Richmond Office

Richmond Office

Williamsburg Office

Williamsburg Office


The Process

General Chronology of Events

Custom Home Process

Many people ask “What do I have to do to get my house built?”  With this in mind we have developed a simple chronology of events of what you should expect when proceeding through the job of building a custom home.

This chronology is not set in stone and is not obligatory in any way; it merely outlines what we usually encounter in our normal/average custom home building project.  We hope it helps in providing you some guidance in proceeding through this experience.

Please note that the following represents a general situation involving all builders in our area; text highlighted in bold is specific to our company.

Builder Selection

  • Client meets with builders of specific interest; this can range from one (who sparks a particular interest) to several builders. Interviewing several builders can be quite a chore.  We have experienced that the client is less confused when keeping the interview process between one to three builders.
  • Client chooses a builder they feel is most compatible with their likes/dislikes and also provides what they are looking for in quality versus the money budgeted for the project.

House Plan Design

Client and builder then begin the first phase of the home plan design.  This can vary drastically in reaching the ultimate goal of final house plans.  The various scenario’s are listed below:

  • Client chooses a house previously built by the builder with changes made to suit the client.  Plan fee for proprietary use and minor changes of plan generally runs $600.00 to $2,000.00.
    Time required: Immediate proceeding to pricing phase.
  • Client chooses a plan from a plan book; mylar copies of such plans run $500.00 to $2,000.00.  If permitted, it could cost as much as $1,000.00 to $3,000.00 to adapt plans to this area’s code requirements and make minor changes to meet client’s wishes.  Please note that such modification to plan book plans may require approval by designer from whom plans are purchased.
    Time required: Whatever it takes to receive plans plus two weeks for redesign work.
  • Client, designer, and builder interface to produce a custom designed plan that centers around all of the client’s expectations. This avenue can require that the client, builder, and designer review;
    • houses already built,
    • house plans from plan books,
    • photographs.

The costs associated with a ground up design vary greatly; our experience has been somewhere in the $3,500.00 to $6,000.00 range for a Certified Professional Building designer plan or $10,000.00 to $50,000.00 for an architect generated plan.

Time required: Please allow at least (4-6) weeks for this design option; please note that this length of time is an optimum situation.

  • Our cost for custom generated plans is typically a $5,000.00 retainer and is due at the beginning of the design phase; this covers up to 5,000 square feet and typical review/discussion meetings. Once in awhile, an inordinate amount of time is required with our staff by some clients; this may result in an hourly charge for meeting time and or redesign work. This is a rare occurrence and should not be considered as a typical expected expense.
  • Once a final set of plans have been developed, the pricing phase of your project begins.


  • Builder will estimate the cost of your house plans; this generally takes 2-3 weeks in order to receive all subcontractor bids and for the builder to perform material take offs of your house plans.
  • Presentation of bid to the client; this will provide you with a “turn key” price to build your home.  This bid usually includes a bid price that includes numerous “allowance” items.

House Plan Design

An “allowance” represents a specific amount of money that the builder has “allowed” the client in the contract bid price, which provides a specific item in the house.  Example; CABINETRY allowance: $55,000.00; this means that the builder has provided in the base contract price an amount of $55,000.00 for the client to select cabinetry to be installed in the house.  This amount is not a guaranteed amount as far as providing you with the cabinetry you might have in mind.

Our firm deviates from this generally accepted format in order to provide our clients a “peace of mind” in what exactly the “bid price” represents.  During the pricing phase, the 2-3 weeks that the builder is accumulating subcontractor and material bids; we ask our clients to initiate the allowance item selection phase before the contract is finalized (this is not a requirement; but, is suggested for your benefit). This allows the client to choose exactly or very close to what they would like to have in their house.

We can then use the exact pricing for each of the selected allowance items in the contract price. This assures the client that the allowance figures we provide in the contract will match their expectations of what they will get in their house as a final product.  It should be noted that deviations do occur and clients do change their minds on selections.  What we do know is that usually such changes produce very minor deviations in price. Therefore, our clients are not met with allowance overages in the thousands of dollars.


  • Finalize contract price and sign contracts. Contract deposit (usually 10% of contract price) forwarded to builder in order to initiate permitting and approvals procedures.
  • Once permits and approvals are received; construction starts.
  • Client begins allowance selections (other builders). Our clients will verify the allowance selections made during the bid pricing phase (this is prior to contract signing).
  • Remaining balance of contract is disbursed to builder on a monthly basis. The amount is based on a bank draw schedule, which is paid out based on a percentage of completion basis.