Frequently Asked Questions
In what geographic area do you provide custom building and/or custom remodeling?
- Stony Point
- Connelly Springs
- Glen Alpine
- Rutherford College
- Cajah’s Mountain
- Cedar Rock
- Granite Falls
- North Lakes
- Lake Norma
- Long Vie
- Mountain View
- North Hickory
- Saint Stephens
- Sherrills Ford
- Bermuda Run
- Love Valley
- Boger City
- Iron Station
- Old Fort
- West Marion
- Mint Hill
- Alexander Mills
- Chimney Rock
- Forest City
- Lake Lure
- Blowing Rock
- Grandview Heights
- Mayview Park
- Valle Crucis
Is it OK to visit my home while it is under construction?
Building a new home is an exciting process and your safety is important to us. When on the job site, we prefer that you have someone from our team with you or make someone aware you may be planning an on-site visit. A construction site can be a dangerous place, especially when work is in progress. But you are welcome and encouraged to visit and see the progress of your future home. Many families like to make photo journals throughout the process to look back on after moving in.
I have an old home. Is it worth remodeling or renovating?
It depends on the age of your home, its structural condition, and what type of previous modifications it has undergone. Custom-remodeling an older home is not a one-size-fits-all issue and, if not performed correctly, can do more harm than good. An experienced contractor can perform a detailed inspection and determine what scope of work would benefit your home.
Why should I consider building an Aging-in-Place home now?
In new construction, Aging in Place design elements add very little, if any, extra cost to your home. All elements are offered in designer products today that are incredibly stylish and trendy for any home, so your Aging-in-Place home can feature amazing style and décor. Aging in Place elements add so much value to your home that it is a sensible choice as you build and plan ahead. In a society where multi-generational living is more common, these elements would provide easier movement and produce fewer, if any, barriers for relatives who may at some point live in your home.
Can you supply references?
Absolutely. We have been in business for more than 23 years and have a long list of past homeowners and projects. We would be glad to share references with you, and encourage you to call them and ask what it was like to work with our company. We suggest you do the same for any contractor you are considering. It is well worth the time it will take to make the calls.
What goes into a “green” home?
To minimize environmental impacts, green homes incorporate environmental considerations and resource-efficiency into every step of the building and development process. The design, construction and operation of a home must focus on energy as well as water-efficiency, resource-efficient building design and materials, indoor environmental quality, and the home’s overall impact on the environment. However, much of the processes and technologies that go into a green home happen behind the scenes and behind the walls, sometimes resulting in initially higher cost. Keep in mind that you must allow for a reasonable payback time when deciding to build green. By choosing spray foam over batt insulation, for example, you will reduce the amount of air and moisture that infiltrates your home by closing small areas in the structure. And that saves energy.
Can we make changes to our home once the construction has started?
Yes. Building a custom home is an evolutionary process and we expect some modifications. It would be hard to build a custom home without making some changes throughout the project. Just be aware that, depending on their scope, changes that have not been budgeted may incur additional cost.
How can I find a contractor I can trust to build/remodel my home?
When custom-building or custom-remodeling your home, it is recommended that you consider these points:
- The contractor must hold a valid building license.
- The contractor must have adequate liability insurance and workers’ compensation. Upon request, the contractor should be able to provide copies of this insurance coverage for you to keep. A contractor cannot legally obtain permits without insurance.
- Find out the number of years of experience the contractor has in home building and/or remodeling and if the experience includes projects similar to yours.
- Ask the contractor to provide a reasonable number of references (at least three or more) and call them all. Among questions to ask the reference contacts are: Would you use the contractor again? Did the contractor return calls and answer questions? Was the work continuous or were there long periods of inactivity? Was the quality up to par? Were excuses made for increasing the total cost?
- Ideally, the contractor should be active in professional associations such as NAHB (National Association of Home Builders), HBA (Hickory and Catawba Home Builders Association), BBB (Better Business Bureau), and local Chambers of Commerce.
- Ideally, the contractor should be invested in education and have earned certifications through continuing education such as CGP (Certified Green Professional), CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist), and HERS Rater (Home Energy Rating System).
- The company’s owners and job superintendent should be accessible to you throughout the project. Make sure you like them. They may be in your home a long time, so trust your instincts. If they don’t have time for you now, you will probably have trouble getting with them after the project starts.
- Will the contractor provide a detailed Price Agreement, Specifications, and Scope of Work? Beware of contractors who come in with a lower bid by leaving items out and promising to add them later.
- Finally, be very careful about selecting a contractor based on price only. If you are getting several quotes and the dollar amounts differ drastically – in excess of 30% to 50% – examine the estimates more closely, looking for any type of details or key items that are not being included. Variances that significant are not usual and you want to be well informed before making such an important decision. A reputable builder will welcome your queries and provide straightforward answers. So ask questions.
How long have you been building custom homes?
SW Associates Inc. became incorporated builders in 1992. President Stan Whittington has been building homes for over 30 years. Stan, vice-president Jimmy Houston and our other dedicated employees together have more than 100 years of combined experience. We are proud to have remained consistent and committed to the building profession through both the good times and the difficult times the industry has faced over the past several years.
How do I know I will be getting the best quality and experience?
- Our mission is to deliver superior craftsmanship and unsurpassed quality to our homeowners, and we have done that successfully for more than 23 years (see Testimonials)
- Our uncompromising dedication and honesty in a uniquely straightforward approach that removes confusion in the estimating and building processes
The SW Associates reputation of quality and customer satisfaction has been established in many ways, including:
- Testimonials from current homeowners
- Consistency and sustainability in the building industry
- A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau
- Positive reputation with the local building Vendors and Subcontractors
- Over 23 years in business
- The broad range of sizes and style of homes we construct
- Memberships in NAHB, Hickory and Catawba HBA, and Burke, Catawba, and Caldwell Chambers of Commerce
- We are constantly searching the market for new and improved building materials
- Multiple designations to improve building options: Green Builder, Certified Aging in Place, Energy Star, HERS
Is it more expensive to build a custom home?
Not necessarily. It depends on your tastes and the choices you make for your home. A speculative builder may choose finishes or products that are less expensive to keep the price competitive and his building risk lower. If you choose that same quality of finishes and materials, your home would be in the same price range.
How long will it take and how much will it cost?
Every custom home-building project is different when it comes to duration and cost. There are many variables in size, lot preparation, features and the time it takes to plan and build a home.
The time will depend largely on the size of home you are building, but factors such as weather can also play a role in the time it will take. Typically, a new-construction home takes from 10 months to a year. For a more complex design, detail and greater square footage, the project may take more than a year to construct.
SW Associates believes that time spent with customers to plan their dream home is key to avoiding disappointing surprises. Every aspect of the home is accounted for, but as with any building project, challenges are expected and will be handled quickly and effectively. You can rest assured that we take very seriously our commitment to deliver your home on schedule and to your complete satisfaction.
How do we pick a good location and lot?
As in many areas of home-building, finding the right place to build can be challenging. Often, there is a great demand for lots in prime locations, especially in the good school districts desired by families with children, or in gated communities.
There are several things to keep in mind when searching for the perfect lot or land. As this can be a very expensive investment, make sure the lot is right for the type of home you are hoping to build, and that it is in an area that you will be happy with for years to come. Do your homework by checking land values, resale values, taxes, and accessibility of utilities. Always look for that special “something” in a lot. It may be a great view, or a slope for an exposed lower level. Some customers look for building opportunities on a golf course or by a lake, while others prefer acreage with privacy.
How is SW Associates Inc. different from other custom home builders?
SW Associates Inc. combines the professional expertise and rigorous disciplines of the professional residential construction industry. We have a passion for superior craftsmanship and unsurpassed quality construction. We also have the personal dedication and honesty required to build lasting relationships with our customers. In order to give each project our personalized attention, we build only a handful of homes each year.
Stan Whittington, owner and founder, and Jimmy Houston, co-owner, will work directly with you from start to finish. Then they’ll make sure you’re still satisfied after you’ve moved in and for years to come. We build homes as if they were our own. To us, each house isn’t a home until everyone is willing to put their signature on it as a gesture of pride and accomplishment.
We’re thinking about building a custom home, but have never built before. Where should we start?
Some considerations are the same for building a home and buying an existing home. Among them are location, affordability and compatibility with your lifestyle. But deciding on building a custom home opens up an incredible and exciting array of possibilities.
When building a custom home, you need to be prepared to commit some time, especially in the planning stage. This is where your list of “must haves”, “like to haves”, and “if we could only” features begin to take shape. At the same time, you should be settling on a building lot, considering financing options and deciding on a custom home builder. Choose a reputable custom home builder who is licensed in North Carolina. Ask for references and talk to previous customers.
One of the key elements of custom home-building success is the degree of communication between the builder and the homeowner. Make sure the builder is available to you and that you are comfortable with the builder’s ability to lead you through the process. During construction, you will need to make a multitude of decisions on details. And every project may present some unexpected challenges, one of which is the weather. Be prepared to continue your commitment of time and insist on a schedule for construction, communications and a good follow-through relationship with your builder.
As you will see, building a custom home takes time and commitment, but fortunately it is an exciting and rewarding challenge that results in a custom home in which you can’t wait to begin making memories.