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Build a House You'll Love

By Savannah Waszczuk

Sep 2015

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Everyone dreams of building their own custom home, but not many people know where to begin. And that’s where we come in. We planned and wrote this story to act as your own personal guide in your very own custom home building process. From your initial meeting with your lender to your very first walk through your brand new house, we tell you what you need to ask, the things you need to know and everything in between. But it’s not just us dishing out the advice. We reached out to 417-land’s best lenders, architects, builders, custom home designers, interior designers and landscapers, and we worked their advice in every step of the way. Ready to take the plunge and build your own custom home? Dive in, then get to planning.

 

Getting the Funds 

Applying for a construction loan often takes a bit longer than applying for a regular mortgage loan because there are more steps involved. “The first thing that happens is getting credit approval for your end loan,” says Michael Frerking, the senior vice president and residential lending manager at Guaranty Bank (1341 W. Battlefield, Springfield; 417-520-4333, gbankmo.com). This is the loan for the amount you will pay in total after everything is said, done and built. You need to supply some paperwork for this step, including recent paystubs, two months of bank statements and two years of tax information. There is also a credit check at this time, and getting fully pre-approved can take a day or two. “There is no cost for getting pre-approved for this end loan,” Frerking says.

 

Find Your Key Players

The loan isn’t all to worry about at this point. A lot of conversations should be happening during the pre-approval process (if they haven’t happened already). “I usually tell clients to do three things,” says Patti Bloxom, residential specialty lender at Great Southern Bank Home Loan Center (1520 E. Primrose, Springfield; 417-888-4370,  greatsouthernbank.com). “They need to pick a builder, pick plans for their house and pick a parcel of land or a lot where they want to live.” Although you won’t be starting the actual project with your builder and architect yet, it’s important that you know who they are as early as possible, because your lender, builder and architect often all meet and work together during this stage.

 

Your builder will help you accurately plan your budget, and if you are working with an architect, they will provide plans. Your budget and these plans will then be considered along with the lot or land you’re building on, and an appraiser will use them to determine what the home’s finished value will be. “It’s assigned a dollar market value by an appraiser, because the bank wants to make sure what you are building is not going to be valued lower than the cost to build,” Bloxom says. At Great Southern Bank, Guaranty Bank and most other banks and lending institutions, 20 percent of the construction project cost is required up front, so your borrowed amount can be for as much as 80 percent of the total construction costs. “The equity value of the land or site can be contributed towards the 20 percent if you already own the land,” Bloxom says. Once the appraisal is approved, you’ll likely work with a title company and your lender on a closing. 

 

The Loan Breakdown

After the closing, your financing is officially in place, and it is time to start the building process. But the bank doesn’t just hand your builder one giant lump sum. With construction loans, builders are given disbursements, so the bank is only lending a little bit out at a time. “The lender will go out and look at the site to confirm the builder is doing what they’re saying and that everything checks out accordingly,” Frerking says. This means if the first step is laying concrete and framing and the budget says this will cost $10,000, the builder will do the work, then provide the bank with bills related to the work in the amount of $10,000 to be paid. “It’s good that it’s given in these different disbursements, because the borrower is only paying interest on what has been loaned out so far during the process,” Frerking says. Naturally, as the build progresses, so will your monthly payment. After the build is complete, you will work with your lender to refinance your construction loan into permanent financing.

 

The Meet, Greet and Get-to-know

Jason Thompson, the president and owner of J.L. Thompson Design Group Inc. (Branson, jlthompsondesign.com, 417-334-3582), says there’s an interview process that happens before he begins drawing up plans for a client. But even though he’s the one in charge, his clients are the ones being questioned. “I’ll typically start by asking questions and listening to what they really want,” he says. But he digs deeper than just the typical bedroom and bathroom requests. “I’ll meet them at their current house, walk through and learn about what they like and don’t like,” Thompson says. “It usually takes a series of questions to get down to a point where I can guide them into telling me what they really like. That’s the tricktrying to get their ideal design out of them.” Thompson says pictures are the best way for clients to communicate, and he has a conversation about each image. 

Stephanie Bedinghaus, a licensed architect with Buxton Kubik Dodd Creative (1435 E. Bradford Pkwy. #100, Springfield; 417-890-5543, bk-dc.com), explains a similar beginning process. “Typically we’ll sit down with our clients and really get to know them, usually on multiple occasions,” Bedinghaus says. “A home is a very personal endeavor, so it takes a lot of time for the designer to understand our clients needs and desires. Also, if you’re creating a home for more than one person, like a husband and wife, they may have different desires. We sometimes have to mediate through their differences to find the best solution to fit their needs.” If a building site isn’t already chosen, Bedinghaus says it’s a good idea to have the architect help find it. “It’s very important to pick a site that fits your needs,” she says. “For example, if you want a screened in porch to watch the sunset, you will need adequate views of the west. Choosing a sloped site would be essential if the client wanted a walkout basement. There are many features architects look for when walking around a site.” 

 

Putting it on Paper

Once the architect or custom home designer knows what you are after, they’re able to translate it into plans. Thompson starts with a basic sketch for the clients, then he works with the clients and the builder to put together a budget. After the first rough sketch is reviewed, he starts perfecting the first-floor floor plan, but not just with a pencil and graph paper. “I design everything in 3D,” Thompson says. The 3D animation has become a favorite feature for most of Thompson’s clients. “It’s black and white, but then if the client wants, I can even take it into another program, add color to it and really ‘bling it out,’ so to speak,” he says. “Many of my clients enjoy this treatment because it really helps them visualize what their final home will look like.”

Permits and Site Visits

Once the plans are complete, it’s time to submit them for approval. “There’s a permitting process you’ll go through which is determined by the city or county where you’re building,” Bedinghaus says. “Specifics depend on the jurisdiction of the property, but you typically have to submit site and floor plans.” The site plan includes the footprint of the home, how you enter the site and any major components, like the driveway and landscaping, and the location of those in relation to how you enter from the road.” 

After the permits are approved and in your hands, it’s time to pass the floor plans over to the builder and let them get started on the construction work. But this doesn’t mean your architect steps away from it all. “We often visit sites during the construction process,” Bedinghaus says. In addition to making sure everything is going smoothly and according to the plans, it’s good for the architects or custom home designers to see the space in person, especially during various stages of the building process. “We may walk into a room and say, ‘This ceiling should really be a bit higher,’” Bedinghaus says. Catching such things early allows the builder to fix it before it’s too late. “We’re used to dealing with unique situations,” Bedinghaus says. “Visiting a house while it’s under construction is often very beneficial.”

These visits during construction happen at least once a month, and they continue throughout the entire process. “Typically we don’t step away until the client moves in,” Bedinghaus says. 


Real-Life Glimpse: Jason Thompson of J.L. Thompson Design Group creates 3D full-color plans, which really help the home come to life before construction even begins.

 

Building a Custom House

After living in a Southern Hills ranch for eight years, Logan and Dave Aguirre decided to design and build their own custom home in southeast Springfield. Read Logan’s experience here.

Building a home was never on our bucket list. I am terribly indecisive and get overwhelmed choosing any item that comes in more than three colors or styles, so picking out every last detail for a new home sounded super-terrifying. I’m not the girl with the Dream Home Pinterest board, and we are not in a stage of our life to build the big, crazy “Dream Home,” so I always figured, why even bother? But, with all of that being said, my husband and I still managed to stumble into the house-building process.

We had lived in a mid-century ranch in Southern Hills for eight years. We bought it when we were young and naive and the thought of refinishing bathrooms seemed exciting. That quickly faded when our first child came. Excitement turned to dread and tears every time a pipe burst or a giant tree limb flattened our swing set. It was time for something new.

On a whim we walked through a spec house in Lexington Square and loved the price point and the floorplan. But we didn’t love the lot. I called the builder, Greg Off, to see if he had any other homes for sale, and he said, “No, but if you find a lot, I’d gladly build that house for you.” Our nightly ritual turned into driving through neighborhoods in southeast Springfield to hunt for a lot. And we found one! To us it was the most perfect lot: It had an ideal location in the kid-filled Olde Ivy subdivision, it was in the Field school district, it was on a cul-de-sac and it sat across from the neighborhood pool.

Off has built spec homes in Springfield for 30-plus years, but he rarely does custom builds. He builds the houses that he likes, and no one gives him any grief or opinions along the way. But need I remind him he said he would build our house if I found a lot? 

Our process was incredibly easy because we already loved the floorplan and could visualize exactly how it would look and feel. We added an additional bedroom and bath and made some design tweaks. The very first call I made was to my friend Erica Praschan of Erica Praschan Interiors. She had helped us with projects at our last house, and I trusted her to work within my budget. If it weren’t for Off and Praschan, there is no way the process would have gone as smoothly. We met them both each week to pick out a different item. First it was windows, then shingles and brick colors, next cabinets, knobs and pulls and countertops. Then we got to the fun stuff, like paint colors and accessories. Sometimes it was in person, other times it was just shooting texts and photos back and forth. With Dave and I both working full-time and juggling two kids and all of their activities, we didn’t have all the time in the world to labor over every detail and decision.

After a very easy nine-month building process, we moved into our perfect-for-us home. We love every last detail, and I often find myself saying, “I can’t believe I get to live here.”  I would absolutely do the building process again, but my heart tells me we won’t need to for a very, very long time. I may not have started with that Pinterest board full of ideas, but this quickly turned into our family’s dream home.Logan Aguirre

 

 Take a drive

Strangely enough, many people who are “looking” for a lot or land to build on don’t think to physically search for it. While you can find listings in the newspaper and countless sites online that display lots and properties for sale, there’s nothing wrong with hopping in the car and driving around to see what you may find. The drive will help you learn even more about your considered sites, and you may discover an entire new dream lot or neighborhood during your trek.

 

Consider your lifestyle

Do you want to live in an urban or suburban area, or would you prefer privacy and seclusion with your own acreage outside of the city? While having your own private lot sounds nice, you should be sure to consider what it comes with, or more specifically, what it doesn’t come with. “Consider how close you want to live to work, shopping, schools and recreational activities,” says Gregory Adkins of The Adkins Family Group with Coldwell Banker Vanguard, Realtors (1334 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-887-6664, cbvanguard.com)

 

Determine unaccounted fees

In addition to things like your commute time, check to see if the proposed area has basic amenities. “Evaluate the area’s services, such as water and sewer systems, satellite and wireless internet services and police and fire protection,” Adkins says. If things like water and sewer aren’t available, you will have to pay for a well or septic system. Debi Murray of Murney Associates, REALTORS (1625 E. Primrose, Springfield; 417-575-1211, murney.com) notes to also consider often overlooked fees in subdivisions and neighborhoods, such as Homeowner’s Association Dues.

 

Evaluate accessibility

Will the drive to your new home cross any rivers or creeks that could flood during heavy rain? Will turning into or out of your driveway be a hazard with oncoming traffic? Will the driveway be too steep to drive up if there is snow or ice on the ground? These are all important factors to consider if you’re buying a plot of land. “If your driveway will have any slope at all, it should probably face south or west for best results,” Adkins says. 

 

Factor in your plans

If you want a side-entry garage or have a preference on which direction your backyard faces, you will have specific requirements on how you place your home on the site. Be sure to evaluate these factors in your search, making sure your proposed plans can be built on selected lots. Things like sun exposure should also be discovered when you’re looking for a lot. “If you’re a morning person, make sure you have certain rooms facing east so you can capture the sunrise,” Adkins says.  

 

Hand it to the pros

Consider having a professional, such as a civil engineer, take a look at the site. “For a minimal fee in comparison to the cost of your new home, a civil engineer can test the soil at the home site to make sure you don’t end up with things like unstable land or sink holes,” Adkins says. “They can also determine if the lot will have proper drainage, which is crucial.” 

 

 

The Hunt for Land

When Aaron and Shannon Shuburte searched for their ideal home on a sizeable piece of acreage, they couldn’t find anything to fit their needs. Learn their story, which ends with a custom build on land in east Springfield.

Aaron and Shannon Shuburte always knew they wanted to live on acreage. After living in a house in Nixa for six years, the couple decided to put their home on the market and start their search. But they quickly came across a problem. “We sold our house in Nixa a lot faster than we thought we would,” Shannon says. After their leisurely search was cut short, the two looked more and more, but they weren’t finding anything to meet their needs. “We wanted to be close to Springfield,” Shannon says. The couple has children, so schools were also a factor. “We were okay with Glendale, or Rogersville or Ozark,” Shannon says.

As Shannon and Aaron hunted for homes, they realized it was very difficult to find a house on three-plus acres with enough privacy that was still in their budget. “When we would find homes in our price range, they’d need an additional $50,000 worth of remodeling,” Shannon says.

Six months into the search project, the two decided that they would expand their search and start looking for land as well. “We didn’t originally plan to build,” Shannon says. “We wanted to buy a house on acreage. But we couldn’t find anything that met all of our needs.” The two worked with various realtors, visited countless websites and downloaded plenty of apps, but nothing led them to their dream home. “What we found best was driving around areas where we wanted to live,” Shannon says. “We would spend weekends and evenings driving for hours.” Eventually, the two stumbled on a lot in Highland Ridge Estates, a subdivision just north of U.S. Highway 60 past Highland Springs. “It was just raw land really,” Shannon says. 

The two had a simple closing process, but then ran across a few more challenges when they began the building process. “It has easements for electrical and roadwork and those things, but we had to take care of a lot of it ourselves,” Shannon says. But despite the bumps in the road and a second child, which slowed the construction process a bit, the home is nearing its completion, and the Shuburtes couldn’t be happier. “What we found was the most important to us was defining what area we wanted to be in and what would fit our needs,” Shannon says. “We’d consider other things, but we always came back to the fact that location was key. We learned through buying our other home that we loved Nixa, but our lives are in Springfield.”

 

Order of Events

While every custom home build goes a little differently, Jason Bekebrede of Monticello Custom Homes and Remodeling (Springfield, 417-860-7873, homesbymonticello.com) says there is a typical list of steps that occur when building a home. First the builder assesses the property for the build, or if the homeowners don’t own a property yet, the builder might assist in finding a lot. Next is the design process and working with a custom home builder or an architect, as we mentioned earlier. But it’s important to know that this part isn’t always quick. “This can take anywhere from two months to six months, or even more,” Bekebrede says. But it’s not like the builder just waits around during this process. Sam Clifton of Millstone Custom Homes (1519 N. Commercial Rd., Nixa, 417-234-5050, millstonechr.com) suggests involving the builder in this planning process. “Builders are good at keeping costs in mind in this stage, and redirecting ideas that can add unexpected costs to building,” Clifton says.

Once the plans are ready, it’s time to put together an official budget for the home. “This is where the builder will take the plans and put numbers to them,” Bekebrede says. Often builders will assign certain costs for materials, but also leave some allowances for selections down the road. “For me, it typically takes two to three weeks to build a budget,” Bekebrede says. “My budgets are 30 or more pages and very detailed.” Once the budget is built, your builder will review it with you and make any necessary adjustments. The next step is scheduling, when you’ll talk about start and finish dates for the project, as well as obtaining any necessary permitting for the build. Then, after permits are in place and the final cost is updated, you'll sign a contract and then break grown.

The building process typically takes anywhere from six months to a year, but it can take even longer depending on the size and scope of the home. And although you’ll have a set completion date from the very beginning, many builders warn that plans can unexpectedly change. There’s a lot to do from the time you prepare the lot to the time you place the welcome mat in front of the door (see specifics with “The Stages of Construction,” p. 102), and it’s not uncommon to hit a few bumps in the road. “Weather is often the biggest factor in this delay,” Clifton says. 

During the building process, your builder handles the dirty work, and they will keep you up to date on the progress of the project. And once the building process is complete, the client and the builder will make a final punch list of things that need to be done or need attention. After the builder addresses these specifics, it’ll be time for a final walkthrough of the house. to let the owners see it complete for the very first time. Last comes the final inspection with the city or county the home is located in, and then the builder will hand you the keys.

 

How to select your builder

A few local pros share questions to ask and tips to know when it’s time for you to hire your custom home builder.

 

Find a Friend
When it’s time to commit to a builder, be sure you find someone you aren’t afraid to talk to. “I always tell customers to find someone they are comfortable with,” says builder Jason Bekebrede of Monticello Custom Homes and Remodeling. “They’ll be working closely with the builder for the next nine months, so this is important. In the end, most reputable builders will be very close to the same price.” 

Give Yourself Options
If you don’t feel confident after meeting with a builder the first time around, don’t settle. In fact, Patti Bloxom, the residential specialty lender at Great Southern Bank, suggests interviewing at least three builders before you make your decision. And don’t go empty-handed—bring your general plans and ideas along with you. “Everyone is going to look at your project differently,” Bloxom says. 

Ask Questions
When you’re meeting with potential builders, ask plenty of questions. Builder Sam Clifton of Millstone Custom Homes suggests asking if they’re insured, if they have worker’s compensation and general liability and how many years they have been in business. 

Do Your Research
What better way to learn about potential builders than to ask someone who has worked with them before? Clifton suggests asking your potential builders for a list of references and past clients to contact, then contacting them and asking about their experiences.

Take a Look 
Don’t just stop after the interview process. If you’re truly considering a specific builder, ask if they have houses or projects you can see, whether they’re spec homes or past client homes. Then do a walk through (with the
builder, if possible). Seeing the work in person will help you visualize, and likely assist in your final decisions.

 

Being Your Own Contractor

When it was time to build a larger home for his family, David McBride didn’t outsource. But while he was successful in being his own contractor, he warns that it may not be the best choice for everyone.

The McBrides’ original plan for their new home included hiring a custom builder. “We did interview a couple of people,” David says. “After going through their processes and learning what they had to offer, we made the decision that we wanted to do it ourselves. We thought this would allow us to upgrade in some areas. If you don’t have a builder’s fee to pay, you have some more flexibility to do some other things.” 

David went on as his own contractor, working to build his family’s new 4,750-square-foot east Springfield home all on his own. But lucky for him, this wasn’t his first go-round in the world of building: He had acted as his own contractor on the family’s former smaller home in Nixa. “I’m not as fluent as a big builder would be of course, but I was familiar with the way the process works,” he says. “We were confident we could get the project done ourselves.” 

The biggest struggle in the process was finding time for it in addition to his regular life. David and his wife, Layne, both work full-time jobs, and they have two children. “Our normal lives weren’t so normal for a while,” David says. “We were constantly meeting people, day in and day out, on lunch breaks, after work and on weekends. You have to be available, even to answer your phone, at any time.” 

Minus a few minor hiccups, everything went smoothly, and the McBrides moved into their space roughly nine months later. But David says this was thanks to a few connections he has in the industry, as well as his former experience. “Luckily, my brother and brother-in-law were both involved in the construction field,” he says. “We went with some people they recommended. We also worked with some suppliers who gave us good referrals.” Layne is a banker at OakStar Bank, so construction draws and financing went smoothly. “That helped out a lot,” David says. And if you do decide to take on the project yourself, know that you definitely have to be prepared. “This isn’t something you want to walk into blindly,” David says. “It’s not the kind of thing you want to take on by picking people out of the phone book or just looking online. If you are someone who has a little bit of experience, be ready to take it on. It takes a long time, and you have to be committed.” 

 

The Builders Panel

417-land’s top builders dish on some of the most frequently asked home-building questions.

 

 

Angela Blevins

Bailey Company, 4940 S. Farm Road 189 Ste. 100, Rogersville, 417-887-6177, baileybuildingcompany.com

Years as a builder: 15
Price range of builds: Any

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest expenses in building a home?

A.B.: The finishes are usually the biggest expense. The cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures and flooring—everything that makes the home your home.

 

417 Home: What are some ways to have/ideas for having a really efficient heating and cooling system?

A.B.: Most HVAC companies are using high SEER air conditioners and 90 percent efficient furnaces already. However, one of the most efficient HVAC systems is a ground source system. You heat and cool your house with ground water and electric, there is no gas used.

 

417 Home: What is the smartest splurge in a custom build?

A.B.: I would splurge or invest in the location. You can always change the house, but you cannot change the location. You also need to invest in the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen and bathrooms sell the house.

 

417 Home: If anywhere, where is it okay to skimp on materials/products?

A.B.: I wouldn’t say skimp, but there are plenty of ways to save money.  You don’t need the most expensive windows; most windows made these days are low-e, so you don’t need the most expensive ones on the market. You can use cultured stone instead of real stone, most people can’t tell the difference. Use a 30 to 50 year architectural shingle over the slate or tile roofing. You can use ceramic tile instead of natural stone. Ceramic tile has come a long way and can look just as good as natural stone.

 

417 Home: How do I keep my build on budget?

A.B.: The best way to keep your house on budget is to pick your finishes up front. If you already know what kind of tile or countertops you want, you can have that priced in upfront. Unfortunately you can’t help if you hit rock or bad soil, that can drive the costs up as well.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest challenges in building a custom home?

A.B.: Indecision. There are so many options out there that customers tend to get whiplash. You see something you like, then as you browse the internet or look through magazines you see something else that looks great. The customer starts to change their mind based on the newest trends. My advice is to always stick with your gut, don’t build your house based on what’s trendy right now, build your house with finishes you will love for years to come.

 

417 Home: What are some of the energy-saving features you like to include in homes you build?
A.B.: We like to use LED lighting, spray foam insulation, low flow toilets, low-e windows, ground source systems and programmable thermostats.

 

417 Home: How long have you been a custom home builder?

Angela Blevins: Our company has been building homes since 1972. I’ve been building homes since 2000.

 

417 Home: What are some current building trends you are seeing in 417-land homes?

A.B.: Contemporary and modern design, Energy efficient homes, Indoor and outdoor living spaces that bring the outdoors in.

 

417 Home: Looking ahead, do you see any trends in other areas across the country that you fill will eventually be a trend in 417-land?

A.B.: I think the eco-friendly trend will continue to the inside of the homes. We see a lot of clients wanting energy efficient homes, such as low-e windows and efficient HVAC sources, but I think clients will start moving toward recycled products on the interior and exterior of the home.

 

417 Home: What style of home is “hottest” right now, in our area?

A.B.: I think this area is still big into Old World/traditional homes, but the contemporary design is growing rapidly.

 

417 Home: What advice would you give to someone who is about to start a custom home build?

A.B.: Find a contractor you trust. I think that’s the most important aspect to building a home. If you trust your contractor, then the worry tends to be less.  Homeowners will worry about every aspect of the building process, that’s natural, but if you trust the people building your home, you can focus your attention on finding finishes that you love and that will make your home comfortable.

 

417 Home: How is building a home in 417-land different than building a home anywhere else in the country?

A.B.: We tend to have a lower cost of living in 417-land, so materials can cost less than in other parts of the country. Other than cost, there isn’t much difference in my opinion. The trends are the same everywhere. I could say the rocky soil, but other areas have sandy soil that’s just as hard to build in. So I think every area has the same problems, they just look different.

 

417 Home: What sets your company apart from other builders in 417-land?

A.B.: I think our hands-on approach sets us apart. We work with our clients from start to finish.  From finding the lot, fine tuning the floor plan to finding the perfect paint color. We are there every step of the way; we are involved as much or as little as the homeowner wants. We have gone with our customers to shop for plumbing fixtures, flooring and appliances. We have even gone furniture shopping with our customers!

 

417 Home: As a builder, who is the ideal client?  

A.B.: The ideal client is someone who is excited to build their dream home and who trusts their contractor.  With trust and excitement the building process can be and should be fun!

 

417 Home: What’s your favorite thing about building a home?

A.B.: I love seeing the finished product! I love when that customer sees the culmination of everyone’s hard work. The products they have spent countless hours obsessing over, that perfect paint color, and realize they just built their dream home!

 

417 Home: What are some other building materials that may not necessarily be the norm, but could be used?

A.B.: We tend to do several things with metal and glass that we never did before. We’ve had light fixtures custom made from local glass blowers. We’ve had metal light fixtures custom made from local artisans. We are getting ready to use Onyx slabs as a light fixture. We are also installing a glass floor in a home that we are building…that’s very unique!

 

417 Home: What is the most difficult part of the construction process?

A.B.: Scheduling. I say that because everything affects the schedule.  Weather is detrimental to the schedule. But the schedule is also affected when the customer changes their mind or switches product. Homeowners don’t deal with this every day and they just want their house done, however, every little change will affect the schedule.

 

417 Home: How do I keep my build on budget?

A.B.: The best way to keep your house on budget is to pick your finishes up front. If you already know what kind of tile or countertops you want, you can have that priced in upfront. Unfortunately you can’t help if you hit rock or bad soil, that can drive the costs up as well.

 

417 Home: What’s the one tool you couldn’t live without, and why?

A.B.: It kills me to say this, but I’d say my phone. It’s the way we communicate these days, from phone calls, to text messages, e-mails and the internet. I even have my construction calculator as an app on my phone to help me when I’m measuring something.

 

417 Home: If you were about to build your own custom home right now, what is the one non-typical thing you would be sure to include, and why?

A.B.: I did just build a home recently and I included a ground source system. It cost a lot upfront, but the savings in not having to use gas have been remarkable.

 

 

Scott Landrum

Lifestyle Builders and Design, 5421 S. Castlebay Dr., Springfield, 417-839-9776

Years as a builder: 18
Price range of builds: $250,000 plus

 

417 Home: What are some current building trends you are seeing/constructing in 417-land homes?

Scott Landrum: I see interiors trending toward simple, clean and modern choices of materials with color pallets becoming more dramatic. I see exteriors trending to include the use of more varied types of materials to make them more artistic rather than just a basic shell to surround what’s inside.     I see that the overall market is sliding toward eco-friendly materials and budget-minded ways to reduce long term costs of home ownership.

     

417 Home: Looking ahead, do you see any trends in other areas/markets across the country that you fill will eventually be a trend in 417-land?

S.L.: I would like to see Springfield adopt a “less is more” attitude. Smaller homes with less wasted space, but costing more because the features inside have become more useful and detailed.

 

417 Home:  What style of home is “hottest” right now, in our area?

S.L.: Springfield has been a strong market for European and Craftsman style homes for the past 20 years, but it seems in the last 10 years there have been more Modern and Farmhouse Chic, and you even see hybrid mixtures of each.

 

417 Home: What is the average timeline for building a custom home? Please give a range as well as an “average.”

S.L.:  The time it takes to build a home is very much dependent on size, location, weather and level of detail. My attempts for high levels of quality and excellence sometimes can’t be rushed. I have had house projects completed in 5 months and as long as 2 years, but the strong average is 6-9 months for mid to large size homes.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest expenses in building a home?

 

S.L.: The biggest expenses of a homebuilding project come from the cosmetic choices that a customer can make. Whether the outside is brick or vinyl, the flooring is hardwood or carpet, etc. Every small detail can make a big difference in price, but plan on spending the most on your kitchens and bathrooms.

 

417 Home: What are some ways to have/ideas for having a really efficient heating and cooling system?

S.L.:  Having a very reliable and efficient heating and air system in your home is very important to the long term costs of keeping your home comfortable. But equally important is the way you insulate your home from the elements. Your choice of windows, doors, exterior materials, and type of insulation can all play a part in how efficient your home can be.

 

417 Home: What are some smart “investments” for your budget?

S.L.: On any budget, the most important places to spend your money on a home are obviously in the kitchen and bathrooms where owners spend a bulk of their time, but less obvious is making sure of plenty of closet space and storage. You can never have enough! Don’t forget the outside, either. The front of your home, including its landscape, make a big statement.

 

417 Home: If anywhere, where is it okay to skimp on materials/products?

S.L.: I try never to “skimp” on materials for a home.  A home is a long-term and expensive investment that you don’t want to cut corners on. But if you are looking to reduce costs, look for special low pricing, mark-downs, and even the internet. There are ways to save without sacrificing quality and reliability.

 

417 Home: What are some of the energy-saving features you like to include in homes you build?

S.L.: Energy savings can be achieved many ways in a home. The most cost-efficient in any home can be in your choice of air systems hot water heaters and appliances.  If the home is new construction, the types of windows, doors and insulation can offer significant long term savings as well.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest challenges in building a custom home?

S.L.: I find that the biggest challenge in building a custom home is in the scheduling. Weather can play a huge part in a schedule. Also, making sure labor and materials are available at the right time during the build process.  Even meeting with the customers and working around their busy schedules to find time to go over material selections and keeping them informed of the financials is a challenge.    

 

417 Home: What advice would you give to someone who is about to start a custom home build?

S.L.: The advice I would give to someone before starting a custom home build is do as much homework as possible before you contact a builder. Have an idea of the house plan, and try to think of every cosmetic feature both inside and out before getting started. Making a list of these big decisions beforehand will make the small ones that come during the build process less stressful and improve the home building experience for everyone.

 

417 Home: How is building a home in 417-land different than building a home anywhere else in the country?

S.L.:   I am sure that building a home anywhere in the country comes with its own set of challenges. In 417-land, we primarily have to work around the weather. Second, our community is fairly small, and the availability of exceptional craftsmen to perform the best work possible is limited. For our customers, sometimes this means a slightly longer build time than other parts of the country.

 

417 Home: What sets your company apart from other builders in 417-land?

S.L.: In my opinion, a custom home builder is only as good as the people that work on the project. It is the home builder’s responsibility to supervise and convey to those workers the level of performance, quality and in my case “perfection” that is expected.

 

417 Home: As a builder, who is the ideal client?

S.L.: For me, the ideal client is someone who knows exactly what they are looking for in a home. This makes my job easier because the puzzle pieces are already in front of me. My only job then becomes putting the puzzle together. I don’t have to spend excess time trying to find any missing pieces.

 

417 Home: What’s your favorite thing about building a home?

S.L.: I honestly love everything about building homes. From the planning stage to handing over the key, and everything in-between. I love the challenges put in front of me, and I love being a part of creating something to be proud of.

 

417 Home: What are some other building materials that may not necessarily be the norm, but could be used?

S.L.: I traditionally use new and modern materials during the building process, but every now and then we are asked to incorporate something reclaimed or repurposed to give the home a personalized character.  It could be an antique light, an old chest turned into a vanity, or even barn wood for floors or ceilings.

  

417 Home: What is the most difficult part of the construction process?

S.L.: Simply, scheduling. Trying to work around weather, getting labor to the job, and everyone working together.

 

417 Home: Is it common for homes to come out over and under budget?

S.L.: When building a custom home, customers must realize that there are tens of thousands of pieces that go into a home, as well as hundreds of potential people working on their home. All of these come at a cost. As a builder, we estimate costs on what we know, and we plan for the unknown. I try to manage costs all along the way to keep the budget under control. However, the unknowns and customer changes are what can drive a home over budget.

 

417 Home: What’s the one tool you couldn’t live without, and why?

S.L.:     For me, my most useful tool is my truck. In today’s society, technology of cell phones and a computer to youtube or google how to do something has become easy anyone to become a builder. I use those tools as well, but my truck is full of tools in the bed and gets me to the job every day. I am a “hands on” builder and enjoy getting dirty and doing things to contribute to the quality I expect in a new home.

 

417 Home: If you were about to build your own custom home right now, what is the one non-typical thing you would be sure to include, and why?

S.L.: A budget controls what is typical or non-typical for a custom home. But sure, pools, outdoor kitchens, home theaters and gourmet chef kitchens can make a home enjoyable. For my family, we just enjoy having one room each that we can call our favorite. 

 

 

 

John Marion

John Marion Custom Homes, LLC, 2916 S. Camber Ave., Springfield, 417-838-1087, johnmarioncustomhomes.com

Years as a builder: 21
Price range of builds: $250,000 plus

 

417 Home: What are some other building materials that may not necessarily be the norm, but could be used? (This can be substitutions for anything, interior or exterior)

J.M.: Incorporating recycled materials into a new home is a less mainstream, more inventive approach that we have taken in some projects.  For example, barnwood is very popular for accent walls, specialty doors, and even furniture pieces.  

 

417 Home: What is the most difficult part of the construction process?

 J.M.: Aligning the client’s expectations and fitting it within a workable budget can be challenging. The more time we take to plan before beginning construction, the smoother and quicker the building process will be.

 

417 Home: Looking ahead, do you see any trends in other areas/markets across the country that you fill will eventually be a trend in 417-land?

J.M.:  Net Zero Housing is a trend that is growing in popularity across the country. As the cost of traditional fossil fuels increases and the cost of alternative energy technologies decrease, it’s only a matter of time before our customers begin to demand it.

 

417 Home: What style of home is “hottest” right now, in our area?

J.M.: A growing number of our clients are interested in transitional design elements. They want something between traditional and modern; a home that’s warm and welcoming, but classic. As a builder, we’re constantly watching current and emerging design trends. Staying on top of trends allows us to meet the needs of our clients and bring new ideas to the table.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest expenses in building a home?

J.M.: The systems of the home, like an HVAC system, are generally the biggest expenses. We love working with our clients on these decisions because making wise investments in the best systems can create a great return on investment. Other items that can be expensive can depend on our clients’ taste.  We’re very committed to understanding our clients’ vision and taste to make sure that we get the most value for their budget.

 

417 Home:  How long have you been a custom home builder?

J.M.: We started our first home in 1994.  

 

417 Home: What are some current building trends you are seeing/constructing in 417-land homes?

J.M.: Open Spaces, Multiple Master Suites, Integrated Smart Home Technology, Functional Design, Energy Efficiency

 

417 Home: What are some ways to have/ideas for having a really efficient heating and cooling system?

J.M.: It’s a great time to invest in a ground source geothermal system. Not only is it one of the cheapest, most energy-efficient ways to heat and cool your home, it’s also being heavily incentivized. The client is eligible for a 30% Federal Tax Credit plus any rebates the utility company offers, so the immediate savings really offsets the higher installation costs, making it a great long term investment.

 

417 Home: What are some smart investments for a budget?

J.M.: I always recommend investing in Energy Efficiency items first. A great insulation package, a superior HVAC system, and top notch windows will all save money in the long run. By investing in energy efficient products, you reduce the cost of maintaining your home, so it’s more efficient-and you have more money to use for life’s other necessities and pleasures.

 

417 Home: If anywhere, where is it okay to skimp on materials/products?

J.M.: Shopping for light fixtures can be a lot of fun and yield great value. Since they are not handled on a daily basis, the fixtures don’t experience the same level of wear out like a door handle or plumbing fixture might, so they don’t need to be as durable.  

 

417 Home: What are some of the energy-saving features you like to include in homes you build?

J.M.: There are a few features that we like to include in all of our homes. First, we’re huge proponents of using Foam Insulation along with an energy efficient caulking package.  We also like to use LowE windows, which have been treated to reflect heat, but allow light to pass through.  Geothermal HVAC systems are paramount in saving energy as well as Energy Recovery Ventilators.  All of these efforts yield great savings on the energy bill, which our clients appreciate.   

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest challenges in building a custom home?

J.M.: The biggest, consistent challenge is managing the many decisions our clients need to make throughout the planning process. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options for any given feature in a home, not to mention the communication that goes into each and every decision. To help with managing this process, we invest heavily in project management software. We use a system that allows us to collaborate with our clients on every detail of their project by tracking milestones, conversation threads by topic, automated reminders for meetings or deadlines, secure approvals, an online photo gallery, and of course a transparent record of how their money is being invested. The importance of planning and being on the same page throughout the project can be a challenge, but it also makes for the most successful, enjoyable projects.

 

417 Home: What advice would you give to someone who is about to start a custom home build?

J.M.: Choose your builder wisely!  You are joined at the hip with him/her for many months. I advise all of our prospective clients to interview the builders they are interested in, but in the end, to trust their gut. If they have a bad feeling during the first meeting, walk away.

 

417 Home: How is building a home in 417-land different than building a home anywhere else in the country?

J.M.: Our market affords clients the opportunity to build a new home at a much lower cost.  We’ve had clients build here after living in other markets and parts of the country, and they are shocked about the value they get in 417-land.

 

417 Home: What sets your company apart from other builders in 417-land?

J.M.: We have a lot of good builders in the area and many are friends of mine.I pride myself on putting the customer first and making the experience enjoyable. Whether it’s our attention to detail, our client-based project management software, accurate estimates, or focus on latest industry trends, our ultimate goal is to build an awesome home that the client will be proud of. The highest honor we can receive from a customer is a referral, and that’s what we strive for.

 

417 Home: As a builder, who is the ideal client? (talk about client interaction, communication, etc.)

J.M.: As a custom builder, it’s great to work with clients who value the planning process. Building a custom home is not the quickest or easiest route, but it can be an amazing experience for clients who are involved and passionate about the many decisions they get to make as we collaborate throughout the project.  

 

417 Home: What’s your favorite thing about building a home?

J.M.: It sounds corny, but I really enjoy starting with a piece of land and watching the entire process to completion.  We recently worked on a house that was built around 1871.  The foundation and the framing were definitely not up to today’s standards, but it was still standing after 140 years.  Knowing that our homes will be used by many families over the course of the home’s life and they will still be around long after we’re gone is deeply satisfying.    

417 Home: Is it common for homes to come out over and under budget? (And if so, how can I prevent going over, or how can I hopefully come out under?)

J.M.: This can happen. The biggest factor in preventing a home from coming in over budget is planning. We take planning and understanding our clients’ needs very seriously. To begin with, we prepare a detailed budget using our clients’ input. Within the budget, the builder has allowances for different items agreed to in the planning process. Our project management software allows the client to follow the budget and it alerts them if they go over. The key is creating an accurate budget. Most of the horror stories we’ve heard are usually a result of a poorly planned budget. Typically, we spend 2-3 weeks preparing a budget for our average build, and it relies heavily on detailed input from the client.  

As a future client, my advice to each of you is to give your builder as much detail about your new home as you can.  Specificity takes the guesswork out of the project . . . and YES you can be under budget!

 

417 Home: What’s the one tool you couldn’t live without, and why?

 J.M.: I use my iPad on a daily basis to keep up with every aspect of our projects.   With our client-based project software, I can stay connected to clients by having access to their selections, review project budgets, .pdf files and more. Having easy access to email and the many apps that I use as a builder is awesome. The days of the “Bag Phone” are long gone . . . Thank Goodness!

 

417 Home: If you were about to build your own custom home right now, what is the one non-typical thing you would be sure to include, and why? (A pool? Outdoor kitchen? Etc.)

 J.M.: For our personal house, I would definitely install an outdoor entertainment area that would include a pool, fire pit, outdoor grilling area and lounging area with a large canopy. One of my sons would also like a water slide out of his second story bedroom window to the pool, but that isn’t likely to happen!  

 

 

 

Doug Pitts

Doug Pitts Construction, LLC, Rogersville, 417-840-5759, dougpittsconstruction.net

Years as a builder: 15
Price range of builds: $300,000 plus

417 Home: What are some current building trends you are seeing/constructing in 417-land homes?

D.P.: Less footage but more detail. The “McMansion” is out.

 

417 Home: What style of home is hottest right now, in our area?

D.P.: Craftsman

 

417 Home: What is the average timeline for building a custom home?

D.P.: It all depends on the amount of detail, size and how involved the homeowner wants to be. I usually allow 10 to 14 months. 

 

 417 Home: What are some of the biggest expenses in building a home?

D.P.: Depending on where you build, the “pre-construction” phase such as land clearing, distance to electric, length of driveway, and site prep can be budget busters.

 

417 Home: What advice would you give to someone who is about to start a custom home build?

D.P.: I suggest hiring your builder as early as possible in the process, they can save you a lot of time and money during the design phase by helping pick the lot, giving preliminary estimates as the house is designed, and offer cool ideas you and your designer may not think of. A good builder can make sure the project estimate and house plans come together and you’re ready to build once the plans are final and not have to keep going back to the drawing board.

 

417 Home: What’s the one tool you couldn’t live without, and why?

D.P.: My cell phone. When I started my career in construction the only way to call a subcontractor or homeowner was to get back in the truck and drive to the nearest pay phone, now I can call, text, email in seconds and include others in the conversation. 

 

417 Home: What are some ways to have/ideas for having a really efficient heating and cooling system?

D.P.: The degree of efficiency is in direct correlation to the amount of money you want to spend upfront vs. the amount of time it will take to break even on your return.  Geo Thermal, solar and hyper efficient heat pumps are some of the most efficient systems and with current tax incentives can be comparable in cost to conventional systems. The homeowner has to answer the question “How long do I plan on living here and how much do I want to pay up front not to pay too much over time. 

 

417 Home: What are some of the energy-saving features you like to include in homes you build?

D.P.: LED lighting has been a game changer in energy savings options. We use a lot of under cabinet, stair, and hall lighting tied into the lighting control system to provide automated night light.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest challenges in building a custom home?

D.P.: I feel most problems that occur during a custom build can be boiled down to lack of communication and or unrealistic expectations.

 

 

Rick Ramsey

Ramsey Building Company, 201 N. Main St., Nixa, 417-725-5545, ramseybuilding.com

Years as a builder: 20
Price range of builds: $400,000 plus

 

417 Home: How is building a home in 417-land different than building a home anywhere else in the country?

R.R.: We tend to have more craftsmen who work for smaller companies in our area than in larger cities or metropolitan areas. This is a benefit to our clients, who can choose more than “cookie-cutter” options if they want something special or unique.

 

417 Home: What sets your company apart from other builders in 417-land?

R.R.: We have our own employees - craftsmen in their own rights – who are on-site at our jobs. We have a physical office where clients can come meet with us during design, selection, and finishing processes.

 

417 Home: Is it common for homes to come out over and under budget?

R.R.: In order to stay within budget constraints, an accurate cost estimate is needed from the start. Clients should have an idea of what is important to them, so that the builder knows their priorities and cost restrictions from the start of the process. Proper evaluation of the site, before the drawings get started, is also helpful.

 

417 Home: What’s the one tool you couldn’t live without, and why?

R.R.: There are two, actually. One is our estimate spreadsheet, which is our plan / budget / guide to building the home that the owner is dreaming of. The second is a smart phone, because all types of communication are key in providing the value to our owners that they expect.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest expenses in building a home?

R.R.: The largest expenses for any home would be the materials and labor just to erect the basic structure itself–lumber, concrete, roofing, and such. Next would be the interior “services” like heating and cooling, plumbing, and electrical. For homes outside of city limits, the additional costs related to utilities (water, septic, electric and gas) also have a significant impact on the budget.

 

417 Home: What are some current building trends you are seeing/constructing in 417-land homes?

R.R.: Clean lines, linear in style, modern to contemporary, Lower maintenance products

 

417 Home: Looking ahead, do you see any trends in other areas/markets across the country that you fill will eventually be a trend in 417-land?

R.R.: More green building

 

417 Home: What style of home is “hottest” right now, in our area?

R.R.: Arts and Crafts are very popular right now; we are working on several that are this style.

 

417 Home: What are some ways to have/ideas for having a really efficient heating and cooling system?

R.R.: A lot of homeowners believe that geothermal systems are the most efficient. However, if not installed correctly, it can be as inefficient as a traditional forced-air system. Other factors to consider include the direction that the home will face, insulation, windows, and ceiling heights.

 

417 Home: What are some smart “investments” for your budget (if you are on a budget, what are some places to invest/splurge, and why?)

R.R.: I believe in investing in products that are long-lasting and low maintenance, such as real stone, better roofing products, and natural landscaping.

 

417 Home: If anywhere, where is it okay to skimp on materials/products?

R.R.: The word “skimp” is not in our company’s vocabulary. We look to provide Value for owners, based on their priorities. There are many ways to save money and still be able to include some of the more expensive things that the owners would like to have.

 

417 Home: What are some of the energy-saving features you like to include in homes you build?

R.R.: Spray foam insulation, EnergyStar caulking package, Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) system, Paying special attention during the design phase to account for sun exposure on the west and south faces of the house.

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest challenges in building a custom home?

R.R.: Our biggest challenge is wanting to keep in touch with our clients after their home is complete. We work closely with them for about a year and become friends, in some cases.

 

417 Home: What advice would you give to someone who is about to start a custom home build?

R.R.: Begin working with your builder before you start designing your plans.

 

417 Home: As a builder, who is the ideal client? (talk about client interaction, communication, etc.)

R.R.: For Ramsey Building Company, the ideal client is the person who has lived in several homes and is ready to take the next step up in the level of quality, efficiency, and detail which our company provides to our clients.

 

417 Home: What’s your favorite thing about building a home?

R.R.: I like it all, or I wouldn’t still be doing it after all these years.

 

417 Home: What are some other building materials that may not necessarily be the norm, but could be used? (This can be substitutions for anything, interior or exterior)

R.R.: Zinc for countertops and stove hoods; corten metal; reclaimed wood flooring which can be used in rustic to contemporary applications.

 

417 Home: What is the most difficult part of the construction process?

R.R.: Developing the initial estimate for our clients is the most difficult part of our process. At that point, we only have plans and the client’s basic ideas, and it takes a lot of effort to develop an accurate estimate specific to that particular home.

 

417 Home: If you were about to build your own custom home right now, what is the one non-typical thing you would be sure to include, and why? (A pool? Outdoor kitchen? Etc.)

R.R.: Outdoor fun: Screen porch, fire pit, lots of landscaping -  need I say more?

 

417 Home: Can you please share one fun “mess” about building (your biggest goof up or something crazy that happened on the job) as well as one fun “success” (a project your most proud of and why.)

R.R.: Mess: The night that the painters threw all of their rags from staining in the dumpster – we got a call at 4:00am that the dumpster was on fire.

R.R.: Success: A five-story silo, built within a home, that provided a 23-window viewing room at the top, setting upon the highest point in Ozark, MO.

 

 

 

Adrian Rhoads

Rhoads Design & Construction, 435 S. Enterprise, Springfield, 417-889-6000, rhoadscompany.com

Years as a builder: 11 
Price range of builds: $500,000 plus

417 Home: What are some current building trends you are seeing/constructing in 417-land homes?

A.R.: Lots of windows! We are always trying to bring as much natural light to the inside while providing as much view to the exterior as possible. Many clients are looking for more contemporary architecture.  Maybe not purist modern architecture, but more of a contemporary spin on a traditional style. Many clients are also asking for more of a flexible space, kind of a combination family, movie, entertainment type of room.

 

417 Home: Looking ahead, do you see any trends in other areas/markets across the country that you fill will eventually be a trend in 417-land?

A.R.: I think smaller but more detailed with very high quality finishes. We have seen that in some of the markets where new urbanism has taken root and I think that idea will continue to grow in the Springfield market.

 

417 Home: What style of home is “hottest” right now, in our area?

A.R.: Each client has their own taste in style but we are consistently seeing a contemporary spin on whatever style preference they have.  Taller ceilings, open floor plans and very clean, well thought out spaces continue to be at the top of our clients wish lists.

 

417 Home: are some ways to have/ideas for having a really efficient heating and cooling system?

A.R.: Heating and cooling can be very complex. It involves everything starting from orientation of the home on the site and includes various other items such as wall thickness, insulation, and window units to name a few.  We focus on wall thickness, insulation type, and windows, along with a reputable mechanical company that focuses on the details of the installation.  There are a myriad of installation techniques that mechanical companies can use during installation that make a huge difference in the overall performance of the system.  Another technique that we have begun to implement is keeping all of the duct work in conditioned cavities.  This is probably the most difficult technique to implement and is not always feasible, but has very good performance results.

 

417 Home: Do you have any suggestions for saving money?

A.R.: When trying to reduce project costs, we like to focus on spaces that will get lighter use or are non-prominent areas such as guest bedrooms, basement areas, bonus rooms, etc.  We also look at reducing the overall scope by removing items such as cabinets and millwork from spaces that could be furnished later or reducing the quality of materials in certain low use areas.

 

417 Home: What sets your company apart from other builders in 417-land?

A.R.: A unique aspect of our company is that our roots are not in physical construction but actually started in the design world. My degree and previous work history is in architecture and a few years ago as our company expanded we added a full time licensed architect to our team.  We are pretty serious when we say design and construction.


 

417 Home: What are some smart “investments” for your budget?

A.R.: There are two approaches to this question.  One thought is to invest in the infrastructure, wall thickness, insulation, and mechanical systems, to create a more energy efficient home; since this may be the only opportunity to include these types of elements in the home. The other thought is to reduce the infrastructure cost and spend the money on things that you will touch, see, and feel. Using high quality materials that will last longer on high use areas is always a good investment. Cabinets, countertops, and flooring are all surfaces that get high use, therefore using higher quality materials for these areas will keep them looking good, working well and lasting longer.


 

417 Home: What are some of the energy-saving features you like to include in homes you build?

A.R.: We are a Certified Green Professional as designated by the National Home Builders Association so we consider green building including energy efficiency important regardless of size or scope.  We like to focus on the exterior envelope of the house including windows, wall thickness, and insulation as one of the primary energy saving opportunities.  The mechanical system including design and installation details play a key role in energy efficiency.  We also are beginning to incorporate a significant amount of LED lighting into our projects.  

 

417 Home: What are some of the biggest challenges in building a custom home?

A.R.: We view the construction process as a team effort.  As with any team, communication is always the key to success.  It is necessary to communicate so many things throughout a project that it is important to set the appropriate channels of communication, as well as, expectations early in the process.  When everyone is communicating well, it helps to keep the project on schedule, details are executed more effectively, schedules move along well.

 

417 Home: What advice would you give to someone who is about to start a custom home build?

A.R.: Always select a contractor whom you have a good relationship with and you can trust.  Communication is a key to any construction project and it is very important that you and your contractor have a good foundation of trust so that you can work together for the success of the home building project.  Always do your homework by checking recent client references and verifying that your contractor carries both worker’s compensation and general liability insurance.

 

417 Home: How is building a home in 417-land different than building a home anywhere else in the country?

A.R.: Our area has a strong focus on family values and people take pride in their home.  In order to meet the expectations of our clients we have to respond to both the technical aspects of construction such as our climate zone, along with the expectations of our craftsmanship to meet our clients expectations.

 

417 Home: As a builder, who is the ideal client? (talk about client interaction, communication, etc.)

A.R.: Our company focuses on partnering with our clients to produce a product that we can both be proud of and that will last a lifetime.  We do this through material and product selection in combination with pride of craftsmanship.  When we can find clients who share the same passion, together we can accomplish phenomenal results.

 

417 Home: What’s your favorite thing about building a home?

A.R.: Before we actually begin the construction process we start to visualize what the completed project will look like.  We really enjoy the completion of each major stage of the project and thrive on the reaction of our clients as their home begins to take shape.

 

417 Home: What are some other building materials that may not necessarily be the norm, but could be used?

A.R.: It is always fun to take some sort of found or reclaimed piece, wood, metal, glass, concrete, and use it to create a unique detail for the home.  We also like to take something from the land that we are working on and use it to create something for the home.  The last home we built we incorporated a walnut tree that had fallen behind the house and used it to create a massive 11’-0” long mantle over a custom fireplace in the basement.  We have also used tree branches to sculpt a back lit piece of art for a wet bar.  Hand crafted pieces like this help to tell a story and add a special touch to each home.

 

417 Home: What is the most difficult part of the construction process?

A.R.: Getting started is always more difficult than you might think.  Before the project can begin the scope and budget must be in alignment.  This can take some time to make adjustments, get revised estimates and overall do everything you can to make sure the project is set up for success to the best of your ability prior to any physical work beginning.

 

417 Home: Is it common for homes to come out over and under budget?

A.R.: We always recommend taking more time before the construction begins to make sure that the house plans are exactly how you want them and then we spend a lot of time working with our clients to make sure the scope of work and budget are in alignment.  We also monitor the health of the budget for our clients throughout the entire project.  This allows us to spot over and under budget items either before they happen or worst case immediately as they are happening.  This method allows us to not experience over budget issues at the very end of the project.  Common budget over runs can include plan or scope changes during the project or over spending budgeted items such as plumbing or light fixtures without knowing you are doing it.  Working from a budget sheet doesn’t ensure you don’t go over your original budget but it lets you make the decision to spend more prior to actually spending the money.

 

417 Home: What’s the one tool you couldn’t live without, and why?

A.R.: It seems my cell phone has become a very important tool.  I can check email, pull up house plans, check project schedules, take pictures, and contact our team, clients, and subcontractors.  Regardless of new technologies without a good set of plans, my tape measure and a level, I might be in trouble.

 

417 Home: If you were about to build your own custom home right now, what is the one non-typical thing you would be sure to include, and why? (A pool? Outdoor kitchen? Etc.)

A.R.: We recently installed a residential sized ice machine that produces the trademarked Sonic ice.  It was pretty sweet, so I would probably have to splurge on one of those for myself.

 

417 Home: Can you please share one fun “mess” about building (your biggest goof up or something crazy that happened on the job) as well as one fun “success” (a project your most proud of and why.)

A.R.:

Mess: A lot of homes we construct are located on acreage in remote areas, so we generally start the security alarm service very early in the construction process. On one particular job, we received an alarm in the middle of the night and the police were dispatched. Upon arrival, the property was searched and everything was in order. It was only the next morning we discovered that one of the temporary motion detectors was placed out of the way on the side porch and it was a mouse that had run across the front of it sending everyone into a frenzy!

Success: We had one project recently that a beautiful walnut tree had fallen behind the home we were constructing.  One of our team members single handedly cut and milled the tree into a one of a kind fireplace mantle eleven feet long, sixteen inches deep and 8 inches tall.  During the process he uncovered musket bullets that had been shot into the tree some time back and those can still be seen after the mantle was installed.  The Owner was ecstatic, and it showed the true craftsmanship that our team prides itself on.

 


Brian Ranft of Creative Outdoor Lighting says their ultimate goal in adding lighting is simple: make the house look better at night than it does during the day.

Outdoor Lighting

Whether you want your home to appear welcoming and cozy, dramatic and expansive or somewhere in between, you can make it all happen with the right outdoor lighting. Just ask Brian Ranft, the owner of Creative Outdoor Lighting (4319 S. National Ave. #254, Springfield, 417-882-0214, creativeoutdoorlighting.com). “If you really want to make a statement, consider uplighting,” Ranft says. “You can get a lot of lighting from a very small fixture with uplighting.” And moonlighting is another option. “This actually creates light as if it were a full moon,” Ranft says. You can even accent sculptures or trees, or add silhouette lighting to particular items, which brings out their dimension. “Our goal is to make the home look better at night than it does during the day,” Ranft says.

If it’s not over-the-top glamorous lighting you’re after, you can do something a bit more modest, like add a few lights and a lit entryway in the front of your home. “You could spend as little as $1,200 if you wanted,” Ranft says. But when it comes to the lighting, many people do choose to go big by lighting their entire outdoor space. “We do projects in the $16,000 to $20,000 range on a regular basis,” Ranft says. “It really just depends on the property and how much you want lit.” Whether it’s big or small lighting you’re after, it all starts with a conversation. “We spend time with the homeowners, and a lot of times the architect and the builder, to find out what they want and how we can get the best value for their money,” Ranft says. 


Rather than going for tons of color, landscaper Josh Sommer suggests pairing one or two colors with a variety of shrubs, trees and bushes.

Landscaping

Designing your landscaping at the same time you design your home has many benefits. “I have many clients who would have done a few things differently if they had planned it from the very beginning,” says landscaper Josh Sommer of Sommer Roots (1029 E. Locust, Springfield, 417-849-3011). One of these things is including a service area toward the rear of the property. “This would be a type of outdoor shed or building for storage of things like a lawn mower or even yard games,” Sommer says. “You can screen it off with trees and shrubs so it’s not too visible.”

Speaking of trees, they’re another big factor to consider when planning your home’s exterior design. “Proper tree placement adds more usability and value to a home than anything else in the landscape,” Sommer says. Trees, especially in the backyard, provide shade and make the space more useful, and they also make the house more energy efficient. “If you’re building on a site that has existing trees, you’ll have to think about how they could be useful,” Sommer says. “If you’re building in a blank field or lot, you’ll have to think about where to place trees for shade, wind breaks, borders or even to divide the property.” 

Sommer also advises clients to consider what type of maintenance they want to do, and plan around it. If you want color in front of your home but aren’t up for keeping up with annual flowers, consider blooming shrubs or smaller trees with more color. If you like to garden and want a spot to try new plants, include it in the plan. Regardless of what you prefer, planning a space for it in the beginning will benefit for years to come. 


By starting a partnership with the client during the planning stages, designer Kim Wood and her partner, Lisa Clary, help the client choose paint colors, materials and other finishes.

Interior Design 

Many of 417-land’s best designers start working with clients during the very beginning stages of the building process. “A lot of times we will have people come to us saying they want to build a house,” says Kim Wood of Kim Wood Designs (Springfield, 417-224-7416, kimwooddesigns.com). Wood and her business partner, Lisa Clary, are then able to work with the client during the planning stages, and they often jump in and work with the architects, custom home designers and builders. “With custom homes, there are intricacies involved,” Wood says. “It helps when we’re able to step in at the very beginning.” If this partnership happens at the start, Wood is also able to check up on the project during the build. “I am usually visiting a project two to three times a week, if not daily,” Wood says. 

Of course, there are many cases when a designer doesn’t start at the very beginning stages, and that’s okay, too. If this is the case, Wood still goes through her basic interview process to get to know her clients, and she eventually assists them in everything from choosing paint colors to designing custom furnishings. She can do anything from help with one specific room or area, in which she charges a consulting fee, to lead the design for an entire custom build, which is often billed as a percentage of a total cost. 

Regardless of the size and scope of the project, Wood invites all of her clients to sign up for an account on Houzz, a website that highlights architecture, interior design and decorating. “I’ll file all of my specific ideas into a folder so they can see them,” Wood says. This helps with constant communication, as well as inspiration. Inspiration from other sources, like magazines, other websites and even Pinterest, is also a popular tool. 

 

Get the Goods

You’re already building your home—now it’s time to deck it out with your favorite hardware, furnishings and accessories. Check out these local stores and showrooms for all the things you need to make your house a home.

 

5908 Home Furnishings
2144 E. Republic Rd., Unit B102, Springfield, 417-889-5908
What you’ll find: This brand new home furnishings store in Farmers Park sells a variety of one-of-a-kind furnishings, accessories and gifts. 

 

Advanced Welding & Ornamental Iron
651 S. Kansas Ave., Springfield,417-886-8032, advwelding.com
What you’ll find: This showroom features all of the company’s hottest metal work on display, including guard rails, wall hangings, pickets and other one-of-a-kind creations. 

 

Blinds Plus
224 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-881-1821, myblindsplus.com
What you’ll find: Shutters, custom draperies and other window-related needs, all on display.

 

Brashears Furniture 
2750 Shepherd of the Hills Expy., Branson, 417-337-5028, brashears.com
What you’ll find: All you need to deck out your living room, bedroom and dining room with sofas, beds, tables, accessories and more.

 

Cabinet Concepts by Design 
4123 N. State Hwy. H, Springfield,417-725-3400, cabinetconceptsbydesign.com
What you’ll find: Various styles and designs of custom cabinetry on display, including accessories, organizers and hardware. 

 

The Carpet Shoppe
1827 E. Seminole St., Springfield,417-883-6455, thecarpetshoppe.com
What you’ll find: Every type of floor covering you could imagine, from the classics (carpet, hardwood, tile, area rugs and laminates) to the newest in the industry (vinyl tile, vinyl plank, cork and bamboo).

 

Edge Supply 
1920 E. Trafficway St., Springfield, 417-862-7082; 5665 S. Campbell Ave., Springfield, 417-889-7082
What you’ll find: Sinks, soaking tubs, copper and ceramic faucets, shower heads and more bathroom and kitchen fixtures you'll love.

 

Ellecor Design & Gifts
2144 E. Republic Rd., Springfield, 417-720-2602, ellecordesign.com 
What you’ll find: An assortment of trendy home decor and furnishing items, plus custom upholstery.

 

Four Seasons Factory Direct
1310 N. Nias Ave., Springfield, 417-831-7666, fourseasonsfactorydirect.com
What you’ll find: Want a sunroom in your dream home? Four Seasons has a mobile sunroom display where you can see the features and benefits! 

 

The Galleria at Harry Cooper Supply 
610 N. Sherman Pkwy., Springfield, 417-865-3677, thegalleriashowroom.com
What you’ll find: A wide range of plumbing fixtures, vignettes, free-standing tubs, showers and more.

 

HMI Fireplace shops
1744 N. Deffer Dr., Nixa, 417-725-2550, hmifireplaceshop.com 
What you’ll find: Everything hearth related, like wood-burning stoves, gas and electric fireplaces and more. 

 

La-Z-Boy Furniture
1737 E. Independence St., Springfield,417-883-3820, la-z-boy.com 
What you’ll find: A huge selection of recliners, sofas, chairs, loveseats and more to make your living room the coziest spot in the house.

 

The Light House Gallery
4113 S. National Ave., Springfield, 417-889-1088, thelighthousegallery.com
What you’ll find: A huge selection of chandeliers, pendants and other lighting fixtures, plus ceiling fans, accessories, furniture and more, all on display!

 

Me and My House
3405 E. Battlefield, Suite 128, 417-720-129, Springfield, meandmyhouse417.net
What you’ll find: A wide variety of fresh and fun home decor items, plus cute accessories for every room in your house.   

 

Meek's Design Center
3231 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-889-1929,  meeks.com
What you’ll find: Windows, doors, lighting, molding, roofing, cabinetry, fireplaces and more, all displayed as it could be in your home.

 

Metro Appliances & More
3252 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-833-1113, metroappliancesandmore.com
What you’ll find: Washers, dryers, refrigerators, ovens, ranges and all other appliances under the sun, shiny, new and on display. Bonus: There's also a demonstration kitchen here!

 

National Home Products 
2726 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, 417-731-3220, nhp-spfd.com
What you’ll find: A nice range of decorative bath, cabinet and door hardware, plus closets, glass and more, all perfect for your home!

 

Midwest Rug Company 
911 W. Sunshine St., Springfield, 417-869-303, midwestrug.com
What you’ll find: Carpet and ceramic tiles, hardwood floors and laminates and many other fabulous options for your new floors.

 

Mouery’s Carpet Center
3045 S. Scenic Ave., Suite. 104, Springfield, 417-883-4720, springfieldmocarpet.com 
What you’ll find: Every floor type to soothe your soles, including hardwoods, carpets, laminates, vinyls and luxury vinyls. 

 

Obelisk Home
214 W. Phelps St., Springfield, 417-616-6488, obeliskhome.com
What you’ll find: One-of-a-kind works of art, high-end furniture and a variety of tasteful accessories.

 

Signature Interior Expressions
1229 S. Range Line Rd., Joplin, 417-623-1299, signaturexp.com 
What you’ll find: The entire floor is a display of options in and of itself, and resting on top you’ll find granite and quartz samples, cabinetry, countertops, backsplashes and tile and wood options. 

 

Southern Materials Company
3358 E. Division St., Springfield, 
417-865-2822, southernmaterials.com
What you’ll find: An assortment of plumbing fixtures and accessories, plus bathtubs, vanities, showers and much more arranged for you to see, love and hopefully take home.

 

Southern Supply Company
3216 E. Division St., Springfield, 417-866-3551, southernsupplyco.com
What you’ll find: Top brands of hardware to help build your dream home, including Marvin Integrity doors and windows and Cambria countertops.

 

Sutherland’s
3148 E. Chestnut Expy., Springfield, 417-831-0544, sutherlands.com
What you’ll find: Displays full of furniture, sink and shower setups and kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Don’t miss the showrooms at Sutherland’s Home Design Center locations in Lebanon, Joplin and Aurora.

 

Unique Tile
1364 N. Kelly Ave., Nixa, 417-725-5515, uniquetile.com
What you’ll find: A wide variety of finishes for tile, countertops and other surfaces in your home. There are decorative tiles, granites and quartz samples to see, as well as sink and shower displays.

 

Wheeler’s Furniture
3861 South Ave., Springfield, 417-889-3200, wheelersfurniture.com
What you’ll find: Furniture for every room in your house, all displayed together in living room, bedroom and dining room settings complete with lamps, art and accessories.