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News from David James Homes

David James Homeowner Spotlight – The Crosses

The Crosses have just built a beautiful custom home in Taylor County, West Virginia. And they really enjoyed their David James experience. In fact, we should probably just start sending them out to talk to prospective homeowners!13724076_10154423423969577_7227314921126808362_o Here are a few of Rick & Marlee’s thoughts on their experience with us: “We would like to thank David James Homes for building our beautiful new home. We actually just settled on it this morning! “The team at David James Homes in Clarksburg, West Virginia, was a pleasure to work with. Starting with Bill and Heather13641097_10154423424434577_5439348355859060602_o in the design center, all the way to production managers Clark and Earl in the field. “We also had the pleasure of meeting Merle and Rose. We are so thankful for their work ethic and pride, and the quality that they put into every home they build. “Everything came together to create absolutely beautiful house. Thank you to the entire staff of David James Homes.”   Since 1995, David James has specialized in building highly customized homes at prices below what tract builders charge. At David James Homes, in all of our dealings with new customers and current homeowners, it becomes very clear that our one driving force, our ultimate goal, is not just building houses – it’s “Bringing Families Home.” For more information contact us at 540-563-5020 or visit us at

Choosing the right lot

In our last post, we discussed the various types of custom homes typically available today. From ranch to split-level, tract to total custom, having the opportunity to create the right home for your family is the best part of custom home building. However, what many home builders don’t realize is that finding the right property to build on is very important, too. Building lots come in various shapes, sizes, and orientations. The first step is  determining whether your style of home fits the lot correctly. To do so, you have to understand the different types of lot orientations:   Level Lot Essentially, a level lot is one that resides on flat ground. The most attractive aspect of considering a level lot is that it will work for any style home. Other Details: •Problems with drainage, as there is no elevation change for water to run-off. •Require sump pumps.which can frequently fail due to power outage during storms.   Down-slope Lot These lots are the most advantageous for home builders, even if only sloping 2-3 feet from front to back, due to the natural drainage system. Other Details: •Allows for daylight basement and walk-out door. •Solves drainage problem with footer drain to grade.   Up-slope Lot This style is a case where the home style has to fit the lot, sometimes making customization difficult. These lots work well for split-entry homes, but otherwise require a shelf to be cut out to accommodate other home styles.   Steep down slope Lot (often waterfront) Since homes need to be built on virgin (unmoved) soil and  because of the steep slope, the rear foundation walls are often twice the height of normal, requiring extensive additional concrete.  It sometimes even requires a second foundation under the first.  

Developed vs. Undeveloped Lots

In the most basic sense, developed land has been fully prepared for homebuilding while undeveloped land has not. Sometimes, custom home builders are quite eager to build their dream home and, rather than waiting for developed residential areas to open up, they build on larger plots of undeveloped land in rural or semi-rural locations instead. Though all land requires a certain number of costs (such as driveway construction, hole, water, sewer, electric), other factors can come into play when deciding between developed and undeveloped land. For example, if you’re thinking about building your home on undeveloped land, be sure to consider the additional preparation work and expenses involved, such as permits, clearing of land, well-digging, septic issues, excavation, etc. Most importantly, never, everbuy property without a percolation test, regardless of the property size! If you have any questions about building lot styles, developed vs. undeveloped land, or any other custom home building issue, feel free to contact us or join our conversation on Facebook. Thanks for you interest. Our next post will discuss custom home financing.

Different Styles Can Offer Various Affordability Options

Welcome to the David James Homes blog, an on-going monthly series designed to share our knowledge and experience by helping you avoid costly mistakes and pitfalls when building your new house. The wonderful thing about building your very own custom home are the many choices you’ll have available. Most of the time, the decision can come down to desired square footage (SF) verses style. A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is that a 2-story can be the most economical because it affords the lowest price per SF. It’s also worth noting that some of the changes in the way homes are built these days can affect costs as well. But with the right know how, you can get the best of both worlds. Here are just some of the kinds of houses and things to think about: Ranch: Highest per SF of finished area, but they bring the advantage of one level living and potential to double finished area in basement. Cape: Very similar to building a ranch in some aspects. A good thing to know is that years ago, capes were more economical; but since most are built with rafters instead of trusses labor cost are much higher. house21 Split Level & Split Entry: Becoming very popular again. Advantage is value and equity. Inexpensive to build, because of full windows in lower level. Another point is that the finished area in lower level is considered living area by appraiser (rather than finished basement as in a ranch). Custom verses Standard Plan: Tract Homes – Lowest (usually only have 2 – 3 plans with limited options) and unfortunately have limited customization leeway. It can be the lowest because of the way they are built – in an assembly-line fashion where the builder controls the site, location, and building process. The downside is that there is very little “instant equity” and it can be quite challenging to get exactly what you want. Semi- Custom – this is where you take a builder’s plan and and then make modifications to it yourself. Some builders have few plans and typically allow only minor changes. 20357_325850684576_6022605_n Total Custom – Your highest price per SF. These are the houses that have complicated plans (lots of roof lines, “bump-outs”, etc.) and often require the builder to add a “fudge factor” (contingency pricing) for unexpected or unforeseen issues that can arise. Count on adding around a 5 -7% pad in your pricing when going the custom route. We love questions – so please feel free to reach out and let us know your thoughts. Or you can join our discussion on Facebook. Thanks again for your interest. Next month we’ll cover building lots and site costs.