We are quickly approaching milder weather, which is synonymous with construction season!  If you have been considering building the new home that you have always dreamed about, it is not too late to start planning for this type of project.  Building your dream home will involve many types of investments and extensive research and planning, from the financial aspects to coordinating all the different, specialized businesses that will play a role in your project, whether small or large.  It is important to create a team of experts that will provide their knowledge and connections in order to facilitate the success of your project, so that you can utilize their skills to bring your ideas to fruition.  Once you build your team, you can then begin the process of building your dream home!

Regardless if the buyers working budget is $150,000 or a million dollars, it’s important to work with someone they can trust. Making sure the builder understands what is important to the buyers, their lifestyle, and their budget allows for the builder to help with tough decisions on what to include in their dream home. Oakwood Homes is a local builder that works with buyers on everything from structural layout to design features to help meet their needs. Working to appeal to the buyers’ eye, mind, and pocketbook, building an Oakwood home provides homeowners with expert craftsmanship and luxurious details at a price that fit any buyers’ budget. The construction of the home is held to the highest standard with Oakwood leading the way in building technology that will save the homeowner money and improve comfort. Chad Herbolsheimer, Regional Vice President for Oakwood Homes stresses that it is wise to make an investment in a builder that is using top-of-the-line techniques and products because it will help lower ownership costs. As part of the Oakwood Energy Smart program, they are able to provide homeowners with savings and comfort, by constructing all homes with 2×6 exterior walls to allow for a larger amount of insulation space which achieves an even temperature throughout the house while using less energy. Oakwood Homes then uses air tight construction by sealing HVAC ductwork, plumbing and electrical fixture penetrations to avoid air leakage. All the homes then come with an HVAC system designed specifically for the home, energy efficient windows to keep the inside temperature comfortable, and extremely efficient water fixtures to help reduce utility bills. To ensure the home meets or exceeds national code, Oakwood Homes has a third party test the home before buyers move in, and they offer a guarantee on energy bills.  Beyond building homes that help buyers feel good about the quality, their design features are stunning and impress all home visitors. With high ceilings and open layout plans, guests can have luxury their way. All Oakwood homes have large eat-in kitchen islands with gourmet cooking stations, spa inspired master baths, and spacious walk in closets.  Buyers have the opportunity to visit Oakwood’s New Home Center where they can experience life-sized models of kitchens, baths and also test out design elements. Working with every budget, their design experts will help buyers choose the features that will be complimentary and suit their individual needs. Building a brand new home also gives you the ability to make all the important decisions so that your new home is uniquely yours. By asking homeowners to truly consider every detail they want in their dream home, Oakwood Homes works with those specifics to ensure that all buyers are fully satisfied. Herbolsheimer says that one tip they give homeowners when considering their needs is to think about what they wish they had in their current home.  Oakwood Homes also works with buyers who might have previously thought they could not buy a home. By providing free, personalized and confidential services that are designed to help buyers overcome financial obstacles, they always want to help make homeownership possible. This free service assists buyers through the, sometimes, complicated process.   Oakwood Homes provides luxury at every level, no matter the budget, building a new home is meant to be a unique and memorable experience.

Another crucial component that should be carefully considered when building your new dream home is the role of your roof and attic space.  Larry Lunnin of Attic Solutions, notes that the science behind decisions and products incorporated in the building process is continually evolving. Homes today are constructed under the “envelope” method, which means conditioned living spaces are tightly sealed with vapor barriers. This has dramatically increased home efficiency, however the down side is that your home will not “breathe” like older homes.  As a result, Lunnin and his team often see problems with trapped heat and moisture in attics.  Over time, this leads to condensation, frost and sometimes mold in the attic as well as excessive heat in the summer and ice dams in the winter.   This can also reduce the R-Value for your insulation, which is the measure of an insulation sample’s ability to reduce the rate of heat flow and how this changes under different test conditions.  Attic Solutions designs systems to help your home manage this heat and moisture, making it even more efficient, comfortable and less susceptible to premature wear and tear on things like air conditioners, asphalt shingles, roof decking, and many other parts of the home.  Additionally, Attic Solutions employs home scientists who consult with both homeowners and contractors to ensure these critical components are properly tied in with the rest of your home.  They will work with your builder during construction to oversee the process and ensure that everything from the eaves and above is fully integrated and balanced.  They have found success by specializing in attic ventilation, roofing and insulation, not only because of their knowledge and experience in this area, but also because the attic is often a crossroads for contractors. During construction, almost all roads lead to the attic, which opens up possibilities both for chaotic interaction as well as synergistic harmony.  In other words, your attic can be your home’s best friend or worst nightmare.  Lunnin says they retrofit existing homes to solve problems that occur as a result of this fragile attic ecosystem being out of tune most often, but their services are the most cost effective during the new build process.  Their most complete treatment is the fully integrated thermodynamic system, appropriately named the HomeFIT system, for which Attic Solutions combines concepts from roofing, insulating and ventilating to supercharge your attic, enabling your home to effectively manage the heat and moisture that, when trapped, causes many of our home problems here in the Midwest.    Lunnin adds that they are not in business to sell roofs, vents or insulation, they are problem solvers who love to help people and remain successful because homeowners need help preventing and managing heat and moisture problems. This specialized focus has enabled them to identify the root cause of many common, preventable problems and to perfect practical solutions that work before, or even after, you build your home. The attic has been neglected for too long. Unfortunately, attic space is an “out of sight, out of mind” area for most of us, so we rarely notice the shortcuts that should or shouldn’t be utilized, or invest in these things from the beginning.  Attic Solutions an advocate for the homeowner, not the builder or architect. As a result, they have to understand theory like an architect, have practical, real-world experience like a builder and, most importantly, offer the homeowner the knowledge and tools to make decisions on what is truly the best value, and are one of the most valuable assets a homeowner can bring into the equation.

Building your dream home is undeniably one of the most exciting and challenging events of your lifetime!  There are so many decisions and choices from skylights and light fixtures to carpeting, wood floors, and bathroom fixtures that sometimes the outside of your home becomes an afterthought and literally the last piece of the puzzle.  At Exterior Designs, their role is working directly with you, the customer, to envision and plan your dream landscape when building your dream home.  Susan Fetters of Exterior Designs stresses the importance of including landscape designs into your original building plans to avoid costly landscape rework after construction is completed (e.g. reconfiguring sprinkler systems or tearing out sod for landscape beds).  Exterior Designs can help with the selection of trees, shrubs, and perennials to give your landscape all season interest.  They also offer popular alternatives to standard rectangular concrete patios, such as semi-circular paver patios.  A great feature to consider is having a fire pit and privacy screening included with your patio.  If you are incorporating a play area for your children, using athletic turf instead of grass is a great option, while eliminating the cost of sprinklers and sod in that area of the property.  They also look for potential drainage issues and offer practical solutions, such as block and boulder walls, ponds, waterfalls, water features, walkways, and specialty garden areas.  Fetters notes that these features should be installed during the construction of your home, in order to avoid costly tear-outs later.  As landscape professionals, the staff at Exterior Designs assures their clients’ satisfaction by working directly with them through the entire process to completion. If you’re considering building a dream home, be sure to contact your landscape contractor, or Exterior Designs, to help you in the initial planning phases of your new home.  Advanced planning is necessary as the work plan for landscaping needs to be coordinated with the builder’s timeline.  Also, if you are in the midst of building your dream home, consider coordinating a meeting between your builder and landscape contractor to ensure all visions are aligned.

Another great option to consider when building your new home is including protective laminate products on your windows.  MSL of Omaha has partnered with the 3M Corporation to offer their customers the highest quality technologies in security and solar films.  Joe Sevening, owner of MSL, says that using laminate products on your windows can provide an array of protective and decorative solutions.  Once installed with advanced adhesives, 3M security films bond to glass. When glass breaks, the shards are held together by the film to help reduce the chance of injury, also causing a barrier for potential intruders attempting to break in, most likely sending them on their way and protecting you and your home. These security films have been tested with an array of flying objects from golf balls and baseball bats to bomb blasts and hurricanes. There are four levels of security lamination:  Level 4, which offers protection from objects such as golf balls, baseballs, and severe weather such as hail; Level 3, which offers protection from “criminal acts” or smash and grabs with objects such as baseball bats and crow bars; Level 2, which offers protection from high winds such as tornadoes and hurricanes and is also optimal for high violence areas; and Level 1, which offers protection against explosives, bullet resistance, and bombs.  MSL’s solar films offer the highest level of sun protection available.  The film can block up to 99.9% of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays which will in turn, dramatically slows the process of fading and will extend the life of your treasured interior possessions.  Solar films also offer superior heat rejection through the day, rejecting up to 97% of sun’s infrared light. Other brands of films generally only provide heat rejection when the sun is perpendicular to a window, but MSL’s line of Prestige films have been tested and proved to perform best when the sun is at its hottest part of the day. For you, that translates into substantial savings on your energy costs as this will keep your rooms at a more even and moderate temperature and will keep your heating and air conditioning systems working more efficiently. Case studies conducted by 3M have shown a homeowner can save up to 15% on energy costs with the added benefit of increased comfort.  In addition to energy savings and protecting your furnishings, MSL’s solar films are the only films that won’t compromise your view by providing less interior reflectivity than glass, so your view remains as crisp and clear as before film.  For those attempting to look in, the film provides for privacy from the exterior while displaying a beautiful finish.  If you are looking for comprehensive protection, MSL’s Prestige line of window films provides the benefit of both security and solar films.  Additionally, you can include decorative features that can be used to create a more private atmosphere or dynamic aesthetic.  Decorative films can provide a smooth, etched-glass appearance, but without the same expensive cost of etching.  These films are perfectly suited for interior glass partitions or the inside surface of windows and are available in several textures which can be die-cut for highly customizable designs.   Backed by 3M’s warranty and decades of window film experience and research, you can be assured MSL’s film solutions will provide peace of mind and protect your family and belongings. The results are so immediate and so significant that the amount of money you save on energy costs could pay for the film products and installation in less than five years. If energy prices go even higher, the payback period will be shorter. This is another great example of an initial investment during the building process that will provide a return immediately and into the future.

Jon McCormick of Dynasty Homes says that building your “Dream Home” can conjure up many different ideas of what that might be or involve and are unique to each individual homeowner.  The “Dream Home” concept can manifest in economics and longevity of a home, cost per square foot, or just focusing on room sizes and layout.  At Dynasty Homes their goal is to have prospective homeowners not only enjoy the building process, but also never feel like they have to compromise any detail in their new home.  They strive to be innovative, cost effective, apply their skills in value engineering and to make sure every homeowner gets what they desire–but also isn’t forced to overpay in order to have something custom in their dream home.  Dynasty Homes is a new construction residential custom home builder that focuses on Certified High Performance Homes (CHPH).  Their homes exceed the current Energy Building code by more than 30% efficiency, as well as exceeding the proposed 2012 Energy Code.  This translates into an energy savings dollar amount of approximately $1000 that homeowners can expect annually.  The homeowners also receive a certificate that their home has been third party verified to meet the standards of a CHPH.  Dynasty Homes builds custom homes that have the amenities of a “Street of Dreams” home, in an affordable and livable situation, right in the neighborhood that you can afford.  Another option they offer is to simply start with your idea, put pencil to paper and make it happen.  Another aspect of the “Dream Home” is the attention to detail and having things thought through.  Dynasty Homes has over 30 years of experience in providing new homes for families and are able to pull from that experience to make ideas become reality.  It is important, in a custom home situation, to make sure the attention to detail on the front end is what actually happens in the home in order to ensure that your vision comes to fruition.

Since we are talking about dream homes, it is important to note we are not talking about just simply building a home.  Some companies that build homes offer limited options for upgrades or changes.  This is important to note because these companies do several things to help people achieve the dream of owning a home, but not help homeowners build a quality dream home.  With this in mind, Eric Madej of Madej Enterprises offers the several suggestions.  First, make sure to get quality windows in your home, not cheap vinyl windows and sliding doors.  Second, make sure to get a larger water heater than is originally specified.  If your basement is unfinished or your family is growing, it will not take long for you to need a larger water heater.  Third, make sure to get a furnace/AC that is also larger than originally specified.  Again, this will allow for growth and change.  For a little more money upfront, you will save thousands of dollars if and/or when you need to replace them.

Madej Enterprises has built several homes and also been the general contractor for several homes.  Madej says, “When building a dream home, many people want to be the general contractor for their own home.  By all means, it is your choice and I wish you good luck.  All I can tell you, is I have not met a homeowner that said, “I can’t wait to do that again!”  My experience is that it was one of the most stressful times of their lives and their dream home has now become their burden.  Once the home is all done, the excitement is not there and they are moving in like the person barely making it to the finish line.  This is your dream home and you should be able to enjoy it and enjoy the process.  Even if you want to tackle this on your own, you should be able to hire a general contractor to be there as an advisor through the process.  It will make your life less stressful and your dream home something to look forward to and truly a dream come true.”

He adds, “People are trained and conditioned to get several bids.  I also endorse this.  It is always good to get multiple bids for all phases of the project.  My only advice is this:  just because you get several bids doesn’t mean you should always go with the lowest bid.  This is a mistake that many people make.  Trust your intuition.  It is more important that you work with someone you feel you can work with, who will take care of your dream home, and will be sensitive to your needs not just focus on the paycheck.  The best work is not always done by the guy who is the cheapest.”

Madej Enterprises also offers services such as quality tile installation, kitchen/bath cabinet installation, and installation of doors, trim, and painting.  When building a dream home, Madej recommends considering several features and services.   Lighting is crucial, and both indoor and outdoor lighting is something you will be glad you did during the construction phase rather than trying to add on later.  You will save money in the interior with under counter lights, pendant lights and sconces.  These are all items people want added during remodels, and could easily be incorporated in the first place.  For outdoors, the accent lighting, landscaping lighting and more plugs than you think you will need should all be considered.  Even if you don’t do the landscape lighting or accent lighting right away, plan for it in the beginning and it will save you money in the long run by not having to run new lines.  Tiling is also incredibly important.  Madej stresses that it is amazing what a good tile installer or interior designer can do with the same tile.  You don’t need to spend a lot of extra money on the tile, but the right tile pattern or the right access pieces in an area can enhance the look of a room or a shower.  On the same note, Madej highly recommends investing in an interior designer.  He adds, “Building a dream home can be overwhelming and it is important to make sure everything looks good in the end.  Many homeowners think they have an eye for design, but there is a reason interior designers are around.  Many people think it is super expensive, but don’t understand that you can either higher the designer to control the whole project or you can hire them by the hour.  If you feel you have that eye for design, why not pick out your samples and hire a designer to come in and give you their professional input.  I have had several customers who have never been disappointed by doing this.  Interior designers will also have other helpful hints you may not have considered.”

Angie Timm of Complete Comfort Heating and Cooling recommends installing a geothermal system for heating and cooling in your new dream home.  This feature is by far the most affordable way to heat and cool your home.  Additionally, geothermal systems qualify for a 30% no cap tax credit.  Since you will be installing a new system for heating and cooling as you are building a new home, Timm stresses that you should always consider energy efficiency when making decisions on what type of system to purchase.  Not only are newer systems more energy efficient, there are several options of equipment available that can make any space in your home comfortable, regardless of the temperature outside or other factors such as exposed walls or the amount and size of windows.  Both geothermal and traditional heating and cooling equipment offers variable speed options and two-stage equipment that will provide the maximum comfort level by controlling temperature as well as humidity levels.

It is beneficial to do business with local experts whenever you can, and this can include larger companies as long as they have operations set up in the Omaha area.  There are plenty of highly capable, talented professionals that have made home building in Omaha their main area of expertise.  They will be there for you before and during your building process, but also down the line to help you answer any new questions or assist with problems that may arise.  You will be much happier having local access instead of following the communication trail to track someone down in a year.

The more time and effort spent up-front in programming, planning, designing, and understanding, as well as in establishing specifics of the project, the better the chance for a smoother construction period and a satisfactory result.  Building your dream home is an exciting undertaking full of options and decisions, and can be a great experience if you put together a great team of professionals to help you each step of the way.