Custom Home Building Process Part 2

What is the custom home building process in Cleveland Ohio? This is the 2nd part of a three video series where Tony Kucia with Cleveland Custom Builders explains the custom home building process in detail.

Custom Home Building Process with Cleveland Custom Builders Tony Kucia Part 2

Making Selections During The Custom Home Building Process

So what you have to realize is that you need to understand your capabilities. Can I do my custom home selections myself? Can I do this with my loved one, my wife, or my husband?

So, how do we make all these selections during the custom home building process? You know, it’s not easy, but it has to be done.

I shouldn’t say husband or wife, because obviously, women are the ones who pretty much know how things should look more so than men, which I get it. I’m married. So you can’t do it yourself. Talk to a family friend. Talk to someone involved and maybe in the business of putting home selections together. You can even do this through a website potentially. You can also look at working with particular interior designers.

Consider A Designer During Your Custom Home Building Process

You know, I’ve worked with several designers, and they help. The nice thing is designers don’t have to do everything for you during your custom home building process. Meaning you don’t have to sign a contract that says they have to have complete involvement with both the outside and the inside of your new home build. Designers will also let you know how much it’s going to cost. Some of the designers out there will actually charge you by the hour.

Some designers may say they want a minimum of maybe 10 hours or 20 hours. Many have very reasonable rates, a hundred bucks an hour. But, imagine the success you want to have during your custom home building process. Proper planning prevents poor performance. You want to be putting all your home selections together with peace of mind knowing I didn’t mess that up. I didn’t screw up my custom home building process.

Working with a professional designer as you plan your home selections is well worth the cost. Let this be a consideration when building a custom home.

Think about it.

What if you had to tear off shutters after the fact, but they don’t look right. Redo that door color because it doesn’t match. Change to a different siding color because once they are up, they look awful. A 20-hour contract with a designer at $2,000 is well worth the time and money because you’re working efficiently through your custom home building process.

I spent a lot more than that, replacing selections that were not adequately thought out. Oh, by the way, you’re going to piss off the builder too because any custom builder wants to try to do it right the first time.

So I’m kidding. I’ve made plenty of changes because the home building client didn’t like what they chose in the first round. Really, plenty of things have had to be changed. The point is, you’re not an issue yourself. You must think about all the different things you are adding to your home. And my job is to help you through it, to make you feel comfortable, to make you understand that there are other avenues than just picking it all at once on your own.

You’re not on an island during the custom home building process. We’re all here to work together.

After Home Selections Are Made

Once we have all the custom home selections. We’re moving forward with the actual home building process. We’re digging the hole.

Oh Shit. We find a car in the ground as we are digging your footers. What’s that? A car in the dirt? Yeah. Been there, done that. Found a car in the ground, and I also found a gas well. Even a dead body was unearthed as we were digging a foundation. I have seen many things you don’t expect to find when digging a new custom home foundation.

What do we when you uncover expected items in the dirt during your dig?

We stop, we figure it out, and we move forward.

In my 27 years of doing this, I can honestly tell you I have only not moved forward on one new home build. I was digging a basement one time; as crazy as it may seem, we found a gas well, and we had to turn it into a park.

The point is, between the warranty, the building process, and the pre-planning process, at least 2,500 homes in the last 27 years have been built under my watch. So we work through random things that come up. It’s about a partnership. The reason why you will hire me or have hired me is the fact that you trust me and, and trust is a two-way street, right?

The Custom Home Building Process Is Like A Marriage

Just like a marriage, you’ve got to trust each other. You got to work together to solve what comes your way. Nothing’s perfect. I’m not perfect. None of us are perfect. For those that believe in God, he’s perfect. Ultimately we need to work through what comes our way together because that’s what matters.

Your custom home build will likely be your single largest and most important investment you’ll ever make.

I get it. I’m here to help you through that because when you freak out or you freak out on your spouse, been there, been involved in the middle of clashes between husband and wife or partners, life partners. It’s okay. We will take a deep breath, sit down, and figure whatever problem there is out.

And that’s what that feels like when you find that car under the ground. Obviously, it’s a matter of time and money to figure it out, but what’s the best solution. What’s the most proper solution. To figure that out, we get the engineer involved. We get different people involved. We get the soil analysis person involved.

I’ve worked with a couple of companies I’ve been working with for at least 20 years. They have the best and fairest price because they want to solve the problem as well. So you move forward. So we move forward. We figure that problem out quickly and efficiently as we can.

By the way, these examples hardly happen. That’s why I say once in a great while, but you have to be aware of it. I’d be a fool not to mention what could happen before putting the foundation in the ground.

Custom Home Building Process Moves To Plumbing

Now that we have the foundation underway, we move forward and get the plumbing in. Sometimes we get the plumbing in ahead of time. Then we drop lumber and steel. We put the steel beams.

A Big T.O. Right Now.

Timeout, because I can tell you right now, your best and proper planning during your custom home building process is you have all your selections done at this time. You should not make changes from here moving forward by the time we frame start; it’s a great goal.

You’re probably thinking, “I know you’re crazy, Tony. I can’t have my paint colors picked out at this point in time. I can’t possibly have my cabinet color picked out. And whether I’m going to do wormholes or shaker or what have you.”

Have All Selections Completed By Framing

Here’s why, because the process of your custom home being built is delayed since stopping, it’s not going to move. Your custom home building process is getting screwed up with each change. Proper planning is not going to continue to delay itself. No changes are going to keep moving your custom home forward. And so if we have those selections done. By the way, COVID has delayed things almost double the time it takes to get product and material. It’s essential to have those selections done during framing, if not before.

Take the time to accomplish completing your selections. It’s eating the elephant one bite at a time. But if you take your time and check off the different items you need to complete, you’ll get it done. You’ll be able to get it done by framing.

It takes approximately six to eight weeks to get the foundation complete. Once we dig to, once we frame start, that’s plenty of time each day to make a couple of decisions and make sure the selections go well with each other.

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Because again, proper planning prevents poor performance. Do you know the who, what, when, where, why, and how are?

Because what is it is a cabinet with a countertop. How do the countertop and cabinet interact? Well, we know that the countertop sits on top of the cabinet, and the flooring sits below. They often kind of go together, right.

So we understand what things should look like. And I know TV makes it that easy. And it’s not, it’s not that easy. What TV doesn’t show you is there’s weeks or months of putting that episode together and all those different selection processes. Oh, by the way, they hire three or four designers, and they put everything together. And the one leading designer runs the show.

My point is, you’re doing this the first time or maybe the third time, you’re doing this for your family or for your loved one or whatever, it’s your time. And so I’m just trying to help you save time on your custom build for your home because it’s your baby.

I get it. The more I can help direct you in avoiding those certain pitfalls during your custom home building process, because of TV. You can use TV as an example, but it doesn’t happen that fast. You need to take the time during your custom home build; need to have the right time upfront to get all those selections made at the beginning of the custom home building process. By the time we get through that six to eight weeks of completing the foundation. Everything should be ready to go with your home selections.

What If My Selections Are Not Made On Time

Are you going to get in trouble, no? We can’t start framing your home because you don’t have your selections complete. Good. Some builders do that. Some builders fine you, yes. Some builders will charge you fees for not having selections done. Cleveland Custom Builders doesn’t do that.

I try to work with you because, again, it’s a partnership. You trust me, and I trust you. We have to work through late selections and the delays they may create for you.

What Happens After Framing During Your Custom Home Building Process?

Let me ask you some questions.

Do you know what comes right after the frame completion?

Oh, no guesses. All right. Let me tell you…


So think about when you turn on your shower, you turn a handle, right. The shower handle is on the wall. Water will come out of the wall, through the showerhead, or if you’re going to take a bath well behind all that tile or that fiberglass, there’s a thing called a valve.

That valve that fits that nice handle that goes on there is called the trim plumbing. Trim plumbing has to match precisely to that valve. So I need to know what valve I’m putting in the wall.

Oh, by the way, you don’t want black. You want chrome, pewter, brushed nickel? No, wait, you want polished brass? Oh, nope, Antique brass.

I don’t know what color. There are so many colors out there that you’re going to be choosing things that I don’t know. I know, you know, and that’s okay. My job is to put the valve in on time for you. That’s why I need these specific selections before framing. What if the trim color doesn’t go with that valve because it doesn’t match my light fixture. It doesn’t match my cabinet, my countertop, or my floor. My hinge color does even match the handle that goes into that bathroom. And my mirror, it doesn’t match my mirror.

Do you understand my point?

It all goes together. That’s why we need these selections at this point in time because it all goes together. That’s why having selections done before framing is complete is so essential. It’s important because the first thing after the frame is plumbing. Then we go into heating, and then we go into electrical.

Plan To Spend More Money On Electrical During Your Custom Home Building Process

Electrical is a great walkthrough. Give yourself about three to four hours because we’re going to be spending a lot of time with the electrician. I’ll be honest with you. I start every electrical walkthrough I do, I don’t finish them. Electrical walkthroughs take a lot of time.

Honestly, my electrician is phenomenal. I’ve been using them for 20 some years. The electrician’s incredible; his guys are fantastic, and they have had the same guys forever. They understand the importance of being patient and understanding what it is. They also have the specifications. They’re prepared for what we decide to include contract wise within the building specifications. They’re also going to run ideas past you because not every custom home building client is the same.

The electricians will give you some great ideas and those ideas will probably add some costs.

So it’s the first time I mentioned costs.

How Far Over Budget Should You Expect To Go With Your Custom Home Build?

And I did that on purpose because of the average home. Now I’m going to talk about change order for a minute; the custom home building client averages an additional 10% for change orders.

I don’t agree with that.

Some other builders call me crazy because I spend so much time with clients upfront to avoid the extra 10%. I really try to get to know my client, and I do. I want to understand how much to build in because we want all your wants and needs. If our goal is to move forward and build a custom house, we don’t want to have surprises after the contract is signed.

I don’t like surprises any more than you do, because it takes too much time and too much energy. And, shocks lead to distrust, which is not good even if it is not my issue but yours. It’s not good for our relationship. Trust me. When I tell you, when I’m done working for the day, I go home to my beautiful, lovely wife and my five kids, and I have to have to spend a lot more energy there. I don’t want work distractions when I’m at home.

I try to do my best to give my wife and kids my time when I get home. So I don’t have to undo a redo something that should have been done during the daytime. So again, proper planning prevents poor performance. I’ve been talking about throughout.

Because of my upfront time spent with custom building clients, I tend to think we can work together and try to hold our costs to about 5% in extras. I do because I’m spending so much time upfront with my clients and take that 5% and build it into the loan. There’s no, surprises that have to come out of your pocket other than that 5%.

Try to keep 5% on hand, as far as extras. 50%, maybe 30% of that is going to be spent on electrical.

That’s why I waited until now to bring up costs because the bulk of your changes will be electrical. You don’t know, you can’t possibly know. I can tell you and describe it to them till I’m blue in the face. You can talk to the referral list that I’ll share with you if you are interested in building a custom home with Cleveland Custom Builders. You don’t need to ask me. I’m going to give my referral list to you.

Why? Because that’s the right thing to do and that’s what I would want. It’s not so much what I would want. Many want the golden rule. To treat people like you would want to be treated. I prefer the platinum rule. To treat people how you understand them, the way they would want to be treated because you’re such a good listener.

What if I treat myself like shrimp, and you want to be treated differently. That’s my golden rule joke. The point is trying to understand the other person so well that you’re going to help them. You’re going to help them fully, to what their expectations are never going to get there. I can never, never, never exceed all your expectations. Still, I’m going to try like hell to meet or exceed your expectations, whatever I can.

Your most significant change is probably going to be electrical, and that’s fine, expect that.

Cleveland’s 15 Year Tax Abatement With Energy Efficient Custom Homes

I’m going back to expectations. I expect to do the right things by way of green community criteria. As I mentioned earlier, I build a lot in Cleveland. Many people build Cleveland homes because they offer a 15-year tax abatement, a hundred percent tax abatement. Who knows how long it will be around?

The Cleveland tax abatement is a great thing, and certain areas within Cleveland have thrived from it. I built all over the town. I built in Treemont. I built in Hough. Yeah. Hough. I built in Buckeye. I’ve built in Ohio City. I’m getting ready to start a project in Newburgh Heights. I built a Midtown. So I try to take that concept of green, the green community criteria, which helps. It’s a third party facilitation that facilitates specific recommendations and rules and inclusions that you have to build within the city limits to receive the 15-year, a hundred percent tax abatement.

I simply have taken the green concept and made it who Tony Kucia is, who Cleveland Custom Builders is. So I figure every Cleveland area custom home build I do to meet those green building criteria out of the gate. Those energy-saving requirements are in the initial preliminary estimate you receive from me unless you direct me otherwise.

Why Do Cleveland Custom Builders Build Custom Homes With Strict Energy-Saving Requirements?

Because the average home, let’s just say you live in the 1980s home where you live in a, which doesn’t leak as much as a 1950s home, but the average home buyers move from a fifties, sixties home, and they leak a lot of air. The older homes waste a lot of water.

My job is to build a better, smarter, less expensive (utilities) home for you to live in. I try to find and partner with those suppliers and tradesmen who will do that type of job and produce that type of custom home for you.

So with that being said, isn’t it a lot easier to buy 15 50-gallon power vented water heaters instead of five 50-gallon power vented hot water and 10 standard 50-gallon water heaters. Of course, I’m using my volume to buy a better, more efficient tank and put efficiencies in your home accordingly.

So from the beginning, we know it’s saving on utilities. It’s a more efficient custom home build.

What many homebuyers don’t realize is how much you can save. If you’re spending $300 a month on a 2,000 square foot ranch on your utility costs, you could go down to $175 or $200 a month on your utility costs between gas and electric.

What does that equate to?

Roughly a $100 savings on utility costs, thrown out the window every single month of every single year. That extra money could be applied to your mortgage payment every month. Even if we cut $1,200 savings in half, it’s still $600 a year.

How much more could you afford on a new home if you had an extra $50 to $100 a month you could add to your mortgage payment? Keep in mind that these energy-efficient standards will pay for themselves.

You’re in a favorable position because Cleveland Custom Builders built an energy-efficient custom home for you. And now Cleveland Custom Builders has produced a street of very efficient homes all using less energy. And by the way, you’re saving because you took the time to work with Cleveland Custom Builders. You figured things out by properly planning your custom home building process to save time and money. You put it in your house and not wasting money on utilities month after month, year after year.

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