The Blog


Categories: Building a Custom Home, Custom Home Design Ideas, WhiteStone | Posted: January 31, 2018


Building a new home is one of the most important investments a family will make. In many cases it represents the single largest financial investment. The home is designed and built to provide years of pleasure, comfort, and security. It is the physical manifestation of “family” and the place where celebration and joy are expressed and experienced.

No wonder that when it comes to building a home, no one likes surprises. The document that spells out the detail and helps sets expectations for both builder and client is the contract and subsequent change orders. The contract is the roadmap that defines the destination, describes the detail of how the project will proceed, and steers everyone clear of obstructions and delays.

The contract is crafted so that it protects both builder and client, and clarifies everything about the job. It is organized into a number of sections, including information about the project location (address, lot number, etc.), project timetables, and deposit payment schedules.

While all of these details are important, most builders find that if conflicts arise during construction, they’re usually caused by misunderstanding over the “who, what, and how” of the job, and an effective contract works to clarify these issues.

Who makes the decisions?

One very short but important section names the owners’ representative. This should be one person–for instance the husband or wife, but not both–who will act as the builder’s main contact for approvals, changes, and questions. Having one owner as the representative helps eliminate confusion and makes communication more efficient. Similarly, the language should define who on the builder’s team can sign off on changes–whether it’s the company owner or the owner plus the site manager or superintendent.

What, exactly, is the client buying?

The project description defines exactly what the homeowners will be getting for their investment. The more detail the better. We use standard features, floor plans and elevations. Additionally we use the Homeowners Manual to add detail and keep only the most brief and important items in the contract.

The plans are the visual description of the new home, and include floor plans, elevation drawings, and all electrical and mechanical systems. They should note who prepared them and when they were signed. The plans should include all necessary changes–for instance, from the building department.

How will discretionary funds be allocated?

Discretionary funds include allowances and change orders on some contracts but mostly on our BOL contract. It’s important both be crystal clear. Allowances cover parts of the job that haven’t been fully specified yet, such as when the homeowner has yet to decide on how big they want the drive or how much they want to clear the lot. The allowance should specify when the decision is needed.

The contract should also clearly explain the builder’s change-order policy, including what types of changes can be made at each stage of the project, who can sign off on changes (the owner and builder reps), and the administrative cost for preparing change orders. It’s in everyone’s interest for even small changes to be documented in writing.

A contract that clearly defines the who, what, and how of the job steers the project clear of the most common minefields. This will help ensure that the homeowners get the home they want, on the timetable and for the price they were expecting.


Front Gate Community Open for Sale Today!!

Categories: News | Posted: December 30, 2017

We are pre-selling the newest section of this prestigious community. For the first time, Front Gate will have a true custom builder to design your new home the way you wanted. You don’t have to settle on a plan designed way off at some big builders corporate office! Think how fun it will be to tell your friend YOU designed your new home! Come see us!



Categories: Custom Home Design Ideas, WhiteStone | Posted: December 30, 2017

Countertops make a huge difference your kitchen. It is one of the top choices a homeowner will pick. And of course, they play a big part in the first impression the space makes on guest to your home. It’s worth taking the time to choose the countertop materials that work best for you.

Homeowners have more choices today than ever, but let’s consider the four most popular materials: laminate, solid surfacing, granite and quartz. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

Laminate comes in several quality grades. Although most people may think first of the inexpensive grades common in rental units and entry-level homes, there are high-quality, preformed laminate counters with three times the durability and no edge seams. Homeowners can choose from a variety of colors and patterns, including some that mimic the look of stone. On the downside, even these better products can scratch and burn under some circumstances–damage that’s difficult or impossible to repair. However, small scratches can be repaired or covered. And, at the cost of this material, replacement later as styles or your taste change.

Solid surfacing has lost market share in kitchens but remains a top choice for bathroom vanities. Made from a blend of acrylic and polyester, solid surfacing can cost three times more than basic laminate, but it looks more stylish and doesn’t have any surface or edge seams. Homeowners can choose from a wide range of colors and patterns.

Although solid surfacing isn’t totally resistant to scratches and burns, a good installer can often repair the damage. The material is also nonporous, so it’s less likely to stain than laminate.

Some people like the fact that solid surfacing doesn’t feel as hard or cold as granite, although others find it looks too artificial for their taste. I like it. I like the matte finish. I think it is very attractive.

Granite has been hugely popular in custom homes for years. That’s no surprise, given this natural material’s beautiful flowing patterns and mottling, as well as each slab’s unique look.

Costs for granite are slightly more than for solid surfacing.

Granite stands up well to heat and isn’t easily scratched, but its hardness means that ceramic dishes or cups can easily chip or break when dropped or bumped against the surface. Raw granite can also be stained by hot grease, so it needs to be sealed during fabrication and resealed at intervals recommended by the fabricator. Its heavy weight means it may not be the best choice for cabinets with particleboard frames.

Granite slabs are 9 to 10 feet long and 5 feet wide, so if you want something bigger you will have a seam.

Quartz has recently passed granite in popularity among some custom homeowners, even though it costs 10 to 20 percent more. Made from a blend of crushed stone and resin, this material is harder than granite and impervious to stains, including those from cooking oil, wine and coffee. Quartz has a rich, attractive finish and a regular surface pattern. It comes in 8 x 4 feet sheets, so anything bigger will require seams.

These descriptions are just an introduction to today’s most picked countertop materials. Other options are marble, wood, stainless steel, concrete and even soapstone counters. These are very custom and are not usually the choice of our homebuyers. It is like anything, there needs to be a balance in the differing costs of the materials you pick.


How long does it take to Estimate My Custom Home?

Categories: Building a Custom Home, Custom Home Design Ideas, WhiteStone | Posted: December 3, 2017

The work of building a price and schedule for your custom home is a project in itself.

There’s a reason that quality project estimates don’t happen overnight. Every home is a collection of thousands of individual components that range from large-scale assemblies like walls and roofs to small items like doorknobs and faucets. The builder has to consider every one of these elements when projecting what it will cost in time and materials to complete the home.

How long this takes varies by project type. For instance, a production builder that builds the same plan over and over will be able to generate estimates on the spot in its design center. That’s because even though the company offers some options to buyers, it’s really mass-producing a cookie-cutter product.

Custom homes are different because each one is unique. An estimate for a simple custom home can easily require 40 hours of staff time, and even more if it’s a complex architectural design. The logistics of getting the estimate could mean those hours will likely be spread out over several weeks. Many times our customers will ask us to price changes on one of our many standard custom plans. When we get that request, we can turn the pricing around typically in one week.

The builder needs to calculate the time and expense for everything from having the plans reviewed by permitting agencies to framing the shell and installing the roof, mechanicals, interior finishes and landscaping. Assembling all these numbers is a massive project that requires experience, knowledge and organizational skills. And, of course, time.

In addition, the builder needs to ensure that the products being priced for the home are the ones the customers want and that the budget will support. In many cases, this means investing time to complete the plans and clarify the product specifications, or specs.

People come to the table with dramatically different assumptions about costs, so the builder needs to clarify these assumptions. For instance, the home’s overall quality level may indicate that it’s safe to base your price on standard features which are more than generous, until a discussion reveals that the homeowners are imagining something more expensive. This clarifying work may need to be done for every line item in the estimate.

The builder also needs to solicit prices from each trade subcontractor that will work on the home, from the excavator to the plumber and painter. This can be the most time-consuming part of the estimate. If getting the subcontractors’ bids in house weren’t enough of a challenge, those bids also need to be put under a microscope.

That’s because the builder needs to make sure that subcontractors’ estimates are realistic. For instance, if a drywall bid seems low, the builder has to know enough to ask the drywall contractor how many sheets the estimate was based on, and someone on the builder’s staff needs to check those calculations. When asking for bids from 30 trade subcontractors, it’s not unheard-of for one or two to submit inaccurate bids because they were busy and needed to get their estimate to the builder on deadline. That’s why bids must be carefully reviewed. In the end, if they have messed up their bid, they resolve this by simply not doing the job. You may say this is unfair, and it is. However, there is such a demand for trade people in this community, they will not care and will simply go elsewhere.

All this work is about getting the estimate right. Taking the time to do a thorough and accurate job today will save time, expense and headaches tomorrow. It’s an area where patience pays real dividends.

Having said all this, WhiteStone Homes can still turn around your custom pricing literally faster than any other builder in this market. Just know the level of work that is put into each one of the prices.


Categories: Building a Custom Home, WhiteStone | Posted: November 4, 2017

Without a successful take off, a safe landing is impossible.

All homebuyers want their new home to turn out just as they envisioned, built on schedule, and for the agreed upon price. As a professional builder, we want exactly the same thing. That’s what makes the preconstruction meeting so important. This is a time for builder and client to ensure all of the new home’s details are clear and agreed upon. Clients who get the most from the preconstruction meeting know what to expect and come prepared to fully participate.

The preconstruction meeting is the first of three important meetings that happen during the building process (the other two are the pre-drywall walkthrough and the job close-out or “punch list” meeting). The meeting is typically scheduled right after completion of deco and change order final has been signed, and shortly before ground breaking. This is a chance for the client to confirm product selections before the project gets underway. Think of it as the construction equivalent of the pilot’s preflight checklist. There are basically two parts to this process. What we call the Purchaser Home Review 1 & 2. The #1 review is verifying where the home fits on the lot and Purchaser Home Review #2 is reviewing the plans and selections.

Depending on the size of the project, the meeting typically lasts 1 or 2 hours. Attendees include the job site superintendent, the company owner or owner’s representative, and the client. Regardless of who will act as the primary decision maker or point of contact during the project, it is important to have husband and wife in attendance. Having both parties at the meeting helps eliminate uncertainty and minimizes surprises once building gets under way. Ideally, we want to do this in person, but we have performed these via Skype successfully.

Topics covered may vary depending on the project, but usually include a review of the floor plan and client selections:  structural options like dormers and bonus rooms, mechanical upgrades like a custom air filtration, and any number of other items. The builder will  also go over the site plan at the PHR1: how the home will be oriented, where concrete work such as driveways, sidewalks, and air conditioning pads will be located, how rain water will drain from the lot, and what trees, if any, need to be protected. Legal issues such as property lines and easements may be covered as well.

If something isn’t as expected, this is the time to ask questions. Errors and misunderstandings are easier, less costly, and less stressful to correct now than they will be once construction begins.

Clarity on procedures are also important. Who should the clients call with questions once construction starts? Can the clients visit the site during construction? If so, when and what are the rules?

Done well, a good preconstruction meeting eliminates the uncertainty and puts everyone on the same page. It goes a long way toward ensuring a trouble-free project and a smooth landing for everyone.

What Home Kind of home do you want?

Categories: Building a Custom Home, WhiteStone | Posted: October 21, 2017


Production, custom or in between? The answer depends on your priorities.

If you have done any research into new homes, you’re likely familiar with the three categories of homes and builders: production, semi-custom and custom. Which one you choose will depend on your budget and your priorities–and each type may appeal to the same people at different points in their lives.


If you have lived in a tract home, it was built by a production builder. The company built it and similar homes over and over, in what amounted to an outdoor factory. The repeatability of this approach lets production builders systematically shave time from the process, while the volume of homes they build qualifies them for bulk material discounts. Production homes also tend to be built on relatively inexpensive land. These cost savings make the production home cheaper than a custom home of similar size.

The tradeoff is that you get a cookie-cutter home. It’s like buying a car: you can choose a color and opt for a sunroof, but the basic model doesn’t change. Most production builders limit the buyer to a menu of predefined options–four carpet types, three cabinet styles, six fixture lines and so on–arranged in good, better and best tiers.

The production model is for those who would rather buy than build. It’s popular among people who want a new home but don’t need something unique and don’t have time to think through a lot of choices, such as young families with two working parents.

Semi-custom: Somewhat Different

Some people don’t want a cookie-cutter home but also don’t want to start with a blank canvas. This is the person who says, “I like that floor plan, but it’s not exactly what I want.” Semi-custom builders offer these clients a portfolio of floor plans that can be customized to a greater degree than the production home. At WhiteStone Homes, we allow as many changes as your imagination and budget allow with-in a specified time limit.

Some semi-custom home-builders allow customization which usually includes some structural choices, the options tend to be predefined. They might include the building a master suite at the back of the house, adding a screened porch or changing the siding, all of which the builder has priced to the dollar. WhiteStone Home has some of these pre-priced options, but our customers build much more custom and doesn’t lend itself to pre-pricing.

Structural options make the semi-custom home more expensive than an equally sized production home and require a bit more homeowner involvement. Semi-custom homes are popular with families moving up the income ladder, as well as with retirees who want to sell their custom home and downsize.

Super Custom: One-of-a-kind

The custom homebuilder works with homeowners to create a home that perfectly serves their particular wants and needs. The homeowners might want a certain architectural style or specific features. Or they might not. These are people who, simply put, want what they want and are willing to pay for it and have the time involved in this type of home building.

The custom home’s status as a unique reflection of its owners makes it more complex than the production or semi-custom home in design, product selection and construction. These homes are often built on the homeowners’ land, which can bring unique design and engineering challenges. These homes are generally designed first by an architect working hand and hand with the future home owner.

Custom builders excel at imagining and creating something unique with each home. And because these projects involve so much interaction with homeowners, the most successful builders are either on a cost plus basis or are a pick up truck type builder; a builder that has little or no staff and works out of their pick up truck. Not only that, top notch professional builders have systems, organization and subcontractor and supplier relationships in place to efficiently and cost-effectively guide their customers through a complex building project.

2nd New Neighborhood Added! Front Gate in Fair Oaks

Categories: News | Posted: August 19, 2017

WhiteStone Homes is proud to announce another awesome addition to our WhiteStone communities. BOERNE ISD Schools:Kendall Elementary School Boerne Middle School South Samuel V. Champion High School.

Beautiful flat well treed home-sites. Visit any one of our open model homes to get a private showing of these awesome homesites. You know what they say about the early bird getting the best worm? Well, now is the time to pick out the best home-site before any one else beats you to it!


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New Neighborhood! Highland Estates

Categories: News | Posted: August 19, 2017

WhiteStone Homes has added yet another perfect community to our stable of great neighborhoods. Highland Estates is a 1/2 acre + community located on Borgfeld Road just inside highway 281. It is located right across the street from the brand new middle school under construction.

Our model home will start construction next week! Visit any of our active communities to get a first look at this one of a kind community!


The Schools are:

Kinder Ranch Elementary | Spring Branch Middle School | Smithson Valley High School

Balance of Upgrades to Budget

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: August 19, 2017

There is an art to the balance between putting literally every upgrade in the house and putting just enough to make the home a perfect balance between budget and customization. WhiteStone Homes specialize in this kind of building. We love helping you make the smart choices for your new home. Remember, we literally do this every day. We are working with real buyers putting up real money-making choices between all the things a homebuyer could choose from.


If you’ve been to a Parade of Homes and get to see all the cool stuff and everything that everybody does in each of those homes, you see what amounts to no budget control generally ridiculous extravagance. The reason builders do this is to show you the “quality” that would could build for you. There is inherently nothing quality oriented about putting the finest upgrade throughout the home. There’s no art to that. Literally anybody that knows a few subcontractors and vendors can do that. Any potential customer homebuyer with an unlimited budget can upgrade to the moon and well want to do it, but rarely do we find those buyers; and a limitless budget is not where we specialize in anyway. What I really like is seeing somebody take subtle materials to make that home stunningly beautiful on a practical budget. This is what we will help you do. Our registered trade mark is Practical Luxury®


I have been a parade of homes judge on several occasions. Generally, the winner of the best home is the one that has the most stuff in it. In my mind, they aren’t the real winner. The real winner is the builder that can marry the labor and materials and budget to build the prettiest whole home. Again, it takes no talent to simply put every current cool upgrades in the homes.


I hope you like this blog. I invite you to visit us at WhiteStone Homes. Also visit us at

Sell your Home and get “ Blue”

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: July 19, 2017

Every homeowner that has purchased a WhiteStone Home using our move-up program has sold them home very quickly and well before the new home was ready. There was a recent article in my builder email that had an interesting study done by Zillow.

Some homeowners have reason to celebrate feeling “blue.”

Homes with blue bathrooms — specifically light shades like powder blue or periwinkle — fetched $5,400 more than expected when sold, according to a paint color analysis from real estate website Zillow. The analysis looked at more than 32,000 sold homes, comparing the sales prices of ones painted certain color versus similar properties that had white walls.

Blue paint isn’t just effective at boosting a home’s selling price when used in a bathroom though. Dining rooms painted in darker blue hues will cause a house sell for $1,926 more than anticipated on average, while homes with light blue kitchens and blue bedrooms will garner a price that is $1,809 higher than expected.

Other colors that increased home prices included grays and beiges. “Painting walls in fresh, natural-looking colors, particularly in shades of blue and pale gray not only make a home feel larger, but also are neutral enough to help future buyers envision themselves living in the space,” said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell in the report.

But not all paint colors have this positive effect on sales prices. For instance, a brick red dining room will slash a home’s price down by more than $2,000 versus what was expected. Other ill-advised paint choices — at least where a home’s value is concerned — included yellow, pink and brown.