Monthly Archives: September 2014

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THE FINAL WALKTHROUGH WHEN BUILDING A CUSTOM HOME OR RENOVATION

As a homebuilder who has had the privilege of building complex, high-end homes in Fairfield County, I work with sophisticated clients that typically have an eye for detail and process. As a result, we have systems in place that keep them educated and informed as we move through the homebuilding process. When it comes time for the final walkthrough, we encourage a thorough review of the property. If you’re building a custom home, or undergoing an extensive renovation or addition project, the following checklist will help guide the final walkthrough to ensure that you feel comfortable as the project is wrapped up.

Larsen05 Crop Low res

Interior

  • Take a close look at the hardwood flooring to ensure that the finish has been applied properly. The color should match your specifications, and the coverage should be uniform.
  • Test your oven, dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer to see if they are running properly. Just make sure there is nothing in them before you turn them on.
  • Check that the plumbing fixtures are functioning properly by flushing the toilets and running the hot and cold water.
  • Test the HVAC by turning on the heat and A/C to ensure that they fire up and operate effectively.
  • Test the lights, garage door openers, intercom system, and/or any electronic controls.
  • Take a close look at finishes to spot any nicks, cracks, or scratches on wood floors, countertops, appliances, etc. Seams in the granite should be done properly.
  • Inspect the paint in all rooms, including closets and stairwells, for satisfactory coverage and detail.
  • The drywall should not have any defects such as dimples and exposed drywall tape seams.

Exterior

  • Proper drainage is one of the most critical components of avoiding water issues. Good drainage starts with proper excavation of the land around the perimeter of the home. Take a good look at the gradation of the property to ensure that it slopes away from the foundation.
  • Check that all screens are installed on windows and appropriate doors.
  • Inspect the trim work; seams should be tight and properly sealed.
  • A good paint job will always include one coat of primer and two finish coats. Check that the coverage is not transparent and that the paint strokes are even and smooth.
  • Landscaping should be designed and installed following a specific contracted plan. Make sure that all the plantings are in the right position and that the appropriate plantings have been installed. Plants should be placed 2-3 feet away from the house.

Behind the Scenes

  • Check the attic to ensure that insulation has been installed and to see if there are any obvious defects with the ductwork.
  • Check the basement to see if there are any moisture issues and/or cracking in the foundation. Concrete foundations will naturally crack a bit; however, large, deep cracks would be something to look into further.

Taking these detailed measures during the final walkthrough should provide you with peace of mind as you prepare to move into your new home. If things come up, your builder’s warranty will have you covered.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

HOW TO EVALUATE YOUR NEXT NEIGHBORHOOD

One of the most significant considerations when building a new home is finding a lot in a town that fits the needs of your family. If you’re looking to build in towns such as Greenwich, Westport, Darien, or Fairfield, you already have a head start in terms of prime location, but there are several location factors to consider when making a move. Explore the following when evaluating your next neighborhood.

Neighborhood

School Systems
If you’re considering public schooling, you’ll want to evaluate the local town school system. If you’re considering private institutions, then you may want to consider the travel time from the neighborhood to campus. Fairfield County provides excellent private institutions. The public programs are also very good. In order to properly evaluate the town schools, start by researching average test scores. You can find this information on sites such as SchoolDigger.com. Keep in mind that even though a school system might have high test scores, it also might have larger classroom sizes, which might not be the ideal learning environment for your child. Other evaluation measures that you can find online are student-to-teacher ratios, enrollments, and statewide performance.

Town and Crime Data
Town data can convey a general sense of the community. City-Data.com allows you to search by town and provides population, median household income, median resident age, home values, and more. This is often a good place to start as it will give you an idea of the cost of living and can tell you whether a town is too big or too small for your preferred lifestyle.

A variety of online resources provide crime rate information. One is FamilyWatchdog.us, which breaks down crime statistics by offense in each town. Some neighborhoods have safety protocols, such as a neighborhood watch and auxiliary police patrols. These amenities can help give you peace of mind.

Talk With Area Residents
Talking directly with people from the area can be an excellent way to gather information. These will be your future neighbors, after all, and they’ll have a unique perspective on the community. If you’re visiting the area and see someone in their yard, start by giving them a wave. If they wave back, ask if they would mind answering a few questions. Good questions to ask could include, “Did you find anything unexpected after you moved in?” and “What are the things that you like most about living here?” Spend some time visually evaluating the area. Are there kids around for your children to play with? Are people friendly?

Social and Cultural Amenities
If you’re searching for property in Fairfield County, you have appealing options when it comes to social and cultural amenities. The town you choose will determine how close you get to your favorite types of places. For example, living closer to downtown will offer easier access to art galleries, restaurants, and theater. Some towns, such as Westport and Fairfield, will put you closer to marinas. Smaller, more rural towns, such as Weston and Wilton, will provide easier access to hiking and outdoor recreation. Making a list of your priorities will help guide your decisions when it’s time to start searching.

Doing a little research ahead of time can be a great way to find the perfect location for your next home. The next step will be to start the homebuilding process.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company

THE VALUE OF HIRING AN ARCHITECT FOR A LUXURY REMODEL OR CUSTOM HOME PROJECT

There is a fairly common misconception among homeowners that hiring an Architect for a luxury custom home project, renovation, or addition will be cost-prohibitive and that the job can easily be accomplished without one. The truth is that having an Architect involved can actually save you time and money in the long run. I tell my Clients that bringing in an Architect, along with their Builder, from the very beginning is always in their best interest.

canstockphoto20274844

Building a custom home, or a large-scale renovation, particularly a luxury property, is a complex process. Things get even more complicated when building on waterfront, challenging landscape, and/or very large or unique spaces. These types of projects are always best handled by experienced professionals.

Architects are highly educated, trained, and skilled professionals with the most current and thorough knowledge of the building design process. The key to their value is the ability to map out every detail of a home design from the beginning, so as to eliminate the need to fix and revise as the building process moves along. When you have detailed plans in place, the process runs much more efficiently. This in turn helps eliminate budget and schedule overruns. Furthermore, custom home construction requires knowledge of local permitting and zoning regulations. The Architect has the ability to ensure that the home is positioned on the land properly and has the knowledge to work around any local restrictions. They can see obstacles you would never anticipate. And their unique ability to create spaces that are functional and aesthetically appealing is invaluable.

The Architectural process involves several steps. The first is the development of a schematic design. Here they will visit and analyze the building site and interview the Clients to determine their specific wants, needs, and budget. They will then present a written documentation of what the Clients are looking for as well as rough sketches that show the basic structure and how it sits on the land. Secondly, the Architect will move into design development, where they will provide more detailed drawings, floor plans, roof design, finish trim details, etc. Construction documents (blueprints) are then developed that will serve as the plans for the Builder to work from.

As homebuilders, we’re always encouraging our Clients to use an Architect. The process moves smoother, the Client is happier, and the end product is of the highest quality. We’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most talented and creative Architects in the Northeast. Together we’ve created some inspiring properties, and we value these relationships dearly.

Kelly M. Wright
Wright Building Company