How long will it take to design my home/remodeling project?

To a large extent, the time required to design your home or remodeling project depends on how well defined your needs and ideas are when we begin the process. If you’re starting with a stock plan purchased from a plan service that you’d like us to modify, design of a new home—through detailed construction plans— is typically completed within 8 to 10 weeks. Designs that start with a clean sheet of paper can take longer. The time required to design remodeling projects depends on the scope.

How much does design cost?

We employ a licensed architect on staff responsible for design. Our custom home designs average 1% of the overall construction cost. For comparison purposes, architect fees for custom homes typically range from 8% to 15% of construction cost (source: Houzz.com); the national average is 10% (source: American Institute of Architects.) Design cost for remodeling projects depends on the scope. The "bottom line" is that when you partner with Charles Ross Homes, you'll spend less on design and have more money available to invest in the tangible aspects of your home.

Is the cost to design the home included in the cost of the home?

We produce preliminary plans at a modest cost under a Design Services Agreement. If you decide to move forward with construction of the home, the detailed construction plans and specifications required for permits are included as part of our Construction Contract price.

I’m concerned about locking myself in with a design/build company. Won’t I save money by having an architect draw my plans and then bid them around to a number of contractors?

Not according to a study by Victor Sanvido and Mark Konchar of Penn State University. They studied 351 projects across 37 states and concluded that on average, design/build projects cost 6% less, construction was 12% faster and overall delivery time (beginning of design to occupancy) was 33% faster than design-bid-build projects. When you partner with Charles Ross Homes you get a home that's a great value and you'll be able to begin enjoying it months sooner.

Can I afford you?

Better questions to ask are "Can I afford to pay for something twice?" and "Can I afford a less organized construction process by someone else that takes twice as long?" We have a proven, 32-year track record. We have processes in place to ensure projects are completed on-time, on-budget and with the level of quality our clients expect from one of the Williamsburg area's best residential builders.

I’ve retained an architect in my area to produce the plans for my home. Will you build from plans I provide?

Yes. We have built a number of homes for clients who worked with an outside architect (one home we built was designed by the clients’ son, an architect.) We were also selected by two local architects to build their personal homes based on plans they provided. Whether you choose us or an outside architect to design you home, we strongly encourage you to select a licensed professional. We also offer an integrated project delivery (IPD) option. IPD involves our early collaboration in the design process to reduce errors, cost, and overall time from design through completion of construction.

What if there are errors with the plans?

If you choose to work with an outside architect or designer, you'll need to ask them about their process for dealing with plan errors and omissions. Typically, you as the client are responsible for the cost of any errors or omissions in plans they produce. An advantage in choosing us to both design and build your home is that we remedy errors and omissions in plans we produce at our expense.

Who supplies your cabinetry, plumbing fixtures, lighting fixtures, etc.?

We've developed an extensive list of preferred suppliers based on our more than 32 years experience building in the Williamsburg area. Our objectives are to provide our clients with a range of alternatives, ensure quality products at fair prices, and ensure an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. If we're not able to obtain your preference of any item from our preferred suppliers, we'll find a supplier of the item.

Do you build homes for a fixed contract price or management-fee basis?

Both. The vast majority of our clients prefer fixed-contract pricing for their home. We will build your home on a management-fee basis if you prefer.

What size homes do you build?

The size of your home is your personal decision based on your needs and budget. We've designed and built homes from 1,200 square feet up to 11,500 square feet of finished living area. Most of our clients are "empty nesters" who choose plans with approximately 2,800 to 3,200 square feet of finished living area.

Do you ever build homes with basements?

Yes! We’ve built many homes with basements. It usually makes sense to build a basement foundation for a home on a sloping lot. A walkout basement can provide attractive lower level living space and add value to your home.

How long will it take to build/remodel my home?

The time required to build or remodel any home depends on the size and complexity of the plan, the requirements of the particular site, the materials and finishes you select, and of course, the weather during the construction process. Most of our clients are empty-nesters building a 2,800 to 3,200 square foot home. Typical construction time is six months. Larger homes, homes with basement foundations and homes with a high level of finish typically take longer to build. The time to complete a remodeling project depends on the scope. We'll be glad to provide an estimate of the time required when we meet with you.

How much will it cost to build/remodel my home?

Cost, like the time required to construct or remodel a home, depends on the size and complexity of the plan, the requirements of the particular site, and the materials and finishes selected. We understand that every client has a budget. We partner with you to design and build/remodel a home that meets your needs and respects your budget. An important difference with our process is that the cost to build your home is accurately determined early on. You never end up paying for detailed plans and specifications for a home that won't get built.

What does your “standard package” include?

Each custom home we build is a true custom home designed to meet our individual client's needs. As such, we do not have a "standard package" for our custom homes. If you choose to build one of our Signature Homes, we offer a variety of pre-priced options. Our selections coordinator will help you make informed choices about which alternatives best suit your needs and budget.

What happens if there are cost increases in materials or labor during construction?

If we are building your home for a fixed-contract price we absorb the cost of any increases in materials or labor during construction. If we are building your home on a management-fee basis, you would pay the actual cost of materials plus a management fee.

What type of heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) systems do you install”?

We have experience with a wide range of HVAC systems including high-efficiency gas furnaces, high-efficiency air conditioners, high-efficiency heat pumps, hybrid systems, passive solar, energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and geothermal (ground source) heat pumps. We typically install zone controls to enable independent termperature control of multiple areas within a home. We'll work with you in the design phase to choose the option that's right for you.

What is the cost per square foot for your homes?

This question is similar to asking "how much does it cost to put a kid through college?" or "how much does it cost to take a vacation?" The answer is "It depends--on a number of things." In the case of a home, it depends on the demands of a particular building site, the size of the home, the achitectural style, the materials of construction, the features, the quality of the trade labor used to produce the home, and so forth. When comparing different builders, a better approach is to tour homes under construction (or recently completed), look at the components, features, and quality level and ask about the cost to replicate each on your lot. Then ask about their service--how do they ensure your vision of "home" is achieved throughout the process?

How many homes do you build each year?

We are staffed to build approximately 6-8 homes each year and complete a variety of remodeling projects, depending on the scope and project locations. Each project is closely supervised to ensure quality, cost, and schedule objectives are achieved.

What are cost allowances?

Cost allowances are good-faith estimates of the cost of various client selections (carpeting, appliances, tile, etc.) that have not been made at the time we enter into a Construction Agreement. Allowances are like a checkbook for any such items. If your selections cost less than the allowance, you receive a credit for the difference at settlement. If your selections cost more than the allowance, you are responsible to pay the difference.

Do you have your own crews or do you employ subcontractors?

We partner with the best local trade professionals (our trade partners) to perform many of the construction tasks. Each of our trade partners have worked with us for a number of years and know our quality standards. All on-site supervision and project coordinator is performed by our staff.

Do the same crews build each home?

For the most part we employ the same trade partners on each home we build. Since most of our trade partners are small firms, we maintain two trade partners for long duration tasks such as framing and masonry work.

Do you have different quality standards for different size/cost homes?

No. We have a single standard for quality in all homes we produce regardless of cost or size.

We need help making selections. Can you assist us?

We have an interior designer who works with you to help reduce the stress of making selections.

Can I make changes during construction?

With us, you may request changes at any time during construction. The feasibility of implementing any change will depend on when the change is requested. Please keep in mind that changes typically affect both the cost and construction schedule. Changes affecting the home's exterior usually need to be reviewed and approved by the architectural review committee in your community prior to implementation. Structural changes may require re-engineering and review by code compliance officials prior to implementing the change. If you wish to change your selection of a component that is already on order, a restocking fee may apply.

What does it cost to implement a change?

Some changes can be implemented at little or no cost. For example, if you ask us to change the location of a light fixture, electrical receptacle or change the swing of a door during the framing walk through. Changes that alter the scope of the project or that require review and approval by an architectural review board or re-inspection by code compliance usually involve additional cost. Before implementing any change we’ll advise you of the cost and obtain your approval.

Do your homes come with a warranty?

Each new home we build is covered by a limited warranty. A copy of our warranty is provided for your information as part of the construction documents and included in the home Maintenance and Warranty manual you receive upon completion of your home.

What is the architectural review process?

Most communities have a defined process for architectural review of your intended home plans. The process is normally outlined in documents provided by the developer or homeowner’s association. While the process varies from community to community, it typically involves review of your plans, specifications, exterior colors and materials and your site development plan by an architectural review board. You are responsible for the cost of the review.

Can I supply some of the items for my home?

In general, it works best if we supply all components for your home. Client-supplied items require additional logistics for shipping to ensure we have them available right before we need them. We will gladly accommodate your request to install selected items such as a Foyer or Dining Room chandelier from your former home provided the fixture(s) meets local code requirements. Please note that any items you supply are not covered under our limited warranty; you would need to work directly with the manufacturer if there are any issues.

Can I do some of the work myself?

For safety reasons and to ensure the on-time delivery of your home, we cannot permit you to perform any of the work during construction. We will, at your request-- and subject to the limitations required to obtain a certificate of occupancy for the home-- leave portions of the home for you to complete after move-in.

I’d like to defer moving to Williamsburg until after my home is built. How many times do I need to visit during construction?

About half our clients continue to live outside the Williamsburg area during construction of their custom home. We suggest at a minimum that you plan to join us for three walk-through inspections during construction: 1.) When framing is substantially complete, please plan to attend a framing walkthrough at which we review the placement of all windows, doors, door swings, location of electrical receptacles, lighting fixtures, heating/cooling supply and return grills, etc. before rough-in. 2.) When drywall is completed, please plan to join us for a post-drywall, pre-paint walk-through to review the specific interior trim pre-selected for each room and to approve interior paint color samples applied by our painter, and 3.) About a week prior to completion of your home, please plan to join us for a punch list walk-through to identify any incomplete items or quality issues. Prior to your move-in, we’ll perform a pre-settlement inspection with you to verify that all punch list items are complete.

How are payments made during construction?

We request payment after key milestones are achieved during construction. The amount to be paid for any item is listed on our construction draw schedule. If you are financing your home, we make draw requests directly to your lender and provide a copy for your records. When the lender receives our request, they schedule an inspector to verify the work is completed prior to authorizing payment. We also inform your mechanic’s lien agent (a local real estate attorney) when we request a construction draw. Your mechanic’s lien agent ensures that the title to your property is free of any construction liens before payment is made.

Do you competitively bid jobs?

Unless you have a comprehensive set of architect-produced construction plans (the cost of which is typically 10% of the construction cost), it is virtually impossible to ensure true, competitive bids on your project. We believe that a better approach is to collaborate on an open-book basis so you can make informed choices about the components, systems, and finishes that best meet your needs. John McLean, a San Franciso based architect provides some helpful insights on the topic http://www.johnmcleanarchitect.net/buildingAdvice.04.html That said, we do competitively bid projects provided our schedule permits and the other bidders are builders who provide a comparable level of quality and service.

Will I get the best price with Charles Ross Homes?

We understand that for most people a home is their largest single purchase. Our focus is helping our clients get the best value for their investment—which is not the same as the lowest initial price.

How long have you been in business?

Charles Ross Homes is the trade name for Charles W. Ross, Builder, Inc. which was established as a Virginia corporation in 1983.

How big is your company?

We employ a team of four full-time and two part-time employees.

What kind of work do you prefer?

We prefer to work on well-designed projects within a 50 mile drive from our office. We have a particular interest in "green" projects that are energy-efficient and make use of low-maintenance materials of construction.