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How to Prepare for Building a New Custom Home: An Interview with Lloyd Davis of TYL Construction, Inc.

By Lloyd Davis

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a licensed general contractor doing both residential and commercial construction. We build new projects as well as remodels, renovations, additions and repairs. We've been blessed to have been in operation since 1998.

What's one of the biggest mistakes you've seen people in Florida make during the design process for a custom-built home?

Unfortunately the biggest mistakes typically come from those who have never been through the process of building a home before. After all, wisdom comes from experience and we tend to learn our very best lessons the hard way. In the beginning there is always the question, "How much does it cost per square foot to build?" Believe it or not there are still some contactors that will answer that question without clarification, and then the client moves forward thinking that they have a fair budget to work with. In reality, the price per square foot is totally dependent upon the scope of the work and not the amount of total space that is taken up.

Think about a 1' x 1' square and how the price will fluctuate depending upon what's in it. Are the walls 8', 10', 12' or 14'; does the roof have shingles, clay tile or metal; are the cabinets laminate or real wood; are the tops laminate, granite or quartz; are the floors carpet, vinyl, tile or wood . . . and on and on. Going forward on a project based on a square footage estimate is a mistake that can waste time and money in design and lead to a terrible disappointment in expectations.

What do you do to help homeowners avoid this mistake?

What we do is to take the time to find out the expectations of our customer as to what they are wanting in regards to space, style and finishes. We'll then go over how those selections will affect the costs and if needed we will also provide alternatives and options. Another very important element is to take the time to check the site location where the new home is to be built. Dependent upon the existing elevation changes we need to know if the structure is going to require a footer/stem wall as opposed to a simple monolithic slab on grade, which can greatly affect the cost. Other items like sewer versus septic tanks, city provided water versus on-site well water and treatment system, what type and how much fill will be required, how much clearing needs to be done - all of those are questions that should be answered early in order to provide a good design that will fit within budget.

What are the basic steps involved in building a custom house? Which one is the most involved and why?

Budget, Design, Estimate, Proposal, Permits, Construction, Inspections, Closing

I'd say that each and every step is involved and very important. Any one mistake or one thing that's forgotten can affect so many others, but I would also say that the process is similar to the actual structure of the home. If it doesn't start out with the foundation being true and square and complete, then the rest of the home is going to be very difficult to do correctly. Likewise, if the budget and design processes are not carefully attended to in order to meet the expectations of the customer then everything else can be a nightmare.

What are the most helpful things that people can do when the construction starts?

The most helpful thing that our customers can do for us is to give us timely answers to our questions, make their finish selections early, and then for them to ask questions and voice concerns as it's a lot easier for us to address those if we know about them. There's nothing worse than knowing that something is not quite right but not knowing what it is. If we are aware of a concern we can do something about it quickly.

I'd also add that contractors need to do their very best to over-communicate to the customer about the project. We send our customers a weekly "Quick Update" which tells them what work has been accomplished since the last report, what items are scheduled for the next week, and any items that are open and need attention. This has proven to be one of the very best things that we have done to keep our customers in the loop and not wondering.

What advice would you give a homeowner who wants to make the most of their budget for their custom home?

There is lots and lots of advice that can be given on many different levels, but I'd say that the most important would be to first take the time to be sure that the contractor that they select is someone that they can work with and trust. The contractor needs to be of good character and one that has earned a good reputation. Personalities are important, and each customer and contractor are different so it's important that they are comfortable with each other. The whole process can be very stressful and worrisome or it can be a unique creation that is fun, rewarding, and something that all can be proud of in the end.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

TYL Construction, Inc.
1880 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach, FL 32174
(386) 795-7759

info@tylconstruction.com

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