8 Steps to Creating an Eco Custom Dream Home
The construction of your sustainable/high-performance eco-home may require a bit more planning than that for a traditional home, particularly due to the diligence required to locate the best products, systems and sustainable design professionals available in your area. Eco Custom Homes uses the “charrette” system, the French word for “intense period of design activity” to help make your dream home a reality.
We have found that the “charrette” process saves time and money in helping to identify and solve home design issues for Atlanta residents before the design and construction begins, thus allowing the design team and home builders in Atlanta, Ga to brainstorm toward solutions to meet the home owner’s requests and sustainability vision for their Atlanta home’s design. For more information on this process, please download this handbook from the US Dept. of Energy : Charrette Handbook
Step 1. Determine a Floor Plan and Preliminary Budget.
Search for Atlanta home plans via the internet or in one of the many design magazines available that is close to what you are looking for. We would also suggest that you start a file of interior and exterior detail photos that you would like to see in your eco home. They say “a picture is worth a 1000 words.” In this case it is definitely true.
Step 2. Find the Perfect home builders in Atlanta, Ga from the lot.
We believe that a builder should be brought in to help to select between your choice of available lots. Once the lot has been selected, it is good to order a full survey and topography of the property. Some municipalities also might require a tree survey. This information will be required for the design phase of the project. A builder can also give great insight as to specimen tree rules, waters of the state, and usually are aware of building lots that might be quietly listed. (Not known to the public.)
Step 3. Start interviewing design professionals and home builders in Atlanta, Ga.
In my opinion the builder should be selected first. Most of the time builders have relationships architects and designers that are familiar with Sustainable Design and can guide a client to a list of design professionals that will complete the design work more quickly and at a lower price. But no matter who is chosen first, both should be selected and contracted before the design phase of the project is too far along. At this juncture, clients are asked to fill out an Eco Custom Home Check List, specifying the types of sustainable design features that are desired.
Step 4. First charrette meeting.
This meeting will usually take several hours. The home owner, builder, and architect will sit down and brain storm with the goal of fulfilling the client’s wishes and requests. After this meeting, all parties will start working together to develop a set of floor plans for the home design of the new home in Atlanta. During this period, the builder and architect work on selecting the mechanical systems and types of building systems that will be used in the home. (The up front costs for this process include an architect’s fee and a “charrette fee” charged by the builder. These fees vary depending on the size and scope of a project. Atlanta's Eco Custom Home’s builder’s fee also includes a detailed “costing” of the project and is credited to the project once contracted to build the home). Learn more about the charrette process.
Step 5. Second charrette meeting.
After the major systems are selected, there will be a second meeting with the home owner, builder, architect, and the addition of the eco interior designer. The goal of this meeting is to discuss final major finishes, and to fine tune interior spaces for furniture placement. Major appliances are also selected at this stage. After this meeting, 90% of the construction drawings should be completed.
Step 6. Cost of construction priced out by builder.
After the builder completes all costing a final meeting is scheduled between the builder, architect and the homeowner. After reviewing the budget and any homeowner requested changes, a value-engineering list is developed and integrated with common additions and revisions to the original home plans for their new homes in Atlanta. Adjustments are common at this point and occasional trade-offs are made at the request of the client. After this meeting, the final construction documents are completed, and the project is ready to permit.
Step 7. Permitting.
The average time frame to complete the entire design exercise is usually 3 months. Permitting can take 1 week to 3 months depending on the municipality. If the municipality that you are building in has a reputation for slow permitting, we would suggest that the client submit for permitting following the second charrette meeting/when 90% of the construction documents are complete, in order to speed up the project time line.
Step 8. Financing.
Most clients finance a custom home with a Construction to Permanent loan. While construction is in process, the loan is an interest only product tied to the prime rate. (Usually, prime plus a percentage). Once a C.O. is obtained, the loan is modified into a fixed rate that is established before construction begins. Most home builders in Atlanta, Ga have relationships with banks in the local market, and can provide a list of loan officers to call.