Dennis Fletcher Design Studio, LLC

Helping you get the home centered around who you are, how you live, work, and play, no matter the size.

Custom Home Design – Part 1

What do I do first?

This question has been asked at almost every design meeting I have ever attended. It’s absolutely the most important question to ask first, so you can set yourself upon the right path. However, it is not the actual answer to the question, just a tool to get there.

I know, “Now you are confusing me, Mr. Fletcher.”

A plot Plan, or Plat will be necessary for any building project.

Let me explain. If you make this the first question you ask when deciding you want a custom home, you have a starting point for the designer of your choice. You have a place to start the process and a great way to start dialogue between you and your designer.

In actuality, the first thing to do is broad, has a lot of little details, and is quite scary.

You need to have a budget. You need to know how much you can spend on your new home before you can even consider what it will look like.


Learn the fundamentals of creating a construction budget here. Building your Construction Home for Dummies.

Click here for a planner that you can use to keep track of your home construction. Planner for building a home.


So, some things to consider when setting out your budget are as follows.

Your new home will depend upon your budget, so make sure that you are not designing way out of budget.
  1. Land. How much will it cost and can I get any? You may already have a piece of property. Great, make sure you keep all of the paperwork, it will be needed later.
  2. Financing. How will you pay for it and how much do you have available to purchase? If you have the land, your financing, and any cash you may put in will go straight to the construction of the house, which we will talk about later, but if you do not have land, you must consider this in the cost of construction. If you are able to put together $500,000 to build with, understand that the cost of your property will be deducted.
  3. Who will build it? You should have a contractor in mind for this, if not, get some referrals from folks you know. Look online at reviews, see who has a great product for a great price. (No, there is not a contractor who has a perfect track record, that is impossible.) Ask your designer who they work with the most if there are any contractors that stand out. They may even be able to help you locate a good one that fits you and your project.

So, these are the areas to focus on first. Even if you don’t have property, you can begin the process of locating a lot. While you are doing that, start the process of getting financing. See what you may qualify for and if it works with your current budget. Remember, a contractor may have lots or know of some good lots you can build on, so keep that in mind.

Your initial budget is just for planning purposes. It will not be the actual construction cost and you will find that the price will change. A budget is only for initial planning purposes.

Your designer should be able to help you through this process. They may be able to help you by referring a loan officer, a real estate agent, and a contractor.

If you own a lot, make sure it is able to be built upon. (Yes, there are lots that you cannot build upon, wetlands, areas of preservation, etc.)

Find out if there is public water and/or sewer available, or if you need to put a well and/or septic tank in.

Choose a look that excites you and makes you want to come home. Many features can be added to your new home, so decide what is very important to what is just a dream, or wish.

Find out if there are any HOA (Home Owners Association) rules to follow and find out what the building envelope is for your property. (Building setbacks, size restrictions, etc.) A lot of this, your designer can help you with at the beginning, but the more of this information you have, the easier the process will begin.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with dreaming. This is your home, you should be able to have some things you like. While looking at ideas, keep a folder of pictures you like, just remember, you probably won’t be able to get it all. This folder is only to help you communicate things with your designer. Your budget will decide how much you can add.


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Closing out 2020

As we close out the year 2020 and plan to welcome the year 2021, here are some things that are pertinent to the construction industry and specifically to the residential construction industry.

1. What will the lumber prices be like in the New Year?

There are many variables and I think anyone telling you they know exactly what will happen is just blowing smoke in areas you don’t want them to. There is no way to “guess” each variable correctly enough to make that statement this early in the game.

No, we have to wait and see, understanding the different avenues that could lead to higher, or lower, lumber prices.

First, we have to consider the election results. With everything in such turmoil, we do not have an absolutely clear understanding of how the inauguration will go. We do not know if President Trump will be able to overturn the current election results with his accusations of fraud, or if Biden will actually be awarded the win and be inaugurated in January. This puts our entire market system on standby, fluctuating costs as the media puts out one article after another, creating massive hysteria and division.

Something that will directly effect lumber costs is the supply of lumber. We get about 1/3 of our lumber from Canada. (They have vast amounts of forests) In the United States, we have been plagued with forest fires, depleting our current domestic supply and Canada has also had forest fires, depleting their supply. This is the old, “supply and demand” issue. Add to the depleted supply a greater demand caused by the sudden home bound worker due to COVID-19 and you get rising prices.

At first, it seemed that only treated lumber was effected, but as the year went on, it has become apparent that regular framing lumber has also become higher in demand, therefore, the cost has risen.

Now, forecast to 2021, when we begin to see the winter turn to spring and the projects turn from inside projects, like kitchens, baths, rec rooms and painting to decks, additions, sheds, etc. This is what I see happening based on the evidence shown so far.

Prices will rise as supply is less than normal. (Possibly an influx of foreign lumber to help relieve the demand, but that is another issue.) Framing lumber is easier and less expensive that treated lumber to cut and store, so you may not see the rise being as high in that market, but the treated lumber will rise higher than it has. The process to treat lumber means that less treated lumber will be available.

You will see other materials become prevalent in exterior construction. Possibly more metal framing, possibly more concrete construction. I think patios will become more popular than decks as the cost will probably become less and the availability of materials will be higher.

Metal framing will begin to gain in popularity as well. There are areas where the contractors are wood framing only and the metal industry has only gotten a small foothold into the area, especially in residential construction. I think you may see that change over the course of the next year, as people want rooms added, or new houses built, but supply becomes harder to get and higher in price.

All in all, as long as people stay working, I think the housing market will flourish, the construction industry will adapt to the changes like they always do. I think that general contractors who build houses will re-evaluate things like spec homes and construction methods, looking for sustainable and cost efficient means with which to build.

I think that those of us who are used to designing with wood need to start understanding other methods and begin to truly learn how to design with those methods. We need to also learn how to share our information with our contractors so they know there are other avenues they can take and learn how to help them, so we can survive.

I think 2021 will be a difficult year, even if COVID-19 is decimated, we will have a lot to come back from and a lot to do to build our country back up.

If you would like to know more about the services we offer, please feel free to go to our contact page and reach out in any method that you prefer. We would love to share what we do with you and see if we can help you with your project.

An extension of your company

As an outsourcing service, I strive to create an atmosphere of professionalism. Working towards the goal of becoming an extension of your company so that you do not have to worry about jobs not being completed. As an extension of your company, I do my best to help you grow and succeed, because if you grow and succeed, so do I.

Accurate quantity take-offs and Professional services.

With DFDS by your side, you have the tools at your disposal to land more jobs because you can complete more estimates. You save time, money and labor by getting professional help to plan ahead.

You can choose from the following services:

Quantity Take-off Services

By breaking the project down into the material lists that you need, we can significantly decrease the time it takes for you to price out a job.

You can choose what materials you want to take off and we will generate a list that you can send out.

If you already have staff that does your cost estimating, this may be a way to free up their time and allow them to search for the best prices, or the best subcontractors.

Cost Estimating

Maybe you are looking to get the project estimated completely and you don’t have the staff or the time to do it. I can help. I can set you up with pricing and by working with you, I can help you obtain prices and subcontractor proposals.

Since every location is different, this requires that we collaborate at first to pick the right vendors and subcontractors.

Plans remain confidential and are never shared with other companies.

A recap on why you should work with me.

  1. I can help streamline your estimating process by enabling you and your staff to work more efficiently and be able to concentrate on other aspects of your business.
  2. It allows you to bid more jobs in a shorter amount of time. This will significantly increase your chances of winning more bids.
  3. As an extension of your company, your need to hire new staff is reduced. You no longer have to incur the costs of hiring a full time employee when you only need their services on and off.

Contact us now for more information on how we can help you.

Small Companies, Big Dreams

Most small companies would like to grow. They want a better life, a better opportunity, a better company. They want tomorrow to be better than today. This is growth.

On-Demand services add technology to your business without having to buy it outright.

Small companies have to make tough decisions when faced with growth opportunities. They need to decide how much money and time they are going to spend to get to the next level. Will it be worth the effort and cost? Will I put a lot out and get very little in return?

Without large amounts of money to throw around, growth can be stopped just because there is not enough resources to go around. Not enough time to get the extra work done required to grow, not enough manpower to do everything extra and not enough money to pay for the extra resources needed.

This is why on-demand services can be such a big help.

Add manpower and time without the cost of a yearly salary for multiple people until you are ready to take that step.

On-demand services allows you to take on more work while initially spending less money. You automatically add manpower to your staff, as needed and the programs and technology needed are already there to use as needed. Your initial costs are lower than they would be if you chose to bring these in-house and what you pay out will be less than having to pay salary, insurances, taxes, etc.

With the advent of the information technology age, on-demand services have become increasingly easier to obtain. Although hiring them can mean higher hourly prices, it can still be cheaper than initially adding a new employee. On-demand also means that you do not have to keep them working and add that to your already inflated to do list. Instead, they will be there when you need them.

If you are considering growth, or you are already getting more work coming in than you can handle, then on-demand services can be a major blessing to you and your company. Do what you do best and hire out the rest.

Feel free to contact us if you are curious about our Drafting or Cost Estimating services.

Standards in the Field

Standards are everywhere, in everything. Without them, things like production and maintenance could be a nightmare. That is why we have standard ways of doing x,y, and z.

Standards are often referred to as building codes but can be a company, or industry standard as well.

As a builder, you should have standards as well. The construction industry is full of standards and often, there are several different standards for the same thing. When faced with this, you have to pick one standard that works best for your company and roll with it.

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