Home Built Is Exciting


When it comes to custom homes, you don’t want to put that into the hands of just anyone. Look for a provider with a history of offering well-made homes. They should be completed on time, on budget, and with quality materials. They should have a reputation of listening to the buyers and offering a variety of floor plans as well as other options to pick from.

You need a provider who can guide you through the entire process from start to finish. It all begins with a free consultation where you can share your dream about custom homes. What would the ideal home look like and where would it be located? They can spend time giving you the opportunity to check land available, various sizes and layouts of homes, and more.

Getting Started

As you start to share with them what you want the outcome to be, they can give you more specific ideas and concepts. They can also give you an idea of what the cost will be. Typically, they are going to give you the base package price. As you add various upgrades, the cost can increase. Keep that in mind as you are making your final decisions.

If the cost is too much, you will either have to increase your budget or you will need to make some changes. It can be useful to get pre-approved for a loan before you discuss details with the creator of custom homes. This helps you to know how much you can afford to spend. It will also speed up the process of getting it all in motion once the last paperwork has been completed.


One of the key aspects of making it all fall into place is excellent communication. The provider should get back to you timely with information. They should be willing to sit down and discuss with you various options, show you samples of colors and materials, and make sure you feel comfortable with how it is all moving forward. You shouldn’t ever feel rushed or pressured.

During the planning stages, you need to ask questions as you go. Don’t feel intimidated or like you should know more than you do. Providers of custom homes deal with this all day, every day and they realize you are new to the process. They are going to be patient and they are going to be motivated to help you feel confident about the entire process.

Building Process

Once the specifics are in place and the financing has been taken care of, the real building can begin. Custom homes should be built to your specifications with quality materials. During various stages of the building there will be required inspections that have to be done. They are conducted by an outside 3rd party to make sure the home is being built safely and up to code.

It is a good idea to find out about any warranties that apply. Usually, there will be a warranty that is applied for the materials and another given by the contractor for their role in the construction of your new home. Find out exactly what is covered and what isn’t under such a warranty. You don’t want to feel blindsided if you need to make a claim down the road.

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Six Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

If you are thinking about the holidays right now and frowning, smooth your face, square your shoulders and take a cleansing breath. A little positive thinking can go a long way in helping you to enjoy the holidays this year instead of agonizing over all the little details. These 6 tips for a stress-free holiday season will start you off on the right foot.

1. Plan ahead. Print out return address labels for cards (I’m really doing it this year – bad hand cramping), update your address book, make room in your front hall closet for guest coats instead of piling them on a bed like usual, and prepare guest rooms ahead of time. Tackling a few of these tasks before you get really busy can make a world of difference.

2. Rethink your gift giving. Cut down on the mad shopping rush and stress of finding exactly what everyone wants this year – consider giving experiences instead of material gifts, and maybe even implement The Four Gift Rule. My extreme-gift-giving mom is actually trying it this year. Thanks, Mom!

3. Keep things simple with food and d├ęcor. Stick to your favourite recipes instead of trying something complicated and new, and a simple homemade centrepiece is all you need on your table. Please don’t belittle yourself for not having matching napkins and candleholders! Focus more on the family and friends you are gathering with rather than stressing over too many fussy preparations.

4. Have a few extra gifts on hand. A small stash of thoughtfully wrapped gifts is perfect for unannounced friends or last-minute invites. Choose items that have universal appeal and can be used by you and your family if they are still around come January. Think locally-made condiments, soy candles, handmade chocolates, wine and preserves.

5. Be choosy when it comes to events. This can be tough for social butterflies (my husband) and people who have trouble saying no (me). Only accept invitations to gatherings that are pertinent to the holiday and meaningful to your family. When planning your own event, keep it small and intimate with just a few close friends and relatives. We used to have a big Christmas open house but after a few years, we realized it was too chaotic as we spent most of our time greeting and seeing friends out, refilling glasses and snack bowls, and making sure little ones didn’t trash our house (even if they were adorable). Choose to host big parties at a different time of the year, when there is less going on and you are not so taxed.

6. Live in the now. As you trim the tree or make cookies with your kids, don’t forget to pause and really live in the moment. Don’t worry about what’s still on your to-do list (there’s always something), because before you know it the holiday will be over and you’ll be disappointed that you didn’t make the most of it. Also, carve out some time to do something just for you – take a walk, read your book, have a hot bath – it will go a long way in helping you to keep your sanity during the holidays.

Care Costs in Retirement – Controlling Your Health

It’s no secret that health care becomes a bigger concern for most of us as we grow older. More ailments are likely to develop, which means more money spent to visit health professionals and buy medication. Even if you remain healthy through your later years, the costs of preventative care and preparing for potential unexpected health situations are rising.

Health-related expenses will likely be one of the biggest components of your retirement budget. You need to be prepared to pay for comprehensive insurance coverage and potential out-of-pocket costs for care. Here are three strategies to help you manage this critical expense in retirement.

Understand how Medicare works

The good news for Americans age 65 and older is that you qualify for Medicare. That makes increased dependence on health care services more affordable. At age 65, most people automatically qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost, which primarily provides coverage for hospital stays and skilled nursing care. Medicare Part B must be purchased (approximately $109 per month in 2017 for most retirees). Part B covers the costs of visiting a physician, but with some deductibles. Many people purchase additional coverage to use for out-of-pocket expenses, such as a Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Supplement policy.

With Medicare, timing is important. Signing up when you first qualify for coverage will keep costs at the lowest level. If you maintain insurance through your employer after turning 65, you can delay Medicare enrollment without risking late penalties.

If you retire prior to age 65, you will need to purchase insurance on the open market to cover health-related expenses until you become eligible for Medicare. Individual coverage tends to get more expensive as you grow older, so work the cost into your retirement budget. Some employers offer retiree health insurance as a benefit. Check with your human resources department to see if this option is available to you.

Allocate sufficient funds for health care costs

As you develop your retirement income strategy, make sure you have money set aside for health expenses that will be your responsibility. By one estimate, the average 66-year-old couple will need to tap more than half of their lifetime pre-tax Social Security benefits to pay for health care expenses throughout retirement. Most people will likely have to rely, in part, on their own savings to help offset some medical expenses.

Along with other retirement savings, you may want to establish a health savings account (HSA) during your working years. HSAs are designed to help build tax-advantaged savings to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses you incur during your working years. However, any leftover funds can be applied to health expenses later in life, including premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that you must be enrolled in a high deductible health plan to open an HSA.

Focus on your own health

One way to potentially keep health care costs under control in retirement is to create or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Small changes you make today, such as eating right or prioritizing sleep, could reduce the likelihood that medical issues will impact you later in life. Being physically active may also benefit your finances in retirement – according to the American Heart Association, it could potentially help you save $500 a year today on health-related expenses.

Having a plan doesn’t guarantee that you will avoid heath issues, but you may find comfort in knowing how you can tackle health care costs in retirement.