Over our 50+ years of experience, we’ve encountered a lot of questions about custom home building. Here are some of the most common.

I have been in the home building industry my entire life. When I was a kid I carried 2X4s for my dad. In the past, I worked in a lot of the trades which gave me a hands on understanding of the home building process. I have been a licensed contractor since 1985. I have been building homes in Thurston county since 1989. I have basically been doing this my whole life (and I’m not young anymore).

We can build either your plan or ours. But what we usually do is personalize a plan for you. We start with your ideas and develop a sketch. From there we make changes so that it fits your needs better. This is a back and forth process that may involve several iterations. Each time the plan is becoming a better expression of your ideal home. This results in a plan that is customized to you. That’s why we call it a custom home.

All of the above. At any given time, we usually have a few subdivisions where we have lots available. Being a real estate agent, I have a good working knowledge of the lots that are available to buy, so we can find the best lot for you. And of course if you already have a lot that just makes our job easier.

Kobza Home Builders is also a spec home builder. This means that we build homes that are unsold and the market them. So we normally have a home or two that is finished but not occupied. Contact us and we can tell you if we have any at this time.

We normally build in the Thurston area but we will venture into the neighboring counties.

It normally takes about six or more months to build a home well. We do not rush the job. We don’t claim to be the fastest builder out there. One of the most important things about building the structure of the home is making sure that it is dry before it is covered. This is especially true in the winter. Wood contains a lot of moisture and when this moisture leaves the wood it shrinks. If the drywall is applied before the house is properly dried it will crack. This appears to be settling but it is in fact caused by shrinking. A little cracking is normal but to avoid a lot the frame needs to dry before it is covered. We often have homeowners ask why we are not working on their home when it appears to be ready to sheetrock? (and why is the heat cranked up?). We are letting it dry. This adds to the construction time but is necessary for a quality job. Do you really want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home built in 90 days?

That depends. I know that isn’t a very good answer. But we build a range of homes. Costs vary a lot. This is affected by the lot, site development, the plan, the finishes that you choose, etc. The only way to accurately answer this question is to develop a plan, write a specification sheet and choose a lot. Then I can tell you exactly what it will cost. That said building a custom home is not the cheapest way to get a home. If you are wondering if it is cheaper to build or buy an existing home, the answer is buy an existing home. But building a custom home will get you exactly what you want. You also are not paying for that extra bedroom that you don’t need.

The answer to this is easy-it depends. If we are doing a lot of expensive upgrades it is obviously going to cost more than if we did cheap amenities. Size is also a factor. The larger a house is the cheaper the square foot price. The most expensive square foot in your house is the first one because there are a lot of fixed costs in building a house. If you are just adding square foot to bedroom, that will be cheap. If you are adding another bathroom, that’s going to cost more per square foot. So beware of builders who advertise and quote square foot price. As they say, “actual price may vary”. In order to accurately quote the cost of a house you need to examine the entire project including lot, amenities, plan etc.

With a fixed price contract, you agree on the scope of the project and the price before you sign the contract. With a time and material approach, the price is based on the work that is actually done and can vary. I always use a fixed price contract. With a fixed price contract you know what you are going to pay for your new home before we begin. We agree on a price and if you don’t make any changes or exceed your budget, the price doesn’t change. The bank is going to want this so that they know that the home is going to be completed with the money available. The home owner obviously wants this too! Don’t get involved in a construction project unless you exactly what it is going to cost you before it starts.

It is your home so of course you can make changes. However the later in the process that you do it, the more it costs. The most success approach to building a custom home is to determine with as much detail as possible exactly what you are going to build before you start. I tried to take as much time as possible discussing your home with you before we begin building. This way we have already anticipated any changes that you might want to make. It is a lot easier to move lines on paper than to move walls.

If you are using custom financing and you own the house during construction, you can do work on your home. However if you are buying a presale for us and we own the house during construction, it is usually not possible to work on the home. This is because of bank and insurance consideration. There are also licensing issues. If you are hiring a general contractor to manage your home building project, you cannot perform any work requiring a licensed contractor. Also one thing to consider is that you are hiring us to solve your problems. Why get involved in those problems by doing some of the work yourself. It has also been my experience that in the end there is very little actual savings achieved from working on the house.

No we do not normally do remodeling. We specialize in new construction and do it well. We have the economies of scale and the expertise to handle the entire home construction process. Smaller, less capable firms are better suited to do individual remodel projects.

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Jay Kobza, of Kobza Home Builders in Lacey, WA

Got Questions? I Can Help.

I’m Jay Kobza, founder of Kobza Home Builders, and I’d like to use my lifetime of building experience to serve you.

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