The Blog

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 whitestonehomes.com

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.

HOME BUILDING TEXAS HOLD-UM

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: June 10, 2017

Should you tell us your real budget? If you want a successful project, the answer is yes. Here’s why.

We occasionally meet homeowners who don’t want to reveal their true budget numbers. This lack of disclosure is not in their best interests and almost always sets the stage for disappointment.

Such reluctance is understandable, of course. Much of the online advice about hiring contractors treats the process as a poker game, with the contractor as the opponent. This mentality leads people to hold their cards close. We like to call this the Gold in Your Pocket.

But the adversarial approach is the least effective one when planning a custom home. You’re not engaging in a one-time transaction; instead, you are partnering with a professional who will transform your design vision into reality. Success demands that you choose a builder in whom you have enough trust to discuss how much you are prepared to invest. You can give a range rather than a hard number, but it needs to be realistic.

A reality-based budget is a crucial tool in the construction planning process. Most people have preconceived notions of what a home should cost, based on square-footage prices they have seen here and there. But these assumptions seldom support the designs and products they’re envisioning, and the result tends to be frustration. Putting your budget cards on the table is the only way the builder can paint an accurate picture of what is possible. Remember, WhiteStone Homes provides published pricing in all of our communities and on our BOL ( build on your lot ) pricing. You CAN use that as a comparison to keep our staff honest so to speak.

The best approach is to bring your design—whether it’s a full set of plans or just a rough concept—along with your product wishes and your budget to your trusted professional builder for a planning session. The builder will weigh these against your basic qualification. If there’s a gap, having complete information opens the door to finding creative solutions.

These solutions usually involve a bit of value engineering, which is a systematic approach to making intelligent tradeoffs that satisfy the homeowners’ priorities using the funds they already have.

Value engineering may include altering the layout, such as reducing square footage in a way that doesn’t take space from the rooms you consider most important. If you’re applying for a construction loan, a knowledgeable builder will also make sure to reduce costs in ways that don’t lower the home’s appraised value. For instance, the market will likely value the home the same regardless of its roof covering, so choosing standard composition shingles instead of that shiny metal roof could slash the roofing cost by 75 percent without affecting the loan amount.

The value engineering process can also include specifying less-costly products that, while not ideal, are easily upgraded later. For example, you can replace that $50 light fixture with the $1000 chandelier you want when you have the cash. Or you could opt for inexpensive carpet today and install hardwood floors in a couple of years. The builder will also ensure that you make the best choices today on items that aren’t easily upgraded, like cabinets and countertops.

This tradeoff process can go on until you have a set of plans and specifications that give you as much as possible of what you want without creating financial hardship.

The builder can’t do this creative work without an accurate budget. In other words, an honest discussion about money is a prerequisite to getting a result that will satisfy. But it all comes down to choosing a pro that you trust to be your partner

Government Regulation Hazards

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: May 6, 2017

Government red tape takes time, money and skill to navigate. 

Some people don’t realize how highly regulated the construction business has become. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the costs of complying with government regulations now account for nearly a quarter (24.3%) of new home prices—30% more than just five years ago.

Some of these regulations are specific to the project, while others are hidden from the homeowners but raise costs for all projects. Navigating them and staying in compliance requires time, effort and knowledge.

Plans and permits. To protect public health and safety, building departments want to make sure that homes are built to comply with all applicable codes—the building code, mechanical code, electrical code and others. That’s why most municipalities won’t issue a building permit until they review and approve the project plans.

Plans that aren’t in full compliance will be sent back for revision. It’s up to the builder to work with the architect (if there is one) and the subcontractors to identify and correct potential problems before submitting the plans for review.

Inspecting the work. Once work gets underway, inspectors must sign off on it at various stages. There may be separate inspections of the foundation, framing, wiring, plumbing and insulation. The municipality will also conduct a final inspection before issuing an occupancy permit.

In addition to confirming code compliance, inspectors compare what’s being built to what’s in the approved plans. If the construction doesn’t match the plan, an inspector can stop work until the builder fixes the problem.

Inspections impact the job schedule. City inspections will add many weeks to the build cycle.  A crucial part of the builder’s job is to work with subcontractors to make sure the home is ready for each inspection at each stage, and to schedule inspections to prevent delays. The time to manage all of this is factored into the builder’s overhead. And of course, each inspection generally has a fee associated with it. It is simply a way for the city to collect fees.

Other regulations. Depending on the project and the municipality, more red tape can come into play. The builder might have to apply for zoning variances or work with the planning or conservation commission during site development. Homeowners’ associations will also have their own rules. We have even seen HOA with their own inspection department.

Some regulatory costs are hidden. Recently passed Occupational and Safety Health Administration (OSHA) safety rules include time-consuming recordkeeping burdens. A new Department of Labor rule mandates overtime pay for a wider range of employees. Some states have training, licensing and insurance requirements that cost time and money. Product manufacturers, distributors and suppliers also must comply with an increasing array of government mandates.The combined effect of permits, inspections and other regulations is to raise the price of materials, labor and project management.

None of the above is meant to minimize the need for regulation. All professional builders want to pay their employees fair wages and provide them with the training needed to do quality work. All aim to maintain safe, well-insured jobsites. All appreciate code inspections that protect their customers and reduce their liability.

But the truth is that the regulatory landscape is a hazard filled place. It’s important for homeowners to understand the costs involved, as well as the time and know-how required to navigate that landscape without incident. It’s one of the many reasons for hiring an experienced pro to build your home.

Universal Design

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: April 19, 2017

Universal Design, or UD, is an architectural practice that allows occupants of all ages and capabilities to live independently and comfortably over a long period of time in the same house.

Thanks to changing demographics, UD is gaining mainstream acceptance. In addition to Baby Boomers looking for well-designed conveniences as they enter their retirement years, an increasing number of multigenerational and blended families (now one-third of all households) seek new homes that accommodate a wide range of ages and capabilities.

Done well, the UD elements of a new home are subtle, almost undetectable … until you need them. Then you’ll thank your builder for having the forethought and concern for your needs, whether for a young child, an elderly parent, or someone recovering from a short-term injury or long-term disability.

While you may have to look closely, here are some strategies that incorporate good universal design:

Wider hallways and doors. It doesn’t take much square footage and certainly no more construction time or cost to design and build slightly wider hallways and doorways. Not only does that subtle change make a home feel larger and more comfortable, but also easier to navigate.

Cabinet features. Long desired for bigger base cabinets, pull-out (or roll-out) shelves are an increasingly popular option for tall and upper wall cabinets, making their contents more visible and accessible. Regardless of age or physical capabilities, accessories such as lazy susans, door shelves, slotted drawers, and flip-down fronts enhance the storage capacity and accessibility of kitchen cabinets and bath vanities. Soft-close drawers, meanwhile, protect against pinched fingers.

Hard-surface flooring. Yes, it’s slightly more expensive than wall-to-wall carpeting, but a combination of hardwood, polished flat tiles, colored concrete, and resilient floor surfaces throughout the house is not only easier to clean and promote healthier indoor air quality, but also easier to traverse. Where needed, area rugs can soften the surfaces.

Lever handles. For doors, sinks and showers, a single-lever handle instead of a knob (or two) is both fashionable and easier to manipulate. A lever is a better option when you have an armful of groceries, are just able to reach the handle, or lack the strength for gripping. For faucets and showers, levers also allow easier temperature control, which mitigates scalding hazards. Also look for “D”-shaped handles or grips on cabinet doors and drawers instead of conventional knobs.

Appliances. Wall ovens and warming drawers, dishwasher and refrigerator drawers (set side-by-side, not stacked), French-door style refrigerators, and microwave ovens with flip-down doors are just a few examples of appliances that are not only popular but also deliver UD benefits of accessibility and safety.

Most of the homes WhiteStone Homes, LTD. builds is generally for a slightly older, well established crowd. We customize our plans to fit these needs. Not everybody wants them, but it nice to consider.

Thank you for considering WhiteStone Homes, Ltd.

SPRING IS HERE ( SORT OF )

Categories: News | Posted: March 11, 2017

The spring home buying season is here. Spring Break starts here this week. Some folks will spend the time with their families going on vacations. Other will begin a new search for for that new home. Welcome to WhiteStone Homes! We will be here all week. Our hours will be normal. We are here from 10am-6pm everyday except Sunday. Our hours are 12:00pm-6pm on that day. Need some help? Call our sales line at 210-571-0600.

HOW LONG WILL THE ESTIMATING OF MY HOME TAKE?

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: March 11, 2017

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 done means those hours will likely be spread out over several weeks. We make modifications of our plans all the time. In those cases, making a quicker estimate is made much easier. In that case, 4-5 hours will is enough. Understand, we usually price an average of 3-4 new home estimates every week. That same estimator must also create purchase orders for sold home getting ready to start. The good news is you will probably get your estimate back with 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 the fixture allowance on standard , but extremely high quality, Moen brushed-nickel faucets, 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 10 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. You might think that an inaccurate estimate would still be honored by that trade contractor, but it likely would not be honored. That contractors would simply not do the job for that price when they time came to do the work.

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.

The Gold in your Pocket- Do you tell your Builder what your Budget is?

Categories: WhiteStone | Posted: February 11, 2017

Should you tell WhiteStone Homes your real budget? If you want a successful project, the answer is yes. 

We occasionally meet homeowners who don’t want to reveal their true budget numbers. This lack of disclosure is not in their best interests and almost always sets the stage for disappointment.

Such reluctance is understandable, of course. Much of the online advice about hiring contractors treats the process as a poker or a don’t show the Builder the gold game, with the contractor as the opponent. This mentality leads people to hold their cards close.

But the adversarial approach is the least effective one when planning a custom home. You’re not engaging in a one-time transaction; instead, you are partnering with a professional who will transform your design vision into reality. Success demands that you choose a builder in whom you have enough trust to discuss how much you are prepared to invest. You can give a range rather than a hard number, but it needs to be realistic.

A reality-based budget is a crucial tool in the construction planning process. Most people have preconceived notions of what a home should cost, based on square-footage prices they have seen here and there. But these assumptions seldom support the designs and products they’re envisioning, and the result tends to be frustration. Putting your budget cards on the table is the only way the builder can paint an accurate picture of what is possible.

These solutions usually involve a bit of value engineering, which is a systematic approach to making intelligent tradeoffs that satisfy the homeowners’ priorities using the funds they already have.

Value engineering may include altering the layout, such as reducing square footage in a way that doesn’t take space from the rooms you consider most important. If you’re applying for a construction loan, a knowledgeable builder will also make sure to reduce costs in ways that don’t lower the home’s appraised value. For instance, the market will likely value the home the same regardless of its roof covering, so choosing standard composition shingles instead of that shiny metal roof could slash the roofing cost by 75 percent without affecting the loan amount.

The value engineering process can also include specifying less-costly products that, while not ideal, are easily upgraded later. For example, you can replace that $50 light fixture with the $1000 chandelier you want when you have the cash. Or you could opt for inexpensive carpet today and install hardwood floors in a couple of years. The builder will also ensure that you make the best choices today on items that aren’t easily upgraded, like cabinets and countertops.

This tradeoff process can go on until you have a set of plans and specifications that give you as much as possible of what you want without creating financial hardship.

The builder can’t do this creative work without an accurate budget. In other words, an honest discussion about money is a prerequisite to getting a result that will satisfy. But it all comes down to choosing a pro that you trust to be your partner.