The article below appeared in the Dayton Daily Newspaper and was written by Adam Zengel. 


Top 10 list for a new home build or remodel

By: Adam Zengel

Past President, Home Builders Association of Dayton

            While I didn’t tune into the Late show with David Letterman very often, I do recall his “Top Ten” List each episode. Each evening, David compiled a list of 10 of the top items of some sort of current event, fad, or topic, starting with No. 10 and ending with No. 1.

            While we are in the midst of the holiday season, but before the new year starts and brings change or resolutions, I wanted to share a Top Ten List for those considering a new home, and those considering adding onto or remodeling their current home.

            If this was a website of some sort, this is where one would have to click on the little square where you agree to the terms and conditions. This is also where I would disclaim that this list is in no definitive order, and that it does not pertain directly or specifically to any of my current clients nor are the opinions expressed below necessarily the views of the Home Builders Association of Dayton.

            I use the term “builder” as gender neutral, and it applies to a builder or remodeler in this context. If you agree with my terms and conditions, you may continue reading; if not, please proceed on to the article written by the president of the Dayton Area Board of Realtors.

            “Top Ten” list of things to consider before building a new home or remodeling:

1.     Building lots: Lots are going to be harder and harder to find. Typically, only national builders are able to buy out entire developments. This allows them to build the style, price range and type of home they want. (Think chain verses local restaurants.)

2.     Material costs: Building and remodeling costs will continue to outpace inflation (and possibly your wages). The demand for building materials to rebuild areas in Florida and Texas that were destroyed by hurricanes, along with the fires in California, will push prices upward.

3.     Labor costs: The shortage of good and experienced tradespeople continues to be a major hurdle for area builders. Furthermore, rebuilding the areas I just mentioned offers better winter work weather than the Midwest. Your builder or contractor has a budget for labor and is challenged to find good quality craftsmen for each project.

4.     Interest rates: They are low, have been low, and historically, will continue to be low for a while. Consider basing your new home or project on what you actually need, not the maximum you can afford to pay. You want to look back on your new home or project and say, “I am glad we did this” rather than “why did we do this?”

5.     Formal dining room: Can we just ditch the formal dining room? For the amount of time we spend there, why do we keep including them in new homes? Realistically we are talking two or three times per year, so why have a “formal” room, when some of the guests wear shorts, flip flops and T-shirts? Rather than owning unused space, consider making this into a home office or media room.

6.     Master bathroom: If you don’t use a whirlpool now, it is likely you won’t in your new home or remodeled bathroom. Use the space for a closet or a large walk-in shower. Furthermore, ask your builder or contractor about “aging in place” features to incorporate into your bathroom.

7.     Choosing your builder (part 1): You are going to be spending between three to nine months with your builder. Get to know him or her beforehand, and make sure you feel comfortable and trust that person. Ensure your builder has a good understanding of what you want, and make sure you have a good understanding of what he or she is going to do.

8.     Choosing your builder (part 2): Focus your search on builders your instincts mark as “good” before you get too focused on the price. A large percentage of the cost for a new home build or remodel project will be similar for many builders. As an example, we all have to have four inches of concrete and studs that are 16 inches on center. We are going to pay about the same amount for a sheet of oriented strand board, or a bundle of shingles. If there is a large difference in price between builder A and builder B, you probably aren’t comparing apples to apples.

9.     Do your homework: Once you have made your decision, work closely with the builder you choose and the trade partners the builder teams with. Your builder has systems and processes in place that work not just for him, but for the client as well. Building a home or bringing a project within budget within a reasonable timeframe, and having a happy customer, is a success for both the builder and the homeowner.

10. Cost: Your new home or project will be an expense, maybe even a large expense. Comparing the cost of the new home or room remodel to the price your paid for your first, second or current home is like comparing the price of a new car to the trade-in value of a 10-year old used car. The materials, features and technology in today’s materials are far superior to what you currently have or what you had previously.

            To find your new builder or remodeler, contact the HBA or visit for a member directory.