In general this article applies to all builders in Colorado. However, with it is specifically what a custom home builder has to go through. A semi-custom builder also has to jump through these hoops as well but there is way less back-and-forth because his plans will change less and chances are that you are not the first client to build this floor plan in the neighborhood. If your are building a semi-custom home your floor plans will be less likely to have to go to engineering because the changes you are allowed to make are much smaller in scope and scale.
Patients is the Name of the Game
All builders have heard it, “When will we start digging for the foundation?” It is the $64,000 question. You have spent all of this time, effort and money on getting floor plans just right. They have gone to engineering and then they go to the city to be approved. It is those two simple steps that can make you start drinking. I know they sound easy and straight forward, but believe me when I tell you this could not be further from the truth.
Step ONE: After your pretty plans are ready to go your builder submits them to an engineer. Yes, we all know an engineer. Heck, you might even be married to one. They are picky and exacting and every thing has to be just so. They live in the world of numbers and geometry. I know you it sounds like complaining here, but I am not. That is exactly who you want at this stage of the game. Nothing ruins your dream faster than it falling in on you.
It will take a time and patients to make sure that your dream home is sturdy and the ground around it is fit for a home. You will hear phrases like caissons, engineered soil, grade, bearing walls, load capacity, blah, blah blah… I can not possibly define all the words that may get tossed about when it comes to describing the engineering needs of your home. However, I can tell you not to be afraid to ask your builder what in the H@$# he is talking about. There are no stupid questions, only stupid people who are afraid to ask them. Anyway, Your plans may need to bounce back and forth between the architect, the builder and the engineer for a while. Engineering trumps your needs, the architects wants and the builders preferences. If the house won’t stay standing then what is the point?
Step TWO: Then the floor plans and engineering take a trip to the city or the county depending on where you live. This folks is painful. You will want to slam your hand in a car door because it is quicker and slightly less painful. Builders hate this part, clients hate this part and I think that people that work for the city/county may hate this part. The most important things to remember here are YOUR BUILDER DOES NOT HAVE ANY CONTROL over the time it takes and that your patience will be tested so make sure you have lots.
That being said, in the city/county’s defense it is hard to manage work load. If the city is experiencing a high volume of applications then obviously it will take longer. HINT: This is where the patience comes in. Do NOT go in and talk to the city without your builder. He is the one with the relationship here and it is up to him to work with the city. Please respect that.
The city is checking for many things (too numerous to list) like does your home meet basic codes and requirements and has it been engineered properly. Codes seem to change with in one municipality, as well as, across the country frequently. Your builder, architect and engineer should have a basic working knowledge of the code requirements for your area. Still there will be some sneaky little code that everyone has missed but the city employee that has a keen eye. Things will have to be fixed and all of it will take time and there is nothing anyone can do about it, but hurry up and wait.
So after your builder submits the application. The city applies a complex mathematical formula, a miracle occurs and then you have the price for the permit. Actually, the price of the permit is usually based more on price per square foot and less on miracle, but it was fun to think that for a moment anyway. (small print qualification here: everywhere is different so make sure to ask your builder what they base your particular municipality’s permit price on) The permit usually includes fees, use tax (sales tax), water tap and sewer tap. For the semi-custom building client: More than likely this is already within your contract price and you will not need to worry about any additional fees unless you are adding square footage (like a detached garage).
Treasure Chest: Patience is usually rewarded so take a breath. There are plenty of things to be stressed about so pace your self in the stress department.
I am Erica, and I help you buy the house you can afford and make it a home you love. Finding a home you can afford can be one of the most important financial decisions you make. Making it the home you love can be one of the most rewarding things you do.
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