Client Orientation Manual
About Eppright Custom Homes
Eppright Custom Homes sets the standard for excellence in the custom home industry. The hallmark of our company is customer satisfaction. We promote and maintain a genuine customer service attitude toward our clients and among our employees. Our standards for integrity, quality and professionalism are the industry benchmark for Austin and translate into the maximization of our product value and customer satisfaction.
Since each home is totally custom, the process begins and ends with the customer. Doug continually emphasizes "We recognize the customer as the most valuable player on the team. We include the customer in each phase of the home building process."
Our state-of-the-art, Internet-based programs link our clients directly to our construction managers in the field, home office and subcontractors. Together, we find innovative ways to meet their demands and exceed their expectations. This is the spirit of a true custom home builder.
"The company's quality team of dedicated professionals consistently achieves our primary goal "to make your home building experience as enjoyable as possible, while at the same time, offering value and maximization of your investment without compromising quality.
"When we build a home, we employ an innovative approach to doing business, and teamwork is the basis of our philosophy. From the moment you purchase your lot, to your move-in date and beyond, you are supported by (and become a member of) our experienced and talented team."
Thank you so much for considering Eppright Homes, LLC as your builder. As the number one custom home builder in Austin for the past fifteen years, we attribute our success to quality customer service and complete customer satisfaction. We promote and maintain a genuine customer service attitude toward our clients and among our team. As a result, we consistently translate our customers’ needs into their dream home in an individual, personalized and unique manner. No corner is cut, no detail is overlooked and no compromise is made, so that we can ensure quality and craftsmanship for each home.
Building a Custom Home
We understand what it takes to build a custom home. We know how daunting a task it can seem to our clients. We believe the most important aspect of the custom home building process is that you have faith in and trust your builder. You’ve come to the right place. You will not be alone in this process. We have carefully selected and organized our team of professionals to make the process as easy and straightforward as possible. We have the systems, staff and resources in place to guide you in the selection process and oversee every aspect of the project. We have intentionally structured our team to allow for layers of oversight so that no detail is overlooked. You can be as involved as you want to be – from the selection of every type of tile and every light bulb, to simply approving selections that our interior designer chooses for you – and anywhere in between. That is the beauty of building a custom home with Eppright Homes, LLC.
Custom Home Creation Process
Once you have decided a custom home is in your future, the first order of business is to find a homesite. Our Sales Team will take you through this process. They will need to know the size and price point in addition to all other requirements such as school district, homesite size, views, etc. We always like to locate a homesite before beginning to design your new home. In Austin, it’s much too difficult to start with a plan and try to force it on a homesite because of the topography, homesite size, and view constraints. We find a homesite for you and then design to maximize the unique characteristics of that homesite.
We are most proud of our preliminary budget program. Once a homesite has been selected, we can then sit down with you and fill out an entire set of specifications. This automatically gives you a budget price! This process usually takes about two hours and is within +/- 3-5% of the final price, as long as the specifications and square footages don’t change.
This doesn’t mean that we won’t work with outside Architects. We are glad to work as a team member with an outside Architect. However, please remember that we can’t control the costs as well if we don’t also control the design.
Once we have a budget number established, it’s a good idea to check on financing. We have several lenders and will match you up with one to fit your needs. They can usually pre-qualify you within a couple of days.
After you decide Eppright Homes, LLC is a match for you, it’s time to go to the design stage. To start the design, we require a $5,000 deposit, plus the cost of topographic and tree spot survey, and any other tests or reports required to complete the design. These deposits are non-refundable but will be credited toward the purchase price of your new home. The deposit is typically sufficient to complete a preliminary set of plans so we can give you a firm price for your home.
Before we start the design, we will also need to get the homesite under contract. If you are purchasing the homesite from an outside entity, we can assist you with the process.
If you are purchasing a homesite from our inventory, we will execute an earnest money contract with you, which will be contingent upon coming to terms on a construction contract. If that does not occur, then the homesite contract typically becomes null and void, and the homesite contract earnest monies will be refunded to you.
We start the design process with input from you on the Design Questionnaire in this manual. It’s structured to promote an organized thought process in establishing your wish list for how your new home will function. We realize your responses here will be very preliminary and subject to change – it just gives us a point of departure to begin the design process.
This is all the information we need for a first draft of the plans. It will consist first of just the floor plans. Timing to complete this first draft depends on our workload, but we usually try to get it back to the client within two weeks. From this point, it usually takes a couple more revisions and the development of the front elevation before we really nail down what the client wants. Throughout the revision process, we will update the specifications and budget so that we don’t let the costs get away from us.
Once you approve the architectural plans and the budget pricing, we will then be ready to finalize the contract price. At this point we need to draw the electrical plans and any other elevations or sections needed to get a firm price. For final pricing, our estimating department will measure all quantities in detail and solicit prices from our subcontractors and vendors. Usually our firm bid price is no surprise to our clients since we update the budget throughout the design process.
In the typical custom home scenario, the client purchases the lot, and we contract to build the improvements on that lot. This allows the client to take out the interim construction loan in their own name and in most cases write off the interest against their income taxes (please consult your tax advisor). For this reason there are two contracts involved in the typical transaction: a lot sales contract and a construction contract.
The typical construction contract consists of three documents:
- The contract and all addenda
- The specifications
- The architectural plans
These documents define the three most important aspects of the contract, which are:
- The purchase price
- The time to complete the home
- What we are going to build
It’s imperative that you read and understand all aspects of the contract, plans and specifications since this is what is included in the contract price. Throughout the design process we typically discuss hundreds of different design and specification alternatives. If an item is not in the plans or specifications, it’s not in the contract price.
Several items still need to occur before we can start construction on your new home. Fortunately, most of them can occur simultaneously. These items are as follows:
- Interim financing – Assuming you have already been pre-qualified, this process should take 2-4 weeks.
- Septic engineering and permit (if applicable) – This process will take anywhere from 3-6 weeks depending on work load, system complexity and municipality.
- Foundation Engineering – This process is generally 1-2 weeks.
- Permits – This process can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks depending on the government entity with which we are dealing.
- Architectural Control Committee approval – Usually this process only takes a couple of days, but it can take a few weeks in some communities.
- Close on lot and interim loan – This can usually occur as soon as the lender is ready. Funding should occur the next day.
- Pre-construction Meeting – The purpose of this meeting is to introduce you to your Construction Manager and familiarize him to your home so that they understand all your needs. This meeting typically takes 2-3 hours.
- Final plans – We typically wait until after the pre-construction meeting to finalize the plans because there are usually a few changes that occur as a result of this meeting.
- Phase I selections – These are minimal selections but they are often needed for architectural control committee approval.
All of these items must be completed before we will issue the actual Construction Start notice. This start notice is what triggers the beginning of the contract build time. We may be able to clear the lot and set the foundation forms once the interim loan is closed and funded, but we can’t proceed until all of the above items are completed.
The selection process can be the best part of the home building process with all of the unique and wonderful selection options available. Unfortunately, for every selection to be made there is an endless number of possibilities, which can be very frustrating to some. We work with interior designers and vendors that carry products which complement our homes, and they carry anything you can imagine. To help you narrow down your options, in your preliminary budgets we will set allowances at levels that are typical for your size and price range of home. It will be the amount we would spend if we were building a spec home and our interior designer was making the selections. Please keep in mind that no matter how much we put into your allowance there will always be more (and less) expensive options. Throughout the design stage, our Sales Team will try to determine your selection needs and establish the allowances accordingly; therefore, be as explicit as possible, and we HIGHLY encourage you to visit our vendors & supplies to determine whether the allowances will be sufficient BEFORE we execute the construction contract. If you exceed the stated allowance, the overage will be assessed at 15% for overhead and profit on the net overage for all allowances.
The first step in the selection process is to meet with the Interior Designer. We suggest that you use one of our recommended Interior Designers since they are intimately familiar with our process. Our recommended Interior Designers work on an hourly basis, and they will spend as much time as you need to make your selections. Our standard allowance is sufficient to cover the basic color selections; however, if you would like their help in visiting all the vendors such as lighting and appliances, there will be additional costs if you incur more hours than the allowance has allotted for.
The timing of making your selections is extremely important so that the construction process is not disrupted. The selections are divided up into five stages, and each stage must be completed prior to commencing a particular stage of the construction process. Keep in mind that even after you have made your selections, the process of pricing, ordering, and shipping the items can take a considerable amount of time. Once you have made your selection, some vendors will give you a price right on the spot, and you can compare it to your allowance. Other selections have to be priced out, which we will do, and get your signature on the variance between the allowance and the actual cost. The items will not be ordered until you approve them. Once you do approve a selection and work has commenced, any changes will result in a change order as described in the below section.
For an overview of the selection process and how you fit into it, please see “Exhibit B” of this document.
Just the mention of the term “change order” makes most clients cringe. We go to great lengths in the design process to understand our client’s needs and make sure they know what they are getting in order to minimize the amount of change orders. Change orders are inefficient, and they don’t benefit us or the client. Having said that, please be aware that we have never built a home without a change order.
We are a custom home builder. We will make any change a client desires as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the integrity of the home, violate any building codes, or compromise safety in any way. Each change order is in itself a new contract. They will be priced out at cost plus overhead and profit. The overhead will be determined by the amount of risk involved and the time to complete the change. One of the biggest problems with changes is that it is very difficult to assess the impact of each change on the overall project schedule. One small change may not impact the job at all; however, ten small changes will easily add ten days to the process since it disrupts the flow of work. For this reason there will be a minimum of one day added to the contract completion date for every change made.
Changes should be originated through the Construction Manager if the change is associated with a selection item. Small items can be priced by the Construction Manager in the field and signed off there. Any expensive changes will be priced in the office and may take a few days for pricing. No work will be done until the change order has been signed.
You will be billed on a monthly basis for any balance owed relating to change orders. The balance must be paid by check and if the balance exceeds $5,000 before the next billing cycle, then payment must be made at that time.
Most of our clients enjoy being involved in the construction process. We try to plan the process efficiently so that we are not constantly asking you questions. However, there are numerous times throughout the project that we will need your approval or clarification.
Once we start construction on your home, your Construction Manager should be your main contact. We want the Construction Manager to be aware of every detail on the job, and if he is not the appropriate contact for your request, then he will direct you to the appropriate contact. Please do not contact our subcontractors directly except for the ones specified in this document or if directed by your Construction Manager.
The most convenient way to communicate with your Construction Manager is in person, on the job, or by phone. However, many of our clients enjoy working on-line. Our website will have a web page set up just for you. Only you and authorized individuals will have access to your page. We provide a feedback Form where we encourage you to take advantage to enter all of your action items such as originating change orders, concerns, etc. I want to stress here that we are not expecting you to manage your own home. This is what you pay us to do, and we expect our Construction Managers to keep a continuous list of all action items on the job.
To see the detailed construction schedule, please look at the example of a project schedule on our website. Your schedule will be online and updated on a daily basis so that you know exactly where we are in the process at all times. Keep in mind that the schedule we use is a best case schedule of the way things will happen if everything were to go perfectly. Unfortunately, things never do go perfectly, so when one schedule item slips, the rest of the items which are dependent upon that item slip automatically and therefore change the completion date.
For an overview of our construction process and how you fit into it please see “Exhibit C” of this document.
Your new home comes with an ACES Builder Limited Warranty, which includes a one year “bumper to bumper” coverage for specific defects in workmanship and materials, two year major mechanical & plumbing and ten year structural coverage. Please review the ACES Builder Limited Warranty and Performance Standards provided by Eppright Homes, LLC for specific details of this coverage included in the purchase price of your new home.
Notification – When you have a warranty issue, all you have to do is go to the warranty section of your page in our website and input your items. We will then call you to set up an appointment to review the defects unless they are self explanatory and we can just send a contractor directly out to correct the problem. At the closing, we will provide you with a list of most of the subcontractors that worked on your home. We provide this list only as an aid to you in setting up the appointments and in the event of an emergency. We want to be in the loop for all warranty issues. So even if you deal directly with a contractor and they take care of the problem, please notify us anyway. This gives us leverage with the contractor in case the same problem occurs again after the warranty period.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to build your new custom home. The custom building process is very exciting and will involve many trades and contractors that you will never meet. It is very important that we create written specifications and architectural drawings that accurately communicate as much information as possible about the home you want us to create. What follows is a guideline to help you put your general desires on paper; in addition, we will complete a computer specification program to clarify allowances and finishes. After you have listed all the elements you want, we will work with you to shape these into your new home. We look forward to working to make your dream home a reality.
Lot Clear Stage
- Plan on meeting with the Construction Manager on the lot prior to clearing. You will want to discuss trees to be saved, excavation, slab height, dropped brick ledges, etc.
- Set forms
- Fill with dirt
- Plumbing rough-in (pvc drain pipe)
- Final grade dirt (this makes the forms for the concrete beams)
- Plumbing (water lines)
- Slab steel
- Complete forms
- Pour slab
Not much client interaction is required at this stage. This is one of slowest parts of the project since multiple contractors are needed, most activities only take a day or two, and they are all dependent on the one before them. On the inspection days, nothing happens because we must wait until the inspection clears before we can proceed to the next task.
This is the most exciting stage of the process.
When the framing is complete, the cabinet supplier will measure the framing and finish designing the cabinets to fit. For this reason, we do not detail out the cabinets on the architectural plans. The contract price includes standard cabinets and any specialties we note in the specifications. If you know you will want some cabinet upgrades then we can give you an allowance for those at the contract stage. It is imperative that you finalize the cabinet details as quickly as possible. They typically take four to six weeks to build and they need to be installed immediately after drywall.
Mechanical Rough Stage
- Plumbing topout (piping installed in the frame)
- HVAC rough (installation of furnaces and ductwork) – We go to great lengths in the design stage to make sure there are adequate spaces to run the ductwork for the HVAC system. However, we occasionally have to add a fur down or blockout to accommodate a duct when there is no other possible alternative. If this is the case, we will consult with you on possible solutions.
- Electrical rough – You should coordinate with the Construction Manager and do a thorough walk through of the electrical fixture locations as soon as the electrician installs the electrical boxes in the framing. If you see a location of an electrical box that you don’t like, we can usually move them for a minimal charge as long as we don’t disrupt the electricians work flow and we can notify them before they pull the wires to the boxes. As with the HVAC, sometimes the electrical just won’t work as it is shown on the plan, and in that instance, we will coordinate with you to come up with a solution.
- Low voltage (phone, TV, & stereo) & security wiring – Prior to the installation of low voltage wiring, the contractor will be glad to meet you on the job to go over you needs room by room.
- Framing & mechanical inspections – This is a critical and time consuming part of the process. The government or third party inspector will inspect the home and note any deficient items or items that don’t meet code. Most of our homes are very complicated, and there are always items to correct. At the same time, your Construction Manager will be inspecting the home for accuracy to the plans and specifications and quality issues. It’s imperative that we get everything right before we go on to the drywall stage. This process takes some time, and it will seem as if nothing is happening since we have multiple contractors coming to the job to correct small items. Once all items are corrected, the inspector will re-inspect (if required by government authority) to verify compliance.
- Exterior Paint – We will want you to approve a paint sample before we paint the exterior.
- Roof installation
- Masonry installation – If you are using any special stone colors or patterns, we will want you to approve a sample before we start the work. If you are using stucco, we will need to get the paint color approved prior to painting.
- Insulation inspection (if required by government authority)
- Hang drywall
- Drywall inspection (if required by government authority)
- Tape & float drywall
- Texture – If there are any special textures, we will want you to approve a sample before we start the work.
- Set Cabinets
- Install doors & trim – It’s a good idea to meet with your Construction Manager and the trim carpenter at this stage to go over closet layouts and any specialty trim work.
- Install wood floors (if applicable)
- Interior paint – We will provide a sample of the paint and stain you have selected on the job for your approval prior to painting. The purpose of this is to make sure that the color you selected looks the way you expected. We will make up to two samples of each selection. If more samples are needed, the painter will assess a charge of $30 per sample to cover his expenses.
- Install septic system (if applicable)
- Install driveways and walks – It’s a good idea to meet with your Construction Manager when we layout the driveways and walks. It always looks different on the lot than it does on the plan.
Tile Stage (some of the items may occur during the trim stage)
- Tub & shower surrounds
- Tile floors
- Fireplace surrounds
- Install plumbing fixtures
- Install electrical fixtures
- Install HVAC condensers & grilles
- Install mirrors & shower doors
- Sand, stain & seal wood floors (if applicable)
- Install landscaping
- Install carpet
- Install pre-finished wood floors (if applicable)
Punch Out Stage
- The term “punch out” is used in our industry to describe the process of correcting all the deficient items in the home. Actually, punch out will occur on your home throughout the construction project. The reason we call this stage punch out is because everything is basically done at this point, but the home is obviously not ready to move into. As a homebuilder, keeping this punch out stage to a minimum is one of our biggest challenges.
- Final inspections
- Final walk-through – Once the home is 99% complete, your Construction Manager will schedule a final walk-through with you. The purpose of this walk-through is to demonstrate all the systems of the home to you (though by now you are probably already familiar with most of them) and identify any items that still need to be corrected. This walk-through should occur a few days before closing, which will give us the time to correct the deficiencies. Our goal is to have zero defects at the time of closing. It doesn’t benefit either of us to close on a home with a large punch list since the items only get more difficult to correct once the home is occupied. However, due to the complexity of our homes, there are typically a few incomplete items at closing due to backorders or other unforeseen circumstances. In this instance, we will make a list of the remaining items that we both agree on, sign it, and make it a part of the closing documents.