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Benefits of Energy Star Certification


Would you like a home that’s wonderfully comfortable with healthy indoor air and no drafts?   A home with a comfortable bonus room, low energy bills and one where you don’t have to turn on the heat or air as soon as the temperature changes?  A home that you know is well-built and energy efficient, with attention to detail in the areas you can’t see – and you know it is because an independent company checked it at several stages during the building process?  You can have this kind of home – it’s an ENERGY STAR qualified home.

ENERGY STAR qualified homes are:

  • More comfortable
  • Healthier, with better indoor air quality
  • More durable, with less rot and mold
  • Quieter
  • Less expensive to run.
  • Typically 20% to 30% more efficient than standard homes
  • Better for the environment

Many electric companies now reward ENERGY STAR homes; Progress Energy and Duke Energy both offer a 5% discount on electric bills for ENERGY STAR homes.  This discount runs for the life of the house so it’s a great marketing plus at resale time.  Also, if your ENERGY STAR home has natural gas appliances, PSNC offers a discount.

With an ENERGY STAR qualified home, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home is well-built, healthier for your family, is easier on the environment – and all of this with lower energy bills.

Brightcut Building Solutions does all of Absolute Construction’s Energy Star certifications.

By Cass Arble – Brightcut Building Solutions, LLC





Plans-Do We Custom Design or Buy Online?

Designing your home – benefits to working with a designer vs. buying online by Brooke Carpenter, Owner – Residential Engineering Services, PA

Every homeowner has at some time thumbed through house plan books or surfed the house plan websites trying to find the “perfect house plan” for their next dwelling.  Here’s the secret – it’s not there!

In my 15 years in the residential construction industry, I have yet to meet a single client that was 100% satisfied with a plan set purchased online.  The reason for this is obvious.  We each have different lives, different family situations, unique tastes, and individual preferences.  This is why I am a firm advocate for anyone looking to construct a new home contacting a designer.

A great home designer brings out the “you” in your new house plan.  Your new home is more than the number of bedrooms and bathrooms!  Where do you typically park your car?  How do you want to bring groceries into your home to get to the kitchen?  Do you want your laundry room out of the way or close to bedrooms?  Will your family need a formal dining room or living room?  Do you entertain a lot?  Will you use outdoor space – porches, patios, outdoor grilling areas/kitchens?  Do you need or want to plan for handicap accessibility to bathrooms, showers, bedrooms, etc.?  Will you have overnight guests?  Where would you like them to stay?  What level of accommodations will they need?  How much storage area will you need?  Can your kids share a bath room or do you prefer individual spaces?  How often do you use your kitchen and how do you want it arranged?  These are but a few of the “you-specific” questions from your home designer.

The house plan process is enhanced to a greater degree when the builder is involved in the initial design.  The builder can be the subject matter expert when it comes to materials and construction costs, timeframe for building, and how the house matches up to the lot that has been purchased.  This guidance can be invaluable during planning to keep within budget, spatial, and constructability constraints.

So as you contemplate buying your next house plan online vs. paying a home designer to develop a plan for you, remember that this is going to be your home either way.  Why not make it your home?

Absolute Construction and Development, LLC has been working with Residential Engineering Services, PA since 2007 and we’ve had nothing but raving reviews from our clients who work with Residential Engineering Services to design their homes.  Many clients have found it is much more cost effective to design your own plans vs. buying a set online and then paying to have modifications made. Residential Engineering Services, PA designed the 2 homes in Chapel Ridge Golf Community that won the Parade of Homes Gold Medals so not only have happy clients, but also recognition from their peers.


What’s Behind Builder Allowances

When talking to people about building the first question seems to always be “What is your price per square foot?”  My response is always that there is so much more than just a price per square foot – what costs are included in that price per square foot, what are the ALLOWANCES, how are change orders handled (are there charges tied to change orders?), what is the relationship with the trade vendors and will they be around when the 1-year punch list is needed, etc.?  I’d like to spend a little time on allowances, but will hit the other items in future posts.

The first question to ask a builder is what items will you have allowances on and compare those allowances to other builders’ allowances you are getting quotes from.  We like to then have you meet with our vendors to pick out your ideal selections to make sure that what you want fits into the allowance given.  We’ve been told that we spend a lot more time with clients up front assuring that the allowances given and factored into the contract price will get them what they are looking for.

The next item to look into is what price are you getting from the vendor.  Most suppliers – ie cabinet, countertop, plumbing, lighting companies – have a price for the public and a discounted price for builders.  When you go into a showroom you are seeing the retail price, not the builder price.  You need to find out from the builder if they are passing their price on to you or not.  You will want to compare the invoiced price to the floor price to make sure you are truly getting the builder discount.

Another area to look into is whether or not the general contractor adds on a certain percentage to items that go over the allowance given.  For example., if you have $30k for your cabinet/countertop allowance and you end up purchasing at $40k, is there an additional charge added to the $10k that went over the allowance?

Additionally, how are these allowances tracked and how often are you going to be updated on where you stand with your allowance expenses?  In this day and age it is reasonable to expect to receive electronic reports and for expenses to be tracked in a true contracting accounting system.  If you are going to be receiving spreadsheet reports, you are relying on the contractor to manually enter charges and credits into the spreadsheet and are leaving a lot of room open for error.

To see a sample allowance report that we provide on a bi-monthly basis click  Sample Allowance Tracking Reports.

Finally, there should be a process in place where you need to approve any item before it is ordered so you are aware of any charges that are more than your allowance amount.  I have heard too many horror stories where people get to the end of the construction of their home and are presented with a large bill from the general contractor detailing items that were ordered that were above their allowance. These items should be brought to your attention prior to ordering and ideally you should be required to sign something acknowledging that it is above the allowance amount.

Bottom line, it can be a very smooth process if you do the research ahead of time to see if the allowances cover what you want in your new home and if you make sure there are processes in place to adequately track the amounts spent along with processes to approve amounts that go over your allowances.


Welcome to Absolute’s Blog!

We are excited to announce the launch of our blog! This goes hand-in-hand with our new logo and website. We have talked to so many out-of-state property owners that we decided to blog the process of our new build in The Estates. Not only is this the 10th home we have built in Chapel Ridge, but it is also our 2011 Parade of Homes entry!  We hope to win our 3rd gold medal in a row!

By doing this, we hope to provide a way for homeowners to track the steps from start to finish and to help address any questions that may come up about the building process and/or what options are out there.  Each step of the way we will have information from our different vendors which will hopefully help answer questions people run into – do we buy plans on line or hire someone to design them, why do we need to have plans engineered, what are benefits of Energy Star, do we use spray foam or batt insulation, etc. Read more