OUR PROCESS 2017-05-21T05:43:51+00:00

OUR PROCESS

We’ve been building new custom homes for satisfied clients since 1994, so we’ve seen just about every
circumstance imaginable. Most of us at Sendero live in custom homes our company constructed.
So we know the process from both sides and believe we’ve developed a streamlined system that allows our homeowners to be as involved as they choose to be – whether that means personally selecting every electrical fixture or simply approving choices from a fixed menu of possibilities. We have assembled an expert professional team, selected a remarkable array of top-notch vendors, and built a responsive support staff to guide you every step of the way. Why? Because we want you to be completely comfortable in choosing Sendero to build an exquisite home that is uniquely yours. We won’t be completely satisfied until you are. From conception to completion there are six main phases in a custom home building project (click the “+” to open/close):

Our first meeting will be a detailed examination of your design ideas and budget considerations. We’ll need to look at lot-size and terrain restrictions, try to optimize views and site lines and identify the unique qualities of your project. We always like to settle on a homesite before beginning the design. In Austin, the rugged nature of our topography sometimes requires special construction techniques, and we can offer sound advice on the best footprint for your custom home. We’ll show you examples of floorplans we’ve already built and ask some fairly detailed questions about what materials and features you want to incorporate.

There are a couple of support documents that will affect the design of your new home:
Your lot information, including subdivision deed restrictions, and
a survey of your lot or a plat of the subdivision.

Photos or magazine clippings you’ve collected – or an “ideabook” at Houzz – can help us decide together on a aesthetic approach. The more we can home in on your lifestyle and the mood you want to create, the easier it will be to find the appropriate design.

Shortly after this first meeting, we’ll be able offer you a general estimate of how much your new custom home will cost.

We have several architects we frequently collaborate with on custom homes in Central Texas. We have also worked with many other fine Austin-area design firms and are completely comfortable working with the architect of your choice. We suggest that you ask any architectural candidate to show you recent designs that compare with yours in size and style. Take a face-to-face interview; portfolio samples and printed brochures can’t tell you whether there’s positive chemistry between you and the person who will bring your custom home to life.
Ultimately, your home’s design is shaped by three key variables:
1) price;
2) size
, and
3) specifications: the materials and features that go into your home.

As a buyer, you can only realistically expect to control two of these three elements:
• If you want to control price and size, you need to be flexible on specifications.
• If you have a fixed price point and very strong ideas about materials and finish-out, that will limit the size house you can build.
• And finally, if size and specifications are most important to you, your final price will vary. (We’re still looking for a supplier that sells Viking appliances at Whirlpool prices!)
To get the most value for your money, it’s important to be thorough and specific in the design phase. Some ideas that look great on paper may create cost overruns when they’re implemented in the field. Often there are minor modifications in the architectural drawings that can save tens of thousands of dollars during construction. That’s where Sendero Homes – with almost 100 years of combined homebuilding experience in the Austin luxury home market – can greatly benefit our clients. We take pride in our ability to negotiate engineering and technical minefields during the design stages of a custom home project, updating the specifications and the preliminary budget so costs don’t get out of hand. Because Sendero Homes is so intimately involved in the design portion of the project, a deposit for preconstruction services will be required, with the amount dependent on the scope of the project. The deposit is non-refundable but it will be deducted from the total price of your home when we sign a residential construction contract.

Once architect’s plans are finished, we can finalize the residential construction contract. This is the legal document that spells out precisely what we will build for what price and in what timeframe. As a general practice in our industry, there are two ways to craft a pricing policy:
1) fixed price, or
2) cost plus, where we provide invoices outlining actual expenses plus a percentage of cost for our supervision, overhead and profit.
We work equally well with each method and are comfortable with whichever you prefer.

The typical contract includes:
1) the contract and all exhibits and addenda.
2) the architectural drawings;
3) specifications.
These documents define the three most important aspects of our contract:
1) the purchase price and the pricing basis (fixed or cost-plus);
2) a description of exactly what we’re going to build;
3) a detailed description of what features and materials go into what we’re going to build.

In a typical custom home project, our client has already purchased a lot and we contract to build improvements on that lot. If a client purchases one of our inventory lots, there will be a separate lot-sales contract. This approach allows our clients to take out the interim construction loan in their name and, in most cases, write off the interest against their income taxes.

Change orders
We had a client once who showed us a photo of a capricious builder standing next to a large boat with the boat’s small dinghy floating alongside. The dinghy was named “Original Contract;” the large boat was named “Change Order!” That’s the unfortunate – and unrealistic – image most buyers have of the term “change order.”

The reality is that change orders are inefficient, time-consuming and seldom benefit our company or our customer. Change orders can have a “ripple effect” on the project as a whole that is very difficult to predict. Certainly some changes can be easily accommodated, however, others can be surprisingly complex, resulting in additional expenses and delays.

So we stress the importance of getting as many ideas as possible incorporated into final architectural plans; this helps minimize the need for change orders. That said, we have never yet built a custom home without a change order … and we likely never will. Essentially, each change order is in itself a new contract. Overhead charges for change orders will be assessed based on the time, risk and overall effect the change order has on the project. Change orders will be priced out at cost plus overhead and profit.

Before we can make any physical changes to your lot there are some boring, but necessary, mechanical and permitting requirements. Fortunately most of them occur simultaneously:
energy load calculations: Energy-efficiency calculations for the heating/cooling and electrical systems will be completed by our contractors. This step is required to apply for the building permit in some jurisdictions.
building permit: can take anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on your governing body.
closing on lot and/or interim financing: If you have been pre-qualified this process should take two to four weeks. We have several preferred lenders we can recommend construction financing.
architectural control approval (if applicable): Once the architect’s plans are finished, we will provide the architectural control committee (ACC) of your subdivision with copies for approval. In some cases, the ACC may request modifications; if so, we will address those changes promptly and make the necessary adjustments in the contract. This can take up to four weeks.
septic permit (if applicable): Approval will take three to six weeks depending on the municipality and the complexity of your septic system.
The most exciting part of building a custom home is picking all the great stuff to go in it. In today’s market, there’s an almost limitless list of wonderful options – from practical and functional to wildly luxurious and exotic. Granite countertops. Faux painting techniques. Cantera columns. High-tech appliances. Wrought iron railings. Creative tile designs. It’s this phase of the project that applies your singular signature to your dream home. Enjoy it.

Often our clients find the sheer number of options overwhelming. We recommend that you consult an interior designer. We have several in-house designers or you can hire your own.

ALLOWANCES. Just a brief word of warning. Before you fall in love with that crystal chandelier, we suggest that you look through your construction contract budget. We’ve included “allowances” – suggested price guidelines – that are typical for homes in your size and price range. These estimates compare favorably to the amount we would spend if we were building your home as a “spec house.”

We have carefully selected a trusted group of suppliers to aid your selection process. Please visit them before we execute a construction contract to be sure your allowances will meet your expectations. Of course you can exceed the allowance if you can’t live without that built-in custom latte press. But this is where most homebuyers tend to bust the budget. If you exceed a stated allowance, the overage will be assessed.

SELECTION DEADLINES. We can’t stress enough how critical selection deadlines are to the construction timeline. Some of these deadlines may seem early or arbitrary, but many items must be priced, custom-made, ordered in advance or shipped from distant locations. It can take weeks or even months to receive some of them. Selection deadlines are divided into four stages:
pre-construction: for most exterior masonry, entryway and roofing materials and colors. Plumbing fixtures need to be selected and some flooring options as well. See details. (Due 30 days after executing a residential construction contract)
framing: decisions on appliances, lighting, architectural stone, hardwood floors, sheetrock, cabinets electronic/security systems and water features. See details. (Due 30 days after the foundation is poured)
foundation: as well as slab countertops, all manner of tile, garage doors, and railings – inside and out. (Due at foundation installation and prior to sheetrock being hung.)
sheetrock: for carpet; shower area metal, glass and mirrors; interior colors; door and cabinet hardware; rain gutters; landscaping. See details. (Due on completion of sheetrock texture and before cabinets are installed)

We know your time is valuable, so we’ll provide you with a list of approved vendors and their contact information. The schedule should give you plenty of time to choose carefully. To make the best use of your time and the vendor’s, it’s wise to make an appointment. That allows the supplier to focus solely on your project. PLEASE NOTE that only the vendors on the list may be used in the construction of your home. We enforce rigorous adherence to certain qualifications and certifications for our subcontractors. We can’t always be certain that other providers meet those standards. We think you’ll find everything you need, but if our vendors cannot offer the goods or services you need, we will find a source from our growing network of specialty providers. Please work directly with your project manager to find an approved provider.

We encourage our clients to be involved during the construction process. And while we go to great lengths to clarify things in written plans and specifications, we find things go more smoothly if we stay in close contact throughout the build. Your project manager should be your main contact; he can be reached by phone and email. We also provide a secure online project tracking service that shows recent progress photos, selections and agreed upon changes to the final plans.

By the end of the building phase, we will have gotten to know each other pretty well. Usually that’s a good thing! We maintain long-term relationships with many of our clients, so Sendero is their homebuilder of choice when they build another custom home. This is not to say there will not be challenges during construction. Custom homes are unique and are often created from floorplans that are being built for the first time. There are thousands of moving parts in building a custom home. All homes are designed and built with imperfect materials by imperfect people. To date we have not built a perfect one … and don’t know of anyone who has. When the inevitable challenges arise, we will gladly work with you to find a solution that is fair for all parties. Ours is a commitment to open communication; it has served Sendero well — as our long list of satisfied customers will attest.

STAGES OF CONSTRUCTION – Timing may vary depending on complexity, but the order of stages generally stays the same.

1) Lot clearance and site preparation. We meet at your site to discuss lot cuts, trees to be saved and your overall vision of the project site.
2) Foundation
3) Framing. Your vision starts to become real! You get a feel for room sizes and the flow of the floorplan. Windows and exterior doors are installed.
4) Rough-in mechanicals
• Plumbing topout
• HVAC rough
• Electrical rough – Your project manager walks the house with you to verify positions for light fixtures, electrical boxes and switches. Positions can usually be changed for a minimal charge as long as the flow of construction is not disrupted.
• Low-voltage: your telephone, TV, security, stereo and home theater needs. Our contractor will meet with you on-site to provision each room.
5) Pre-drywall
• Mechanical and framing inspections – A government or third-party inspector will examine your home and note corrections needed to meet building codes. Due to the custom nature and the complexity of our homes, there are almost always items to correct. These corrections must be made before proceeding. After an initial flurry of activity progress may slow during this time.
• Exterior paint – We can prepare up to three samples for your inspection and will need your approval before proceeding. There will be a charge for additional samples.
• Roof installation
• Stucco – We can prepare up to three samples and will need approval to continue. There will be a charge for additional samples.
• Stone – We can prepare up to three samples will need approval to continue. There will be a charge for additional samples.
• Insulation – Several types are available with a range in cost and energy efficiency. Your project manager can advise you on pros and cons.
6) Drywall. If special textures are wanted, we will need you to approve a sample before we begin work.
7) Cabinets, trim and interior doors
• Cabinets installed.
• Interior doors installed.
• Interior trim installed.
8) Tile
• Floors, backsplashes installed.
9) Interior paint and stain. We can prepare up to five samples and will need approval before applying. There will be a charge for additional samples. Please keep in mind that once paint covers a large wall area it will appear darker than the sample. Our typical contract allows three paint colors and one stain color. Additional colors cost $300 each.
10) Driveways. Your project manager will meet you on site to verify driveway layout. With the house under construction it will be easier to assess ingress and egress needs. There may be ways to improve the driveway or save trees.
11) Setouts
• Plumbing fixtures installed.
• Electrical fixtures installed.
• HVAC condensers and grilles installed.
• Landscaping and plants installed.
12) Flooring
• Carpets installed.
• Glue-down wood floors installed.
13) Punchout. By this time the house is basically complete, but a number of miscellaneous deficiencies are being remedied, such as paint touch up, drywall repair, door and drawer adjustment and a thorough cleaning. Our goal is to complete all punch items before you move in because it’s much tougher to correct blemishes once you’ve moved in. However, due to the complexity of many of our homes, a few minor items typically need to be addressed after you’re in your new home. For this step, both parties agree to and sign a list of the remaining items before closing.
14) Final walk-through. Prior to closing, your project manager will schedule a final walk through with you to discuss any questions you have regarding your new home and identify any deficiencies that remain. The walk-through will take place several days prior to closing, which gives us time to make the fixes.
15) Closing and move-in. Congratulations!! You have worked hard and made what feels like a thousand decisions and you are now ready to spend your first night in your new Sendero custom home.

Your new home comes with a limited warranty, which includes the following coverage periods:
1) For a period of one (1) year, the workmanship and materials shall be free from construction defects;
2) For a period of two (2) years, the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning delivery systems shall be free from construction defects;
3) For a period of ten (10) years, the major structural components shall be free from construction defects.
Please review the documentation provided by Sendero Homes for specific details of the coverage included in the purchase price of your new home. At closing you will be provided with a warranty binder that includes the manufacturer’s warranties to many of the items included in your home. Also included in your warranty binder will be a list of most of the subcontractors that worked on your home for your records.

WARRANTY NOTIFICATION: At closing, you will be given a warranty request form. If a warranty issue arises, you can fill out the form and submit it to us via fax or email. Except for emergencies, during the first year warranty service will be scheduled for two dates:
1) approximately one month after you have been living in your new home, and
2) after you’ve been in your house for eleven months.
Although a thorough punch-out will be performed on your new home, a few minor items may need to be addressed once you have been living there. Scheduling time for our clients to open their home for multiple days to do warranty work can be inconvenient. To minimize the upheaval for our clients and our subcontractors we will make every effort to schedule your one- and eleven-month warranty adjustments on individual days.

Shall we get started?