North Carolina Homes Interview

The Custom Home Building Process: An Interview with Ben Johnson of Will Johnson Building Company

Feb 11, 2014

“Creating a custom home can be an intimidating process. Homeowners often don’t know what to expect, how to prepare, who to hire: the list goes on. That’s why we sat down with Ben Johnson of Will Johnson Building Company to learn more about the Custom Home Building Process.

About Will Johnson Building Company:

Will Johnson Building Company was started in 1995 by Will Johnson. Before starting his own firm, Will spent 20 years assisting in the development of Fearrington in Pittsboro, NC. That experience has proven to be monumental, as it not only gave him the intimate knowledge of construction and design, but it also taught him the necessary aspects of running a successful business.

We strive daily to build meaningful and lasting relationships. We create spaces that are beautifully designed, low in maintenance, and durable enough to last a lifetime. Our goal in every project is to exceed expectations and finish strong. We love what we do. At the end of every project, we find ourselves having new friends in the clients we serve.

Will Johnson Building Company Services:

Will Johnson Building Company specializes in designing and building custom homes. We have designed and built homes ranging in size from 1,800 to 10,000sq ft. Every project, regardless of the size, get’s the same treatment. Being able to design homes from scratch or modify existing home plans in something we have found to be invaluable to us and our clients. We also have a great deal of experience with medium to large scale renovation projects.

Important Questions to ask Your Contractor:

The most important question is to ask is for a list of referrals and their contact numbers. You need to be able to call up a builder’s past clients and speak with them about the process. If they can’t provide that to you, then count them out immediately. Another great question to ask is what is included in the cost numbers being provided. A thorough estimate that takes into account all the little details such as: trash removal, porta-john rental, final site work and landscaping, and utilities connections is important when analyzing the cost of a project. Those little details, if omitted, will catch you by surprise later on. Also, be sure to ask how long a contractor has been in business and operating under the same name.

The General Custom Home Building Process:

Forming a trusting relationship between both parties is the first step. You must feel comfortable with and trust your contractor and vice versa. This comfort is achieved by taking plenty of time in the beginning to walk through all of the typical costs associated with building a home and the process by which key project milestones are accomplished and the home is complete. The next step is developing a thorough budget. This budget should include all related subcontractor quotes, quantitative material and labor takeoffs and costs, and homeowner selections. It is important that this budget is finished and whole prior to beginning construction. This insures no budget surprises during construction. The next step is putting together a schedule for the project. Your builder should give you a very detailed and written/diagramed schedule of events. The last step is the physical building of your home. By this point, we expect to have mostly all variables finalized and homeowner selections complete. Any changes needed will be addressed and managed, and reflected in monthly job reports that keep the homeowner in the loop.

How to Prepare:

Take plenty of time upfront with your builder prior to starting construction. This time is critical for developing that trusting relationship and will make your experience much more enjoyable than otherwise.

Common Issues with Custom Home Building:

The most challenging issue we face when building a custom home is balancing the budget of a project with the desired outcomes. No matter the size of the home, every person has a budget they are working within. Our biggest challenge is fitting their home within that budget.

Ideal Relationship with Client:

A very open relationship based on trust, where we can freely communicate. It is a team effort, and we are all working together to build a dream home.

Advice for Homeowners:

Make sure you continue to do activates you enjoy. Our company has a process in place to build your home, and as much as we need your thoughts and input, we also know the critical times when you need to be there to make decisions; we will give you plenty of time and help with all of that. Enjoy the process and have fun with it!

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Christopher Johnson