Your Building Blog for the Rochester Area

Custom Building in Rochester: Controlling Creeping Cost

Posted by John Graziose on Tue, Jul 31, 2018 @ 09:07 AM

Custom Building in Rochester: Controlling Creeping CostOne of the most prevalent “horror stories” about building a custom home or doing a home remodeling project has to do with homeowners going over budget. That tale of woe is followed closely by stories about projects that took much longer to complete than planned. Sometimes that happens when a homeowner doesn’t take enough time to think through what they really want and need. That may mean adding options later that weren’t in your original budget (here’s a post that deals with that in more detail).

There are some other things that can cause building and renovation projects to exceed their budgets and deadlines—and homeowners often get surprised by these things.

Home Size

It's no surprise that (generally) a bigger house costs more money. Your builder will use more materials and more labor. One housing trend that may be a bit of a surprise for you has to do with the size of homes. For many years new home sizes got gradually bigger and bigger. House sizes took a dip around 2008 but then began edging up again. Around 2013, however, that growth flattened out and actually started down. Instead of focusing so much on the size of their homes, owners were paying more attention to the comfort and quality of their homes. They wanted homes that fit their lifestyles. Here’s an article that talks about the emphasis on better over bigger.

Home Layouts

Size isn’t the only physical characteristic that can affect your building cost. The layout of your home can have an impact as well. Some plans are more expensive to build than others. Here’s a look at the cost difference between building a one-story home, a one-and-a-half- story home, and a two-story home.


Sometimes new homeowners forget that the money they spend on their lot is actually a pretty significant portion of the overall cost of the home. Location and size obviously affect the price of the lot, but the condition of the lot (it's suitability for building) can also affect your cost.


When you’re looking at the finishes for your new house, it can be tempting to add more upgrades than you really need. It’s not that you shouldn’t do it (sometimes it’s the right thing to do), but lots of little upgrades can add up fast. Here’s a post that looks at the surprising impact of both property costs and upgrades.

Scope Creep: Small Changes That Aren’t So Small

This is a problem that hits a lot of homeowners. Part of what makes this issue so insidious is that it doesn’t happen all at once. It tends to creep up on homeowners without them being aware of it. Some builders call it “scope creep” and here’s how it can happen.

It begins when you add “small” features to the plan or contract you’ve already agreed upon with your contractor: “Let’s move that wall 5 inches to the right.” Five inches isn’t much, but sometimes it leads to having to move an outlet. In your kitchen, it could mean moving some plumbing. Or moving the wall may affect the light in the room, so you want to add a window to compensate. What seemed like a really small change can end up having a big impact.

Of course, not every change has major ramifications, but you get the picture. Changes happen in small increments that don’t seem like a big deal. But it can cost you considerably more money and add to the time it takes to complete your project.

How can you avoid scope creep?

Start by paying close attention to the plans you and your builder have created before construction starts so you both know what to expect.  If you feel strongly that something needs to change, talk to your builder about it. Tell him what you want (or don’t want) but don’t dictate the solution. Your builder may come up with an answer that doesn’t cost you more or extend your deadline. When you tell your builder what you want, he’ll probably respond in one of the following ways:

  • Sure, we can do that! Here’s the revised estimate, reflecting the increased cost.
  • No problem! That’s a change we can make, but it will take us an extra week.
  • Yes, that’s something we can do. It will cost you an additional $X and it’s going to take us an additional five days to complete the project.
  • Sorry! If you’re not willing to spend any more money and if you aren’t willing to extend the amount of time it will take to complete, we can’t make this change for you.

Talk to Your Builder and Focus on What You Can Control

Sometimes circumstances beyond anyone’s control (unforeseen increases in material costs) can increase your costs some. Unexpected material shortages or bad weather can cause delays. And sometimes things are just more difficult than expected. But you can avoid the horrors of “scope creep” by maintaining clear communication with your builder.


Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, Staying on budget

How Can You Plan for Your Rochester Dream Home?

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

 Custom-home-building, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NY, Dream-Home, Staying-on-budgetDream homes don’t just happen over night. They take a lot of planning and there are a ton of details to keep track of. Of course, choosing the right builder can make a lot of those details a lot easier to manage. But even after you’ve found a builder with whom you feel confident, he can’t build your dream home without a plan.

So how do you go about choosing the plan that’s right for you? Some builders will offer you plans that they feel comfortable building.  But is that the right plan for you and your lifestyle?

At Gerber Homes, we think floor plans are a great starting point—but they shouldn’t keep you from building the home that really reflects your personality and lifestyle. That’s why we offer an extensive selection of floor plans that give you lots of choices. Here are just a few:

  • Maybe a Cape home is what you have in mind—but you’re not sure exactly how you want to configure it. We’ll give you five different plans from which to choose.

And each floor plan we offer is customizable with numerous options. Nothing is set in stone until you say so! And if you still don’t find what you’re looking for, you can enjoy the outstanding quality and craftsmanship of a Gerber home.  Just bring in your plans and we can review them together to make your dream home a reality.

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, Staying on budget, Dream Home

Choosing a Rochester Area Homebuilder: What Really Matters?

Posted by John Graziose on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

Custom-home-building, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NY, Rochester-NY, Choosing-a-BuilderOnce you’ve decided to build a custom home in the Rochester area, the next big decision you have to make is who is going to build it for you. What really matters when making that decision? Here are a few things that should play a big role in your decision. Year after year, these are the things that homeowners say really matter.

Experience: Maybe you’ve never built a custom home before. That’s not a problem. But when you select your builder you don’t want him learning on the job. There is a lot more involved in building a quality custom home than just hammers, nails, saws, wood, wiring, and plumbing. You will run into unexpected issues and you want to have a builder that has been around the block a time or two and can help you understand the consequences of the decisions you’ll have to make. And that kind of understanding only comes from experience. At Gerber Homes we have three generations of experience, and we’ve worked on more than 3,000 homes. We’ll guide you in the right direction.

What the Neighbors Say: Sometimes you just don’t care what your neighbors say. But when it comes to choosing the right builder, it’s a good idea to solicit their opinion. You’ll want to know what experience your neighbors had with homebuilders in the Rochester area. That means asking potential builders for references from other homeowners in the area. But don’t simply file that information away in a folder. Talk to some of those neighbors and ask them to tell you what it was like to work with this builder. Were they happy with the quality? Did the builder listen to them? How did it go when there were minor setbacks? Did they feel that the builder was responsive? Did he offer good ideas and alternatives?

We’d love to have you hear what our customers say about us!

Your Gut: Don’t be too quick to dismiss your “gut reactions”. You should feel comfortable with your builder because you’ll be spending a lot of time together and some of those times can be a little bit stressful. That’s why it’s important to select someone who genuinely listens to you and understands your concerns. He may not always agree with you—but at least you know your opinion has been heard and considered.

Information: It’s really important that your builder gives you helpful information that makes you feel good about the decisions you make. He shouldn’t make them for you (After all, it’s your home!), but you should feel like you’ve been given the best information possible in order to make a good decision. 

We’ve been building quality homes since 1950 and we’d love to build yours. Shoot us a note and tell us what your dream house looks like. Then let’s talk to see if we’re a good fit for you. Because it’s what you think that really matters!

Bathroom blog

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, Choosing a Builder

4 Things That Affect the Cost of Your Rochester Area Home

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Oct 24, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

Cost-of-Building, Custom-home-building, Rochester-NY, Gerber-Homes-Rochester-NYIt’s not unusual for someone to ask us what a new custom home in Rochester or the surrounding area will cost. Some people even ask us what the cost per square foot will be. And while knowing what your house is going to cost you before you build it is a really good idea, there’s not a single, simple answer. It’s a little bit like walking into a car dealer and asking a salesman what “a car” will cost. The real answer, of course, depends on exactly what kind of car (or home) you want.

If you ask a salesman at a Ford dealership how much a car costs, he’ll give you a range of prices depending on the model of Ford you want and upon the options you choose. If you ask the same question at a BMW dealership, you’ll also get a varying range of prices depending on the model and the options you specify. But the range at the BMW dealership, will be considerably higher than the range at the Ford dealer.

You’ll have the same kind of experience when pricing homes. Custom homes cost more than standard “tract” homes. And not all custom homes will be the same price, because—well, they’re custom built! But here are several factors that play a major role in determining the cost of your home—whether you’re looking at the cost per square foot, or the total cost.

Complexity: A more intricate home design simply requires more labor. That’s why a simple rectangular house with square corners costs less to build than home with odd angles and 20 different corners. If you’re building on an unusual lot or want to add something such as a steep roof or other custom features, your costs will increase.

Finish: The materials you select for your finish (using wood or stone instead of vinyl on the floors; using granite instead of Formica for countertops; or using tile instead of shingles on the roof) will increase your cost. The number and variety of options you choose will have a direct impact on the cost.

Size and Components: When it comes to building a home, size really does matter. A 6,000 square foot home will cost more than a 2,000 square foot home. We’ve included components in with size because larger homes often include components that aren’t commonly found in smaller homes—such as a three-or-four-car garage. Larger homes are also likely to have additional features such as porches or multiple decks. 

Labor: People who build custom homes generally insist on a higher quality of craftsmanship than you’ll find in mass-produced houses. The features that are built in often require a level of skill that lower-end builders simply can’t afford.

Once you have a pretty good idea of what the specifics are (complexity, level of finish, size/components), shoot us a note. We’d be happy to give you a general range of the cost.

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Saving Money, Custom home building, Cost of Building

Planning Your Custom Home in Rochester: Don’t Forget Storage Space

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Oct 17, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

Gerber-Homes-Custom-Home-Builder-in-Rochester-5It’s easy to accumulate “stuff” over time. We all do it. We keep things that have sentimental value. We have items that we only use on special occasions (like holiday decorations).  Some of us have tools or hobby items that don’t get used regularly, but need a place to live.

When building a new home, it’s easy to underestimate how much storage room you’ll really need—or to forget about it entirely. But it’s a great thing to think about early in the planning stages because the additional cost to add storage space is minimal if you let your builder know about it up front. And what’s great about building storage in from the beginning is that your builder can often be creative about finding what otherwise might be unused space and converting it to storage. That’s really nice because it doesn’t take living space away.

You may be able to have storage space built into the side of a stairway. Or, if you’ve got walk-in attic space that’s easily accessible, that’s another option. Your builder may be able to build storage capabilities in between studs in your garage—or in the space above the garage. And don’t forget to ask you builder about taking advantage of space in the basement. 

Your builder may have ideas you’ve never thought about. But the important thing is to think through how much space you’ll need ahead of time and talk to your builder first. Don’t give up precious living space to store stuff you only use occasionally.


Topics: Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, home remodeling, Storage

Building Your New Rochester Home: Don’t Let Your Eyes Get Bigger Than Your Budget

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

 Rochester NY, Under Budget, Custom home building, Gerber Homes Rochester NYEvery now and then as builders we run into a bit of an awkward situation when discussing a new home with a prospective homeowner: The homeowner’s eyes get bigger than his budget and he starts planning features for his new home that he really can’t afford. 

We love to give clients what they want in their homes, but we hate to see the stress it causes them when they get over-extended. How does it happen—and how can you avoid it when you plan your Rochester area home?

It’s really pretty easy to understand how it happens. It’s a little bit like going to a car dealer and planning to buy a nice $30,000 car. You see one you like on the floor, but it’s $34,000.  You test drive it anyway and love it. But of course the cars on the lot are always loaded with options. You get the $2,500 sports suspension package because it handles so well. Then you add $1,000 for the super stereo with satellite radio and MP3/DVD player. Of course the color you like is a custom metallic paint—but it looks so nice.

All of a sudden that $34,000 car is a $45,000 vehicle—and you don’t even remember that you were planning to spend $30,000 when you walked in!

The same thing happens to people planning to build a custom home. They’ve seen cool websites and beautiful magazine photos. They’ve watched TV shows where budgets are never mentioned. And they have lots of great ideas.

However, when they don’t rein in their expectations early in the process it’s easy for them to get into a financially stressful situation. Later they can get really upset over a simple “should do” upgrade that costs them a few hundred dollars.

That’s why it’s critical to have a firm grasp of what your realistic budget is before you get too far into the process. It doesn’t mean you cut corners or try to do things cheaply. But it’s important to communicate with your builder about what you want and to work with him to see if it fits within your budget.

Building a custom home should be a great experience. But knowing you’re in over your head can take the joy out of it. Talk to us about your dream first. We’ll help you build it so that you can enjoy it!

Created on 05/18/12 at 13:26:28

Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Saving Money, Custom home building, Staying on budget, Under Budget

Want a Custom-Quality Home in the Rochester Area—But Don’t Want to Wait?

Posted by John Graziose on Fri, Sep 21, 2012 @ 08:09 AM

Custom-Quality-Home-in-the-Rochester-AreaWe’ve all heard that good things come to those who wait. And some of us are still waiting! What do you do if you want the quality of a custom-built home, but (for whatever reason) you simply don’t have the time to wait (or maybe you just hate waiting)?

If you’re looking for a custom-quality home in the Rochester area, you’re in luck! Gerber Homes has custom model homes in Ontario, Perinton, Webster, and Canadaigua that are ready for you right now.

These are great homes with lots of built-in custom features. Not only will you enjoy the fine quality of custom-built Gerber Homes construction, but you can also enjoy special savings for a limited time. And best of all, if waiting just isn’t an option for you, these homes are move-in ready!

Click here to take a look at any of these fine homes. You can even take a virtual tour!

And if you decide that waiting isn’t so bad after all, we’d love to build you a home to your exact specificationsin one of these communities—or nearby in Huron, Victor, Sodus, Marion, or East Bloomfield. Check out the possibilities here.

Whether you want your home now—or whether you’re willing to wait—we’ve got what you want. At Gerber Homes, we build dreams so that families can live them!


Topics: Rochester NY, Gerber Homes Rochester NY, Custom home building, virtual tour

The Custom Homebuilding Process: Taking One Step at a Time

Posted by John Graziose on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 @ 12:09 PM

The Custom Homebuilding Process: Taking One Step at a TimeYou've probably heard the advice that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. It's a big task that you simply can't rush. The custom home building process is a bit like that. It takes time. You simply can’t rush it. It’s different than simply buying an existing home. It’s also more involved than building a new home that’s identical to all the others around it. What does this process look like? There are lots of details, but it is manageable (and even exciting) if you approach the process properly—by taking one step at a time.

Start with a Realistic Budget

One of the first things you should do is establish a realistic budget. What you are willing or able to spend plays a big role in determining what you can build.  Homeowners can get themselves in trouble by not being realistic. If you try to build more than you can really afford, you can end up “house poor.” You may have a fine house, but you may find yourself struggling to keep it. If you spend less than you really should you may save some money, but you probably won’t be happy with the quality, size, or features of your new home.  Remember: Your goal is not to save money (or overspend!), but to get the best home you can at a fair price. And knowing what your budget is can help you make decisions when options to modify your building plans surface. Here's some help in setting a realistic budget for your Rochester-area custom home.Here's some help in setting a realistic budget for your Rochester-area custom home.

A Lot Depends on Your Lot

Different homeowners want different things from their lot. Some opt for convenience (proximity to schools, work, or regular events). Some are more concerned with views, or seclusion. But no matter what drives your choice, you’ll have to select your lot before you get too far down the road with specific design details because the physical characteristics of a lot can determine the structure of the house being built on it. Here's an article that offers help for this critical part of the custom home building process.

Assemble Your “Dream Team”

Selecting the construction team that will be building your dream home is every bit as important as choosing your lot, your plan, and making your budget. Many homeowners begin by selecting the builder or contractor who then selects the other members of the team. The good news is that a good general contractor knows who the other best players in town are.  Check out this article for tips on what to look for in a custom builder.

Determine Your Design

Gerber Homes offers an extensive collection of floor plans from which to choose! Options range from estate-sized acreage home sites to smaller single story homes. And each floor plan can be customized to give you the maximum number of options. And if you want something different, you can still enjoy the outstanding quality and craftsmanship of a Gerber Homes—built home that’s based on your own plans! 

Understand the Construction Process

We’re not suggesting that you become an expert in home construction. At the same time, it’s helpful for you to understand what happens in the various stages of construction. There will be times when it doesn’t look like a lot of progress is being made. Despite appearances, there are important activities happening. Click here for a visual look at what happens in key stages of the construction process. It will help you to be more comfortable when it feels like things aren’t moving as quickly as you’d like.

Seal the Deal with a Contract

The final step to take before beginning to build is to secure a written contract signed and dated by both the builder or contractor and the architect or designer (unless the architect’s designer is a sub-contractor of the builder). A new home construction contract should describe the project in detail and should include a list of all the components included in the house. If you make any changes to the project, be sure to amend the contract, so there are no unwanted surprises later.

Keep Learning

If you’re looking for more details (and ideas) for building a custom, we invite you to download our free 17-page Custom Home Guide.

To be honest, I think the custom home building process is a lot more appealing than trying to eat an elephant—but you still have to take things one step at a time!



Topics: Custom Homes Victor NY, Custom home building

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