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Energy efficiency does not have to be an expensive upgrade “option”

Green Building is not just an “option” with Sienna Building Company, it is the only way we build our homes. Many builders use energy efficient features as upgrade options for their clients. As a Certified Green Professional Builder from the NAHB (in fact the only one in Bend, Oregon) we view Green Building as a necessity not an option.

Because many builders view green building as an upgrade, homeowners believe that green building must be expensive. Sure there are many components that drive the cost of building up, but if you are smart in your planning before you design and build your home, then these “expensive options” become commonplace items in your overall budget. Lets use our latest project Bryce Canyon as an example because it happens to be the most energy efficient home we have ever built.

In this case we decided to go for the most efficient heating system, a radiant slab (or Hydronic Heat). This is a system of heated water going through tubing that is embedded in the concrete floors. Because this is a contemporary home we decided to have concrete as the finished floor, therefore saving money on carpet, hardwoods and tile. It sure is nice to wake up in the morning and step onto a nice warm floor!

blown in blanket foamWe framed eight-inch-thick walls on the main level and used a hybrid insulation system of two inches of closed cell spray foam (which air seals and insulates) and then added six inches of blown in blanket for a total R value 36.4. We use this hybrid insulation on all our homes. As we live in a very varied climate, this insulation will serve the homeowner well in both extremely cold weather, and hot summer temperatures.

We have not installed a water heater tank in over a decade, preferring to heat water “on demand” with a high efficiency tank-less water heater. Because we were heating the home with hot water, we were able to use the tank-less water heater for both the domestic water heating as well as heating the home! If you have teenagers in the house, you know this will be a lifesaver.

We designed the home to have passive cooling. As you know, hot air rises so we simply installed three solar powered venting skylights. When the house gets too warm all you need to do is open a door or window and open the skylights. The homes warm air is quickly replaced with cooler air. So simple.

Lastly, the entire home is outfitted with as many LED lights as possible. When you are shopping for LED lights, check if your power company offers any rebates. In our case we saved 33% on the purchase of these very efficient light bulbs.

Green building should not be just “an option.” With ever increasing costs of energy it is wise to invest on energy efficient selections for your next home. Our Bryce Canyon project has no shortcuts when it comes to amenities and was built for only $170.00 per square foot, which, in our market, is an exceptional value for a home this well-appointed.

New Construction means peace of mind for years to come

New construction means less homeowner headaches. Advanced materials, new technology and warranties ensure a safer, more secure and worry free home.  Today’s new homes offer more benefits than ever before. Here’s a quick list of the Top 10 reasons why so many home buyers prefer new homes to used houses:

  1. Design Your Dream Home Your Way: Why settle for someone else’s choices when you can choose your cabinets, countertops, appliances, carpets and flooring? While you’re at it, you can choose gorgeous bath and kitchen fixtures, lighting and other options that you love. Your new home will reflect your style, not someone else’s taste.
  2. Design a Home That Meets Your Needs: Want a master bedroom on the first floor? It’s yours. With massive his and her’s walk-in closets? Done! Want high ceilings and a luxurious, resort-style master bath? Perhaps you’d like a sitting room with a fireplace in your owner’s suite or French doors that open to your private patio? It’s easy, when you build your master suite your way.
  3. All New, Under Warranty: A used home likely has tired products that may soon need replacing. Your new home — and the products that comprise it — are brand-new and under warranty. What’s the cost to replace a roof, appliances, countertops or a water heater on a used home? Those components of your new home feature the latest designs and building materials and should offer you years of comfort and enjoyment before needing replacement.
  4. Energy and Cost Savings: Today’s new homes are far more energy efficient than homes built just five years ago. Versus homes built ten or 20 years ago, it’s game over, advantage new.Why settle for drafty, energy-wasting single-pane windows in a used home? Many new homes offer double or even triple-pane windows. Special window coatings and inert gases between the layers of glass are often available, saving you even more energy and money in both heating and cooling season.
  5. Comfort and Indoor Air Quality: Today’s new homes meet stringent energy standards and codes not in place in the past. They combine high-performance energy efficiency with state-of-the-art ventilation and air filtration. The result is year-round, draft-free comfort and higher indoor air quality.
  6. Low Maintenance: New cars today are computer-designed and computer-equipped. That’s why they perform much more reliably than a car that’s 15 or 20 years old. Homes are the same. Today’s new homes have open floor plans and high ceilings that reflect the way we live today. They’re also made of cutting-edge building products that require less care and maintenance. Another plus? The latest building systems and components are designed and engineered to work together.
  7. Community Amenities: Many new homes are built in lavish master-planned communities with resort-style community centers, pools and clubhouses. Many new home communities also feature hiking trails, protected open lands and some of the best new schools and shopping nearby your new home community.
  8. Advanced Technology and Design: It’s possible to replace all of the single-pane windows in a resale home with today’s high-performance windows. It’s also possible to add insulation to a used home. However, it’s very expensive to replace dated appliances, cabinets and countertops in a used home — and you still won’t have the high ceilings you dream of on the first floor of an older two-story home. All are reasons to build your new home your way, to reflect the way you live today.
  9. Safety: State-of-the-art circuit breakers. Electric garage door openers with infrared beams that stop if a tricycle or child is too near. High-efficiency furnaces and air conditioners that use the latest environmentally-friendly coolants. Cabinets, carpets and paints that use fewer volatile organic compounds, so that you and your family can breathe easier.
  10. That New Home Feel: A used home was someone else’s dream, not yours. It reflects their choices and family memories. You may learn to love avocado-green appliances (and you may be willing to scrub stained countertops or grease-encrusted ovens and cooktops) but more and more people prefer that never lived-in feel.

After all, when was the last time you went to a department store and selected used clothes? Or visited a car dealer and paid more for a used car than a new car? New homes offer the latest designs, style, comfort and quality. They provide a care-free lifestyle so that you can enjoy your home, not work on it.

Build with Confidence

Custom Home Building in Bend Oregon is what we do. Our philosophy at Sienna Building is to make the custom home building experience enjoyable for our clients.

We’ve talked about the situations people get themselves into when they don’t use Sienna Building’s pre-construction planning services. We’ve also described our client’s experiences that have gone through the entire process, and have enjoyed it immensely due to the initial work we did together during the pre-construction planning. Now, we get to the nitty-gritty of what is entailed.

Meaningful Pre-Construction services bring value, potential cost savings, and informed decision-making to you while eliminating surprises to provide a more predictable outcome. We take the value analysis process very seriously, with your budget and project needs in mind. For each value analysis suggestion we offer alternatives that weigh the cost implications and take into consideration the costs, product durability, esthetic value and ease of operation for each suggestion.

We use proven methodology and experience to bring you the most accurate cost estimates, including:

  • Calling upon our recent construction projects for comparison
  • Utilizing hard bid labor and material bid information
  • Detailed specification development

As part of our Pre-Construction services, Sienna Building:

  • Facilitates a project kickoff and review meeting with the client and the design team to assemble all known and anecdotal project information
  • Manages the pre-construction process with regularly-scheduled reviews of design changes and pricing to ensure that all members are fully aware of budget and schedule
  • Ensures bid packages meet the needs of the client and encourage local involvement wherever possible
  • Performs design, coordination, and constructability reviews to ensure that all of the plans are reviewed from a building perspective
  • Provides a master project schedule that includes design, estimating and construction and occupancy/activation milestones

It is our hope that more homeowners understand the importance of proper Pre-Construction Planning in residential construction and hire builders to provide fee based consulting services to their clients, before engaging in a building contract.

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Plan now, reap the benefits later

Custom Home Building in Bend Oregon is what we do. Our philosophy at Sienna Building is to make the custom home building experience enjoyable for our clients.

Over the past few months we have met with two couples who did not invest in pre-construction planning. But why? First, they both went about the design of their homes without focusing on the number one item first, THE BUDGET. Second, neither of them hired Sienna Building to complete the Pre-Construction Planning for their homes, albeit after the fact. The first reason is easy to understand. Most people are very emotional when it comes to designing and building a home. Maybe their enthusiasm got in the way of their better judgment, or maybe they only heard what they want to hear. Regardless, it is foreign territory to most people.

The second is a little harder to pin down. Most builders don’t go about trying to bid for a fee because they probably feel that the buyer will resist this. We understand that we are working against the status quo but when you see the results of the status quo, it sure makes sense to work against it. Were these two couples just not willing to hear what they didn’t want to hear? Maybe they were just unwilling to invest more money into something that “in their mind” was a losing proposition. I always chalk these up to “we can’t help the ones unwilling to listen.”

On the flip side let’s talk about how it goes when Pre-construction planning goes right. Here is what our most recent client said about our services.

“It was a two-part process: A Pre-construction Planning Phase and a Construction Phase. The way the process was designed made us feel very comfortable to move forward. The process was open and easy. What might have been a difficult process for us simply wasn’t.

Pre-construction included everything required to get the home designed and blueprinted for a fee. We could take our blueprints at that point and hire a different builder if we chose, or hire Sienna Building. The two-phase process made us feel comfortable enough to move forward. During that time, we never considered looking for a different builder. We felt comfortable that if we were going to be able to build our new home, Steve was going to be the guy to do it.” R. Ross

Words like “very comfortable, open, and easy” are exactly how we want our client to feel before they sign a building contract with us. By taking the time to plan and budget for our client’s house, they had a stress-free building experience and are actually disappointed that the process is over because they enjoyed it so much!

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Pre-Construction Planning will save you heartache down the road

Custom Home Building in Bend Oregon is what we do. Our philosophy at Sienna Building is to make the custom home building experience enjoyable for our clients.
In our last blog, we were talking about what can happen when pre-construction planning is not part of your building process. Recently we were approached by a couple who did almost the exactly the same thing as the last couple, designing a home without pre-construction planning. In this case, however, they were working closely with a builder. They designed a beautiful home, had a budget of $200.00 per square foot and supposedly designed to that budget. At the end of the design process, the builder came back and said he could no longer build the home for $200.00 per square foot, leaving the unsuspecting homeowners anxious, frustrated and feeling betrayed.

We met with the couple to go over the plans and explain our Pre-Construction Planning process to them. We asked them a couple of really basic questions about their budget and the design. It was easy to show them how we could have easily saved them money during the design process. We then asked them if the previous builder ever asked these questions. Of course the answer was no. After investing over $20,000.00 in design this couple hopes to have the home built for their original budget.

What do these two scenarios have in common? First, they both went about the design of their homes without focusing on the number one item first, THE BUDGET. Second, neither of them hired Sienna Building to complete the Pre-Construction Planning for their homes, albeit after the fact.

Next time: We’ll explain what is involved in our Pre-Construction Planning system. You’ll hear from an actual client who reaped the benefits of using our proven system.

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To plan or not to plan? There should be no question.

Custom Home Building in Bend Oregon is what we do. Our philosophy at Sienna Building is to make the custom home building experience enjoyable for our clients. I am sure most builders would say that that is one of their goals as well, but what efforts have they taken to make sure this is the result?

A few months ago we were contacted by a potential building client who came to us with plans they had recently completed asking if we were interested in bidding on their project. We met with them, reviewed their plans and then they stated, “We are hopeful that you will find some ingenious way to build our home for $150.00 per square foot.” Building a home for $150.00 is not a difficult task, but in this case it was a 4,300 square foot home with a tile roof, media room, sauna and so on. I think you know where I am going with this; you shouldn’t design a home and THEN expect some ingenious way to have it fit your budget. Obviously, this unfortunate couple did not do any Pre-Construction Planning.

We explained our Pre-Construction Planning services to the couple and told them that if they were willing pay our nominal fee, they could have a complete line item budget and specifications developed for their home so they would know exactly what it cost to build the home. I also stated that before I was willing to engage with them as a client, they needed to understand that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect to build a home for $150.00 per square foot without revising the plan and if they were unwilling to revise the plan, then they will need to increase their budget. Unfortunately they were not willing revise the plan or budget and we parted ways. The last time we spoke they were considering scrapping the whole thing and selling the lot, after they spent over $20,000.00 on the design! Pre-Construction Planning could have saved them a lot of heartache.

Next time: We’ll talk about another couple in a similar situation, and how they may scrap the entire building process as a result of not doing pre-construction planning.