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TC HOMES IS DEDICATED TO THE DESIGN, BUDGETING AND “COST EFFECTIVE” CONSTRUCTION OF CUSTOM CABIN HOMES IN THE LAKE TAHOE AREAS.

The Steps & Terminology of the Building Process

Building your new home is exciting, and important endeavor, and TC Homes wants the process to be as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

At TC Homes, project expectations are clearly defined from the start. Our comprehensive home building process and documented flow of information is the key to an efficient, seamless and rewarding building experience.The following overview outlines the typical steps in the construction of a home and will help keep you abreast of what happens at key stages.

Selection of a Builder/Architect – One of, if not the most important steps in building a custom home / cabin home is selecting the right builder and architect. A professional builder can help guide you through the entire design / construction process, save you time and protect you from design elements that will add unnecessary costs to the home. Many clients have the perception they should hire an architect, design their home and then go to several builders for bids to achieve the optimum pricing. In reality, more money and much more time will be saved if the builder is selected early on to help manage the design process on a team approach with the architect and the client. Just as important as selecting the right builder is the selection of the right architect who knows the area of your new home and has experience designing well thought-out cost effective custom homes / cabins.

How Do I Find & Select The Right Builder/Architect – The Internet is a great source to locate builders and architects who do work in the area of your new home. Custom homebuilders and architects, who have experience, are professional and organized typically have sophisticated websites highlighting their work and experience. Additionally, Internet publications on home designs like www.houzz.com or www.pinterest.com can also be a good source to highlight custom homebuilders in specific locations. Local realtors, your prospective lender and signs on other homes being built in your neighborhood can also help in guiding you to sources of high quality professional builders and architects. Remember that a more financially sound, organized and experienced professional homebuilder can make the homebuilding process much easier, safer and cost effective. References provided by the builder can also help guide your decision. A custom home / cabin home is a large investment and you want to make sure that you have taken the time to properly select the right design / build team. Additionally, an experienced homebuilder can also help guide you to the best architects and can help you locate a construction lender if you expect to finance the construction of your new home / cabin.

The Initial Design Process – Once your builder and architect have been selected it is time to begin the design of your new custom home / cabin. The first step will be to design a floor plan that meets your needs and desires while at the same time provides the optimum layout to minimize construction costs. Next the architect will design the “elevations” of the home that show the look of the home from all four sides. The style will be based on the client’s preferred look. At the same time the architect will create the basic design of the home’s roof. During this process, the builder will work with the architect to insure the floor plan, elevations and roof designs are cost effective to build. Next the architect will prepare a site plan showing how the home will sit on your lot and work with the topography of the site. To properly prepare the site plan, the architect or the builder will have to have created a topography map of the site from a civil engineer detailing the slope of the lot. Once you have approved how the home sits on your lot, the design of the driveway, walkways and patios, the architect or builder will commission a civil engineer to create a grading plan showing how the site will be graded and where the utilities will run. From the grading plan, the landscape architect can design the landscape plan for your new home. The floor plan, elevations, roof plan, site plan, grading plan and landscape plan are collectively referred to as the “Design Development Documents”. It typically takes approximately 2 to 3 months to create the Design Development Documents satisfactory to the client and the builder after several meetings (either in person or electronically) and numerous modifications. The client’s ability to have timely meetings and make relatively quick decisions will greatly expedite this process.

The HOA Architectural Approval Process – Most custom homes / cabin homes are located in higher-end communities managed by an association that requires pre-approval of the design of the home, materials, color, and landscaping plans before the builder can submit for building permits. These HOA’s have architectural review boards that typically meet once a month to review plans for new homes in their communities. They also typically have an architect on staff to carefully review the Design Development Documents to insure the general design of the home meets the architectural design requirements of that particular community. Selecting a builder and architect who has experience working with your HOA will save a lot of time, money and frustration for these boards can be very difficult and they have very subjective discretion on what they will and will not approve. Once the Design Development Documents are completed either the builder or the architect will make application to the HOA for review and approval. When possible, it is ideal to also include a 3-D perspective rendering of the home to help the HOA review board visualize the completed home. This approval process from start to finish typically takes between 1 to 3 months, depending on how critical the review board is and the experience your design team has working with your particular HOA.

The Construction Document (“CD”) Process – Once the HOA has approved the general design of the home the architect can proceed to preparing the detailed construction documents required to submit to the local municipality for building permits. At this time the builder can also prepare for the client a preliminary budget for the cost of the home based on the preliminary design documents approved by the HOA and the builder’s best guess as to the home’s cost based on their experience building in this area. For items yet to be selected by the client (i.e.; cabinets, flooring, counter tops, etc.), the builder will usually include allowances in its budget for these items based on what other clients have typically chosen. When the architect has completed its detailed construction documents (usually 3 to 4 weeks) they submit their drawings to a structural engineer that is usually selected by the builder to perform the required calculations and complete the design of the structural elements of the home. If the architect designed the home to have manufactured roof trusses for cost effectiveness, the structural engineer will need to send their drawings to a truss manufacturer to design the trusses. From start to finish, the structural engineer will typically take 4 to 5 weeks to complete the structural design, including the design of the manufactured trusses. During the CD Process, it will be important for the client to also make their final selections for the materials, improvements and colors of the home (i.e.; appliances, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, lighting, electrical and audio visual requirements, flooring, exterior hardscape and landscape, etc). Professional custom homebuilders will have in-house licensed designers along with third party mechanical, electrical and plumbing (“MEP”) engineers to assist the client in making the proper selections.

The Permitting, Bidding & Loan Closing Process –  Once the architect’s detailed construction documents are completed and the architect has received all of the final drawings from the structural engineer, the civil engineer and the landscape architect (referred to as “Working Drawings”), the plans are complete and ready to submit to the local municipality to begin the permitting process. This process typically takes between 4 and 6 weeks before a building permit is ready and the builder is in a position to commence construction. During the permitting process the builder will also take all of the Working Drawings along with the client’s material and improvement selections and the MEP drawings and submit them to the various subcontractors to bid the cost of the home. Ideally by the time the Working Drawings are complete, with the help of the builder, the client should have ideally selected all of the interior improvements to the home. The bidding process usually takes between 3 to 4 weeks to obtain all bids, negotiate the bid pricing and compile the bid budget for review and approval by the client. If there are still improvement items not yet selected by the client at the time the bid budget is prepared, again the builder will provide allowances in the budget for these particular items. Once the client approves this budget, the client can submit the bid budget to its lender (assuming they are financing the construction of the home) to complete the loan approval process. It usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks from this point for the lender to formally approve its loan and draft the required loan documents necessary to close the loan prior to the commencement of construction. By the time the loan is ready to close, the builder is usually in a position to pick up its building permits and commence construction.

The Construction Process – Once the client’s loan has recorded and the builder has obtained the required building permits, construction is ready to begin. The initial work is on the home site where the builder will stake the site for construction, clear and grub the site, remove any trees in the way of the home, excavate the required utility trenches, install the utility lines to the home and form up and compact the building pad for construction of the home / cabin. Next the builder will construct the home’s foundation. This whole process from start of the site work to the completion of the foundation typically takes between 4 and 8 weeks depending on the location of the home and the complexity of the work.

Once the foundation of the home is complete it is time to begin framing the home. This process will usually take between 4 and 8 weeks, again depending on the location of the home and the complexity of the framing job. Cabin homes typically take closer to 8 weeks and sometimes longer for the snow loads require more complex framing of the roofs and load bearing elements and the framer also installs the wood siding for the home. Once the framing is complete, the builder usually schedules a frame walk inspection with the client to make sure the framing of the home is consistent with what the client envisioned. If changes need to be made, this is the time to make them.

Following the completion of the framing is the installation of the windows and exterior doors (approximately 1 week). Next the builder starts the roofing of the home and wraps the exterior of the home for either stucco, stone, steel or wood siding. This process usually takes between 1 & 3 weeks depending on the materials used for the home’s roof and siding. Once the home is wrapped the rough pluming, electrical and HVAC ducting is installed (1 to 3 weeks). Again, this is an ideal time for the builder to walk the home with the client to insure all electrical work is as expected and the builder has incorporated all electrical and audiovisual needs of the client.

After the rough plumbing, electrical & HVAC ducting is complete the home is insulated, which takes just a few days. Following the insulation, it is now time to begin installing the interior sheetrock and enclosing all of the interior walls. This process takes between 1 & 3 weeks depending on the size and complexity of the home. Once completed, the builder has the interior walls taped and textured and ready for painting (approximately 2 to 3 weeks). Next the interior doorframes, interior wood trim and cabinets are installed (1 to 3 weeks depending on the amount of trim work and cabinet work required). Next the painters move in and complete the painting / staining of the home (interior & exterior), which usually takes about a week.

Once the painting is complete it is time to install the counter tops for the kitchen & bathrooms along with all required tile work in the home. This process can take between 2 to 3 weeks depending on the amount and complexity of the work. Once completed the electricians install all of the lighting fixtures and electrical plates, the plumber installs the plumbing fixtures and kitchen appliances and the HVAC contractor installs the HVAC units and controllers. This process takes about 1 to 2 weeks.

Finally, the home is ready for the installation of flooring materials (wood, carpet, etc.) and the installation of the exterior hardscape (driveways, walkways & patios) and landscape. Once the flooring is complete the builder hangs all of the interior doors, has the home thoroughly cleaned and does a complete punch list review of the home to make sure all of the components of the home work properly and all touch-up painting is complete.

The Warranty Process – Most professional custom homebuilders have a warranty program that they offer their clients. At completion of the home, the builder does a complete walkthrough of the home with the client, lists any imperfections and completes any required remedial work. During the first 12 months following the completion of the home, the builder takes the responsibility to repair any items not functioning properly (with the exception of appliances, HVAC and mechanical items covered by manufacturer’s warranties). From year two through 10 the builder is responsible to correct any latent defects (defects not seen like broken plumbing in the walls, structural issues with the home, etc.) of the home. For this reason, selecting a professional builder with the likelihood of being in business for some time is an important element of the custom home construction process.