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New vs. Existing Homes

According to recently released data from HUD and the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 2.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 546,000 units in May. This is the highest new-home sales rate since February 2008.   The National Association of Realtors reported that the sale of previously owned homes also surged in May, rising to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.35 million, buoyed in part by the return of younger buyers who had long struggled to find a path into the market.

As the housing market returns to normal, we are seeing more and more articles on the pros and cons of buying a new home vs. an existing home.

According to recent survey by Trulia, twice as many people prefer new homes to existing homes.  A “new” home is a home that has never been lived in before, or a home purchased in the pre-construction phase. An “existing” or resale home is a home that was pre-owned. Most existing homes were built between the 1920s and the 1970s.  For the same price, 2 in 5 Americans – a sizeable 41% of the population – either somewhat or strongly prefer a newly-built home over an existing one.

Among the myriad of decisions to make when buying a home is should you purchase a new home or one that has been previously lived in.  Ultimately you have to decide which is best for you and your family.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Here are a few things to help you make an informed decision.

New homes can cost more. According to Trulia, a new home costs 20% more than a resale home.

When buying a new home, you are able to work with the builder to customize your home before construction is completed.  Depending on the Builder, you might be able to design your new home from scratch.  At a minimum, you can pick out the carpet, countertops, flooring and paint colors.  You might even get to pick out things like sinks, shower heads and door handles.

With a new home, most of the work is done for you.  You don’t have to lift a finger, a paint brush, or a hammer.  You won’t have to do much maintenance. With brand new appliances, plumbing, heating, and air, you should be repair free for at least a few years – a big financial benefit vs. an existing home.

If you are someone who takes pleasure in fixing up a home, customizing and upgrading it yourself, or tailoring it to your preferences, an existing home might be for you.

New homes come with some of the design elements that today’s lifestyle demands: open floor plans, eat-in kitchens, large master baths, and walk-in closets to name a few.

A new home will likely be more energy efficient built using high-efficiency furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters, added insulation, energy efficient windows, along with ENERGY STAR appliances that could reduce utility bills by thousands of dollars over the course of home ownership.

A new home might not include certain appliances like the refrigerator, washer and dryer.

An existing home might include appliances which are typically not included in new homes and might also include window coverings and some furniture, etc. which are usually sold for much less since they are used and a burden for the seller to move.

A new home will most likely have the option to include modern technology that many savvy homeowners want like Wi-Fi, USB plug-ins, surround sound, smart gadget capabilities and more saving you lots of time, money, and holes in the walls.

If you want to make a change to energy efficient appliances or more “smart” technology in an existing home, you could end up spending a lot of money.  An existing home was most likely built when the technology for wireless internet and smart security systems wasn’t even a thought in the builder’s mind. Upgrading to modern technology in an existing home can be expensive and can mean more holes in walls and more remodeling.

Besides the fact the home has never been lived in, a new home is clean and worry-free.

A previously owned home can be hiding huge money traps.  The home may look fine, but it could be hiding major issues beneath the surface, such as mold or water damage. The home’s systems and appliances have been used.  The water heater has produced thousands of gallons of hot water, appliances have been used hundreds or thousands of times, and the HVAC system has already weathered a number of winters and summers.  Systems and appliances that have already been used have a shorter lifespan, and may fail earlier than brand new appliances. Previous wear and tear can be hard your wallet.

There are also lifestyle factors to consider.  After all, you’re not just buying a house – you’re buying a home and a neighborhood.

A new home is generally in a neighborhood of new construction, as opposed to existing homes. New homes are created in brand new subdivisions that are having houses built all at the same time. Although some individuals may think this is a plus, it also means that you could be stuck in a construction zone for a few months or years after purchasing your new home.  Some necessities might not yet have been built close to new subdivisions, which could mean you might have to drive farther to schools, grocery stores and work.  If you’re looking for a lovely, quaint, tree-lined older neighborhood that has a well-established community of neighbors, you won’t get it for many years in a new development.

A previously owned home will be in an established neighborhood close to necessities and with a neighborhood culture.  A home in a neighborhood that has been established can be a huge boost to property values and buyer morale.

New homes are typically built on smaller lots than most older homes.  If you’re looking for that big backyard – and lots of space between your house and the next door neighbor’s, you may not find it in a new home.

Take your time and weigh the pros and cons of buying a new versus pre-owned home.  At the end of the day, new or pre-owned, your home should make you feel comfortable for years to follow.

Chuck Miller Construction Inc. believes that homes should be a safe and sacred haven. They should reflect our clients’ values and lifestyle while providing a sense of community. They should be comfortable and long lasting, be designed and built so that you can live there independently regardless of your age or physical ability, and should use energy and resources efficiently and responsibly.  So whether you decide to purchase a new home or a previously owned home, we have the knowledge, experience, and team of qualified trade contractors and suppliers to turn your dreams into reality.

Posted in: cost of building, energy-efficient remodeling, green building, home building, home buyers, homeownership, real estate, Remodeling

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Five Ways to Implement Universal Design in Your Home

Whether you’re raising a young family or beginning to enjoy an empty nest, the design of your home should meet your changing needs. Families looking to customize their homes to suit their lifestyles both now and in the future can easily implement universal design techniques.

Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design at a later point in time. Universal design enhances traditional design by incorporating elements that offer comfort, convenience and ease of use.

Multigenerational families and first-time home owners alike will appreciate the often simple and inexpensive changes that make homes livable for all household members, regardless of age or ability. Homes with universal design are more user-friendly, require lower maintenance and complement an easy-living lifestyle.

Here are five ways to implement universal design in your home:

  1. Widen your doorways and hallways to accommodate strollers or relatives who might use a wheelchair. This allows everyone and everything to move more easily in and out of the house, and from room to room. Experts recommend 36-inch wide doors and 42-inch wide halls and stairways.
  2. Build a stepless porch entry that will increase access and convenience without compromising aesthetics.
  3. Install non-slip surfaces on floors and bathtubs to help everyone stay sturdy on their feet
  4. Install handrails on steps and grab bars in bathrooms to provide more support for household members of all ages. 
  5. Use lever door handles. This easy-grip hardware allows family members and guests to more effortlessly open and close doors. Plus, you can switch out your faucet and drawer handles with C-shape or D-shape hardware for even greater ease of use.

Home building and remodeling professionals who have earned the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR) or Graduate Master Remodeler (GMR) designations have received training on how to build or renovate a home so that the occupants can live in the home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of their age or ability level. They have been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically pleasing, barrier-free living environments.  Chuck Miller is a Graduate Master Builder (GMB). a Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), and a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS).

You can find more information on Universal Design and Aging-In-Place, including our video “Make You House a Home for a Lifetime”, on the Aging-In-Place page on our website.

Contact us at (208) 229-2553 or by emailing [email protected] to schedule a preliminary design consultation to discuss your project.

Posted in: Aging-In-Place, Remodeling, Universal Design

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Desire for New Amenities Remains Top Reason to Remodel

According to remodelers polled in National Association of Home Builder’s Remodeling Market Index (RMI), the number one reason customers remodeled their homes in 2014 was a “desire for better/newer amenities.” On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 indicates never or almost never, and 5 is very often), the average rating on desire for newer amenities was 4.4 in 2014.

In second place with an average rating of 4.2 was a “Need to repair/replace old components”. A “desire for more space,” another fairly traditional reason, came in third with an average rating of 3.8; “To avoid moving or buying another home” was fourth at 3.3.

Desire to be able to age in place” (3.0), “increasing the value of the home as an investment” (2.8), and “energy efficiency/environmental concerns” (2.6) while significant factors in the remodeling market, were less powerful than the simple desire for new things and need to replace old things.

Do you fall into any of these categories? If so, Chuck Miller Construction Inc. can assist you. Contact us at (208) 229-2553 or by email to [email protected]

Posted in: energy-efficient remodeling, green remodeling, Remodeling

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Clark Attic Transformation

Gwen and Ryan Clark need more living space for entertaining and for out-of-town guests. But they loved living in Hidden Springs and did not want to move. They even considering buying another home in Hidden Springs but that would mean they would have to sell their existing home. Then they heard about the attic transformation we did for Dave and Shelley Baldiga and called us.

Posted in: Featured Projects, Remodeling

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Should I remodel or should I move to a new or newer home?

If you want to change your home, your options are remodeling or finding a new one. More and more American families are deciding to stay put and improve their existing home.

To begin with, make a list of all of the upgrades and improvements you’re considering. Be sure to include and needed maintenance. Maintaining your home in good repair is the most critical of all investments that you can make to your home. The shape it’s in matters as much (if not more than) the other attributes your home may have.

After you’ve completed your list, check out the other homes in your neighborhood. Have the other homes in your neighborhood been upgraded and improved similar to what you’re considering? As a general rule of thumb, any remodeling project that brings your home up to the level of your neighbors’ is a worthy investment. Would your proposed upgrades put your home in a higher price range than the others in your neighborhood? A remodeling investment should not raise the value of your house to more than 10-15% above the median sales price in your neighborhood.

In addition to the potential resale value, you need to consider the intangible value – the pleasure you will derive from making your home a more enjoyable place to live.

When deciding whether to remodel your existing home or move, you also need to consider the costs of selling your existing home and buying a new home. In addition to the cost of any maintenance and repairs that might be needed just to make your existing house saleable, selling your home and moving typically costs about 8-10% of the value of your current home The majority of this goes into moving expenses, closing costs, and real estate commissions – items that have no direct impact on your home’s quality.

Remodeling can be stressful, but few experiences are more stressful than moving.

Do you like your neighborhood and your neighbors? If you decide you love your neighborhood and the upgrades and improvements you’re considering wouldn’t put you over the resale limit, remodeling is probably the way to go.

Each year, Remodeling magazine conducts its “Cost vs. Value” report to assess which remodeling projects create the greatest return on investment. We have included a downloaded copy of their 2010-2011 Report for your use.

Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for Boise, Idaho 2010-11
download “Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for Boise, Idaho 2010-11 “
© 2010 Hanley Wood, LLC. Reproduced by permission. Complete city data from the Remodeling 2010–11 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at

Posted in: Remodeling

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Are you a savvy homeowner?

Your home is an investment, and the value of that investment is determined by the housing market.  According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, nearly two-thirds of homeowners say they will invest in renovation projects this year. You can increase the value of your home as an investment by increasing its energy efficiency. Energy efficiency equates to lower operating costs. Lower operating costs mean savings and that savings makes a home more desirable to potential buyers.

Research shows that eco-friendly homes are selling faster and for more money than traditional homes. In 2010, certified green homes spent an average of 97 days on the market, compared with 123 for traditionally remodeled homes. And although the numbers vary, in general they sell for 8% to 30% more.

Despite the sluggish economy and anxiety about price, “savvy” homeowners that are aware of the benefits of sustainable building solutions are willing to pay for them. Who are the “savvy” homeowners?  Savvy homeowners are the ones who know how to protect their investment. Whether purchasing or improving a home, you should realize you are making an investment with the objective of making a profit — at some point.

In an economy that’s made money a little tighter for everyone, are green improvements really necessary?  The answer to this question is “Yes.”  Homeowners should take note of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and the impending 2012 residential changes to that code because it is about to have a substantial impact on the value of your investment.

You might have heard of Bill H.R.2454 – American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.  H.R.2454 contained a provision that would have mandated energy audits and labeling before any home – new or used – was sold. The bill passed in the House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate because it was viewed as too stringent.  Since the “powers that be” cannot agree on how and where to build new energy plants to increase supply or even what types of plants to build, their only option is to decrease consumption.  So predictions are that mandated energy audits and labeling of homes will  eventually pass because of the International Energy Conservation Code and the 30 percent Energy Savings Goal changes to be enacted in 2012.

Regardless of what the federal government might mandate, the Idaho Building Code Act (Title 39 Chapter 41) requires all local governments in the State that issue building permits to adopt the most recent version of the International Building Code by January 1st of the year following its adoption by the Idaho Building Code Board.  And the adoption of the IECC 2012 code changes will eventually force you and other homeowners to incorporate green into your remodel projects or take a loss on your investment.

If you’re like most consumers, you are spending smart and looking for a greater ROI when it comes to home renovation.  Right now, it makes more sense to invest in your home than it does an IRA.  As a National Association of Home Builders Certified Green Professional, a U.S. Department of Energy Building America Builder’s Challenge Partner, and an Energy-Star 100% Builder Partner, I can help you protect your investment.   Call me at (208) 571-0755 or email me at [email protected]

Posted in: building, energy codes, energy-efficient remodeling, green building, green remodeling, home building, real estate, Remodeling, sustainable building, sustainable development

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Homeowners Seeking Increased Comfort, Not Increased Resale Value

According to ServiceMagic’s recently released Home Remodeling & Repair Index containing information compiled from 3.1 million service requests received through online marketplace from January to June of this year, as well as results from a survey of homeowners and service professionals conducted in July, homeowners are still looking to invest in home improvement projects that increase their home’s energy efficiency and contribute to better overall living quality.

When asked “Why are energy efficient home improvement projects important to you?” 35% of homeowners cited saving money on energy costs, 25% responded that saving energy helps the environment, and 23% responded it would increase the comfort of their home.

The majority of homeowners, 82%, said they were investing in home improvement projects to increase overall living quality. Only a very small percentage, 13%, were seeking to increase the value of their home. 4% were putting their house on the market and wanted to increase its value and 1% were putting their house on the market and wanted to increase its curb appeal.

Chuck Miller GMB   CGB  CGP  CAPS  MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP
President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.
(208) 229-2553
[email protected]

Posted in: Remodeling

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Building material prices continue to rise

Single-family housing starts in 2010 totaled 475,000 – a 7 percent increase over 2009 but still substantially below the 1,256,000 average starts per year from 1995 through 2003.  .Think the decrease in demand for new home construction has resulted in lower prices for building materials.  Think again.

Prices for materials used in construction actually increased 5.4 percent in all of 2010.  Prices increased at double-digit rates over the year for four key construction materials. Diesel fuel prices climbed 28 percent in 2010; steel mill product prices rose 12.5 percent (think rebar, nails, kitchen sinks, appliances, etc.); copper and brass mill shape prices were up 12 percent (think electrical wiring, water supply valves and fittings); and prices for aluminum mill shapes rose 12 percent over the year.  Other items that contributed to the climb included lumber and plywood, 5.7 percent; architectural coatings, primarily paint, 1.5 percent; brick and structural clay tile, 1.0 percent; gypsum products, 3.4 percent; asphalt, 4.6 percent; and insulation materials, 4.4 percent.  The National Association of Home Builders predicts single-family housing starts will increase 21 percent to 575,000 in 2011.  Although the demand for construction in the United States will remain relatively weak, the price increases are likely to intensify in 2011 as global demand for construction materials grows.

Have you been waiting to build your new home or remodel your existing home hoping prices will continue to fall?  You might have already waited too long.

Chuck Miller GMB   CGB  CGP  CAPS  MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP

President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.

(208) 229-2553

[email protected]

Posted in: building, building material prices, cost of building, Remodeling

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May is National Remodeling Month

Did you know that May is National Remodeling Month?  Since the downturn in new residential construction that began in 2007, the media has been focusing on the number of new starts as the key indicator of the health of the residential construction industry.  But focusing on the number of starts ignores an increasingly important component of residential construction – remodeling.

Not only is May National Remodeling Month but, according to David Crowe, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders, depending upon how you measure it, remodeling has taken over first place in total residential construction expenditures.

There are two measures of remodeling activity.  The U.S. Census Bureau measure or residential construction spending only counts improvements to owner-occupied homes.  In January 2010, that component accounted for 48% of all residential construction spending.  Prior to the recent mid-decade construction boom, improvements to owner-occupied homes accounted for approximately 25% of all new-residential construction spending.  During the boom, it fell to 21%.  But improvements to owner-occupied homes have exceeded new-single family construction value since February 2009.

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis which measures the U.S. Gross Domestic Product includes within its residential construction spending accounts for residential remodeling of rental, vacant, and second homes in addition to owner-occupied homes. In 2008, this broader measure of residential improvement expenditures accounted for 42% of all residential construction,  In 2009, it is expected to top 50%. Prior to the mid-decade construction boom, this broader measure of residential improvement expenditures averaged around 30% of all residential construction spending.  It fell to 25%.  But improvements to owner-occupied homes have exceeded new-single family construction value since February 2009.

Professional remodeling activities are concentrated in the 85 million homes that are 25 years old and older.  About one-fifth of the owners of these homes spent and average of $11,400 on professional remodeling in 2007.

There are two primary drivers – the energy tax credits and the Baby-Boomers who are choosing to remain in their existing homes.

Improvement to increase the energy-efficiency of your home and remodeling for Aging-in-Place to allow you to live in your home independently regardless of age or ability are two of our specialties.  To learn more, visit our website

 Chuck Miller GMB   CGB   CGP  MIRM   CMP   MCSP   CSP

President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.

(208) 229-2553  (208) 571-0755

[email protected]

Posted in: Remodeling

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