We have all heard the horror stories of families building a home and the contractor going WAY over budget, or worse running out of money and not completing the home… How can people building a new home avoid this disastrous situation?
- Don’t go it alone. So many people think that by being the General Contact of their own building project they will save money. In 95% of the cases where customers act as the GC, the project ended up over budget and WAY over schedule. Find a General Contractor with a strong reputation. Use the Better Business Bureau to check potential companies out, as well as customer referrals.
- Build a relationship with your General Contractor. If you don’t trust your GC, find a different one.
- As you go through the sales process, listen carefully! Beware of builders that consistently use estimates and allowances to give you pricing for your project. There is a big difference between estimates and quotes. Estimates are a general best guess of the cost, a quote is a real number based of the perimeter and details in the quote. Example: Estimate for Demolition of existing structure: $4500; Quote for Demolition of existing structure: Excavator for 4 hours $4,200, 1 extra dumpsters for debris and site clean up $1,500, total $5700. As you can see, the quote is higher than the estimate, but which figure is better?
- By Maine law, there must be a construction contract between the homebuyer and the builder. A construction contract is a binding legal document that must include certain details and wording in order to meet Maine State rules & regulations. Maine has provided an example building contract for people to refer to. We recommend printing this document, to help you get a better understanding of what you should expect in the contract with your contractor.
- In the state of Maine, anyone with a hammer can claim to be a builder. Kind of a scary thought! Please Note: Modular Home Builders are required to be licensed through the state. The Maine Attorney Generals office has set up a comprehensive list of items homebuyers should request from potential home builders on their website. Click here for the list.
One year ago, the Maine State Legislature developed a universal building code for the state of Maine. This code the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code (MUBEC) was adopted in June of 2010, and went into effect in December.
MUBEC is a combination of four codes:
- 2009 International Building Code (for commercial construction)
- 2009 International Existing Building Codes (for renovations)
- 2009 International Residential Code (for residential code)
- 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (for all forms of construction)
What you as a homebuyer needs to be aware of:
- All Modular/Manufactured homes entering the state have been built to meet this code.
- The general contractor for your home, must ensure that all work done on site (foundation, second floor completions, additions, etc.) meets this code.
- Schiavi Home Builders has worked with our sub-contractors to ensure compliance.
- If you G.C. your home, YOU are responsible for ensuring your sub-contractors are compliant.
- If any part of your home does not comply with this code, the Code Enforcement Officer must, by law, deny an occupancy permit.
Quality is a relative term and should be treated as such. All manufactured housing is subject to strict building codes which provide a minimum quality standard (minimum being the key word!) Mobile homes are built to the HUD code, while modular homes are built to the BOCA code. Researching the building codes will give you a fair understanding of the minimum quality you can expect when you buy a manufactured home. All factory built homes are subject to these standards, however not all factory built homes are of the same quality. HUD and BOCA codes were created to protect the consumer from shoddy craftsmanship. Keep in mind that all factory built homes can be built to a much higher standard than the minimum. The quality of your new home is entirely based on what is important to you. Asking for your new home to be built to your standards assures you that your expectations of quality will be met. At Schiavi Home Builders we go one step further by offering you the most qualified crew available in this area. Our set crew, construction crew and quality assurance personnel make the process of delivering and readying your new home to move into a high priority. We take care of everything so you can be certain the quality of the workmanship is top notch.
Here in the Northeast, we are “experts” in home winterization. Each Fall, homeowners flock to the local hardware, building supply and department stores to load up on plastic window kits, weather stripping and door draft stoppers. With the new Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency, now may be a good time to do more permanent changes to our home, than the standard annual buttoning up many homeowners do.
To help you get the most bang for your buck, it is a good idea to start your project with an Energy Audit of your home. You might believe that your windows need to be replaced but in fact they may need to be reinstalled with proper use of caulking, ice and water shield, and insulation. An Energy Audit will help eliminate the risk of spending money on products and services you don’t need. Here is a link to information about how an Energy Audit is conducted, and what the purpose of an audit is. Energy Savers: Home Energy Audits.
When your Energy Audit is complete, you may be able to complete some of the updates with a little bit of knowhow and a few trips to the local building supply store. DoItYourself.com has an in-depth article on weatherizing your home including a materials and tools checklist and list of different types of caulking and their pros and cons. How to Weatherize Your Home.
ThisOldHouse.com is always filled with relevant home improvement articles. 10 Ways to Shrink Your Energy Bills has some great ideas regarding improving the efficiency of your home. New Insulation Options describes types of insulation, explains their ingredients and performance.
To wrap up this fairly long blog, if you are looking for more energy efficiency ideas that you don’t need to search through multiple websites to find, you will not find a more comprehensive source than The Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings. This book is published by on a yearly basis and is filled with up-to-date ideas that can be applied to new construction as well as renovations.
Following are key points that prospective home buyers should be aware of when considering a home purchase under the tax credit program:
- A tax credit of up to $8000 is available for first-time home buyers purchasing on or after Jan 1, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. In cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
- A tax credit of up to $6500 is available for repeat home buyers who have owned a home for five consecutive years out of the prior eight years. The repeat home buyer tax credit applies to houses sold after November 5, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. In cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify.
- Income limits of $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for married couples filing jointly apply to all sales occurring after Nov 6, 2009.
- Homes priced above $800,000 are not eligible for either the first-time home buyer tax credit or the repeat home buyer tax credit.
- Expanded tax credit benefits apply to members of the military, the foreign service and the intelligence community.
- Home purchases in 2010 may be claimed on an amended 2009 income tax return.
- Persons who are claimed as dependents by a taxpayer or who are under age 18 do not qualify for a tax credit.
- Home purchases from relatives of the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse do not qualify for the tax credit. The IRS defines relatives as ancestors (parent, grandparent, etc.), lineal descendants (child, grandchildren, etc.) and spouses.
- Married couples are not eligible to claim the first-time home buyer credit if either spouse has previously owned a home. They may, however, qualify for the repeat home buyer tax credit.
- Neither the first-time home buyer tax credit nor the repeat home buyer tax credit have to be repaid unless the home is sold or ceases to be used as the buyer’s principal residence within three years after the initial purchase.
- Taxpayers must submit a copy of the HUD-1 settlement statement and IRS form 5405 to claim either the first-time home buyer tax credit or the repeat home buyer tax credit.
The home buyer tax credit has been extended. You only have an additional six months to take advantage of this credit. At Schiavi Home Builders that means you will need to be ordering your new home as soon as possible to insure you will take delivery before the deadline. Our calendar is filling up fast for next year, so there isn’t any time to waste. If you still have questions about the tax credit or you would like to learn more about the changes that were incorporated into the extension you can watch this video produced by the National Home Builders Association. Click HERE for the video.