Serving The Sacramento Region & Northern California

What to Expect When Building with ESI

Building a custom home is a unique, exciting, and daunting experience. One of the greatest benefits to building a custom home is that you get to design and select nearly every single element of your new home. It is, quite literally, making a dream come true. The builder you choose, such as our team here at ESI Builders, can be your most valuable partner in the process.

The custom home building process consists of many steps. Ideally, these happen in a well-planned sequence, but delays or issues are inevitable. Additionally, in the Sacramento region’s current housing market, many contractors are booked out over a year or more in advance. This high demand is partially due to masses of people moving out of larger metropolitan areas and into suburbs.

Everyone’s experience building a home will be unique, but the basic road map is the same. At ESI Builders, we strive to educate you and make every step of building a custom home easy to understand. As you contemplate this significant investment, we suggest planning your project with plenty of time in mind. A custom home often takes 15 to 16 months – or about a year and a half – to reach completion. 

We’ve divided the custom home building process into 5 phases based on major milestones. By familiarizing yourself with the overall process and timeline, you can be better prepared for what to expect along the way.


Phase 1 – The Dream

Every custom home starts with a dream. The day when you wake up and realize you’re ready to build the home you’ve been talking about for years. 

How long you stay in this step depends on you. You could spend weeks, months, or years gathering ideas for your custom home. There’s a lot to think about, from location preferences, to views, to specific design elements. The resulting resources you compile could include photos of other homes you like, optimal floor-plans, or even lists of things you want (or don’t want) for your dream home.

It’s important during this early phase to speak with experts about the financial feasibility of your custom home and put together a general budget for the entire project. There are many project costs to consider, including soft costs – such as design and consultant fees – and hard costs – which include actual construction labor and materials. Many people are confused about the true cost of a new custom home and which costs are included in the “cost per square foot” the industry uses to compare. Most soft costs and all hard costs are included in this calculation – the land, design plans, engineering, and permitting expenses are not.

The ESI Builders team always recommends including a contingency fund of 5 to 8 percent of your overall construction budget. No matter how well planned your project is, it’s common for technical issues, commodity price increases, or changes you make to occur once construction has started. You will need some buffer.


Phase 2 – The Search

Once you have a dream – and a budget – in mind, the next stage of building your custom home involves two important searches: the hunt for land to build your custom home on and a qualified designer and builder to plan and build it. 

The land your home is built on has an impact on its design and construction cost. As you consider financial feasibility and neighborhood preferences, you’ll be able identify sites for your new home. It’s important to work closely with your realtor during this stage and make your preferences clear.

A realtor is just one member of your “dream team.” Building a custom home is a team sport. Your core team will be made up of the architect/designer and the general contractor. We recommend that you begin your search for contractors in your area as soon as possible – even before you select a land parcel. Builders and contractors are busy across the board and, if you’re planning your dream home, you don’t want to settle for the contractor that’s first available. You want the contractor that’s best for you.


Phase 3 – Scoping & Design

Clear and effective communication is critical to make every custom home project. There are several steps a builder can take to clarify your needs.

The first is a lot evaluation. The ESI Builders team conducts physical lot evaluations and consultations with engineers and experts to assess potential building restrictions on every lot. We want you, the architects, and even key subcontractors to know what opportunities and limitations might exist before the design is finalized. Factors such as slope, distance to utilities, views, oak tree locations, and soil conditions all affect the usability of a lot, the budget, and how a home might best be positioned or designed.

With the lot reviewed and information gathered, ESI’s next step is to meet with you and your architect/designer to understand your goals for the size, features, and key elements of your home. We do this through customized questionnaires, scoping and design review meetings, and multiple designs and iterations with architects and design partners.

Hand in hand with you, ESI Builders will help make your vision a reality.


Phase 4 – Cost Estimates, Schedule & Contracting

Once you’re comfortable with the final design of your custom home, we will reach out to proven subcontractors and tradesmen to finalize your project costs and set a workable schedule.

With over 30 years working with key partners in Northern California, we have a number of outstanding craftsmen and subcontractors that work as an extension of our team and who meet or exceed our standards of excellence.

Based on final costs and material selections, we’ll work through a simple, yet protective, contracting process for your custom home.


Phase 5 – Completion, Ongoing Support & Move-In

For ESI, completion of your custom home is more than just cleaning-up and walking out.

Once all trade work is complete and passes our Quality Assurance Standards, we hold an orientation meeting to provide you with a final project binder and comprehensive package, including information on appliance warranties, material specifications, and more. 

We will also solicit your feedback and input on the project, in the interest of our continued improvement as a builder. In addition, we stand by our work with an extensive warranty. We are local, and, as your partner, we are committed to your long-term satisfaction!

The last step of the process is to move in. We know that moving can be stressful, but we encourage you to take the time to enjoy all of the design selections you’ve made that make your home uniquely yours. You’ve worked hard to create your dream home, now it’s time to enjoy it!

We hope this outline helps you anticipate what to expect when you start planning to build a custom home. It’s an exciting process and worth every minute in the end! If you’re thinking about building in the Sacramento area, contact our team today to get started!