Custom Homes

The differences between basement construction types

Basements can be a real asset to a home. They allow you to create a community space outside of your typical living room or outdoor spaces. They are great options for your laundry room or guest rooms. You can use them to entertain with a wet bar and an entertainment area.

On the flip side, they can have their nuances or weaknesses which are something to consider if you are going to have one built into your new construction home. take a look at the different types of basement constructions and how they differ from one another.

Basement Construction Types

Concrete block

If you are trying to save a buck but still want to include a basement in your home, a concrete block or masonry construction is the least expensive. It can be done in less time too compared to other options. You’ll be working with cinder block walls with are hollow by nature but are much faster to build with. Then steel rebar would be used to reinforce them and make them stronger.

The downside to concrete block walls is that you’ll be more likely to see a water leak compared to other types of basements. Water can sometimes get through the mortar that’s holding the blocks together especially along the wall or floor joints.

Poured concrete basement

A popular basement option is the poured concrete basement. This is actually the most common type of basement build and the option that most prefer. While it takes longer than using concrete block, you’ll benefit from it having the best strength of all basement types.

It’s a simple and sturdy option that is done by pouring a footing for the foundation and then once it has set, forms are used to hold the poured concrete wall in place as they dry. Since the basement walls are much stronger, as a result, a water leak is really only possible at the joints between the walls and floors. Just watch out for cracks in the walls because that could allow leaks in as well.

Clay or stone tile

Another solution is what older homes and historical homes used which is stone and clay tile walls. These were used because there weren’t necessarily other materials available and this was a strong solution. The problem is that it wouldn’t be hard for water to seep through and cause water in your basement.

If you were to buy a home with this type of basement or build with it and let it age, it could end up with gaps and cracks that make it easy for water to get in. you can combat that with a perimeter drain system though.

Precast panel walls

Finally, there are precast panel walls in which your basement walls would be molded at another location and transported to your home. They would be brought over and placed on footers. While this is a strong option, it is less common than going with a poured or block basement.

This would save you money and time on the construction site though and many newer residential buildings are starting to utilize this more and more. You could see damage along the joint between the floor and walls if anything, but it’s a strong option and is made from a concrete mixture that is more water-resistant over time.

That’s a look at the different construction types of basements for you to consider if you are looking for extra space in the house, a home that will be a more attractive listing in the future, and a great space to entertain, cool off in the summer, or hideout during inclement weather.

What to look for in a property for your custom home

There’s more to think about with your custom home build than just how many bedrooms and whether what you want the backyard to look like. You also need to think about what type of land you should be looking for before building the home. Not all land is equal and you don’t want to end up in a situation where you’ve built a beautiful home on a lot that actually had some issues.

Learn about the potential pitfalls of a piece of land before making the decision to buy it for a custom build. Take a look at what you need to look for in a property before you have a custom home built there.

Choose the location carefully

One thing you cannot change once you’ve built this home here is your location. You need to put a large consideration on your location because it’s permanent and the things surrounding you are not likely going to change much.

What side of town do you really want to be on? What school district is this location going to put your children in? Are you close to professional services, entertainment, grocery stores, and recreation?

There is much to consider when choosing a location but you want to make sure you are going to be happy with things like a nice view, proximity to the schools you want to send your kids to, your commute to work from here, and how far away are things you enjoy like restaurants and outdoor recreation.

What are the setbacks of this piece of land?

Every piece of land is going to have some sort of setbacks, whether it’s lacking a great view, it’s too big of a plot to ever have close neighbors, the type of soil doesn’t allow you to grow your favorite plants, or it’s near a flood zone.

When you start by surveying a property, you can walk the land with a seller and find out everything about the property. You’ll want to learn as much as you can so that you can determine if it’s suitable for building a home here.

Some lots are going to be well-suited but will require some work like clearing some trees or grading some hills. If you plan to install a septic tank or create a power hookup, you’ll need to know about your options for this plot of land. This is the time to ask all of the questions you have for your intentions with this property to make sure it’s a good fit.

Zoning and restrictions

You can then stop by city hall to talk to the health department about local sewer and water codes and then stop by the planning commission to find out the details on zoning restrictions.  You may be able to see the chain of title to see what the land was worth previously by talking to the town clerk. If you happen to have picked a property in a landmarked district, you’ll find out what the rules are going to be on materials, size, style, etc.

The most important information will come from the assessor’s office where you can find out about flood-zone boundaries, wetland proximities, tax information, restrictions imposed on by a previous owner, and if you’ll need an easement from any neighbors to access part of your property.

What about utilities?

If everything checks out, you’ll also want to find out how you’ll be getting utilities to this property. Not only will you need essentials like power, water, and waste, but you’ll likely want to set up phone and internet services. You may also need gas from a utility company or a propane tank.

Can you build a well here for water or do you have access to a utility company? Some pieces of land are great but it’s too remote to access municipal utilities. 

Make sure to factor in these considerations when looking at property for your custom home. Don’t forget to consider what this neighborhood may look like in 5 years or 10 years to better assess if this is a place you’ll want to live when that time comes!

custom home built by Powell Custom Homes

Beginners guide to designing your dream house

You’ve been dreaming of this your whole life and the time has finally come. You get to build your dream home!  Rather than buying an already built house and making it a home, you are going all in one by creating one from scratch that your fits your family to a T. Since this will be a big process, you’ll need to know where to begin. Use this beginner’s guide to design your dream house and get started today.

Start with a brainstorm session

The first thing to do is will probably be the most fun part of the process which is to brainstorm and start with the dream or vision. Grab a pencil and paper to start sketching ideas and making lists. What features do you want each room to have? What ideas do you already have? Start writing things down and sketching what you’d like to see.

couple imagining their dream home

You’ll want to think about your family’s needs and what your future plans are in order to put this into the design of the space.  Do you plan to have kids or do you have kids leaving the nest? Do you plan to have guests over often or would a small space suit your needs best? Think about what currently works well for you and what your family currently wishes they had in a home. It helps to think about your family’s lifestyle, future plans and needs for the next several years.

Consider how it will work with your land

If you are designing a home for a property you already have, you’ll have to consider how the land will work in your home design. This can work in your favor as it helps start to narrow down your mind’s endless possibilities into something that has to work with a certain size, views you want to have, and land features like sloped land or a stream on the property.

You can purposely put your best view where your master bedroom is, or utilize the sloped land into better views. Have that big window in the living looking out to beautiful natural views rather than your neighbor’s house.

Prioritize the important features

You’ll next want to consider what the most important features will be for you. Take a look at that wish list where you wrote down things like “swimming pool,” “water views,” and “basement” in order to start thinking about which features are the most important.

Prioritize the things that you must have even if nothing else makes the list, such as that backyard garden or view of downtown that you’ve been dreaming of the most or would benefit your family most. This way, you can focus your budget on what matters most and then incorporate other wish list items as money allows.

Consider flow and light

When you design a home, you often forget to place yourself in the home during the design process. You’ll have to be able to function in the house and have a way to flow nicely. You don’t want to put the kitchen right next to a bedroom, or the bathroom far away from common areas where guests would visit. Consider the function and flow by making more room in the areas that your family tends to congregate and considering your daily routines.

Balance your budget with your wish list

Now you’ll want to look at both your budget and your actual wish list to find the right balance. If you can’t afford a swimming pool, it might be time to focus on what you can afford and maybe leaving room for one if you think you’ll add one someday.

Think about what you can afford when it comes to your monthly mortgage, property taxes, and insurance. Consider what you can handle for your monthly cost of living when it comes to things like utilities. Then consider if your style reflects these realities or is out of budget. You’ll want to balance your budget with your wish list of items like wanting a space to entertain, wanting a waterfront location, and having space to work on favorite hobbies.

This is the first step in designing your dream custom home!

5 Benefits of Building a Custom Home

Choosing to build a custom home means you'll gain plenty of benefits. Whether you're deciding to build because you cannot find the right features in an existing home or because you prefer the feeling of a new home, you'll be happy with your decision. Let's look at five of the top benefits you'll gain from building a custom home.

brand new custom home by Powell Custom Homes

Ability to Build Your Dream Home

After choosing the right custom home builder for the project, you'll get to start the design process. During this process, you'll get to choose the fixtures, finishes, layout, upgrades, and other features. You'll actually have the ability to create your dream home when choosing to build a custom home.

Finding the perfect home already on the market for you isn't easy. If you've dreamed of certain features and a certain style, building a custom home might be the only way to get what you truly want.

Everything is Brand New & Under Warranty

When you build a new home with a custom builder, everything will be under warranty. For a homeowner, this is a massive benefit. You won't have to worry about maintenance for the first few years, and with some items, the warranty may cover you up to ten years.

Not only will everything be covered by a warranty, but it will also be brand new. Just like the feeling of buying a brand new car, you'll get a house nobody has ever lived in, not even for a day.

Newest Energy Efficient Features

Existing homes don't offer the best when it comes to energy efficiency unless they've been upgraded. This means you'll likely pay a higher energy bill every month compared to the energy bill of a new home.

When you choose to build a custom home, you'll get the benefit of all the latest energy efficient features. From energy efficient insulation to Energy Star appliances, you'll have a home ready to save you money on that monthly energy bill.

You Choose the Budget

Instead of haggling with a seller, when you build a new home, you choose your budget. If you want to spend more to upgrade specific features, you can. However, if you don't want to spend extra for specific upgrades, you don't have to.

Since the home is fully customizable, you get to choose the budget. You won't need to worry about trying to get the best deal from someone selling their home and you won't need to budget for repairs or renovations, either.

Choose Your Style

Sometimes, it can be hard to find a home fitting the architectural style you prefer. Certain geographical areas don't include specific home styles, which makes it hard to find the perfect home for you.

When you choose to build a custom home, you'll get to choose the style. You won't be stuck with whatever style you can find fitting some of your needs. Instead, you'll get the style you prefer and the ability to fully customize the home.

If you're thinking about buying a new home, but you're not sure you want to choose an existing home, why not build? There are several great benefits of building a custom home and these are just five of the top benefits.

The Most Common Reasons You May Require a Change Order During Your Build

When you build a home, you may end up with a change order during the building process. This order is an official request for more funds and/or time to complete the revised contractual obligations. There are several reasons a change order may be needed during your build.

Usually, a construction change order is related to about five different issues. They may be a bit of a pain to deal with, but sometimes, a change order is necessary. Here are some of the most common reasons you may need a change order while building your home.

Design Changes

It's rather common for a design change to cause a change order during the building process. Maybe the builder or developer started construction without a completed project scope or something happened to cause a design change to become necessary. This is most common with design-build projects, where the design can be worked on during the building process.

Drawing Errors

When an error or omission happens with the drawing, it could cause a change order. It may be something as simple as an inadequate detail or a failure to have a complete set of drawings created. Errors and omissions happen and they often cause change orders during the building process.

Soil Issues

A less common reason for change orders, but still rather common is a soil issue. This is a bit more unforeseen as it can happen and nobody really expected it to happen. When an inadequate soil study is done, it can lead to challenges builders were not prepared for. This can lead to a necessary change order to ensure the build can be completed properly.


Maybe your home building plan included specific materials that have since become unavailable. When there's a shortage of necessary supplies, a substitution has to be made, which results in a change order. This will include a request for a credit if the cost of the new materials is less than the original materials.

Another type of substitution that could cause a change order is when the owner decides on an upgrade during the construction process. This may cause a larger amount of money to be necessary to cover the cost of the better materials used during the construction process.

Poor Budgets or Schedules

Sometimes, the budget was poorly thought out or the construction schedule wasn't very good. This may cause a change order to be necessary as the work may not be delivered on time or within budget. Of course, delays from weather and unforeseen circumstances can also cause a change order to be necessary.

Change orders can be costly if they are not handled properly. They can lead to more issues if the change order isn't dealt with promptly. Make sure you hire a home builder that knows how to anticipate change orders and handle them quickly so that your project will stay on schedule and get completed on time or close to on time.

How Best to Communicate with Your Home Builder

When you've made the decision to build a custom home, you'll be filled with excitement, nerves, and maybe feel a bit stressed. It's quite a journey and it's important to ensure you get the home you're picturing when you first start the process.

Choosing the right custom home builder is a great start, but you need to be able to communicate with your builder, too. Without clear communication, you may not get what you want. Here are a few great tips to help you communicate with your home builder.

Custom Home builder holding blueprints envisioning a home

Choose Your Preferred Communication Method

It's best to choose the way you prefer to communicate and let the builder know this is how you will be communicating. Whether you prefer to talk face-to-face, over the phone, or via email, you need to inform your builder so they will be on the same page.

You should also discuss how often you would like to communicate and even meet with your builder. You need to feel comfortable, so make sure you choose a custom home builder willing to communicate in the way you prefer.

Don't be Shy

If you don't speak up, your builder won't know what you want. Make sure you say what you think and communicate your feelings. If you don't like a paint color, say so. If you prefer a specific type of tile for the bathroom, don't be shy, tell your builder.

It's better to speak up than to end up with something you don't like. Ask questions, tell your builder what you're thinking, and make sure you're honest or you could end up with features of your home you really don't like.

Avoid Blaming

When the project has started and something doesn't go quite as planned, it can be easy to want to place blame. It doesn't matter whose fault it was, as long as a solution can be found and the issue can be resolved.

Instead of placing blame, take the time to communicate with your builder to find a solution to the problem. Most issues can easily be solved with the right communication.

Get Regular Status Updates

You should never feel like you're just left out of the process with no clue how far along your custom home is during the building process. You need to know what's going on and regular status updates should be scheduled ahead of time.

Yes, delays happen and things come up, but a weekly email or even a bi-weekly phone call can be a great way to know where your home is in the building process. You need to be an active participant in the process and regular status updates will help to ensure you know what's going on with your new home.

One of the most important parts of guaranteeing you get the home of your dreams is communicating with the builder. It's important to use the tips above and build a great working relationship with your builder to ensure you get the best custom home you could possibly imagine. Contact Powell Custom Homes today for all your home building needs in the Kalamazoo area!

A Beginner’s Guide to the Custom Home Building Process

You've decided you want to build a custom home, but you're not really sure what to expect. The process of building a new home can be a bit daunting, especially as a beginner. Below you will find our beginner's guide to custom home building to help show you what to expect.

Everything Starts and Ends with the Budget

When building a custom home, your budget will dictate many of the decisions. This is where you want to start. You want to find out how much you can spend and what the total budget will be.

Once you have a budget, you want to make sure you take the time to consider what's most important to you. When it comes to upgrades, the actual property your home will be on, and anything else that needs to be factored into the budget.

Choose Your Land

After you've set a budget and you know what a lender will approve, you can start shopping for the right lot. You want to consider the neighborhood, the overall location and the actual land you will be building on. The slope/flatness will play a factor and some lots may be more expensive to prepare than others.

Builder and Design Comes Next

Next, you need to select a builder and get your custom home designed. There are several things to consider with the builder and the design of your new home.

Selecting a builder should include plenty of time researching and finding the right builder for your needs. Consider the size, layout, features, upgrades and overall design you want before you select a builder. Some builders may not offer exactly what you want.

Consider all the Details

Your new custom home will be your home for many years, so you want to consider all the details. Look at the design all the way from layout to the different features of each room. Make sure the home you've designed is just as you would like it and will serve you and your family well for many years.

Custom Home Building blueprints and framework

Go Through the Building Process

Once you've handled all the above details, it's time to start building. The building process will include the following steps:

  • Site preparation and foundation pouring

  • Rough framing construction

  • Rough plumbing, HVAC, and electrical installation

  • Insulation installation

  • Drywall and interior textures installation

  • Install exterior finishes

  • Finish interior trim

  • Install driveway and walkways

  • Install flooring and countertops

  • Install bathroom fixtures, mirrors, and shower doors

  • Finish all interior and exterior trim

  • Finish exterior landscaping

Once everything is completed, you will do a final walkthrough with the builder before moving in. During the walkthrough, you will receive your warranty information and have the opportunity to have anything fixed or adjusted that isn't correct.

Building a custom home can seem overwhelming. However, with the right builder, you'll be a part of every step of the process. This can make it much easier to understand what's going on and what to expect next. Make sure you take the time to hire the right builder for your new custom home.

How to Find the Right Property for a Custom Home

Building a custom home is an exciting thing. However, finding the right property for your custom home has to be done first. Without the right property, you may not be as excited about your new home. Here are some tips to help you find the right property for your new home.

Location, Location, Location

As with anything in real estate, location is the key. Not only will it matter when it's time to sell, but it also matters now. You don't want to be out in the middle of nowhere, if you like to get out and enjoy the city. However, if you prefer the country-style of living, you may want a property out in the middle of nowhere.

It's important to consider the type of location you prefer. A community under development could lead to neighbors in the future. Of course, the location will also determine your commute. Check out some of the neighborhoods where we are currently selling or building custom homes -

Powell Custom Homes - new home on Martell

Amenities Nearby

Do you want to be near shopping, dining and entertainment options? What about parks and places to walk your dogs? Make sure you check the local area for the type of amenities you prefer. It's important for you to choose a property found close to the things you will use the most.

Consider the Slope

The slope of the property will impact what can be done and how the home is placed. It's also important to consider when it comes to the view. A sloping lot can also allow you to have a walk-out basement, which can be a nice feature.

Know the Restrictions and Limitations

The last thing you want to do is purchase a property for your custom home only to find out you cannot get the home you hoped for. Every HOA has different rules and restrictions. You want to make sure you understand these, along with the local zoning laws before you make your decision. This is especially important in historic districts and for properties that may have environmental limitations.

Understand How the Home will Fit the Property

When you look at a property it's important to understand how your home will fit onto the property. You should understand the cost for cleaning the land and grading before you choose. It's also important to know the side of the lot and how your dream home will fit, along with how much space will be left for a yard.

Confirm the Utilities

You want to make sure you won't have to deal with any hidden costs for sewer connection or water connection. Make sure you have everything you need, such as high-speed cable or even fiber optics. The key with utilities is to have no surprises as they can eat at your budget.

Work with a Professional

Choosing a professional to help you with your custom home building is the best way to ensure you find the right property for your new home. The right builder will help you choose a property that your dream home will easily fit on and will give you a location you will love. Give us a call at (269)668-5227 and we’ll be sure to get you moving in the right direction!

When it's time to build a custom home, make sure you choose the right property. It's not as easy as choosing any lot that's the right size. There are several things to consider and working with a professional is a great way to ensure you're protected throughout the process. Contact Powell Custom Homes today!