Frequently Asked Questions
It’s our job at Christaldi Builder’s to make it as easy as possible for you to build a home or make home improvements. Please take a look at this FAQ page and if you need help, feel free to call us!
Q: How do I get financing to build a custom home?
A: Paying cash is the easiest way, of course, which some clients do, but let’s face it – that’s not always an option for most people. The next best way is to get a construction loan. If you have already been pre-qualified for a construction loan with a lender you trust, that’s great! We’re happy to work with them.
Q: I’m pre-approved for a loan. So, where do I start?
A: The first step is to find the land which will work best for you to build your new home and buy it. Then it’s time to start talking to builders. Once you've pick your builder, talk to them about your budget, your ideas for designs, and more. Then hire the builder you want to work with and start building!
Q: Do I need home owner’s insurance when building a home?
A: Yes. If you're having a custom home built, you'll need a home owner’s insurance policy before construction begins. This is important so that you’ll have liability coverage as well as coverage in case of a fire or storm damage.
Q: What kinds of architectural styles do you offer?
A: Just about any style you can think of. We don’t just work off a fixed set of floor plans, and we’re not limited to certain styles that we’ve done in the past.
Q: How can I find out which architectural style is right for my home?
A: Some people come to us with a very clearly defined idea of exactly what they want, including having made choices on paint colors, materials, styles, home layouts, and more. And some don’t have any idea and that’s ok! It’s our job to get to know you, and what you like.
Q: How much do solar power systems cost?
A: This is a question that has an exceptionally complex answer, not because we want to be evasive, but because the answer is honestly: “it depends.” Solar systems, like a custom home, are not a “one size fits all” purchase.
There are a few things that need to be taken into account when considering a solar power system for your home, including:
The size of the home: how many square feet is your home, and what kind of layout does it have? It’s not enough to just know the total size of the home—we also need to know the floor plan. As an example, there’s a difference in what we can do with a 4,000 sq ft home that’s all on one level versus a home with 2,000 sq ft on a main level and a 2,000 sq ft basement.
The number of people living in the home: the size of your family has a direct impact on your energy consumption, so we’d need to know that in order to determine what your energy needs would be.
The lifestyle of those living in the home: above and beyond the number of residents in the house, how do the people who live there use the home? Does everyone leave the house at 8:00am and go to work and/or school, leaving the house empty all day? Or do you have someone who works from home, or elderly folks who stay at home during the day time? Is everyone in the house good at turning off all the lights when they leave the room, or do you let light bulbs burn all day when nobody’s home?
Your goals as a home owner: why is it that you want solar power in the first place? To minimize your environmental impact? To save money? To live off-grid? All the above, or another reason altogether? All of these factor in heavily not only on whether solar energy is right for you home in general, but what kind of system will work best for you, if at all. For example, if you want to live off-grid but have large electrical appliances, you may need a very large and expensive system.
The life stage of the occupants and future plans for the home: will this be the home you spend the rest of your days in, or are you planning on moving again in ten years? It may not make sense to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a system that only starts paying you back in 25 years if you’re only planning to live in the home for ten years.
The need for energy storage, if any: will you be able to sell back excess electricity you don’t need to the utility company? Will you need batteries to store it?
All of these questions need to be considered (and answered) as part of the overall design of your home’s solar system.
Having said all that, generally speaking, a residential solar photovoltaic (solar PV) system is somewhere between 2,000 and 10,000 watts, depending upon the needs and goals of the owner. For argument’s sake, an “average” home would handle most of its electrical needs with a 5KW system. As of this writing, a Solar PV system costs about $5/watt, installed. So you can count on this average size system costing around $25,000.
There are a number of factors that affect the final cost of the system, including:
Builder markup of the system. Builders have to install and warranty the system, of course, so they’ll charge for that.
Federal tax credits available, if any. As of this writing, there is a 30% Federal Tax Credit for the cost of a Solar PV system, but this is subject to change at any time and you’ll want to ask a CPA before relying on this.
Local utility provider rebates. In most areas, utility companies offer rebates for Solar PV systems. Again, the amount and availability of these rebates can vary dramatically by year and location, so check with your local utility company.
Projected buyback of electricity by the utility provider, if any. Some utilities will “buy back” the electricity you generate but don’t need.
Q: Should I buy land before contacting a builder, or talk to a builder before I buy land?
A: As a custom home builder, our business model is such that we generally work with clients who already own land and we build on their lot. However, it can be advantageous to contact a builder while you’re still researching land, as he can help you get a better idea of the kind of land you’ll want to build on. Ultimately though, the land you end up with will dictate much about your home’s design. So while it may be obvious that we can’t start building a home until you have a place to build it, what might not be so obvious—but is just as important to know—that we really can’t design a home either until we know exactly what kind of building conditions we’ll have.
Q: Can I save money by building my own home instead of hiring a builder?
A: Generally speaking, most people will not see the kinds of savings they’re hoping for by trying to build a home without hiring a General Contractor. In addition, your lender might not be too happy about financing a self-built home, and many banks have rules against lending for a first-time self-built home. The same rules will apply to you when building your own home: while you won’t need a General Contractors license, you’ll still need to pull permits, have insurance, maintain good bookkeeping, pay your subcontractors, submit draw requests to the bank, prevent liens from being put on the property, etc.
Q: Can I save money by choosing an existing set of plans instead of going through the custom design process?
A: While this is seems logical, our experience over the years has shown that the cost savings between creating a custom design versus choosing a “stock” home plan is basically a wash in the end. i.e. there’s really no cost savings at all.
Here’s why: stock plans are designed to fit a general list of requirements to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. With a plan that’s this generic, you’ll usually find yourself trying to fit your family and your lifestyle into a home that wasn’t designed with you in mind. So think about it this way: when you’re building a home, every additional square foot costs you lots of dollars (the national average is about $120/sq ft). With this in mind, if your home has just 100 square feet of wasted space in the stock floor plans, you’ve just paid $12,000 for extra room you’ll never use. Building a custom home avoids having this unnecessary square footage in the first place, so while you may spend $5,000-$15,000 on a custom set of plans, you don’t have to build a home from a plan you like but that has 200 square feet more than you need. So if we can save you that 200 square feet, you’ve just avoided spending $24,000. This is a good thing, right?
Q: Can I save money by doing some of the work myself?
A: It depends. In all honestly, we occasionally do let a home owner do some of the work when building their home, but not to save money. Most of the time, it’s because the home owner wants to feel invested; like he or she really got to be a part of the building process and put some sweat into the house itself.
However, some people misunderstand how costs are calculated when building a home, so they think that if they take a small portion of the work off the General Contractor’s plate, big bucks can be saved. In truth, there’s very little savings to be had by the kinds of tasks a home owner is able to offer. Plus, it’s also important to remember that we as a builder are liable to build everything properly, and put a warranty on all of our work, so if we make a mistake, we fix it, at our cost. Whereas, if a home owner makes even a very small mistake, any of the intended costs savings could be lost, and the home owner would be liable to fix the mistake.
Q: What kind of warranty do you offer?
A: We think you’ll love our home warranty. Quick answer: we offer a 10 year home warranty as offered by the state of New Jersey.
Do you have a model home or showroom I can drop by?
A: Since Christaldi Builder’s is a custom builder, we don’t have a model home for you to drop by, and we don’t have a showroom of products. The main reason we don’t have a model home is simple: we don’t build spec homes (homes built speculatively, hoping someone will buy it later), we just build for clients we already have a contract with. However, if you’d like to see some of the homes we’ve built in the past, just contact us and we will be happy to take you on a tour of one of our recent builds. (Most of clients are good friends, and love showing off the home we built for them).
Q: What size home is too small (or too big) for you? And what size budgets?
A: The answer to this question is heavily dependent on our current workload. For example, if we’re building eight 3,000 square foot homes at the same time (like we did in summer of 2013), we probably won’t be able to build a 1,000 square foot cabin that’s an hour outside of town. However, in leaner times, we just might. As a basic rule of thumb, our sweet spot for homes is generally 2,000 square feet or larger, and we can generally work with people with budgets starting at $300,000. If you need something much smaller than that, or for a tighter budget, there are some other builders in town who specialize in building tract homes or semi-custom homes that might be a better fit for you and we’d be happy to recommend a few for you to talk to.
Q: I was having my house built but my builder went bankrupt. Can you help me?
A: We sure can, and it’s unfortunate, but we’ve had to perform a number of “salvage” jobs in the past like this. We get calls from time to time from a distraught homeowner who can’t get his builder to call him back, or sometimes we’ll even get a call from a homeowner who says “I had to fire my builder…. but my house is half-way done. Can you finish it?” — we’re happy to help.