4 OPTIONS THAT DELIVER THE GREATEST RETURNS TO CUSTOM HOME BUILDERS

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Custom Home Options that Pay Off

TellaFirma_BuilderingPlansSometimes the proof is in the details. By paying special attention to the home features and options buyers value the most, custom builders can help ensure their projects command the highest price at the time of sale, while also protecting the buyer’s investment and value over the long term.

We’ve identified four primary areas where the addition of extras can really pay off.

Energy efficiency.
According to real estate industry research, 80% of homebuyers say that energy efficiency has a somewhat to very important impact on their selection decision. In fact, Energy Star-rated appliances are at the top of the list of most-wanted home features, and an Energy Star rating for the whole home is very high on the list as well.

Beyond appliances, homebuyers prefer energy efficient features such as LED lighting, intelligent HVAC systems, and tankless water heaters. Also, it’s hard to go wrong with high-quality insulation and energy-efficient windows that reduce heating and cooling costs.

TellaFirma_NewHomeSmart home features.
Research also shows that between 65-85% of homebuyers are willing to spend more for homes with smart technology installed, with the Millennial generation representing the demographic group with the greatest interest in this area. Think about pre-wiring the home and installing some of the features that tech-savvy consumers want most – wireless home security systems, programmable thermostats, security cameras, lighting control systems, and wireless home audio systems, for example.

Design features.
The design of the home itself is another important consideration, as 65% of homebuyers say the most influential characteristic when buying a home is “living space and number of rooms that meet their needs,” according to a study from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Prospective buyers tend to focus first on the number of rooms and details of the floor plan: 60% of homebuyers are willing to pay more for a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, for example, and 40% would pay more for an eat-in kitchen. Buyers also appreciate features such as flex rooms, garage storage and outdoor living space.

Beyond considerations related to the layout and flow of the home, buyers focus on quality and appearance when looking at most home components (such as flooring, doors, kitchen countertops, cabinets and carpeting) but also focus on brand name when it comes to appliances. More than 50% of prospective buyers would pay more for granite countertops in the kitchen, and 41% are willing to pay more for stainless steel appliances. 

Structure.
Finally, certain aspects of the structure of the home itself will appeal to homebuyers looking for long-term value in their investment. Quality materials used in windows, roofing and ventilation are key considerations for many homebuyers.

The foundation of the home cannot be overlooked in its importance to the performance of the structure over time. One new option from Tella Firma is an elevated slab foundation, which appeals to buyers in many locations due to its cost-effective solution that protects the foundation against movement in areas with unstable soil conditions.

The Bottom Line.
If you keep these four areas in mind when planning your next custom home build, it will likely pay off in the long run – for you and your buyer.

NEW SCHOOL BUILDING GETS AN “A” FOR FOUNDATION

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Innovative Foundation Solution Receives Good Marks at Spanish House Immersion School

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The new Spanish House Immersion School in Dallas gets an “A” for design and functionality, but the site it’s built on almost received a failing grade before construction began. “It was one of the most complex type of building sites you could have,” says Richard Atchison, whose firm, FORM studios Architecture, completed the new building for the elementary school after utilizing an innovative solution from Tella Firma to build a solid foundation on unsolid ground.

When FORM studios began planning for the new school near White Rock Lake in Dallas, it found the building site less than ideal for a standard foundation on piers. The site was located in a former flood plain, near a park and golf course, and featured the deep clay soil that is typical of neighborhoods in and around East Dallas. To make matters worse, the low lying elevation required 8 feet of land fill to elevate the building pad above flood plain levels before foundation work could begin.

The construction team was worried about potential soil movement that might cause a traditional foundation to become unstable and fail over time. Soil remediation was one option, which would require a 10-12 foot excavation before layering in new soil and non-expansive fill to prevent further expansion, but this method would add $3-5 per square foot and add more than a month to the construction schedule. Water or chemical injection was not an option for this site because of the high water table and environmental concerns. 

The potential vertical rise (PVR) of the soil suggested that a suspended foundation and pier solution were required. In addition, the high water table meant the drillers would probably hit water as they installed the piers. Seeking a more affordable solution that wouldn’t require the additional expense of remediation, the team first considered bell piers to avoid the water table, and also considered a slab-on-void box foundation, which would cost between $25-30 per square foot.

Then the team learned about Tella Firma Foundations from TEXCON concrete contractors, which had experience installing more than 100 foundations utilizing the Tella Firma process in residential construction. Tella Firma uses a field-tested, patented process to elevate a slab-on-grade foundation using piers, to create a protective void between the ground and the foundation itself. Tella Firma’s solution for the Spanish House school would include an 8-inch raised foundation that isolates the slab from active soils and guards it from unexpected movement.

The Tella Firma suspended solution works well when high PVR and settlement are present on a site, which was the case for the Spanish House school. The elevator in the building still required a slab-on-void box foundation on four piers to support the additional weight, with an 8-inch void to match the Tella Firma foundation, which was lifted around the elevator pit. The foundation also was designed to support and counterbalance a scissor-lift platform used during construction and the installation of plumbing and other components.

The project was completed on time and on budget during a 7-month construction schedule, ready to open for the new school year in August 2016. Atchison said he was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of the building’s foundation, and noted that FORM studios would have been unable to complete the project on budget otherwise. In total, the Tella Firma solution saved the builder close to $100,000, and the school was able to consider additional design features based on this savings.

FORM studios is now working with Tella Firma on The Kingdom Life Church project in Frisco,  Texas, and Atchison says the excellent report card from the Spanish House Immersion School means his firm will definitely work with Tella Firma on other projects.