Frequently Asked Questions
What can we help you with? At Ware Design Build, we want to give you as much information as possible. Below are answers to some of the more common questions and concerns.
To build a new home or to buy an existing home can be a very difficult question to answer. To help you decide, ask yourself these ten questions. There are no right or wrong answers. You’re simply trying to determine the best course of action at this point in your life.
- Do I have a hard time making decisions?
- Do I second guess my decisions after making them?
- Do I expect perfection?
- Is it difficult to find time to do the things I enjoy?
- Do uncertainty and lack of control add stress to my life?
- Do I enjoy interactions with other people?
- Do I approach situations by looking for the win/win solution?
- Do I have time in my life to build a home in the next one to two years?
- Do I realize that things aren’t always perfect?
- Does our family have the time to add the designing and building of a new home?
If you answered “no” to the first five questions and “yes” to the next five, you’re ready to build. If not, you may want to consider waiting on the building process. If your answers were different on more than three or four questions, you may want to consider buying a house that is already built. Sometimes people are better off buying an existing home than going through a process that wasn’t suited for their stage in life or their temperament.
One of the best things a homeowner can do is to fully consider the difference between needs and wants. It’s more difficult than it sounds. Sorting between needs and wants can sometimes be contentious. We recommend the following to help you define your needs and wants.
- You and your spouse independently each take a blank sheet of paper and write down all of your dreams, wants, and needs for your new home.
- Then rank your items in order of importance.
- Once you and your spouse have independently ranked your items, compare your lists. Then create one combined list ranking your needs and wants in order of importance. This will become your master list.
The combined needs/wants list will save time, energy, and money when you meet with your builder and begin the design of your custom home. At some point, your desired budget will need to align with your desired wants. Your builder can review this combined list, and let you know what items your budget can afford. If you have items that are not included in your budget, your builder can estimate a cost and you can make an informed decision on whether or not to increase your original budget.
When picking a custom home builder, you’ll need to decide what you value and decide what’s most important: quality, speed, service, or price. You’d like to get all four components, but most often you will have to settle for three of the four.
- Quality: A good company prides itself on providing a quality product with excellent workmanship.
- Speed: A timely finish is important, but there may be times, especially in a busy market, when a builder misses some deadlines. If that happens, you want your builder to proactively communicate with you and, if possible, find a way to make up the time and get it done quickly.
- Service: A builder with exceptional customer care will provide good communication and attend to the homeowner’s needs before, during, and after their home is completed.
- Price: The best companies aren’t usually the cheapest, but consider this: they’re probably not the most expensive either. Great companies deliver good value for the level of service and quality products they provide.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can have all four qualities in one builder. A Lexus is priced differently than a Dodge. If you pay for Dodge pricing and expect Lexus performance, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Know what’s important to you and adjust your expectations. If cost is your most important value, then choose the contract with the lowest price. But it may come with some heartache because you’re expecting more and getting less. If you value quality, look for excellent workmanship. You can get the results you want in a quality, custom home; just be sure to select your builder based on what you truly value.
Many homeowners are building their homes with the intention of living there for a long time. If they could design their home to their exact specifications, without paying a huge premium for it, most homeowners would prefer this. To build a truly custom home, the lot’s terrain features and possible issues need to be addressed. If you have a large lot that doesn’t have restrictive setbacks, then finding a ready-made plan may work. Most plans you find in a plan book or from production builders are designed for generic lot sizes and configurations. If your lot is long and narrow, or usually anything “non-standard”, you’re much better off with a custom-designed home plan. Very few people are completely happy with a design they found in a plan book without making modifications. For people who won’t be happy with a standard plan, the solution is custom design. Our process starts with the shape of the lot; we take into account its positive and negative features. Then, we take our homeowner’s Design Outline of their prioritized needs and wants and begin the design process. Once we’ve clearly identified the objectives, we schedule a series of design meetings with our in-house design staff to create a unique, quality, custom home – the home of your dreams. We’ve found that it doesn’t necessarily cost any more (and oftentimes there are cost savings) by first focusing on and designing what our homeowners most need, while also considering what they want. With clear objectives and a good plan, we can focus on the needs of your new home.
It is very difficult, even as an experienced builder, to be able to sort through bids from multiple building contractors. Everyone presents their bids a little differently, and without a very defined scope of work and specifications (finishes, tile, cabinetry, countertops, plumbing fixtures, electrical fixtures, driveway, landscaping, etc.…), it’s nearly impossible to get an apples-to-apples comparison. It’s even more difficult, almost impossible, to compare bids with no common basis for an inexperienced homeowner. Comparing different contractors’ bids is like comparing apples to oranges to potatoes to carrots to tomatoes. Selecting your homebuilder is a detailed process, and it doesn’t help to make it even more confusing. If you feel you need multiple bids, our recommendation is to narrow your scope down to two or three builders and ultimately pick the one you feel you can trust, like, and respect. Find a builder who values what you value. This will be a long-term relationship, and a long-term relationship with someone you don’t like, trust, and respect can be challenging, frustrating, and more than disappointing. The planning stages of custom building a new home can take anywhere from months to years. Actual construction may range from six months to 2 years or longer, depending on the size and scope of your home. Add to that a one-year warranty period, as well as the fact that you may need additional information from your builder for many years to come regarding warranty information, vendor, and subcontractor contacts. Make sure you’re comfortable with your builder and you do like, trust, and respect them and their way of doing business.
Real estate investments are by far the most expensive venture people will make in their lifetime. So, many homeowners wonder if it’s financially viable or even sensible to hire an interior designer. If you’ve ever built a home, you know it can be very frustrating and time-consuming without the help of an interior designer. A good designer will actually help you save money knowing how to best allocate funds, especially if there isn’t much room for flexibility, designers will help you create a similar look in a range of prices. Interior design is not as simple as walking into a store and selecting what you want. Good interior designers have a talent for spatial configuration, choosing colors, and selecting materials. If you know your tastes, a professional can help you fine-tune those tastes and work with you to create the perfect environment for your home. Our design team takes our homeowners' preferences, creates an all-inclusive design for their homes, and affirms that they’re making great choices. People hire us because they know we’re experienced professionals. We don’t pressure our homeowners to sign off on their selections right away. When your selections are complete, you leave our Design Center with a three-ring binder with all of your color selections, cabinet chips, colored prints of your lighting choices, plumbing fixtures, hardware, and any other specific details of your selections. You don’t have to leave work early or run across town to look at samples. Our design team assembles everything for you and helps in you further enjoying the building process. We want the pressure off YOU, with the best interior designers they will know how to take your immense selection of interests, talents, and ideas, and turn them into something stunning. Your personal style will be apparent throughout your home in a cohesive and fresh way.
Building a home is probably one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make, so you’ll want to know where to put your money to get the most value for your investment. Here are seven areas to consider:
- Location: Anyone in real estate has heard “location, location, location.” This is where to spend your money. You could build a home with a great design with great features and finishes, but if you build it in the wrong location or on the wrong lot, you may regret it. Your lot is a very good long-term investment.
- Design Services: You can add enormous value to your home by investing in the services of a competent home designer and an interior designer. Not only will you enjoy a fabulous home, but you will also find a greater return on the money you spend for these services at the time of resale.
- Kitchen: The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house, it is often the center of activity. No one has ever said my kitchen is too large, I have too much counter space, or I have too many cabinets. Spending money on the kitchen is a good investment.
- When selecting kitchen cabinets, look for quality. This is not the place to be overly concerned with trying to save money. Well-made cabinets will provide lasting pleasure and functionality. Drawers (as opposed to cabinets with doors) are more useful and efficient even compared to cabinets with pullout drawers. In addition, choose hard surfaces, durable, and high-quality countertops. Other features to consider are warming drawers, double ovens, convection microwaves or steam ovens, pot fillers, espresso, and coffee bars, sinks in the island (in addition to the main sink), instant hot water dispensers, and purified water faucets.
- Family Room: Families tend to gather and spend most of their time in the family room. If you were to oversize any room, make this room a little larger than you think you need.
- Master Bath: This room is the owner’s retreat, a place to relax and unwind. Upgrade your master bath’s size and finishes. When you sell your home, this will be an important feature and provide a good investment return.
- Room Size: Make sure your room sizes are large enough to meet your needs. If you’re on a limited budget, it’s better to hold off on some finishes than cut down the size of your rooms. You can add finishes later, and the cost may only be slightly higher than if you installed the during the initial construction process. It’s very expensive to come back after your home is finished and add twelve or eighteen inches to a room because you’ve just realized it’s too small.
- Closets: Never underestimate the value of roomy walk-in closets, linen closets, and laundry rooms.
Invest your money in these seven places that matter most and you will experience great value for years to come.
It’s a difficult question when we’re asked “How much do you charge per square foot?” It’s not the right question. There are three factors that contribute to the cost of a home:
- Complexity: A home with more features and complexity requires more labor, and therefore costs more to build. For example, a rectangular house with four basic corners is less expensive to build than a three-story home with 40 corners, angled walls, and steep roofs.
- Level of Finish: Vinyl flooring is much less expensive than wood or stone. Plastic laminate countertops are less expensive than granite or quartz. Twelve-inch baseboards cost more than six-inch baseboards, and a lot of molding is more expensive than no molding at all. The level of finish you choose for your home will have a significant impact on the home’s final costs.
- Size: A 6,000-square-foot home will cost more than a 2,000-square-foot home. While a larger home’s overall costs will be higher, the price per square foot can actually be much less.
In order the answer the question “How much do you charge per square foot?”, a good builder needs a lot more information than just the size of the home.
A fixed-price contract is where the plans, specifications, and all of the materials and finishes are fully determined before you start construction. The advantage of a fixed-price contract is that the price you pay for your home will be predetermined (fixed) whether or not the price of material and labor goes up or down. Your builder assumes full responsibility for all risks associated with the costs of your new home. The downside is that you’ll pay more for your builder taking on this risk. Another factor with a fixed-price contract is what we call the “fear factor”. No one has ever built a perfect home without some sort of scratch or blemish on it. You can take a magnifying glass and find scratches on any window in any newly built home. With a fixed-price contract, the cost of repairing or replacing any and every item that even has a tiny imperfection is 100% the builder’s responsibility. Therefore, builders need to charge homeowners for this “fear factor”. Over the years, we have found that people with a fixed-price contract are more inclined to expect imperfect minor items to be replaced because it doesn’t cost them extra. To be clear, we’re not talking about shoddy workmanship or inferior products. We’re talking about the gray areas of requests that are unreasonable, based on industry standards.
A cost-plus contract takes all of the costs of the home and adds either a percentage of costs or a flat fee for the builder’s overhead and fee. Of course, neither you nor your builder will know the exact bottom line for your home’s costs until the home is completed. A good builder will give you an accurate cost estimate, but it’s exactly that-an estimate-until the home is complete. A cost-plus contract can be advantageous when building a custom home with finish levels and other things changing during the process. With a cost-plus contract, the homeowners know their actual costs on an ongoing basis. If a homeowner elects to pull out the magnifying glass to search for scratches in all of the panes of glass, they can choose to have those panes of glass replaced at their cost. Usually, building with a cost-plus contract keeps the magnifying glass in the drawer. It doesn’t mean the builder builds with less care or quality, it just puts the homeowner and the builder on the same team. A cost-plus contract provides the synergy of identifying problems and determining win/win solutions that are in the best interests of the homeowner.
Ware Design Build does the majority of our homeowner contracts with a modified cost-plus contract. Our cost-plus contract includes a contract price along with a spreadsheet detailing all of the costs. Where we can, we commit the subcontractors to their bid amounts and there is no change in the contract amount unless there is a change in the scope of work directed by the homeowner.
A homebuilder’s goal is to create a well-built, attractive home that meets the needs and budget of the homeowners. There are over 100,000 components that go into a new, custom home and in the process of installation, something may inadvertently get scratched or damaged. There can also be imperfections or flaws in the materials. If something is scratched or damaged during the construction process, the builder has the right to bring the damaged item to a new quality standard (see fixed-price vs. cost-plus contract). That doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t expect excellence. Excellence differs from perfection:
- Excellence is taking people and materials that are imperfect and executing a process to its very highest level
- Excellence is a home that’s done on time
- Excellence is what happens when something goes wrong and it’s quickly recognized and corrected (when you build a custom home, things will go wrong)
- Excellence is when your builder acknowledges his mistake and promptly corrects it without pointing fingers
- Excellence is clear communication
- Excellence is a quality home built with straight walls, functioning doors, and overall good quality
- Excellence is moving into your home and having your dishwasher, garbage disposal, and gas grill all operational on move-in day
- Excellence is a phone call from your builder if something unexpected comes up and the schedule needs to be modified
- Excellence is being asked by your builder on a regular basis “Is there anything else we can do for you?”
- Excellence is having a homeowner so pleased that when the topic of homebuilding comes up, he says “Let me tell you about my builder”
Planning, designing, and building a new custom home can be an exciting and rewarding experience if you select a competent builder who is committed to excellence and you have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations.
Everyone has heard the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” Often, we allow ourselves to get worked up about things that, upon closer examination, aren’t really that big a deal. That’s not only good advice for life, but it’s also especially important during the home-building process. Building is not an exact science, and things are going to happen. We encourage our homeowners to let us know if there are things that truly concern them because we pride ourselves on providing a complete and pleasurable experience. However, homeowners who view everything as a “big deal” and stress about minor things can make the building process much less enjoyable for themselves and the builder. When the builder is consistently asked to answer questions regarding inconsequential items, it takes them away from focusing on the home building. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: a beautiful, quality home. Let your builder worry about the small stuff and the big stuff – it’s what we do.
There are no “perfect” homes, and a fact of new home construction is there will be items that will need to be addressed as part of the warranty. Your new home’s materials will need to acclimate to their new environment. Minor cracks may appear as your home is adjusting to temperature and humidity changes. So don’t panic when minor cracks appear. This is completely normal. Remember, thousands of components were used to put your home together over an extended period of time, so settling and minor adjustments should be expected. A good builder will address your concerns after a period of adjustment. To help ease your fears, here’s a list of common situations that occur in new homes:
- Baseboard/Crown/Case Molding Joints: This is very common and there’s no way around it. Expect to find minor cracking and separation in your molding, especially in two-story homes. Settling, heat expansion, and contraction will occur as your home acclimates to the new temperature conditions inside from running your air conditioner and heating systems. This does not mean there is anything structurally wrong with your home. Cracks in your molding actually look worse than they really are. These minor cracks can be caulked and after the repair, you shouldn’t be able to tell there was ever a crack at all.
- Grout Cracking: Another spot to find minor cracking is in the tub and shower areas. You may notice cracks appearing along the grout lines between tiles or in the corners of the tub or shower. An appropriate sealant can take care of this. The sealant should be added quickly to prevent moisture from seeping behind the tile and causing moisture issues down the road.
- Hardwood Expansion and Contraction: If you have hardwood floors professionally installed, you can expect to find some minor cracks appearing over time. The hardwood acclimates to the temperature of your home (again due to cool air and heat) and the wood planks will expand and contract. This is normal. It’s best to allow the wood to expand and contract for at least six months so it completely settles before making any repairs. The professional installer can putty in the minor cracks and it will look brand new.
- Door Adjustments: Doors and door frames will need time to adjust to the temperature after a new home is finished. The doors, locks, door handles, and deadbolts may need some minor adjustments. This is completely normal.
- Cracks in the Sidewalk, Driveway, and Garage: It is not uncommon for minor cracking to occur along concrete sidewalks, driveways, and even inside of the garage. One guarantee is concrete is going to crack. We do our best to control where it’s going to crack, but it is going to crack. Expansion and contraction also happen here because of the varying temperature conditions that the concrete is exposed to. As long as you don’t notice a difference in the height of the concrete on either side of the crack, don’t worry. These cracks are normal. It does not mean there is anything wrong with the concrete foundation. Typically cracks in concrete are not mended unless there is a height difference between the concrete on either side.
- Outlet Not Working: If an electrical outlet in the bathroom, kitchen, garage, or on the home’s exterior mysteriously stops working, do not be alarmed. It may just be a tripped circuit. The electric code requires builders to put in outlets called a GFI, or a Ground Fault Interrupter. This measure is added for your safety to prevent accidental electrical shocks. The outlets have an internal trip circuit built into the outlet that acts as a safety mechanism when there is water and electricity coming in contact. If there is an electrical surge, the GFI outlet will trip and automatically cut off the electricity to the outlet. Since four or five outlets can be located on one circuit, it may be necessary to reset it. There will be a small button on the outlet usually located near the bottom of the outlet. Push this button and the circuit should automatically reset. If the outlet continues to trip on a regular basis, contact your builder to further investigate the issue.
This is by no means a complete list of situations that may occur after you move into your home. Work with your builder and all of these issues can be resolved.
- Why should I hire you?
- Our philosophy is to provide exceptional service to our homeowners and be the best value for their money. We help our homeowners get the home of their dreams, meeting their needs, wants, and budget. Southeastern Wisconsin has a number of good homebuilders and honestly, home construction is not that difficult. What separates Ware from our competition, is not only our design process, but our level of service. We strive to make every homeowner enjoy the process and ultimately love their finished custom home.
- What is your fee structure?
- We provide a detailed line-by-line breakdown of the costs associated with your home along with a written description of each line item. Our format is very transparent and our homeowners know exactly what is included and not included in their new custom home. Our contractor fee is 15% and we also charge a fixed line item for supervision, which is a cost of the job.
- How do your fees compare to other builders?
- Our fee is significantly less than the fees charged by most builders. Many builders include their fees within the overall job costs and the homeowners are not told exactly what their builder fee is. Where we differ is we show a line item for job site supervision and this is a cost of the job.
- What makes you different from other builders in this market?
- Southeastern Wisconsin has a number of very good homebuilders. What separates us from our competition is our level of service and our transparency with how we operate. We operate as a team with our homeowners. All builders say they do this, but we deliver based on our homeowner testimonials and homeowner referrals.
- What type of warranty do you provide, and what is your philosophy on warranty?
- Our warranty covers ALL materials and workmanship for one year, plumbing, electrical and HVAC for 2 years, and structural components for 10 years. We believe in building strong houses and strong relationships. We pride ourselves on building a quality home and we will stand behind our product.
- How long have you been building?
- Venture Construction Group was founded in 1978. Dan Eckerman has been with Venture since 1997 and purchased the company 100% in 2008. Venture acquired Ware in 2018. Ware Design was originally founded in 1978 by Steve and Cheri Ware.
- How many homes do you build per year?
- We are not a production builder and we are more concerned with quality service than the number of homes we build. We typically do 5-6 homes per year. We are growing, but as we grow, we will add staff before taking away the service level we provide to our homeowners.
- How many homes will you have under construction at the time my home will be built?
- The total number of homes will likely be 5-6. Our superintendents each run 2-3 homes and 1-2 remodeling projects at any given time. We greatly value our service commitment over the number of homes we can build. We want satisfied homeowners who refer us to their friends and family.
- How do you handle changes?
- We handle changes at the same percentage rate of our contract (15%). Many builders charge a higher percentage for changes.
- How many Change Orders would you consider average in building a home?
- With our design process, which addresses many of the factors that go into building your custom home on the front end of the construction, the number of change orders is greatly reduced. There are almost always changes, but they are directed by the homeowners who usually want slight modifications or added scope.
- Do you supervise the building yourself, or do you have site supervisor?
- We have site superintendents who visit the job sites on a daily basis. Our project managers and designers also visit the jobs during the construction process. We will typically set up homeowner meetings where we all meet on site and review the progress of the job.
- Can I meet the person who will be running my job?
- You will have met the design team and project manager through the design process. Somewhere along the line chances are you will have already met your site superintendent too. If not, we will set up a specific introduction meeting either at our office or the home site.