Craig Williams on May 8th, 2011

A recent article in the Mobile Press Register featured a custom home I’m in the process of building for a couple. Though the request of a tornado safe room, storm shelter, inside-residence-shelter or other terms used, may have seemed different at the time-it now resonates as a smart safety decision in lieu of recent tornadoes in the State of Alabama (one within a few miles of the couples home).

Call it what you like, but extremely safe is what it is. Imagine a 5′ feet by 6 feet that is your master closet.  Six-inch poured concrete walls are reinforced with steel for strength. And an extra thick door with interior bolts to prevent wind pressure from pulling the door out. More of the article on this safe room can be found in Sunday’s Mobile Press Register Real Estate section. I have featured some pictures below.

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Craig Williams on October 26th, 2010

Seasons are changing and it is always a good reminder to make some annual home maintenance. Below I’ve offered a few tips that will help your home maintain its new condition and value.

  • Check your air filters associated with your heating and air system. I recommend changing air filters every 3-4 months or when they look dirty, which ever comes sooner.
  • Check gutters and keep them cleaned of falling leaves and debris.
  • Check and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Cover outdoor spigots not used on a regular basis. Foam insulation covers can be purchased at your local home improvement store that hold up to weather conditions and offer better protection than a simple towel or sheet.
  • Check the weather stripping around every outside door and window. Changes in temperature and humidity level cause doors and windows to expand and contract. Normal settling of a house sometimes changes the alignment of the windows and doors slightly, resulting in misalignment of the weather stripping. Over time, the weather stripping can also deteriorate from normal wear and natural element, such as the summer heat. In the fall, it should be checked for deterioration and/or alignment and replaced, if necessary. This will help to keep cold air out and the heat air in.

These simple and quick maintenance tips for your new home will keep your new custom home looking new for years to come! These easy steps will also prevent larger problems from occuring, such as, busted water pipes, mold, mildew and pesking insects from your home, not to mention some energy savings along the way. 

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Craig Williams on October 9th, 2010

Considering the amount of customer interest I hear about building homes with a bonus room, I would say; “Yes, a bonus room is a very good investment if you’re building a new home”. 

If you’re not familiar with the term “bonus room”, what I’m refering to is an extra room that has been added to a primarily one-storey home (almost always over the garage area).  Bonus rooms are commonly about 14′-15′ wide and range from 300 to 450 square feet, depending on the size of the garage area underneath.  Most do not have closets, so they are not considered “bedrooms”.  However, closets can easily be added to the stairway landing area, thus making this bonus room function as an extra bedroom if needed. 

 A few of the obvious reasons why I like  bonus rooms:

  • Bonus rooms are good for families with children that need a playroom, an entertainment room, or media room. 
  • Bonus rooms can serve as a bedroom for a growing family or for older children still living at home. 
  • Bonus rooms are great guest bedrooms for visiting friends or family. 
  • Bonus rooms make great hobby rooms for activities such as sewing rooms or a place to put the pool table. 

There are also a couple of less-than-obvious reasons why I like to build houses with bonus rooms: 

  1. bonus rooms are a very cost effective way to gain square footage in a primarily one-storey house. 
  2. Living space is expanded without adding to the amount of concrete and asphalt shingles required in the construction of the home (two of the primary categories for current cost increases in new construction).
  3. Most of your added construction cost will be in the construction of the staircase and framing of the room, however, this addition of a stairway also provides for additional storage space on the first floor of the .  This can either be in the form of a deep, under-the-stairwell closet or the more popular sitting-bench alcove for the family shoes and school bags.  (See Right)

Think about this “nook” the next time you open a Pottery Barn catalog and see this type of charming, under-the-stair alcove featured on every other page – probably a safe bet this feature will boost both the character and resale value of your new home!

Craig Williams, custom home builder in residential construction for J. Craig Homes

J. Craig Homes builds custom homes in Mobile, AL, Daphne, AL, Spanish Fort, AL, Fairhope, AL, Semmes, AL and West Mobile, AL and other areas located inside Mobile and Baldwin Counties of Alabama.

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Beginning this year the EPA is stepping up regulations and laws regarding the handling and containment practices that renovators and painters must take when working in homes that possibly contain lead paint.  I will go more in depth with the actual details of the new laws in subsequent blogs, but I just want to quickly address the three most common questions that people are asking me regarding lead paint. 

  1.  Why is lead paint considered dangerous?  This is because lead paint poses health risks.  Most health risks are for children 6 years old and younger.   It drastically affects children’s nervous systems and mental development.  It can also affect adults in these areas, but to a lesser degree.
  2.  Does my home have lead paint?  Lead paint was officially outlawed in 1978.  However, lead paint was being phased out as early as the 1960s. 

Stats of chance your house having lead paint based on the year it was built:

  •   1920s-1940s you have an 80% chance of your home having lead paint
  • 1950′s - 60% chance  of your home having lead paint
  • 1960′s -25% chance of your home having lead paint
  • 1970-1978 - 10% chance of your home having lead paint

 

3. Why did old paint have lead added?  Lead enhances paints color and adds durability.  Actually, during the 1920s Dutch Boy Paint was the best selling paint brand in the USA.  Dutch Boy Paint’s popularity was fueled by their advertising slogan at the time, “The Most Lead for Your Money !”.  Looking back, how bizarre does that marketing pitch sound!?

If you are considering remodeling an older home that may potentially have lead paint,  you will need to hire a remodeling contractor that is an EPA Lead paint certified renovator.

Looking for Lead Safe Certified Remodeler in Mobile, AL contact Craig Williams of J. Craig Homes

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I found the article below very interesting. It is written from a UK perspective, but good advice is universal. This advice can very well be used for any location including finding a local home builders in Mobile, Alabama which is where I build custom new homes. I cannot say that local home builders are to the point where we can provide custom new home quotes without visiting the lot or meeting the new home buyers, but it does give entertainment to the thought that one day finding a local builder will be only over the Internet as detailed below. Nonetheless still great advice when picking a local home builder. 

Now that using the internet makes it much easier to find a tradesman than ever before it is still worth pointing out some basic rules which will allow us to hire a good builder and get the job done without any hassles or problems:

1) Use a trustworthy site. Like everything else on the internet, there are good, bad and indifferent sites. Finding, and then sticking to, a reliable, recommended website will make your transactions a lot easier and more trouble free.

2) Get a good price. One of the main reasons for using the internet is to get a better builder’s quote than before. You may not know how much the job you need done should reasonably cost, so an auction type site, where local builders bid on your job, makes it easier for you compare the quotes given and choose the one which suits you.

3) Make your life easier. Another top reason for finding builders online is the ease which it should offer you in the whole transaction. If registering, posting your ad and contracting a tradesman take a whole lot more time than doing it the traditional way then you are losing one of the big benefits which the internet offers. Look for a site which is easy to use and understand.

4) Find a local builder. It’s no good finding a tradesman who will do the job for a good price and then discovering that he lives in Nowheresville, Arizona. If you live in London you need to find a London builder.

5) Check customer reviews. One of the great things about internet buying is the ability to read customer reviews and then add your own comments. This applies to choosing good builders just as it does to buying music or furniture.

6) Make sure of the insurance. Depending upon the work you need done checking the liability insurance offered by the contractor you want to hire may be a priority for you.

7) Check the time needed for the job. No one wants to live with a builder forever (except builder’s wives, I suppose) so checking the time needed for the job is an important point.

8) Get a start date that suits. You may be happy with the overall time frame quoted but you won’t be so happy if the job doesn’t start until next year.

9) Security. Like all internet transactions you need to look for a site which protects your information and doesn’t leave you exposed to identity theft
or fraud.

10) Find a builder with credentials. The cheapest quote isn’t always the best. Hiring through the internet gives you the opportunity to check the tradesman or company’s affiliation to quality standard schemes and also investigate how long the business has been going.

Once you have found a site which meets all of these points then you will find that the job of finding and hiring a local builder is easier than ever. To make your life that bit simpler I have done some research and can recommend Mr-Skill.co.uk as being a website which will help you meet with all of these basic requirements and which you should be happy with.

The author is a Home improvement who works for a UK home improvement magazine. He possesses an excellent knowledge about how to find local builders online in the UK.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Stacy_Monahan
http://EzineArticles.com/?10-Things-to-Check-When-Looking-For-a-Local-Builder-Online&id=4696370

J Craig Homes is a local builders in mobile al he can provide a low quote on building your new home.

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Craig Williams on October 9th, 2010

Granite countertops are one of the main features that are found in quality built custom homes.  This countertop material has been popular for several years and looks to continue being popular for the forseeable future.  It has an elegant appearance and is a very reliable and functional material to use in your kitchen or bath.  However, in order to be an educated consumer, there are several things to know and several myths to dispell about this building material.   Several basic things to know about granite are:

Granite comes in two basic thicknesses, 2 cm and 3 cm.  It is my opinion that 3cm is worth the extra money.  It’s less than a 10% upgrade in cost but it has a much more substantial appearance.  When thinking resale value, most consumers are impressed by the thicker granite, even if they don’t quite realize what is contributing to the kitchen having a more upscale appearance.  The thicker granite also holds a better edge, meaning that a bullnose, bevel, minature bevel, etc finish on the edge will have a better feel and appearance than with a 2cm countertop. 

The price of granite has become more affordable during the past few years.  The average kitchen has 70 sq ft of countertop.  This would put the average 3cm granite in the $3000-$3500 price range.  Comparably, the same kitchen in laminate would cost 50% less, but the price difference now puts granite as an upgrade for only an additional $1500-$1750. 

Granite remnants are perfect for smaller bathrooms and are usually sold at an affordable price from the local granite distributor. 

The most popular misconception about granite is that granite is high maintance and needs to be sealed periodically.  This is completely not true.  Although granite can be sealed (the process is similar to waxing a car and the sealant can be purchased at any Home Depot or Lowe’s) most quality granites are now resin-coated.  This means that structurally, the granite is no longer a “porous” material and does not need to be periodically sealed in order to keep the stone’s integrity or appearance.  And, yes, resin-coated granite will prevent water marks from forming……just in case you were wondering!

The best website I have found to do research about granite (as well as debunking misconceptions about granite) is the Marble Institute of America (MIA) website at http://www.marble-institute.com/.

J Craig Homes custom builder talks about the truths and misconceptions behind the famous building material granite.

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Craig Williams on October 9th, 2010

The joy and primary reason for choosing to custom build your home is that you will be able to create your home based on your lifestyle and give it your personal touch.  Your home will be 100% YOU!  Contrary to what you may originally be thinking-custom building can be an affordable process and is not limited to big budgets. Besides some of the obvious methods  for customizing your home, such as,paint colors, cabinetry, brick color, shingle color, etc… the below list are some common ways to affordably customize your new home:

  1. Trim & Moldings – There are many different styles and options in this category.  Do you want a high level of detail in your trim or simple crown moldings and base boards?  Is your style Craftsman, Colonial, etc.  Do you want your trim painted satin or gloss?
  2. Kitchen Backsplash – The average kitchen has 70 sq ft of counter space.  This means that an average backsplash would cost between $500-$1000 depending on the type of tile you choose.  Again, you can be as creative as you want because of the  virtually endless options in the tile category. 
  3. Bathroom Counter Tops – Use remnant pieces.  These are usually discounted by the local granite distributor.
  4. Exterior Shutters – Do you want vinyl or wood ?  Which architectural style do you prefer?  Options include: cottage, colonial, southern, country, coastal, craftsman, french provenical, acadian, etc…
  5. Lighting and Bath Fixtures- Not only are there many different styles but a lot of different finishes as well.  Such as, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, pewter, satin, etc…

 Craig Williams is welcomes you to give him a call and let him walk you through additional ways he can build your custom home affordably. Looking for home builders in Mobile Alabama look no further than J. Craig Homes custom home builder in Mobile AL.

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Craig Williams on October 8th, 2010

As a custom home builder, one of the first questions I am asked by prospective clients,  “Do you have home plans I can choose from or do I need to bring you my own home plans?”  The simple answer, Yes and Yes! I can do either.  This is one of the core distinctions that seperates custom home builders from a big company tract home builders.  Custom home builders are more flexible in the ways they operate and in what they are able to construct.  Custom home builders build for personal and unique tastes, not a copy of your neighbor’s home 4 doors down. 

Generally, a client that likes the quality and style of my homes, but does not have a house plan picked out can do one of two things:

  1. We decide on size and which attributes and amenities you desire in your new home.  We can then browse through my collection of home plans to try to find a match.  I have several collections from several different architects with varying styles. 
  2. Or, we can commission an architect to design a home based on your specific criteria or alter a plan from my collection to met your needs.  Though this might sound pricey, it is not expensive to have a draftsman render your home plans. I can recommend an architect or we can use one that you may already know. 

The other scenario I see is a client that has their dream home picked out, already has a copy of the plans but needs to find a builder to construct the home.  This is not a problem.  Actually, this is when you hear the phrase “competitive bidding” a term often used in residential construction.  Essentially, this is what I am doing.  I will look over your home plans and give you the best cost estimate to build your home in order to earn your business. 

This type of flexiblity, to meet differing customer needs, is what makes being a custom home builder so much fun!  This is my niche and the area in which I excel.  This is the reason why my business card says, “Building personal and unique homes”.

Looking for home builders Mobile Al consider J. Craig Homes. J. Craig Homes gives competitive bids on hoouses and their is no need to have home plans with you. Craig Williams can walk you through the steps of building your dream home.

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Craig Williams on July 27th, 2008

When I sit down with a prospective customer for an initial consultation, we always discuss whether or not I am the right builder for their personal needs and situation.  Consider it a “mutal interview” to discuss expectations, visions, and objectives.  This conversation frequently leads to two questions.  “As a custom home builder, how do you compare to tract home builders”?  And, “what makes custom home builders different from larger corporate tract home builders?”.   I would not be honest if I told you that I am the builder that can meet the needs for everyone.  One shoe does not fit all when it comes to building a person’s home.  However, if you can relate to the three following considerations, then a custom home builder may be the best type of builder to partner with to build your home.   

1.  Personalization – The essence of building with a custom home builder is uniqueness.  When you custom build you get what you truly want.  The very nature of a custom home builder is that we are flexible and creative so you get the home you envision.  Custom home builders build with your personal needs in mind.  Larger corporate tract home builders build for the masses by using cookie-cutter facades, limited floorplans, and reducing your choices to predetermined options.  Also, one last note regarding personalization.  Personalization adds marketability to your home for resale value.  Which do you think would be the easiest to resale – a custom home that is unique to all others in the neighborhood or a tract home that very closely resembles every other home on your street? 

2.  Pricing – A common misconception is that custom home builders are higher priced than corporate-owned tract home builders.  However, when you compare tract to custom, you get more for your money with custom home builders.  Many times tract home builders advertise a low price for a bare-bones, basic home and then charge a premium price for options and ammenities.  These options and ammenities are status quo for custom home builders and are already included in our price, giving you more value for your dollar.  We include the options upfront so you know exactly what you get for the price you pay.  Additionally, when comparing custom to tract, take the time to truly compare the details of homes.  Are you getting an “apples to apples” comparision?  For instance, the standard height of the bathroom vanity/cabinet  in many tract homes is 31″ and it’s 36″ in custom homes.  How does the quality and types of building materials compare?  Are the homes built with prefabricated trusses or onsite?  What is the thickness of lumber used in the framing? 

3.  Personal Service – What are your expectations when it comes to discussing your vision, expectations, and concerns for your new home?  With a custom builder you will always know who to contact about any situation – ME.  My job is to focus on you, your home, and keep you well informed throughout the entire construction process.  I’m dedicated to serving you to the best of my ability because I own the company.  Who do you contact with a corporate tract home builder when you have questions or concerns?  Will an employee of a corporate tract home builder be as motivated to address your questions and keep you well informed on the status of your new home?  Just consider this – where do you receive the best customer service – a large national retailer or a local family-owned store? 

Lastly, it would not be fair to completely generalize every tract home builder and custom home builder.  Even custom home builders can vary.  However, the one thing I can promise is that I will commit to meeting and exceeding your expectations in each of these categories.   It’ll be one of the first things we discuss when we sit down and discuss partnering together to build your new home. 

 Craig Williams is owner and custom home builder in residential construction for J. Craig Homes. J. Craig homes builds custom homes in Mobile, AL, Daphne, AL, Spanish Fort, AL, Fairhope, AL, Semmes, AL and West Mobile, AL and other areas located inside Mobile and Baldwin Counties of Alabama.

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Craig Williams on July 2nd, 2008

To borrow a famous line from Oldsmobile, “this is NOT your father’s hot water heater”…..Introduced into the market just a few short years ago, tankless hot water heaters (gas & electric) are quickly becoming commonplace in new custom home construction.  These units have been in the field long enough now to prove that they are indeed reliable technology, both from the functionality and durability standpoint.  Builders, and consumers, are becoming very comfortable with the idea of installing tankless units in homes.  The upfront costs to buy and install tankless are a bit more than a conventional hot water heater, but the usage savings are fairly quickly realized.  If you’re not familiar with tankless hot water heaters, then consider the following a few of the basics. 

The primary benefit to tankless units are the savings in energy usage costs.  Electric tankless hot water heaters allow homeowners to save 10%-20% in their water heating bill when compared to a conventional electric 50 gallon hot water heater.  This savings increases to 20%-40% when comparing a gas tankless hot water heater to a conventional gas 50 gallon hot water heater.  When considering that water heating comprises an average of 14% of a household energy budget, then this tankless hot water heater savings is $40-$80/year with electric and $50-$100/year with gas. 

Other benefits are that these tankless units mount on an outside wall – eliminating the space needed in a garage or attic to mount the conventional tank unit.  Also, tankless hot water heaters also have a longer life than conventional tank hot water heaters.  This is due to less corrosion by eliminating standing water in a tank.  A tankless unit has a lifespan of 20 years as compared to 10-15 years for a conventional tank unit.  This also allows a dollar savings in the replacement costs of units during the lifetime of your home. 

The reason tankless hot water heaters provide an energy savings is the lack of a holding tank to keep heated (such as in a conventional system).  Tankless units are simply a more efficient system for heating household water.  Tankless units operate to provide water at a pre-set temperature when neeeded, without water storage.  This fact leads to a common question from consumers, “will I be more likely to run out of hot water with a tankless system?”.  The answer – “not likely”.  Tankless hot water heaters are rated by the maximum flow rate at which a desired temperature in met.  This rating is very similar to their conventional counterparts.  With an electric tankless hot water heater, the average unit can heat 3 gallons/minute to the desired temperature.  With a gas tankless hot water heater, the average unit can heat 5 gallons/minute to the desired temperature.  To give a real life example, both systems would be enough capacity to run at least two showers simultaneously. 

New construction is the best time to install tankless hot water heaters.  The units can be centrally located to maximize hot water runs and the prewiring process is much easier in the rough-in phase.  Because of the need to heat water quickly, tankless units have a higher electric draw than conventional (not to be confused: your cost savings is due to the lack of need to keep stored water constantly heated, such as in a conventional system).  Electric tankless hot water heaters need 4x the electric capacity to operate.  Gas tankless units are installed with a direct vent to bring in fresh outside air and vent the flue gas using a blower through a side wall.  With both gas and electric tankless hot water heaters, the water connections are almost the same as conventional. 

Craig Williams is owner and custom home builder in residential construction for J. Craig Homes. J. Craig homes builds custom homes in Mobile, AL, Daphne, AL, Spanish Fort, AL, Fairhope, AL, Semmes, AL and West Mobile, AL and other areas located inside Mobile and Baldwin Counties of Alabama.

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