November 2009

Willis Sinclair Homes

The Lowcountry’s Premier Custom Home Builder”

Personalized Full-Service Construction

Fixed Price and Cost Plus Contracts

24 Gabriel Road

Lodge, South Carolina 29082

843 846 2500

November/December 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Willis Sinclair Homes

The time of year has arrived when we set aside a day of Thanksgiving to remember all that we have to be thankful for. The year 2009 has been really hard for many people and we at Willis Sinclair have not been untouched by the downturn. We have had to scale back our operations and diversify our services but have managed to stay afloat for another year. We are ever thankful to our clients and business associates who have supported us and helped us throughout the year.

While this Thanksgiving may be somber for some of us let us not forget all of the good things that we still have in spite of the bad economy. We can be thankful for good health, our families, our friends and that we are still alive in the greatest country on Earth! We should also remember why we are in America and be thankful to the people who left their homes, sailed across the ocean and faced extreme hardship so that they could worship Christ in freedom. Let us all be thankful for that freedom that we still have in America.

We wish everyone a
very happy holiday season
and m
ay our new year be filled
with blessings and prosperity!

Happy New Year!

From the desk

of Bill Burdick …

“Your homeowner’s insurance is not valid” are not words you want to hear from your agent when you file a claim.

If your premium payments are current, what could cause this? Some homeowner insurance policies require regular home maintenance checks during periods when homes are unoccupied. Be sure to check with your agent or review your policy. It may require regular home checks. There also may be opportunity for savings if you do have your home checked regularly.

Willis Sinclair Homes provides a service of home checks for our clients. We check for water leaks, bugs and other intrusions. We also check mechanical systems, check temperature and humidity, record electric meter readings, check propane tanks and check to make sure the phone has a dial tone and the alarm is properly set.

The homeowner receives a written report showing the time and date of the inspection and signed by the person inspecting.

Let us know if you are interested in this service for your home. This is a service to our clients, not a profit center for us so our fees are very reasonable. Call us!

843 846 2500

Bill Burdick

Professional Engineer, Retired

Vice President, Willis Sinclair, Inc.

Custom Homes ….

The advantages of building a custom home are obvious. First, you get exactly the home you want. It has the structure you want, the colors you want, the appliances you want, the plumbing fixtures you want and numerous other details.

A custom home is more of a ‘hand built’ home than a semi-custom or production built home. Workmanship is also typically better in a fully custom home because most custom builders take more pride in their work.

There are downsides to a custom home, of course. The plans have to be drawn and adjusted to your taste. Even with today’s computer aided drafting the architectural process can take several months.

Another drawback is that custom homes typically take longer to build. Willis Sinclair Homes addresses this issue with carefully crafted schedules and efficient client-to- contractor communication. We stick to our schedules – they are not just advertising hype. Be sure to ask for a copy of our book From Plans … To A Home .. In 26 Weeks. This book chronicles the construction of an actual home we built in 181 days. Those 181 days included holidays at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Clearly, you will have to make many more decisions about what you want in a custom home since the home will be exactly what you want. With an accurate schedule, you will know ahead of time when you will need to make each decision.

Another difference between custom and production homes is the cost. So, why do custom homes cost more than production homes? For starters their foundations and sub-frames are typically more extensive and complex than production homes. Production homes are designed specifically to minimize the complexity and the subsequent cost of the foundation and framing. In a custom home the design usually takes precedence over economy and the foundations and sub-frames are adapted to adequately support the design.

Finishes are also much more involved in custom homes. Look at the exterior trim (around the windows, doors, roof line, corners and skirt of the home). Is it simple or very detailed? What type of materials are used? The details and materials typically used in custom homes both add to the cost. Not only are more materials needed, but they are more expensive and require more labor to install.

Interior finish trims are also typically more extensive and exotic on custom homes. Large crown mouldings made of multiple pieces of wood cost more than a simple one-piece. Many custom homes have exotic stained trims, all wood ceilings and/or walls and custom non-standard mouldings. In addition to the cost of these materials the labor to install complex or non-standard mouldings is also multiplied.

Another reason custom homes are more expensive than production homes is due to the design. Architects are artists and are usually reluctant to sacrifice their design for economy. Some architects do well with this but most will only drive the cost through design.

Many custom homes call for genuine handmade bricks. These bricks cost over a dollar each and require more labor to lay. Manufactured imitations are available which cost about one-third as much to buy and are easier to lay. If your home has 10,000 bricks – not an unusual amount – the cost difference could be $10,000. Are handmade bricks worth the increased price? In a custom home, that is your choice.

Wood flooring is also a place where money can be added quickly. Hickory, oak and pine make beautiful, durable floors and are relatively inexpensive. More exotic woods such as cherry or mahogany as well as wider width planks can significantly add to the cost of a home.

Natural stone tiles are another typical cost driver in custom homes. Ceramic or porcelain tiles can cost much less, are more durable and easier to maintain.

The finish on plumbing fixtures can also add to the cost of a home. Nickel and bronze are usually a good bit more expensive than chrome finishes.

The fixtures themselves can also add to the cost of a home. Good fixtures cost much less than some of the exclusive brands. Delta, Moen and American Standard all have lines of very good plumbing fixtures. They cost a good bit less than premium brands such as Grohe, Danze or Hansgrohe. Are the premium brands worth the extra cost? Again, it is the home owner’s choice.

Appliances are also an area where cost can be controlled. A good stove or refrigerator can cost $1,000 or $10,000 depending on your choice of brands. Is a $10,000 refrigerator really better than a $1,000 or $2,000 one? It is your choice.

Another place where costs can get out of hand on full custom homes is a little device called a ‘change order’. When you build your home, you will likely see things you want to change. Most builders are only too happy to make changes since they can price them as high as they think you will go. If you really want the change then you can not do much at that point to reduce the cost.

Of course it costs a builder to make changes, but some builders take advantage of this and consider ‘change orders’ as a profit center. At Willis Sinclair Homes, we charge only what a change order costs us. We put no adders on change orders (unless they are really major change orders such as ‘add a garage’). Make sure your builder does not take advantage of you if (when) you make changes.

Also make sure your builder is not going to bill you for things such as ‘helping’ you select materials, styles or colors.

In today’s economy some builders are bidding well below their cost. Once you sign, they consider it ‘open season’ on your bank account through changes, omissions and other ‘problems.’

A good builder will provide you a list of ways to save money and the approximate savings for each suggestion if you ask. We include this list in each of our proposals.

One last suggestion:

Caveat emptor

(Latin for ‘let the buyer beware’)

Willis Sinclair Homes, where ‘Built Right’ is the only ‘good enough’ we understand.

Call 843 846 2500

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