Creating a custom home can be a daunting enterprise under the best of circumstances. While successful in their fields, most owners have little to no experience with homebuilding, and thus, find it difficult to find a place to even start, let alone know how much to expect things to cost. Over the years, Richard became frustrated after speaking with far too many homeowners who developed a set of plans that they fell in love with, only to be heartbroken when the bids they received from contractors were more than they had planned to spend. In trying to help them achieve their desires for the home while also controlling costs, Richard began working with the architects even more closely to find ways to maximize the owners’ investment in the home. In so doing, they all discovered that the collaborative results were often better than the original design. Thus, our process was born to help streamline things for all involved while minimizing the burdens and anxieties of the homeowners.
The basis of every project is simple: every owner has a dream but also has a budget. Whether it is measured in the thousands or millions of dollars, the need to make sure that the money is spent wisely to help achieve the goals as laid out by the owners is key. In this vain, Richard takes it upon himself to speak with each homeowner to find out what they want in the house and begin to develop the plan that will work best for them. He then goes and meets with several of the award-winning architects that we have been fortunate enough to work with in Palmetto Bluff to gain their ideas and sketches.
Each firm has a different style and flair that they bring with them to every project. Often after speaking with a homeowner, it becomes readily apparent what style they like the most and Richard can go directly to the architect that specializes in that. Other times he may elicit concepts from several of them. He will also negotiate with the architects to set their fees—often at a reduced rate, as they know that with Richard’s involvement in the process will make things easier for them, as well—and thereby create the foundation upon which the rest of the building process is begun. Once the owner has approved a basic sketch of the floor plans and perhaps a front elevation, the real work begins.
Richard will work with the architect to tweak the designs based on his conversations with the homeowner’s to get it as close as possible to their stated goals. He will then present the plan along with an initial budget for it to the owner for their review. Included will be several pages of notes regarding the assumptions made to arrive at the estimate, as well as documentation indicating the selections used in creating the allowances for items such as electrical fixtures, plumbing fixtures and the like. After they have had time to review everything in depth, Richard will meet with them again to discuss the plans, pricing and any alterations that they would like to make. He will then go back to the architect to go over these changes. At this point, depending on the level of owner’s comfort with the plans, he will also submit things to the Palmetto Bluff Design Review Board to begin the process of gaining their approval of their design, as well. At each stage, Richard will provide the owners with the same packet of information—plans and pricing—so that everyone is always in agreement with where things stand and no one is caught surprised and upset at the end. Plus, the homeowner never needs to worry about coordinating anything. Richard will take care of it all.
Just because Richard is doing this, it does not mean the owner is tied to Richard Best Custom Homes to build the house. While we would certainly love the opportunity to do so—and we have been quite fortunate that everyone to date who we have helped has chosen to move forward with us— owners are always at liberty to take the plans and specs that Richard has developed to price the job with others. They may also walk away. We are always mindful of the fact that we are only trying to help homeowners get through this difficult process and that the owner is always ultimately in control. Richard does not get paid for doing this. In fact, he does not make any money until the first construction draw when the house is well underway. However, it does help to prevent those difficult conversations when a dream has turned into a nightmare, and it also gives us a chance to get to know some prospective clients that we would like to become friends, and that makes it all worthwhile.