Ask Ruhmel

What is your cost per square foot to build a house?

It depends. This is by far the most common question we are asked. And the answer is never satisfying. Now more than ever that is the case. The cost to build a home depends on several main factors:

  • Site
  • Size
  • Selection of materials

The nice part about these factors is that two out of three are completely within your
control- size and selections. If you have a budget and needs that compliment that budget, a plan can be found/created to fit you perfectly. From there it is your ultimate responsibility, with our guidance, to select finish items for the house in the manner that suits you.

The most critical factor is the home site. If you are flexible in where you build that can also greatly alleviate site concerns. If you are looking at land get us involved as early as possible to consult and advise on house placement and ward off potential costly issues. If you have land, optimization is key and no one does it better than us.

We have built award winning and non-award winning homes that have achieved this for hundreds of happy homeowners. We’d be happy to add you to their ranks.

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What makes you so Green?

Simply put – the rules and our dedication to them. Green is such a sticky word. There is no governing authority on Green, though there are many standards that are available to adopt.

As a business we have adopted three main philosophies of Green Building:

  • Energy Star (EPA)
  • National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Green Program
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification

These doctrines are incorporated into our Shades of Green. Each has substantial merit and value to those looking to build a new home. They can both save money in operational costs and match an individuals environmental concern. There are actions that will be taken in any budget through the application of Building Science to all our homes.

As individuals we have committed to Green through the only real tool for the subject – education. We are NAHB Certified Green Professionals, and have a Building Performance Institute (BPI) Certified Building Analyst on staff. We have researched and applied Building Science principals with great effectiveness.

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What do my allowances get me and how do they work?

To allow our clients the maximum control in building their home, we do place allowances on various items that go into the structure. An allowance is simply a designated portion of the contract total that we feel will get you what you want. If you choose something of greater value than what we allot, you run into a deficit that may require additional payment. If you choose something of lesser value than what we allot, you run into a surplus that can either be applied to a different selection, or result in a refund. (Seriously – this happens more often than you’d think.)

We set allowances based on our pre-construction and pre-contract meetings. The
specifications derived from those meetings, as well as an educated feeling about your preferences will form each allowance. It’s not an exact science, but it works rather well.

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Where do you build?

Over our 30 year history, we have built in virtually every township within a forty five minute radius from the Orefield area.

Our greatest strength comes from building on other peoples home sites because of our approach to building.

We do purchase select lots when they come to our attention to make available to our clients.

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How should I choose a builder?

When evaluating builders to partner with, there are a few key factors to weigh out:

  • Specifications and detail of those specification as to what you will receive in your home package
  • Experience in delivering the type of home and homebuilding experience you desire.
  • Services offered to enhance your experience: i.e. plan libraries, selection centers, certification attainment, etc.
  • Personal meetings to get a feeling for who you will be working with over such an exciting time.

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How long does it take to build?

Construction time on most houses ranges from five to eight months. Additional time should be figured for any subdivision, permitting or surveying that maybe required to begin construction.

We work with clients from the first step through to final cleaning. Whatever hurdles are in front of you, we’ve cleared them before and will do it again.

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What is HoudenHAL and why did you build it?

HoudenHAL ([how-den-hall] n. Sustainable Home) displays all of the environmentally friendly, green and alternative energy products available on the market today. We want you, our future customer, to be able to see first hand how these technologies work, and decide for yourself which one(s) are right for you. We have been the Lehigh Valley’s leader in new home energy efficiency and are constantly exploring new ways to save energy.

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Can you help me save energy on my existing home?

Absolutely! One of the best ways to get an energy assessment of your current home is to have us conduct an energy audit. You will receive a comprehensive“to do” list of energy saving improvements that can save you big money. Sometimes the simplest things like new window weather stripping or a programmable thermostat does the trick.

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