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Old 03-24-2010, 06:21 AM
 
Location: Keller
13 posts, read 68,481 times
Reputation: 13

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Hey all I am new to the forum and have really enjoyed reading all the amazingly helpful posts and I look forward to becoming an active part of the community.

Anyway down to business, my wife and I have finally taken the plunge and decided to build our new home that we have been wanting for years. Our realtor sold our house in only 35 days wich we were not expecting for it to sell so fast but he did in amazing job. Now that the home is sold we have to make our final decision on our new home.

We have a lot already bought that is not part of a subdivision we have purchased with our realtors help. Because we are building on our own lot we had to go with a builder that will both offer to build on our own lot and build our custom plan. We interviewed 2 smaller builders that only do a few homes a year and we also interviewed Sandlin Custom Homes and David weekly homes wich I beleive are the largest custom builders that will actually build on your own lot. We have had all four builders price out our home with all the options in it. David weekly offered the best price and Sandlin was only $7500 more expensive wich isn't much since we are buying a 325k home. My wife and I have definatley decided against the two smaller builders as we felt they were very slow in getting us pricing and in general were just not as professional as David Weekly and Sandlin were.

So since have it narrowed down to our 2 builders of choice we want to hear any opionions on who we should go with. David Weekly was $7500 cheaper but they do not offer a dedicated builder for the job they have a builder that is working at a nearby community also build our home. Sandlin on the other hand has a seperate build on your own lot department and they give us a dedicated builder who we have access to whenever we need to build our home. From what I can tell both companies have been building a long time soo really it just comes down to who should we pick.
So far Sandlin has been incrediably upfront with everything they have done including their pricing and ability to work with us. I am also very impressed by the fact they keep their custom build on your own lots as a seperate division from there production home arm.

David weekly on the other hand has Sandlin beat by $7500. They have been ok on getting pricing to us but things just havnt gone quite as smooth as they have at Sandlin.
$7500 is alot of money to us and we really want to make the right decision. Can anyone help us out and offer advice on what they know about the custom department of each company. Also who has been building longer and has the better reputation for their custom product. Thank you all so much for the help this is truly a big decision for me and my wife and we wanna make the right one.
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Old 03-24-2010, 07:19 AM
 
27,447 posts, read 44,947,050 times
Reputation: 14041
from what I know I would say go with Sandlin---
have you been in the homes they are building in different subdivisions to check out their current work?

have you asked for names/numbers of homeowners they have built for in the past--and get names of people with home more than 3 yrs old from each of them--they have certainly been in business for longer than that

you can check the better business bureau although I think the contract law that both of them sell homes under probably requires people to use arbitration vs other complaint systems

Sandlin is a family owned company still--and the family is involved in the home construction--not just title people--I think their reputation in DFW is still pretty good and if I had to choose that is who I would pick
you want to make sure that they have current liability insurance and get statement from their bankers that they are financially secure--you don't want them to go bankrupt owing their subs or suppliers for what you paid them to do...


Weekley is of course one of the largest builders in the US--doing individual homes is just something company decided to do to capture even more of the market share...

ask your question on GardenWeb - The Internet's Garden Community site under home building
only small percentage of people who post there are in DFW area and would know Sandlin but some of them are people who have discussed Weekley as home builder

also check out site called owner builder.net--those people are acting as their own contractors to build home most of the time but some of them have checked out companies like Sandlin and D. Weekley...

you need an attorney to draw up your contract--any contract the builder offers you is designed to protect their interests--not yours--even if you think spending that much money is a waste, in the event something goes wrong, having your contract just might be the difference

that means that you need to have attorney who IS knowledgeable about construction law--not all attorneys are--even if they say they can do it
I googled attorneys construction law and DFW and several firms came one--just make sure they have written contracts for individual home construction before--not just worked settlement issues after the fact...
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Old 03-24-2010, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Keller
13 posts, read 68,481 times
Reputation: 13
Ya I think we a def. leaning more towards Sandlin. Frankly all the people we have worked with seem to just care about making the home what we want not what is simply the cheapest way for them to do it. I am also hopeful I can get a few more grand off to get closer to the david weekly price even though I have already gotten a large discount from both companies. I have visted both Sandlin and David Weekly communties. The trouble is they both seem to have a huge price range. David weekly has homes from like 100k all the way to 600k and Sandlin has homes from 130k to well over a few million dollars. Both of the sales reps. at each company have told me though that when you do a build on your own lot with your own plan the home is ultimatley gonna be unique to what we choose. I did some research and found out Sandlin has been building for like 50 years and weekly has been building for over 30. Apprently from what our salesperson told me Sandlin just absorbed some of the smaller builders that recently went under. I would think my risk would be pretty small in either of these companies going under right? I really appreciate you taking the time to help out we just wanna make sure we make the right choice.
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Old 03-24-2010, 11:36 AM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,631 posts, read 53,481,140 times
Reputation: 18538
$7500 is 2% of $325K. Not a big difference. Sometimes cheaper is not better and you get what you pay for. Disclaimer: I don't know either of these companies. Just offering a generic way to look at it!
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Old 03-24-2010, 06:59 PM
 
27,447 posts, read 44,947,050 times
Reputation: 14041
Sandlin has a good local reputation and has been in business in Tarrant county for over 25 yrs--because they are who MY realtor recommended we talk to when we moved here from Shreveport more than 20 yrs ago--but they were not building in area we wanted to move to--unfortunately--I am pretty sure we would have had a better built house if we had gone with them...
BUT I am going to tell you a hard truth--
these people want to sell you on doing business with them
almost anyone you talk to in the sales office is there for a reason--they are SALES people--it is their job (and their salary) to be good at that...
Many of them will tell you want you want to hear--if there is a price point--
YEA--sure we can build what you want for that--or maybe less...
THEN--once you are in process of construction and you can't get out...$$$ start to go off

DO you have a complete list of what you want to build with the specific type of electrical, plumbing, windows, HVAC system, framing, foundation--a complete construction list could number 12 pages if it is really specific...and that is probably a low number--
David Weekly probably has a computer program for each one of its standard floor plants that spits out a complete purchase list of materials with price point for each one...
Sandlin might too because a builder who does not know how to price a build successfully loses money and goes bankrupt...


from what I understand about "custom" construction now--no one is building a house for a fixed price--most people are saying they build at COST PLUS--like cost plus 6% for the builder's profit

IF they are telling you they will build a specific house--meaning you KNOW and have shown them what you want IN THAT HOUSE IN ALL SYSTEMS--and they will bid that and give you a total firm fixed price with a construction time line and agree to pay a penalty if they go over by 20 days...

then that is a good deal
BUT I think you will find that the language in their contract will offer them outs so that they can delay, add costs back to you, substitute lesser quality construction standards/materials at their discression...

that is why I said you need a good attorney to write a contract that protects YOUR interests...

go to ownerbuilder.com site and see what those people have to say about building your own home...
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Old 03-24-2010, 07:25 PM
 
Location: Keller
13 posts, read 68,481 times
Reputation: 13
Well we brought in our own plans and had all four builders bid it out with the options we wanted in it. Sandlin made it clear that since they are doing a build job on a lot they don't own they will give a full bid up front and basically if they go over I do not have to pay over the agreed upon price unless during construction I decide I want to add items I did not intially get bid out. I told this to David weekly and our Sales person told us that if Sandlin could do it then they would match it also. Of the two smaller builders one said they couldnt match Weeklys or Sandlins pricing. The other promised that he could match there pricing but he only builds 5-10 homes a year. I feel comfortable with the guy but I just think we would feel better going with a builder who really knows what they are doing. One interesting thing I found out cause of my wife was how experienced the actual builders are who would be building our home. Ryan the guy at weekly has been building homes for over 18 years. Terry the builder who would do our home at Sandlin has been building for something like 35 years. If it was a personality contest Ryan would win hands down. But I get the feeling Terry is like a kind of generall that takes no crap from his subs and demands perfection. I am not looking for a friend I am looking for who will build me the best house. Does anyone else have experiance with either of these builders CUSTOM programs. Both companies made it very clear that you simply cannot compare there custom lines to there production lines wich is basically there tract homes.
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:12 AM
 
Location: So California
8,372 posts, read 8,440,546 times
Reputation: 4556
David Weekley, is a tract/production builder who has a build on your lot program.
Sandlin, is primarily a semi custom homebuilder.

Both are going to have pricing advantages over small builders, its simple volume buying power.

Sandlin is a Certified Master Builder member and has a very lengthy, but fair contract. If it was Terry Sandlin you were talking to then yes he would be very experienced, and if he doesnt seem quite as eager as Ryan ( a David Weekley employee) its probably because the Sandlins have been wildly successful.
If Weekley is pulling a superintendent off of a subidivision to build your house......no. Not a great situation.

If you are building custom, I would recommend investing in energy efficiency, primarily full foam encapsulation and then high efficiency hvac. You'll be glad you did.

Also someone mentioned owner/builder program. All of the owner builder networks are a complete waste of time & money. Youve got to pay to enter the program, and all of the subcontractors love to work with owner/builders because they charge higher rates to these people. You end up spending just as much and not having any expertise or guidance.
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:15 AM
 
27,447 posts, read 44,947,050 times
Reputation: 14041
agree that foam is the way to go IF the person doing the work has experience--but the design of the home has to be one that takes advantage of that type of insulation and you need to have other people who know how to work with it--like the HVAC people and other subs...
and if you are spending the money on foam you should also get a better than basic window as well...
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Old 03-25-2010, 12:22 PM
 
Location: So California
8,372 posts, read 8,440,546 times
Reputation: 4556
Energy efficient home:

Spray foam walls & roof = full encapsulation, any house can be fully encapsulated - some more difficult than others - non vented attic

Miniumum 14 SEER high efficiency HVAC w/variable speed motor
And yes the system must be "right sized" (less tonnage for foam)

Vinyl or wood windows (all windows in Texas are req'd to have high efficiency Low-E glass)
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Old 03-25-2010, 07:57 PM
 
Location: Keller
13 posts, read 68,481 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by slo1318 View Post
Energy efficient home:

Spray foam walls & roof = full encapsulation, any house can be fully encapsulated - some more difficult than others - non vented attic

Miniumum 14 SEER high efficiency HVAC w/variable speed motor
And yes the system must be "right sized" (less tonnage for foam)

Vinyl or wood windows (all windows in Texas are req'd to have high efficiency Low-E glass)
Thanks for the advice I contacted both builders to see what they offer standard.

David Weekly offered r-13 insulation in the walls (fiberglass) and r-33 in the attic wich they told me the minimum is r-30 so they go up to r-33 for extra energy efficency. Weekly is also energy star rated whatever that is worth. They do a 14 seer american standard A/C unit standard wich I am told is top of the line.

Sandlin Homes offered a encapsulated cellulose insulation with a tech shield wrap that gave the walls a r-18 value. In the ceiling they do a blown cellulose to r-40. They offer a 14 seer carrier unit standard. They are also energy start and are a north texas green built (not sure what that is) The sales rep. told me that Sandlin offers one of the best energy efficent homes standard in the area for homes in that price point. Is that true?

I need to mention that since David weekly knows I am leaning towards sandlin they have offered me an extra $5,000 to go to the design center. I am so torn between these two builders. I get the feeling going with Sandlin is kinda like getting a lexus and going with weekly is getting a toyota. The Sandlin rep. told me the main reason for the price difference is for all of the items they put in the home that yu don't see wich weekly does not. He mentioned that all of the materials used to build the home are top of the line. My sales rep. told me that Weekly uses the same materials to build there custom homes as they do there trac homes. Is this true?

Ultimatley I want to go with David weekly and save the 10k but not if they are going to not use the same quality materials that sandlin is. I don't want to end up with a house I am nt happy with just to save 10k up front.

Can anyone else tell me their experiance with either builder doing there custom product. I have found plenty of info on both of these builders production lines but I need info on there custom build on your own lot quality.

Last edited by mike6784; 03-25-2010 at 08:27 PM..
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