Why Am I Being Charged For This?

I’m often asked, “What will this really cost me?”  The short answer is NDI charges a base price and we charge for upgrades.  We also charge for custom changes IF that custom change costs us more labor or material.  For example, if a client wants to move windows from the Living Room to Study, that doesn’t cost additional material or labor so that would be a no charge item.  Now if a client wants to add windows to the Study, NDI will be charged from our window supplier, framer, trim carpenter, painter, cleaner, etc.  In that case, we have to charge the client for that change.  Understandable right?

So what about other “incidental charges” that may come up during the process.  Our house budgets are tight.  We know down to the nickel what it costs to build every model in our portfolio.  What we don’t know is how the conditions of the client’s site will impact the house.

If you drive around your neighborhood, you will see that some homes have 1 step leading into the house.  Some have 3.  Some may have 5 or more.  The number of steps depends on the grade of the lot and the elevation of the house.  So how many steps do we include in our base budget?  We don’t think it’s fair to charge every client for 5 steps so we include 1.  That way you are only paying for what you actually need.

Another example is the foundation.  Our base price includes the typical 4’ foundation wall at the garage.  In some cases, the soil on the lot won’t support a 4’ wall so an 8’ wall must be built.  Again, we don’t think it’s fair to charge every client for 8’ garage walls so we include the typical 4’ foundation wall at the garage.

Some people might want to budget for all possible incidentals but at some point that becomes impossible. Our pricing philosophy has always been to keep our base pricing as low as possible so that building a custom home is attainable for everyone.  In determining what is included in that pricing, we strive to apply conditions that occur the majority of the time.  We think this provides the best opportunity for our clients to get the best value in their home without paying for something that isn’t always required.

We know with this philosophy comes responsibility.  That responsibility is to prepare our clients for the unexpected.   Here are the most common incidental costs:

Extra steps and/or rails. The number of steps depends on the grade of the lot and the elevation of the house.

Foundation Issues. Poor soil conditions can require additional concrete or additional foundation support.

Hung Sewer. A gravity sewer is included in the base house.  If the basement plumbing can’t be installed using a gravity system, a hung sewer system must be installed.

Pumping water out of the basement. Until power is on and the sump pump can be installed, there is no way to get ground water that collects under the foundation out and away from the foundation.  In some cases, water will need to be pumped out of the foundation.  Not all basements will have this condition.  It just depends on the site.  Once the power is on and the sump pump is working, ground water can be kept out of the basement.

Trade Permits. The base price doesn’t include permit fees including trade permits.  Trade permits are pulled after construction has started.  The cost of trade permits depends on the house being built and the county in which the house is being built.

As you can see, it would be impossible (and unfair) to try and include these costs in our base pricing when all sites don’t require them and the cost can vary from site to site and house to house.  We think it’s more important to advise our clients of potential incidentals and allow them to choose if they’d like to include that in their budget or just handle those incidental charges if and when they come up.

I think this approach is the best way to prepare a client for the build.  It gives them flexibility to budget the way they feel most comfortable and they only pay for what happens.  Not for what may happen. Some instances aren’t cut and dry and might seem unfair.  We support an open dialogue and always address concerns.

Dream Big.  Build Smart.

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