Getting Started




1. Organizing the Process

Research as much information as you need for making an educated decision.


Building a custom home is a serious undertaking. An extensive period of planning, organizing, and anticipation usually precedes it. Most new homebuyers only build once or twice in their lifetime and are naturally inexperienced in making the many decisions that will be necessary in this planning process. The process can seem overwhelming and frustrating at times. Patience, understanding, and a good source of information are key in planning, designing, and building your new custom home. The place to start is organizing your wants and needs for your new home. Write down your specific concerns or ideas that you can describe to your home’s designer/builder. Then take the next step and create a profile on Houzz, the home design website that allows you to keep all your thoughts and ideas organized in one convenient place. Houzz lets you keep track of interior as well as exterior design ideas by saving specific photos into ideabooks, where you can make notes of colors and design

Write down all your thought and ideas about this project and the more organized you are the more accurate your project will be. Stay focused on the project when working on one area and put the project away when it becomes frustrating. Keep your thoughts organized and at your fingertips and this will help lower your level of frustration. Planning, designing and building should be an enjoyable experience for you if you take one step at a time and do not rush the planning and designing process. When working with your partner remember to compromise and be considerate of each other’s ideas and needs.

Research as must information as you need for making an educated decision. At Jonathon Custom homes we have a list of suppliers and sales people for you to shop your product selections. Each supplier will give you a written price for you to keep in you organizer. The selection of products you should research are exterior finishes, windows, exterior doors, driveway finishes, roofing, appliances, hardware, flooring, cabinetry, interior trim work, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, audiovisual systems, security systems, phone systems, and any special areas you will want. Your selections of product will help set your estimated budget allowances for your new home. Using the Internet for research will help easily identify brand name products and specifications. Have a meeting with an experienced Certified Builder who will share information and ideas to help you with your budgeting, financing, lot selection, home design and material specifications. A good custom builder will have all the information you need to make your planning and design decisions.

Call us at Jonathon Custom Homes at 713-350-9822

2. Selecting a builder consultant

Planning your custom home will require all the best information you can find.


You may wish to select your builder early on to get the benefit of an expert opinion on the estimated pricing, lot selections, designs, description of materials, product selections, building specifications and general construction consulting.

Planning your custom home will require all the best information you can find. Choose an experienced Certified Builder (Certified Graduate Builder CGB or a Graduate Master Builder GMB).

• Choose a qualified reputable builder who has been building in your area for no less than ten years. The experience builder will know the area landscape, storm drainage, property boundaries, property values, sewer and water locations, electrical power and natural gas availability, fault line locations, traffic patterns, building codes and inspections, and the neighbor hood desirability.

• A good custom homebuilder and his trades will care about the construction of the new home as if it where his own. He should be willing to communicate with you as often as necessary and be willing to offer his opinion or suggestions so you can make quality decisions.

• Does this builder have good quality tradesman? Ask his previous clients about his contractor’s ability to do a good job. Contractors may not always be perfect, but if they care about their work and care about customer satisfaction the finished work will be up to your expectations.

• Ask each custom homebuilder if he will be overseeing the management of the construction site or will his superintendents be running the project? Even if the builder has superintendents does he at less inspect the job site 4 to 5 times a week? What role does the builder play in the construction of your new home? Will he be the one in control and managing the project?

• Will the builder be willing to walk you through the home before certain stages of construction to make sure of designs and locations of built-ins, electrical switches, outlets, lighting and decorative features that need to be located where you want them?

• Be sure the builder is financially sound enough to complete the project. Ask him to give you bank references. Talk to homeowners he has built custom homes for about how well he had control over the construction project. Can he manage your construction loan draws to your satisfaction?

• Ask about his budgeting system, is he fully computerized? Ask if the builder will show you the new home budget. Ask if the builder has a budget vs. cost accounting software designed for custom homebuilding. This will help assure you that he can stay on budget with his weekly reporting system.

• Ask each builder if he uses separate checking accounts for each project. This is an important question. You do not want your construction loan moneys used for another project.

• Is the custom homebuilder a professional? Is he a member of his local, state and national builders associations; the Greater Houston Builders Association, Texas Homebuilders Assoc., and the National Builders Association? Does this builder practice good building ethics with his clients? Does the builder have a good understanding of the building industry?

• Does your builder participate in a continuing education programs for builders? Is your builder a Certified Graduate Builder CGB or Graduate Master Builder GMB? This is a continuing education certification program set up by local, state and national builder’s associations and requires many hours of specific building and developing courses to acquire certification.

• Does the builder’s construction contract give a clear guideline for your building process? Is it thorough enough to cover the worst of problems? Does it cover insurance, change order procedures, warranties, construction time, disputes, financing, builder’s liabilities, budgets, specifications of construction and allowances?

• Does the homebuilder have written company procedures and construction manuals? Jonathon Casada Custom Homes can answer yes to these entire questions and will look forward to your interview us. We hope that you will choose JONATHON CASADA CUSTOM HOMES to build your new dream home.

3. Estimating a Budget

The third step in planning a new home should be to establish your best guess estimated budget (the estimated cost to build).


The third step in planning a new home should be to establish your best guess estimated budget (the estimated cost to build). The best way to do this is to contact a reputable and experienced certified builder to set up a meeting to discuss your lot location, concept plans and ideas for building your new custom home. Knowing how much you want to spend for your home will help the builders and the mortgage bankers when they are offering advice. If you have done a little planning you will be able to describe some details about the home you want regarding square footage size and some of the things that you will want in your new home. Have a good idea about what products you want. Every homebuyer has different wants and needs and no two custom designed homes are the same. It is very difficult for a builder to give an exact price on just a concept home. But you should be able to get a rough estimate within $25,000 to $75,000 of the total price provided you do not add items at blueprinting stage or later. A rough estimate can sometimes be calculated by price per square foot but again the builder is estimating a concept home and not a completed blueprint drawing. You will need to know what you can and cannot afford to build when it comes down to lot selections, blueprint designing, mortgage financing, and selection allowances. Hard pricing will come after the plans, engineering, and soils reports are completed. This later bidding process will lead to your contract price

4. Selecting a Mortgage Banker

Finding the right mortgage company and terms of your loan will take some research and analyzing.


There are many different style and type of home loans. Finding the right mortgage company and terms of your loan will take some research and analyzing. Select two or three recommended Banks or mortgage companies that fit your personal and financial needs. Ask your builder for references of bankers and/or mortgage companies used most often and who are experienced. A certified custom homebuilder will have some recommendations to choose from. When a new home mortgage is involved, a pre-approval should be obtained from a competent mortgage company reflecting the maximum amount you are qualified to borrow. Choose your lender and loan officer carefully.

The complexities of financing the building of a new home are far different from a simple refinance or purchasing a pre-owned home. Lenders not experienced in new construction loans could cost you thousands of dollars in additional closing cost. You should contact these mortgage lenders or bankers to help establish how much you can afford to invest in a new home. Knowing the amount of money you can finance is important in planning and estimating your down payment, monthly payments, and terms of your mortgage loan. Your personal income, credit report, financial assets and liability risk are the areas that determine the bankers formula for loan approval This knowledge will help you choose the total price of what you can afford to build and budget into a new home.

Some mortgage loan programs provide you with both construction financing and permanent financing called a “one time close”. If you qualify, you should consider the one time close program as this can offer substantial savings. There are many other financing programs available. Choose a loan program that best fits your needs as far as terms and interest rates. With construction financing and permanent financing in place, you are at a decided advantage knowing what you want to spend when dealing with the professionals who will design and build your new home.

5. Location and Lot Selection

Choosing a lot can be confusing and complicated. First you will need to choose the area you want to live in.


Choosing a lot can be confusing and complicated. First you will need to choose the area you want to live in. The City of Houston, Memorial Villages, Master planned communities, Country estates and surrounds areas all have their own types of lifestyles and conveniences to be considered. Individual lifestyles are the first thing you will need to identify before you choose your area location. Lifestyles are conveniences and affordability within your daily living needs. Information and research will help in locating the areas to select. Your certified homebuilder will have experienced information to share with you about locations in his building areas. The Internet is a great access also to area locations and descriptions of individual lifestyles. Here are some items to look for in selecting your location. Trees, surrounding views, schools, shopping, drainage, traffic noise levels, fault lines, street access, tax evaluations, home appraisals, security and life styles are important in area selection. Each area will have different restrictions and building code variations. Check with the neighbors about area flooding and drainage. Cost of property has to be taken into account when you are trying to stay within a specific budgeted amount for your home. The general rule used is the lot price should not exceed approximately one third of the entire cost of the house.

The size of a property is important if you want a larger home with a three-car garage, a large backyard and a swimming pool. Square footage of the lot is important but the homes building pad area is determined by the front, back, and side building lines. This is the only area your home can be built on. Trees on the property may not be in the best location for building a new home or installing a circle driveway. Drainage and tree locations need to be taken into consideration when positioning a new home on the lot and budgeting for engineered drainage systems. You will also need to be aware of any utility easements on the property that restrict a new home. Look for the location of the electrical power, natural gas, telephones, cable TV and check with the city about sewer and water locations. The side entry style garages need wider lot sizes and driveway access. Architectural neighbor hood control boards and deed restrictions need to be known before you purchase a lot and design your new home.

6. Blueprint Designing

New home architects and designers specialize in a wide variety of design styles, and square footage sizes.


Choosing your architect designer carefully is another step that is important. New home architects and designers specialize in a wide variety of design styles, and square footage sizes. Ask your builder to recommend three architect designers and interview each one to see if they fit your criteria. Choose the one whose designs most closely reflecting your taste and budget. Remember that designer architects do not build homes but only design the concept ideas you give to them. Your organized planning efforts will benefit the out come of this design concept blueprinting stage. Designer architects do not price out new homes and do not know how to keep you within your budget. Nor do they know the best materials and techniques in building a custom home.

It is important that you have a good idea of what style and square footage home you want to build when you first meet with the architect. We suggest that you bring your consulting builder with you to the architect designer office. Take your notebook with all the ideas you have organized room by room with you to this meeting. Make sure you have completed your organized with the list of the number of rooms you would like to have in your home. Bedrooms, study, entryway, living room, dining room, wine room, kitchen, family room, utility, master bedroom/bath, closets, game room, 2 or 3 car garage, storage areas, attics, stairways, breakfast room, work room, porches, patios, balconies, media room, maid’s quarters, pool house, secondary bath rooms, secret room and any other special rooms you will want added to your floor plans. Room size is also very important for your designer to create your floor plan to your needs. Sometimes your designer or builder can help you decide on room size, but the best way is to visually see a room you like or that feels comfortable in and measure it out. Keep in mind you may need to stay within a budgeted square footage so you may need to compromise on some room sizes.

Front elevations of a home can be hard to describe to the designer so we recommend that you take three pictures of homes that closely resemble the style you like the most and use them to describe what you like about them to the designer. If the new home you are planning is large and or complex you may need to consult a builder and or interior decorator to get their ideas on what you want to design. A builder may be able to estimate a rough price for you so you will have an idea of price per square foot. It serves no purpose to design a new home that, at the onset, is beyond your budgeted means.

7. Building Material Specifications

Your new home will be made up of hundreds of building components.


With your organized notebook planner you will be able to put together a detailed list of materials that you have already decided on. Building specifications are very important because they describe the work and materials to be used on your new home. The best specification list will help minimize future misunderstandings from arising during construction. The effort you spend developing and planning your building and material specifications will pay off dramatically in getting the home you want at the best price. The building specifications will describe each area of construction, materials being used, and the allowance on moneys for selecting your decorative choices. These areas will include the foundation, framing structure, roofing system, exterior finishes, electrical, air-conditioning, plumbing, insulation, windows and doors, painting, tile work, flooring, countertops, cabinetry, landscaping allowance, and all other areas of construction. Your new home will be made up of hundreds of building components. Each component will require price vs. quality descriptions for you. Either you will make these decisions or your builder can recommend some standard building ideas for you. This material specification sheet will be part of the final contract as an addendum and will be followed through out the construction process. Ask us for our “Standard form Building your Specifications and Materials List” for more information and ideas. We can assist you in put this specification sheet together in just a few hours with our questions and your answers.

8. Final Pricing of your New Home

Subcontractors will bid on each separate area of their expertise.


With a complete set of plans, structural engineering and drainage engineering, (if required), and a well thought out specifications list, you are ready for your builder to give you an accurate price for your new home. The builder now can start working on all the material take offs and bidding proposals. Subcontractors will bid on each separate area of their expertise. Price proposals will be entered into our computer budget category. The decorating selection allowances will also be entered into the budget price. The budget categories will have line items with cost code numbers that correlate with our quick book pro checking register system. The totals from our project budget will be the final price that is used in getting you our best-estimated cost. We will review the construction cost with each client and add or reduce the cost of the construction where necessary.

9. Reviewing contract documents

Any statements not written into this document do not bind the builder or the homeowners.


A certified custom homebuilder will have a standard contract to handle each style of an agreement with the new homeowners. This is a contract be used and approved from the Greater Houston Builders Association. This contract document creates important legal obligations that you should understand prior to signing. If you are uncertain about your rights or obligations under this contract, you may wish to consult an attorney. Each page describes the process by individual numbered paragraph. Any statements not written into this document do not bind the builder or the homeowners. The purchaser represents that the purchaser has read and understands this entire contract, including the agreement for binding arbitration of disputes related to this contract. Purchaser also represents that purchaser is relying upon no verbal statements, promises or condition not specifically set forth in this contract. It is acknowledged that the builder is relying on these representations and would not enter into this contract without this understanding.

10. Construction Start up

It is important for the client to make all their selections as early as possible so not to slow down the building construction process.


At this time construction may start by submitting the blueprints and engineering to the City for permitting and applying for architectural approval with the neighbor hoods architectural committee. If there is an old house to demolish and trees to be removal this will be the first step in starting construction on the site. Piers and the foundation is the next step in the starting of construction and will be the beginning of the structure to come. It is important for the client to make all their selections as early as possible so not to slow down the building construction process. We give our homeowners an estimated timetable of the construction process to help them track and be aware when selection are needed. We at Jonathon Casada Custom Homes would like to be your homebuilder of choice. Call us at any time to schedule an appointment at 713-350-9822