Custom Home Building Process

What is the custom home building process in Cleveland Ohio? This is the 1st 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 1

Cleveland Custom Builders Says Building Is Like A Roller Coaster

So you want to build a new custom home. Good luck. It’s a very scary endeavor. It could be. I always like to explain things to my clients. It’s kind of like riding a roller coaster for the first time. It looks scary, but boy has looked fun, and you go up that big hill and here clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink, clink at any start falling. And you’re like, oh shit. And then you’re going around and around. And most of us like the rollercoaster ride. Once it comes to a complete halt and we like it so much, we’re going to do it again. So, unlike most people, I think they’re not going to build a house a second time. I try to make the experience so enjoyable that you would do it again because it should feel like a roller coaster ride. After all, it is scary.

It looks fun. You go through moments of fear and anxiety, but ultimately, the custom home building process is a great experience when it’s all said and done.

Who is Cleveland Custom Builders and Tony Kucia

So I’ve been building homes now for approximately 27 years. I started my career with a production builder. It was a national builder, and I worked with them in three different States. I had a great time building lot of homes with them. I was a mentor, a trainer, an area manager, project manager, superintendent. You name it; I’ve done it all. And the experience there was phenomenal and led me to a startup company for which I worked for a year. And it was just before the 2008 meltdown, which the Midwest here felt that in 2005, I remember moving my wife and one child. And then we had our second child up to Detroit, and everything was going great. And all of a sudden, the Detroit free press put on the cover of the front page. I think it was four or five words. Ford lays off 4,000 people. So the writing was on the wall. So I decided to reach out to a long time, coworker of mine in Cleveland. And we had talked about starting a custom home building company.

So we started Blossom Homes. I put everything together. I set up everything with the banks. I started talking to some architects, and I started reaching out to land people who understand the land and lots and created a concept. Going back to Detroit, I ended up working with a very good marketing person. The idea of the company I worked for was all about a particular concept, floor plans, the culture, and different things at the company all revolved around the name of the company. So, I came up with the concept of Blossom Homes.

Blossom homes started in January of 2005. Unfortunately, I had to shut down the company in November of 2019. It was a horrible experience. I had some great clients I’ve worked with to build their custom home. I’ve worked with many different types of clients, built many different kinds of custom homes. I say all this because I’m okay.

Cleveland Custom Builders and Tony Kucia Have a No B.S. Philosophy

I’m a No B.S. kind of custom home builder. It is what it is. And I talk about the roller coaster ride. Still, I also transitioned that to it is when you do what I do and live what I live every day. As a custom home builder, I’m interacting with many different types of people, clients like yourself, tradespeople, in the field suppliers at a desk or in the field, and various types of people who come and go. You know, land people, your banks, your realtors, and things like that. And, and so I’ve always tried to align myself with the best. The reason you want to align yourself with the best is that the best have experienced the worst because, in this business, anything and everything happens.

It’s those who pay attention to the bad things that happen that make themselves better and better at what they do. And at the end of the day, you want to be the best can and do and do the best you can. I will tell you, it just doesn’t start now, you know, growing up, I’m one of seven boys, I’m the middle boy, you know, the middle child always gets dumped on and still can give it. But at the same time, you’re not the youngest, the oldest. You’re the middle child, and shit kind of happens. I always try to make myself known. I was pretty good at it. And I think that’s one of the driving forces behind who I am. I remember my dad always saying, do the right thing, do the right thing, no matter what, you have to do the right thing. And ultimately, that’s how I lived my life.

The 5 Ps, The 5 W’s & The H of The Custom Home Building Process

I live by these phrases. The five P’s and the five W’s and H. Proper planning prevents poor performance. And who, what, when, where, why, and how.

I try to teach my kids, and my wife and I, my wife Markie, have five wonderful children. They’re teenagers now, and they’re not so wonderful, but we’re going through it. We’re going just like everyone else does. But I try to instill that same mental mindset with them is no matter what, do the right thing. Sometimes, it sucks. You got to tell the truth and do the right thing.

You know, I’m going to take it back now to riding a rollercoaster and talking about the different pieces and parts of custom home building and how it relates to the five P’s, the five W’s, and the H, along with doing the right thing.

When clients take an endeavor explicitly looking to buy a new home, they’re either outgrew their old home or lost interest in the existing house that they’ve had for several years. They’re looking to either remodel, build or put an addition on and remodel. I always tell them you have to start with what makes the most sense both for your personal life and, of course, financially, because we all know it’s common sense. Your home is your most significant, most prideful, financial investment. We all go through all the ups and downs, living in a home.

Through my experience with Blossom Homes and working with many different clients, I built many other home types. And because I’m a custom home builder and you are a customized customer, hence custom home customer, you design and work with the builder and architect.

I try to help facilitate the different cost analysis, the products, the land that goes with the house to fit the customer’s custom home.

Where Does The Custom Home Building Process Start?

The custom home building process starts with a concept of what the customer’s wants and needs are. No matter what we have to get your needs accomplished, your needs are first on the sheet.

Then I always ask custom home clients to, and of course, I’m helping along the way in the design development phase. I would call it to tier your wants because we all have a budget. Building a custom home has to make financial sense. So by organizing your wants as a tier-one want, which are the most important just after needs. A tier two want is the next most important, followed by a tier-three want, which is the least essential pie in the sky; you just won the lottery lets’s get it done because I can.

So, but by tiering custom home building wants and having it makes sense in your head. You’re thinking of all these different thoughts and things you’ve gone through in your existing home. Or as you’re living in your home and dreaming about building that custom home, you now organize those specific ideas to what those costs should be or what your desired expenditures should be based on if you get those needs and Tier-one, tier-two, tier-three wants. This simple process helps formulate the idea or the organization of your custom home. Now you understand what my desires are within my custom home.

What To Do Before You Buy A Piece Of Property To Build A Custom Home On?

I always ask clients, please, before you buy a piece of property, let’s discuss how to make your custom and the lot work. I get myself involved, upfront, researching the land to make sure we can properly design a home, that we understand you and your goals. And I’m going to touch on this later through foundationally understanding of what your needs and wants are. We can now help design the home to fit on that proper lot. There’s a lot of unknown things in many different types of lots.

I do a lot of work down in the city of Cleveland. Those lots have been built on two, three, four, five, six times. We don’t know and don’t have a clue what you may find. We do a pre-dig, research through County records, you can go to fire Marshall station over on Superior. You can go through water, pollution control. Ultimately there are many things we need to understand.

You can also build out in the country. You’re going to build on 25 acres that require a well. You’re going to build a half-mile off the road. Yes. I built a custom house a half-mile off the road. The house was almost 2,800 feet off the road. We had to determine how to get the driveway and where the utility service was going to be. There are different costs associated with making these decisions for your custom home.

So in between all those, there’s a set process to try to follow. It’s understanding how to incorporate your needs and wants into the lot selection to properly devise a budget.

What’s that cost you?

What Are The Costs To Start The Custom Home Building Process With Cleveland Custom Builders?

Typically, I try to get at least a $5,000 deposit, no matter what I’m doing, because it takes a lot of time and effort to put forth this work to determine how this will all make sense if we build you a custom home. Ultimately, I’ve had clients that didn’t put the best foot forward, trying to work with the builder upfront myself, and who are willing to meet and review the lot. So you don’t make a poor decision on a lot purchase because that’s no good. If you make a lousy lot decision, now you’re sitting on a piece of land and you can’t build your dream home.

How deflating is that?

Not All Land Deals Are Good Deals When Building Custom Homes

I’ve been there with custom home clients that came to me too late. I’ve been there with people crying a couple of times because they had already owned the dirt. I mean the lot; excuse me, dirt is custom home lingo builder’s use, and buying a lot your dream home won’t fit on sucks.

So again, I’m going to go back to proper planning, prevents poor performance during the custom home building process. Well, unaware clients wanting to build a custom home didn’t know. They didn’t know. They didn’t plan out their custom home building process because they didn’t understand they’re excited. The custom building clients thought it was a great deal to buy that land. Water service wasn’t their water services across the street. You have to bore the road. You have to cut open the road because they don’t allow you to bore the road. Then you have to repatch the road. It could be $15,000 by the time it’s all said and done. Oh, by the way, we ran new sewers down the road because that lot was vacant. We never put a stub for your sewer. So now we’ve got to cut the road for a sewer stub. $15,000 later, you have sewer to the house, but it’s another unforeseen budget hit. You thought the land you purchased was a great deal on the lot, but no water, no sewer.

That land purchase wasn’t a great deal because now you’re $30,000 more in the hole. A few unexpected expenses now take away from your dream home budget, where you have all these needs and wants. And now you’re tier two, and tier three wants are gone because of unexpected water and sewer connections, which are of no value to you. But of course, you need them to live in your new custom home. So I try to help you avoid these land buying mistakes, and boy, I’m passionate about what I do. You probably can tell that I care for potential and existing home building clients by the way I’m talking. When I say care, I care about the budget because I don’t like surprises any more than you do. No one likes surprises.

Two Words That Can Cost Time & Money During The Custom Home Building Process

Let’s talk about other ways you can cost yourself time and money with two words. Those two words in custom home building are “Change Orders.”

Change orders cost a custom builder so much. You and the home builder do so much planning upfront. We design the specs for your custom home. We put so much time into the pre-development stage before we go to contract. And that’s why an initial building deposit is essential because you and the builder spend so much time putting your new custom home together. After all, it’s for you to have an enjoyable custom build. Your home building process should be like a roller coaster ride. Building your new custom home should be very enjoyable and fun. Building a new home is a little scary, but it should be so much fun that you want to do it again.

Don’t be a client that didn’t go through properly planning your custom home out. Not asking all the questions or having a builder to ask those questions to absorb that information and make sense in the building environment. If you don’t properly plan, you won’t want to ride the roller coaster again because a poorly planned building process was a nightmare.

And so we want to make sure we take the time to do all that. So you would, you will enjoy the process. But my sidebar is my own home. I built 800 feet off the road, and I had built just not far from North Royalton. I built another house about a thousand feet off the road and a certain utility company allowed me to put a transformer, and well, I just gave it away. And ultimately, it was covered by their costs. I was expecting that. So my expectations were probably poor planning is that I would be able to absorb that similar costs. Well, the company had ended for synergy. It ended that. And what sucks is I had to come up with approximately $5,200. And so that eight out of my tier two wants and part of tier one, I should say, so I make mistakes.

The Custom Home Building Process Is Like Eating An Elephant

Also, I’m human. We all make mistakes. We can learn from them and try to ensure we get as much information upfront to properly account for those potential issues before going into the build process. So once you get your construction loan, we’ll touch on that in a second. You can have things accounted for, so you don’t have to absorb those unnecessary costs and remove some of your wants. So then we get into the construction process, and man, it’s a, it’s a great process. The home building process is like eating an elephant. It’s how do I, where do I start, what do I do. Well, the answer to that is you take one bite at a time. So I try to break it down the home building process to make one bite at a time. Once you can take a bite at a time and can chew it you better understand.

So, you have your pre-construction meeting, and we meet, we’re getting ready to start. We’ve gone through the custom building process of designing the plan, putting the budget together, and putting together a correct set of building specifications, thinking of your needs and wants. We then begin the building process. We’ve gone through proper planning, we’ve got the bank financing in place, we’ve got permits and we’re getting ready to put a shovel in the ground.

Before Digging During Your Custom Home Building Process

Again, I try to re-huddle with my custom building clients, we go through our plan, and we say, okay, here’s what we’re doing. We’re getting our custom home build started. Let’s roll.

By the way, now, you have to have some of your selections done, finalized a hundred percent. I can tell you this, and I may repeat myself, once the home building starts, the process goes, so I need to have all your exterior choices selected a hundred percent in concrete. You’re going to be asked to sign off on those selections because we’re going to order up. Why is that? Lead times, which are greater than ever with this whole COVID stuff. I’ve used to be able to get certain things, windows and doors, and trusses. And approximately four weeks, those days are gone. We’re up to eight to 10 to 12 weeks in some of those items.

The reason why I mentioned timeframes, if I’m going to go back to the construction loan, the loan gives us a certain amount of time to build a house. So when you sign papers on your construction loan, they’re going to want the house done in eight, 10, or 12 months.

Can you imagine if you don’t have things selected? You go through the custom building process, not properly planning things out. Not getting specific directions from your builder on how long it might take to build your house. It could go up to two years if you miss all those deadlines and don’t select things on time. So the custom home client and the builder have to work together to understand the home building timeline so we can move forward correctly in ordering things to get them on time.

Once we start, we will want to have your exterior selections made. Windows, doors, siding, roofing, your coil, and gutters because you don’t want delays. You don’t want to select those items individually because you want them all to blend. So that’s why you need to put exterior selections together and select them at the same time. Proper planning of the exterior choices is going to provide a better experience. Again, proper planning prevents poor performance. If you plan things out and you’d select all those things at the same time, and you put them all together, you’re going to have a beautiful looking home.

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