we instead send you to four or five of our main suppliers and have you choose the features you want in your home first. After you’ve picked out what you would prefer to have in your home we then provide a bid.

We feel the main advantage to obtaining a bid this way is two fold. First, if for some reason the bid comes in higher than you like, we can start changing features in your home while keeping the ones you absolutely can not live without. Second, once the bid is finalized, few change orders will have to be processed and the price you received at the beginning will be very close to the price you actually pay. Overall, this creates a better experience for both you as the customer and us as the builder.


Remember, building a home needs to be fun. Most customers are surprised at what kind of features they can actually afford; so don’t be afraid to splurge a little. If you are quoted using the standard approach, make sure you understand what the standard allowance will get you. If at all possible try and use the customized approach. It will make your building experience a lot more enjoyable.


What are You Waiting For? Design Your Custom Home Today!

Custom Home Process: The Design Phase

In this issue we dive into Step 3 of our building process mini-series; The Design Phase. The idea of this mini-series was to help prospective home builders find relief to the often stressful process. In the first issue we gave useful tips and tricks for selecting the perfect building site. In the following issue we outlined what we term the creation process, and how to organize your thoughts to ensure the endeavor flows smoothly. With today’s topic, the design phase, we feel we hit the core of why people get stressed out, especially during during the preliminary process, when building a home.

When we talk about the design phase, think floor plans. During this critical step we take all of the ideas and components that you have come up with in the creation process and start sketching and designing your home. We start with rough designs and continue to iron out the details one step at a time until we arrive at a plan that you feel is flawless. When talking about it, the process seems simple enough. However, it is during this time that people often become overwhelmed feeling like they have to get the process right the first time.

So what is the source of all of the anxiety?

The Problem


When individuals build a custom home, they want to make sure the final product is perfect. Who wouldn’t?  After all, the family will be living in that home for the next foreseeable future. Unfortunately,  when a customer gets to the design phase, most custom home builders require customers to pay for a set of plans to be drafted. To compound the problem, there are often fees when the builder has to go back to the architect with any redrafting or changes. With that industry norm in mind, individuals feel pressured to get the house plan right the first time in order to avoid fees and unwanted costs.

Hence the anxiety and pressure.

Our Solution


One of the things we pride ourselves on here at Dennis Miller Homes is breaking industry norms. Custom home builders often charge customers to draft floor plans and make changes because… well… they too are getting charged. It’s not that they’re malicious and are trying to nickel and dime people, it’s simply business.

Lucky for us, we have arguably the best draftsman/architect in the area as part of our team. Because we draft all of our plans in-house, we don’t have to worry about being charged when customers need to make changes. Therefore, our customers are free to make tweaks and adjustments until their house plan is deemed perfect.

Recently, we had a customer tell us that they were charged more than $15,000 for drafting house plans! He couldn’t believe that we were doing all of it for free before he had even signed a contract. He felt so relieved that he could bounce ideas off of us and make adjustments ensuring his floor plan would be just right.

Why is our change in the process such a big deal?

The biggest advantage of this type of process is the stress-free environment customers now have when going through the design phase. There is no need to get they’re house plan perfect the first go around. Instead they can approach the design phase knowing that whatever they start with can be adjusted. This process also becomes an advantage when obtaining a bid.

(Spoiler alert! We’ll talk about the bidding phase next issue)

Tips for the Design Phase


Now that you understand our process a little better and the pressure of getting the design perfect is gone, what is the best way to approach this step of the process? The first step is to bring all of the ideas from the creation phase to us. When we hear you talk about your dreams and desires, in our minds we will be piecing together a design and developing a rough sketch.

From there, we recommend taking a look at other floor plans and seeing different layouts. Like we mentioned in our last post, looking at other floor plans will help get your wheels turning. However, some people have a hard time visualizing how their house will be simply by looking at a floor plan. If you fall into this category, no problem. Come look at some of our previous projects and get real-life visuals. We love when clients walk through the homes we’re working on.


Once we start with a rough sketch, we’ll continue to tweak designs and make needed adjustments. Once you’re satisfied, it’s on to the bidding phase! At Dennis Miller Homes, we want to not only give you an outstanding product, but, like many of our past clients, we also want you to enjoy the journey. We feel that the flexibility of our design phase will leave you more than satisfied.


What are You Waiting For? Design Your Custom Home Today!

In step 1 of our preliminary process mini-series, we talked about certain things to consider when choosing a building site. We explained the importance of that critical step and how a building lot provides a foundation for designing a home. In today’s article we talk about the next step of the process; arguably our favorite. At this point, we get the creative juices flowing and start dreaming. We call this step The Creation Process.

The Creation Process is designed for brainstorming and dreaming. This process can be done on your own, or together with us as we give input. We’re dreamers at heart, so we love to hear what types of things prospective clients have always yearned for in a home. However, even if a person has been planning the details of their home for years, when they hear the question, “What would you like in your new home?” almost everyone starts to draw blanks.

Because thinking about every facet of your home can be overwhelming, we broke this process down into three different categories: Lifestyle, Features, and Style. Going about the Creation Process while keeping these components in mind will bring organization and clarity to the endeavor.

Lifestyle


Thinking about lifestyle is a perfect starting point. Some people start with features only to realize that they have unnecessary features or that they forgot certain features they really need. We feel it better to start with thinking about your lifestyle and then place the features in a way that will support that lifestyle. Questions you should ask yourself at this point of the creation process include: Do I need space for entertaining? Do I want the main gathering space for my family to be in a great room near the kitchen or in a separate family room? Do I plan to have visitors often who would appreciate their own suite? Do I want more space in the house, or more space in the yard? Asking questions like these help you figure out what is really important to you. It will ensure that your home is perfectly functional and that you are utilizing the space you call home.

Features


As you brainstorm about lifestyle, you’ll notice that the next step, which is to focus on features, will come naturally. If you have decided you need space for entertaining, then more than likely you are going to want a dining space and a large kitchen island or bar. If you want to enjoy St. George sunsets, you’ll probably want a covered patio. Is a jacuzzi tub or fireplace in the master suite something you can’t live without? Do you want your kids to enjoy a pool in the backyard? Some people feel that it is helpful to look at other floor plans to get their wheels turning. Don’t worry about missing certain aspects, we will be sure to bring features to your attention that you may not have considered.

Style


Once you have thought about your lifestyle and the features you want to include in your home, the last thing to go over is style. What do you want those features to look like? This is where your home will start to reflect your personality and creative taste. Do you want your home to look modern? Maybe you like the cozy and inviting feel of french country. Do you want your house to take on the trendy craftsman-style look? Whatever style you choose, we have a team of professionals that are sure to bring all of the components of your home together so that it looks aesthetically flawless.

Some other styles you might consider include the following: Ancient ModernAdobe SouthwestTuscan, and Industrial.


Remember that the creation process is a time to have fun. Try not to get overwhelmed. Reserve judgments on your dreaming. Let the ideas run free. Many people are surprised on the amount of things they can include in their home. As was mentioned above, we love this step in the building process because we get to have fun with our clients. One of the reasons a person chooses to build a home as opposed to buy a home is so they experience this creation process. Make sure you enjoy yours.


What are you waiting for? Design Your Custom Home Today!

People constantly stress over the preliminary processes when building a home–we see it all the time. Who should the builder be, where’s the best location for your home, what does the floor plan look like? With so much to consider it’s easy to become overwhelmed. A select few wont even consider building a custom home because of the stress. Thats why we saw the need to provide simple tools and advice to make the process a breeze. In our latest blog post we gave tips on how to choose a home builder. Realizing we just scratched the surface we wanted to dive in–dig a little deeper and provide you with all the right tools. Our new mini-series called “Custom Home Process” highlights every aspect of the preliminary process when building a home and more!


–SELECTING THE PERFECT BUILDING SITE–

Good homes miss the mark of becoming great because of little details and missed opportunities. Dennis Miller Homes always pays attention to detail and the land location is our “blank canvas.” Every piece of land offers some hidden treasure that needs to be captured, this is what makes good homes great homes. This philosophy is the foundation for how we design and build.

General Location

The first when selecting a lot is determining what general location you want to be in. There are countless places in Southern Utah that anyone would love living. From Ivins and Santa Clara, to Hurricane and Sand Hollow, there is a place for you and your family. So how do you choose? A good place to start, if you’re raising a family, is to determine what school district you want to be in. You also might consider what St. George amenities, such as grocery stores or shopping malls, you’d like closer to home. Where do you work and how long do you want your commute to be?

Part of the Neighborhood

Once you figure out the general location you want to build, the next thing to consider is where exactly in the subdivision you want to be. Do you want to build close to the subdivision’s access, down in the cul-de-sac, or on a corner lot? If being able to get in and out of a neighborhood quickly is important, you may consider choosing a lot near the neighborhood’s entrance. The downside is that you will experience more traffic. Do you prefer a more secluded lot? Try and find a lot at the end of a cul-de-sac. Many people like corner lots because they are often large. However, one thing to remember is that corner lots often require more landscape and maintenance. Decide what aspects you care about, and go from there.

How the House will be Oriented

As trivial as it may seem, the orientation of your home makes a big difference. Some people who live in colder climates are adamant about not having a house that faces north. They claim north-facing house make it more difficult to keep the snow cleared of walkways in the winter. Although we don’t deal with those types of problems here in Southern Utah, there are still some important things to consider. Are you going to have a pool? Maybe you would prefer a north-facing house so that most the day your pool receives sunlight. On the other hand, if you want a cool place for your kids to play in the summers, a south-facing house will lend more shade in the backyard. Also, the orientation of your house can affect its energy efficiency. Homes that you would prefer to be warmer and have more sunlight would be best placed on the south side of the home. If you roughly know the layout of your home, you’ll have a better idea on what side of the street you want your lot to be.

Try and Capture Views

We firmly believe that St. George offers some of the best views on earth. When choosing a lot, pay attention to the views that you will have when your home is built.. Would you like your views from the front of your house or the back? Also, how will your lot affect your solar exposure? How can you best take advantage of sunrises or sunsets? Considering each of things will help when trying to select a building site.


Here at Dennis Miller Homes we believe site selection is just as important, if not more important, than the actual building plan. The building site will help us determine where we want to place windows, where we want certain rooms to be, and how we want to position the home on the lot. Whether you already have found the perfect lot, or are just starting the search process, we have the right team of professionals in place to make sure you capitalize on one of the most important phases of building a home.


What are you waiting for? Let’s start building!
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