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.

New Call-to-action

Topics: Custom homes, Home Building Costs

When Buying a Rochester-Area Custom Home, It’s not Just What You Pay—It’s What You Get for Your Money

Posted by John Graziose on Thu, Aug 18, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

When-Buying-a-Rochester-area-Custom-Home-Its-Not-Just-What-You_Pay-Its-What-You-Get-For-Your-Money.jpgWhen you’re thinking about building a new custom home in Ontario, Perinton, Webster or anywhere else in the Greater Rochester area, it’s easy to focus on the cost of the home. It’s important to have a realistic budget for your home. If you try to take on too much house, you probably won’t qualify for the loan. And even if your do, you may find yourself stretched beyond your comfort level. It’s no fun living in a home if you can’t afford to furnish it or if you’re constantly stressed by the monthly payments.

The real issue, however, isn’t just how much you pay for your home—it’s how much value your home delivers for the money you spend. You may want to check out this post, which talks about getting a fair price for a new Rochester-area home.

One of the big factors to consider when you’re thinking about the cost of a home is the quality of the home. Most new homes look pretty good in the first year or two. But if you’re planning to stay for a few years, you’ll want a home that’s solidly built and will stand up to the use you give it.

That’s one good reason to check out homes your prospective builder built several years ago; you can see how well they are maturing. Do they still look great, or are they starting to show signs of wear and tear? For three generations, our family has been building homes in the eastern Rochester area. You can choose from more than 3,000 existing homes if you want to check out the quality of our products!

As proud as we are of our quality craftsmanship, true value in a home involves more. In addition to quality of construction, you’ll want to think about how the home meets your specific needs. What are some of the things that add value to your home? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Location: Where you live is just as important as the physical structure you live in. The quality of the community you call home is so important. So are schools and proximity to work and activities. We build in a wide range of locations around the Rochester area, including Webster, Canandaigua, Perinton, Ontario, Victor, Sodus, Penfield and numerous other communities in the region.

Design: A comfortable home doesn’t just happen. The design of your home needs to fit your specific lifestyle—with a configuration that matches the way you live and entertain. Take a look at the wide variety of floor plans we offer in a range of sizes and styles (including Colonial homes, first-floor masters, patio homes, ranch homes and Cape homes.

Size: Some people will say that size doesn’t matter, but when it comes to your home, you’ll want to think twice about that. You may not need a large, two-story home, but when you’re considering building, you’ll want to keep the future in mind. Spending a bit more for extra space now can actually save you a lot of money later if your needs outgrow the home you’re in.

Money does matter when it comes to building your custom home. But the value you get from your home (in terms of overall comfort and quality) is more important than pure price. And if a lower-priced home doesn’t deliver long-term quality and value, it’s no bargain.

New Call-to-action

Topics: floor plans, Custom homes, Rochester NY, Building a New Home, Home Design, Home Building Costs

Understanding Pricing Variations in the Rochester Area

Posted by John Graziose on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 @ 10:07 AM

Understanding-pricing-fluctuations-in-the-Rochester-Area.jpgHousing prices in the Finger Lakes region can fluctuate significantly – it’s true for both existing homes and for new homes. That can make some potential homebuyers a little bit uneasy, wondering if now is the right time to buy a home or not. So how can you get a handle on the differences in pricing?

Naturally, the size of the home you build plays a significant role in what you’ll pay. We offer homes that range from just over 1,000 square feet to more than 3,600 square feet. It obviously takes more material and labor to build a larger home, but that’s not the only factor influencing pricing.

Where you build can also affect the cost of your home. Similarly sized lots in different communities (Webster, Ontario, Canandaigua or Macedon, for instance) can have dramatically different prices. The price of the land you build on has a huge impact on the ultimate price of your home. Property prices aren’t likely to go down in the future. As Mark Twain famously quipped, “Buy land – they’re not making it anymore!”

The increasing cost of lots has caused a number of homeowners in the eastern Rochester area to consider remodeling instead of building a new home. It’s simply an expense they don’t have to worry about. Plus, if you happen to like the community where you live (and already have good relationships with friends and neighbors), you may not want to move away—even if your current home is no longer meeting your needs.

Whether you need to remodel your kitchen or bathroom, add on a new room or even plan an in-law addition, an innovative and resourceful builder can help you redesign your home to better suit your needs—and avoid some of the hassle and expense of building and moving to a new home.

With your convenience in mind, Gerber Homes & Additions has developed an approach that allows side, back and second-story additions to be completed while your family remains in the house throughout construction.

If you’re wondering whether building or remodeling is the right choice for you, click here to download our free 2016 Home Design Guide. It’s packed with ideas for turning your existing home into your dream home—a place where you’ll enjoy comfort and convenience for years to come.

New Call-to-action

Topics: home remodeling, Home Building Costs, Home Remodeling Costs

Surprising Places Your Rochester Custom Home Could Cost More--And How to Prepare

Posted by John Graziose on Fri, Mar 25, 2016 @ 19:03 PM

Gerber-Homes-Custom-Home-Builder-in-RochesterSome of us enjoy surprises, like when our friends throw a surprise party for us or our income tax returns are larger than we planned. Some surprises, however, aren’t so much fun, like when the custom home you’re building costs more than you expected. Nobody enjoys that kind of surprise.  

Here are a few areas that can sneak up on new homebuilders. Knowing about them ahead of time can prepare you. And sometimes you can avoid not only the surprise, but also the expense. 

  • Changes in Plans: When building a custom home in the Rochester area, you’re probably going to make changes to your original design. Some of those changes aren’t a big deal. Others can really hit you hard in the wallet. Often, it’s when you make the change that matters most. You may think that moving a wall a mere six inches isn’t that significant, but it depends on what else may have to be moved. One thing is for sure: if you ask the builder to move it in the design/planning stage, it’s a lot cheaper than having him tear out a wall he’s already built. It’s the same kind of situation if you want a door or a window moved. It can usually be done—but when you want to move it (and where) matters a lot. One of the problems is that these changes can kind of creep up on you before you’re even aware. Here’s a helpful article about keeping those changes under control. 
  • Upgrades: It’s easy to get caught up in upgrading finishes. Let’s say you budgeted for one kind of wood flooring, but then came across another flooring material that you absolutely love. The good news is that it’s only $4 per square foot more. At first glance, $4 doesn’t seem like much. But if you’re going to cover 750 square feet with that new material, all of a sudden you’re looking at an additional $3,000 in cost. That’s not a nice surprise. The same thing can happen with cabinets, countertops and appliances. What seem like small changes can add up quickly. That’s not to say you shouldn’t upgrade—but it’s an area that often catches homeowners off guard. 
  • Property: Some homeowners like to buy their own lot and then have a builder construct the home on the lot they’ve purchased. It’s a fairly common occurrence. But occasionally a homeowner will get a “great deal” on a lot he or she likes—only to find that it requires a lot of extra preparation (grading, etc.) before it’s suitable for putting in the foundation. Suddenly that bargain lot costs a lot more than expected. 

One way to avoid that is to contact your builder about the lot before you purchase a home site. At Gerber Homes, we’re happy to help you evaluate a piece of property. You don’t need to hire an outside consultant. We know the area and have years of experience in locating and evaluating land, and we can help you find the perfect location for your new home, surrounded by the amenities you desire.  There is no charge for this service, which includes locating the land, evaluating the site, making a recommendation for a suitable floor plan and checking septic or well requirements. 

Surprises are fine if they leave you feeling happy. Don’t let unexpected developments rob you of the joy of building the custom home you’ve always dreamed of. 

New Call-to-action

Topics: Custom homes, Building a New Home, Home Building Costs

How to Keep Your Rochester Homebuilding Expenses in Line with Your Budget

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Nov 4, 2015 @ 06:11 AM

Most potential homeowners know the importance of setting a realistic budget when building a new home—and then sticking to it. Nothing takes the fun and excitement out of owning a new home quite like discovering that you’ve overspent and knowing that you’re in financial difficulty.

So why do we keep hearing stories about individuals blowing their budgets when building a new home? And more important: How can you keep your homebuilding expenses in line with your budget if you’re building a new home in the eastern Rochester area?

First of all, it’s important to have a realistic budget. That means deciding what you can really afford. If you budget too low, you won’t be happy with the home you build (and it will cost you more to bring it up to your expectations later). If you budget too high, you can find yourself “house poor” with no funds for other important activities. Here’s a short post about how it’s easy for homeowners to bite off more than they can chew financially.

Even homeowners who have established a realistic budget can find themselves over-spending. Here are a couple of the main culprits:

  • Over-Doing the Upgrades: It’s easy to get caught up in upgrading finishes. There’s no doubt that customized countertops or cabinets look really great. They may catch you eye online or at an open house. The same thing happens with flooring, carpet, trim and molding. Individually, it doesn’t seem like those things make that much difference, but they add quickly. We’re not saying you shouldn’t upgrade, but make sure you’re really getting the most bang for your buck (such as increased durability). And make sure the upgrade really fits your lifestyle (a 6-burner stove may look really cool, but are you really a gourmet cook?).
  • Changes and Add-Ons: Part of the appeal of building a custom home is that you get to personalize it to reflect your lifestyle and needs. Changing plans and adding features after construction has begun, however, can be really costly. What seems like a small change (“Can we move that wall just 6 inches to the left?”) can be a big deal. The same is true if you add on a room after the foundation is in. Those things aren’t bad or wrong—but they can be costly. That’s why you’ll want to make sure you go over your floor plans carefully with your builder (and review them privately) to make sure what you plan to build is really what you want.

Sometimes changes and upgrades make sense, but knowing how much to change or add—and when to do it—can make the difference between staying within budget and finding yourself in financial trouble.

Topics: Building a New Home, Home Building Costs

How Much Should You Spend on Land for Your New Home in Rochester?

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 @ 20:09 PM

How-Much-Should-You-Spend-on-Land-for-Your-New-Home-in-Rochester.jpgWe’ve been building homes in the Rochester area for xx years. Invariably the clients and prospects we deal with want to know what their new home in Webster, Perinton, Ontario, Greece, or one of the surrounding communities will cost. That's just smart because then these individuals can work out a realistic budget for their new home.

Of course, the actual cost of a new home depends upon a number of different factors. The floor plan that you choose (including square footage, number of stories, additional features, and finishes) can all affect the final cost. There is, however, one other component that new homebuyers often overlook: The cost of the land that the house will sit on. This is particularly true if they are considering a parcel of land that is not part of an existing development.

So, what can you expect to pay for land around Rochester? As you can imagine, the prices can vary a lot. Here’s a look at some current pricing in the area that can give you at least a rough idea.

  • 1.5 Acres in Penfield, Monroe County, NY

Lovely Country Setting Lot Ready for your Home! This 1.5 Acre Residential Lot is back off a Private Drive in the area of Custom Homes on Large size lots.  $49,900

  • 12.3 Acres in Greece, Monroe County, NY

Scenic 12.3 acres, public water at street. $99,900

  • 6.41 Acres in Penfield, Monroe County, NY

Great 6.4 lot available in Penfield (Fairport mailing). Located about 1 mile from the intersection of Rts 441 and 250. Approx. 1.4 of the lot is wooded. $125,000

  • .27 Acres in Perinton, Monroe County, NY $65,000
  • 3.34 Acres in Rush, Monroe County, NY

Beautiful wide and deep level building lot. Fully approved and ready to be built on. No builder restrictions. $30,100

  • .4 Acres in Irondequoit, Monroe County, NY

Hilltop lot on beautiful Irondequoit Bay! Boat dock approved! Beautiful views of the bridge await your dream home! Your builder or ours! $199,900

You can see that there is a wide range of costs. While the specific costs for each project will vary, there is a kind of rule of thumb in the building industry that suggests that it’s generally a good idea not to spend more than 25 percent of your total budget on the property itself. That’s a very general figure, but it provides a baseline for considering how much to spend. Here are a few additional things you’ll also want to consider. 

How Much Land Do You Need?

People have different reasons for wanting larger lots. Some simply want more space around the home to ensure privacy and quiet. But solitude sometimes comes with a price—and it’s not just the cost of the lot. Remote parcels may cost extra in order to get services (electricity, water, sewage, etc.) connected. So you need to make sure you understand what your potential costs are before you make that purchase. 

How Will You Use the Property?

Some people want to use the space for purposes other than just building a house (perhaps for animals). But before you pursue a purchase for that purpose, you may want to make sure it's zoned for that use. Otherwise, you can find yourself on a piece of property that you can't use the way you planned. 

What About Resale?

And no matter what your reason for wanting that piece of land, you need to keep resale in mind. Will the property you purchase now be desirable when it’s time for you to sell? If you buy a large parcel, will you be able to divide it up if you need to? What about access to roads if you do?

Revisit Your Budget.

How much you spend on your property depends on what you can afford—both now and in the future. If you buy a larger parcel of property, will you be able to sell off part of it if you need to do so?

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right lot and that can make the task a bit daunting. Here’s a post that highlights some of the ways we can assist you in that process. The good news is that there is really no need to hire an outside consultant to help you find the right piece of land for your new home. Gerber’s NO FEE land consulting services include:

  • Locating the land
  • Site cost evaluation
  • Suitable floor plan recommendation
  • Septic or well requirements
  • And much more!

We would love to help you find just the right piece of property: One that fits your needs and plans—and your budget!


Topics: Building a New Home, Home Building Costs, Selecting a Home Site

Timing Is Money: Why Now Is the Best Time To Build Or Remodel In Rochester

Posted by John Graziose on Wed, May 1, 2013 @ 07:05 AM

TimeIsMoneyClockFor years we’ve heard that “time is money.” And usually we hear that in the context of not wasting time. We don’t like standing around when we could be doing something productive. Sometimes we pay someone to do something for us because they can do it faster (and better) than we can. And we’re happy to do that because we believe that “time is money,” and we’re convinced that it would actually cost us more to do something ourselves.

Sometimes, however, it’s timing that translates into money. Acting at the right time can sometimes result in a financial gain. And if you’re considering building a new home or remodeling your existing home in the Rochester area, timing is something you need to think about.

We’ve all been watching reports about the improving economy. Of course a key element of that improvement has been the rebounding of the homebuilding industry. But that’s where the whole issue of timing can play such a critical role.

Across the nation, housing prices are edging back up. The good news is that homes are still very reasonable. Add to that the fact that interest rates are still remarkably low for home loans and you’re looking at a great opportunity to buy a home—or to take out a loan for home improvement.

The unanswered question in all of this, of course, is: “How long will good pricing and low interest rates last?” If we knew the exact answer to that question, we’d probably be in investment banking instead of homebuilding! One thing is fairly certain, however. Eventually rates will go back up. And that, of course means it will cost you more to build or make improvements.

The other thing to consider is that while many potential homeowners have been holding back, more of them are beginning to move forward with their plans to build or remodel. And the first people to move will snag the best builders. Builder availability could become a significant issue as we move into the summer months. So not only is time money, but timing may determine how quickly you can expect construction to be completed.

Is now the right time for you to build a new home in the Rochester area? You’re the only one who can really answer that question. But one thing you can do is to inform yourself about the process so that if you do decide to move forward, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the opportunity. We invite you to download our free Custom Home Guide. This no-obligation 17-page guide will walk you through the steps you need to know to build a custom home and choose the right builder. Plus, it will give you design tips to help you build the home of your dreams.


Topics: Custom homes, home remodeling, Building a New Home, Home Building Costs, Home Remodeling Costs