Where to Skimp and Where to Splurge When Building a New Custom Home

Building a custom home is an exciting journey that allows you to create a living space tailored to your tastes and needs. However, with countless decisions to make and a budget to consider, it’s crucial to know where to skimp and where to splurge to get the most value out of your investment. Here’s a guide to help you make those decisions wisely. 


Where to Splurge 

  1. Kitchen
  • Why Splurge: The kitchen is often the heart of the home, a place for family gatherings and entertaining guests. High-quality appliances, durable countertops, and custom cabinetry not only enhance functionality but also add significant value to your home.
  • Splurge Suggestions: Invest in good quality appliances, stone countertops like granite or quartz, and custom cabinets. 
  1. Bathrooms
  • Why Splurge: Bathrooms are another area where quality matters, both for personal enjoyment and resale value. Quality fixtures, interesting tiles, and efficient layouts can make a big difference.
  • Splurge Suggestions: Go for high-end fixtures, durable tiles, and perhaps a freestanding bathtub or a spacious shower with multiple heads. 
  1. Windows and Doors
  • Why Splurge: Quality windows and doors improve energy efficiency, security, and aesthetic appeal. They also provide better insulation, which can save on energy costs in the long run.
  • Splurge Suggestions: Choose energy-efficient, double-glazed windows and solid, secure exterior doors. Consider large windows or sliding glass doors to enhance natural light. 
  1. Insulation and Energy Efficiency
  • Why Splurge: Investing in good insulation and energy-efficient systems can lead to significant savings on utility bills and make your home more comfortable year-round. Consider spray foam insulation for the ceilings at a minimum, and for the rest of the house if budget allows.
  • Splurge Suggestions: High-quality insulation, energy-efficient HVAC systems, and possibly even renewable energy solutions like solar panels. 
  1. Flooring
  • Why Splurge: Durable and aesthetically pleasing flooring can withstand daily wear and tear while adding to the home’s overall appeal.
  • Splurge Suggestions: Hardwood, stone, or high-end tile flooring in high-traffic areas like the living room, kitchen, and entryways. 


Where to Skimp 

  1. Secondary Bedrooms
  • Why Skimp: Secondary bedrooms are typically used less frequently and for shorter periods. While they should still be comfortable and functional, they don’t need to be outfitted with top-of-the-line materials.
  • Skimp Suggestions: Use less expensive tile or laminate flooring and standard fixtures and fittings when necessary. 
  1. Light Fixtures
  • Why Skimp: There are plenty of stylish yet affordable lighting options available. Spending less on lighting doesn’t mean you have to compromise on style.
  • Skimp Suggestions: Choose budget-friendly, attractive light fixtures and save the splurge for key areas like the entry or dining room chandelier. 
  1. Interior Doors
  • Why Skimp: Interior doors don’t face the same wear and tear as exterior doors and can be easily updated down the road.
  • Skimp Suggestions: Standard, pre-fabricated doors work just fine for interior use. 
  1. Landscaping
  • Why Skimp: While a beautiful yard is desirable, landscaping can be a continuous and gradual project. You can start with the basics and add more elaborate features over time.
  • Skimp Suggestions: Initially focus on essential landscaping and plan for future enhancements as your budget allows. Having a long-term design in mind will help avoid unnecessary costs.
  1. Cabinet Hardware and Small Fixtures
  • Why Skimp: These items can be easily upgraded later on if desired and often have affordable yet stylish options available.
  • Skimp Suggestions: Select basic, functional hardware and fixtures that can be swapped out as trends or tastes change. 


In conclusion, building a custom home involves balancing your budget while ensuring you get the quality and features you desire. By strategically deciding where to skimp and where to splurge, you can create a beautiful, functional home without breaking the bank. Focus your spending on high-impact areas that enhance daily living and long-term value, and opt for cost-effective choices in areas that can be upgraded later. With thoughtful planning and prioritization, your custom home will be a true reflection of your vision and a wise investment for the future. If you’d like to learn more, contact SM Built at office@smbuilt.com.

Navigating Building Codes When Constructing Your Custom Home

Building a new custom home is an exciting endeavor, offering you the opportunity to create a space that perfectly suits your lifestyle and preferences. However, it also involves navigating a complex web of building codes and regulations. Understanding these codes is crucial for ensuring that your project is safe, legal, and up to standard. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you navigate the various building codes when building your new custom home. 

Understanding Building Codes 

What Are Building Codes? 

Building codes are sets of regulations that specify the minimum standards for the construction, design, and maintenance of buildings. They cover a wide range of aspects, including structural integrity, fire safety, electrical systems, plumbing, energy efficiency, and accessibility. 


Why Are Building Codes Important?

  • Safety: Ensures the safety and well-being of occupants by setting standards for structural integrity, fire protection, and other critical elements.
  • Quality: Promotes high-quality construction practices and materials.
  • Legal Compliance: Prevents legal issues by ensuring that your home complies with local, state, and national regulations.
  • Resale Value: Homes built to code are easier to sell and typically command higher prices. 

Key Areas of Building Codes 

  1. Structural Integrity 
  • Requirements: Codes specify standards for the foundation, framing, load-bearing walls, and other structural elements to ensure the home can withstand various stresses.
  • Considerations: Ensure your design plans meet local seismic, wind, and snow load requirements. 
  1. Electrical Systems
  • Requirements: Include proper installation of wiring, outlets, circuit breakers, and grounding systems to prevent electrical hazards.
  • Considerations: Hire a licensed electrician to ensure all electrical work complies with the National Electrical Code (NEC) and local amendments.
  1. Plumbing
  • Requirements: Cover the installation of pipes, fixtures, and drainage systems to ensure safe and sanitary water supply and waste removal.
  • Considerations: Use certified materials and hire licensed plumbers to ensure compliance with local plumbing codes. 
  1. Fire Safety
  • Requirements: Include standards for fire-resistant materials, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems, and egress routes.
  • Considerations: Integrate fire safety features into your design early to comply with codes and enhance occupant safety. 
  1. Energy Efficiency
  • Requirements: Codes mandate insulation, windows, HVAC systems, and other elements to promote energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.
  • Considerations: Follow the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and local guidelines to improve your home’s energy performance.
  1. Accessibility
  • Requirements: In some areas, codes require certain features to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities.
  • Considerations: Incorporate universal design principles to future-proof your home and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) where applicable. 


Steps to Navigate Building Codes 

  1. Research Local Codes
  • Why: Building codes vary significantly by location. Researching your local codes is essential for understanding specific requirements in your area.
  • How: Visit your local building department’s website or office for detailed information on applicable codes and regulations. 
  1. Work with Professionals
  • Why: Architects, builders, and contractors are familiar with building codes and can help ensure your project complies.
  • How: Hire licensed and experienced professionals who can guide you through the design and construction process while adhering to all relevant codes. 
  1. Obtain Necessary Permits
  • Why: Building permits are required to verify that your plans meet local codes and regulations.
  • How: Submit your building plans to the local building department and apply for the necessary permits before starting construction. Your builder can help you through this process.
  1. Schedule Inspections
  • Why: Inspections are conducted at various stages of construction to ensure compliance with building codes.
  • How: Coordinate with your builder to schedule inspections at key milestones, such as foundation, framing, electrical, and final inspection. 
  1. Stay Informed
  • Why: Building codes are updated regularly to reflect new standards and technologies. 
  • How: Stay informed about code changes by attending local building department meetings, subscribing to industry publications, and maintaining communication with your builder. 


In conclusion, navigating building codes can be challenging, but it’s a crucial part of the home-building process. By understanding key areas of building codes, working with knowledgeable professionals, and staying informed about local regulations, you can ensure that your custom home is safe, compliant, and built to last. With careful planning and attention to detail, you can turn your dream home into a reality while adhering to all necessary building standards. If you need help navigating building codes and want to speak with an experienced builder, reach out to SM Built at office@smbuilt.com

Choosing Wisely: Things to Consider When Hiring a General Contractor for Your Custom Home in Southwest Colorado

Building a custom home is a significant investment, both financially and emotionally. One of the most crucial decisions you’ll make in this process is selecting the right general contractor to bring your vision to life. In the picturesque region of Southwest Colorado, where the landscape is as diverse as the communities it encompasses, finding a contractor who understands your unique needs and the local environment is essential. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when hiring a general contractor for your custom home project:


  1. Experience and Expertise: Look for a contractor with extensive experience in building custom homes in Southwest Colorado. Familiarity with the local terrain, weather conditions, and building codes can make a significant difference in the success of your project. Ask for references and portfolio examples that showcase their work in the region, ensuring they have the skills and expertise to meet your expectations.
  2. Reputation and Reviews: Reputation speaks volumes in the construction industry. Research online reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth recommendations to gauge the contractor’s reputation within the community. A reputable contractor will have a track record of delivering high-quality workmanship, adhering to timelines, and communicating effectively with clients throughout the process.
  3. Licensing and Insurance: Ensure that the contractor is properly licensed and insured to perform construction work in Southwest Colorado. Licensing demonstrates compliance with state and local regulations, while insurance protects against liability and unforeseen accidents on the job site. Request to see proof of licensing and insurance before signing any contracts.
  4. Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication is key to a successful construction project. Choose a contractor who listens attentively to your ideas, communicates openly and transparently, and keeps you informed every step of the process. A collaborative relationship fosters trust and ensures that your vision is accurately translated into reality.
  5. Attention to Detail: Building a custom home requires meticulous attention to detail and a commitment to craftsmanship. Look for a contractor who takes pride in their work and pays close attention to even the smallest details. From architectural nuances to finishing touches, every aspect of your home should reflect a high standard of quality and precision.
  6. Project Management and Timelines: A skilled contractor will excel in project management, coordinating the various trades involved and keeping the project on track and within budget. Inquire about their approach to scheduling, timelines, and potential challenges that may arise during construction. Clear expectations and realistic timelines are essential for a smooth and efficient building process. 
  7. Local Knowledge and Relationships: Building a home in Southwest Colorado comes with its own set of unique challenges and opportunities. Choose a contractor who has strong relationships with local suppliers, subcontractors, and regulatory agencies. This local knowledge can streamline the construction process, expedite permit approvals, and ensure access to quality materials and resources.
  8. Commitment to Sustainability: Southwest Colorado is known for its commitment to environmental conservation and sustainable practices. Consider hiring a contractor who shares these values and incorporates sustainable building techniques and materials into their projects. From energy-efficient design to eco-friendly materials, prioritizing sustainability ensures a home that is both environmentally responsible and cost-effective in the long run. 


In conclusion, hiring a general contractor for your custom home project in Southwest Colorado requires careful consideration and research. By prioritizing experience, reputation, communication, attention to detail, and local knowledge, you can select a contractor who is well-equipped to bring your vision to life while navigating the unique challenges of building in this scenic region. With the right contractor by your side, your dream home in Southwest Colorado is closer than ever to becoming a reality. If you’re ready to get started, contact SM Built at office@smbuilt.com to find out if we are the right general contractor for you.

Buying vs. Building vs. Renovating: Making the Right Choice for Your Home in Southwest Colorado

Southwest Colorado is a region renowned for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant communities, and diverse real estate opportunities. Whether you’re looking to settle down in Durango, embrace the small-town charm of Telluride, or escape to the mountain retreats of Pagosa Springs, the question of whether to buy, build, or renovate a home is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. Each option offers unique advantages and challenges, and understanding the factors at play can help you make the right choice for your needs and lifestyle. 

Let’s explore the pros and cons of buying, building, and renovating a home in Southwest Colorado: 

Buying a Home


  1. Immediate Occupancy: When you buy an existing home, you can move in right away, avoiding the time and effort required for new construction or renovation.
  2. Established Neighborhoods: Buying a home in an established neighborhood provides access to amenities, schools, and community events, offering a sense of stability and belonging.
  3. Cost-Effective: In some cases, buying an existing home may be more cost-effective than building from scratch, especially if you find a property that meets your needs and preferences without major renovations. 


  1. Limited Customization: While you can personalize certain aspects of an existing home through renovations, you may have limited control over the layout, design, and features compared to building from the ground up.
  2. Maintenance and Repairs: Older homes may require ongoing maintenance and repairs, which can add to the overall cost of homeownership over time.
  3. Competition and Inventory: In a competitive real estate market like Southwest Colorado, finding the right home at the right price can be challenging, especially when inventory is limited. 


Building a Home 


  1. Customization: Building a custom home allows you to design every aspect of your living space to suit your preferences, lifestyle, and aesthetic tastes.
  2. Energy Efficiency: New construction often incorporates modern building techniques and energy-efficient features, resulting in lower utility bills and reduced environmental impact.
  3. Long-Term Investment: Building a new home is a long-term investment that can potentially increase in value over time, providing financial stability and security for you and your family. 


  1. Time and Effort: Building a custom home requires time, patience, and attention to detail, from securing permits and approvals to overseeing construction and coordinating trades. Finding the right custom home builder for your project is essential in order to keep the process as smooth as possible.
  2. Higher Upfront Costs: While building a custom home offers the opportunity for customization, it may come with higher upfront costs compared to buying an existing home. 
  3. Unforeseen Challenges: Construction projects can encounter delays and unexpected costs, requiring flexibility and contingency planning throughout the process. 


Renovating a Home 


  1. Preservation of Character: Renovating an existing home allows you to preserve its historic charm and character while updating it to meet modern standards and conveniences.
  2. Cost-Effective: In some cases, renovating a home may be more cost-effective than building new, especially if you’re able to work with existing structures and layouts.
  3. Incremental Improvements: Renovating a home allows you to make incremental improvements over time, tackling projects as budget and time allow, rather than undertaking a complete overhaul all at once. 


  1. Scope and Complexity: Renovation projects can be complex and unpredictable, especially when working with older homes that may have hidden issues or structural challenges.
  2. Disruption and Inconvenience: Renovations can disrupt daily life, requiring temporary relocation or adjustments while work is being completed.
  3. Limitations on Customization: While renovations offer the opportunity to update and customize certain aspects of a home, there may be limitations on what can be achieved within the existing footprint and structure. 


In conclusion, the decision to buy, build, or renovate a home in Southwest Colorado depends on your priorities, preferences, and circumstances. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of an existing home, the customization of new construction, or the character of a renovation, each option offers its own set of advantages and challenges. By carefully weighing the pros and cons and consulting with real estate professionals and contractors, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your vision for your dream home in Southwest Colorado. If you’re ready to tackle a new home build or renovation, reach out to SM Built at office@smbuilt.com to see how we can help.

Navigating the Stages of Construction: Building Your Custom Home

Building a custom home is an exciting journey filled with endless possibilities and the promise of creating a space uniquely tailored to your lifestyle and preferences. However, it’s essential to understand the various stages of construction to ensure a smooth and successful process. From finalizing the design to making material selections, each step plays a crucial role in bringing your dream home to life.

  1. Finalizing the Design: The journey begins with envisioning your dream home. Collaborate with architects and designers to translate your ideas into a comprehensive design plan. This stage involves sketching layouts, refining floor plans, and selecting architectural styles that reflect your vision. It’s essential to consider both aesthetics and functionality to create a space that not only looks beautiful but also suits your practical needs.
  2. Hiring a Contractor: Once the design is finalized, it’s time to bring your vision to life by hiring a reputable contractor. Take the time to research and interview potential candidates, considering factors such as experience, expertise, and communication skills. A skilled contractor will serve as your trusted partner throughout the construction process, overseeing every detail and coordinating the various trades involved.
  3. Acquiring Permits: Before breaking ground, you must navigate the regulatory landscape by obtaining the necessary permits and approvals. This involves working closely with local authorities to ensure compliance with building codes, zoning regulations, and environmental requirements. While the permit process may seem daunting, it’s a crucial step to ensure the legality and safety of your project. Luckily, hiring the right contractor can help facilitate this process.
  4. Making Material Selections: One of the most exciting aspects of building a custom home is selecting the materials and finishes that will adorn your space. From flooring and countertops to fixtures and lighting, each choice contributes to the overall aesthetic and ambiance of your home. Work closely with your design team and contractor to explore options, considering factors such as durability, cost, and personal taste. Keep in mind that material selections may impact the project timeline and budget, so it’s essential to make informed decisions.
  5. Construction Begins: With the groundwork laid and materials in place, construction can finally commence. This stage involves site preparation, foundation pouring, framing, and the installation of essential systems such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. Throughout the construction process, maintain open communication with your contractor and be prepared for occasional challenges or unforeseen delays. Patience and flexibility are key as your dream home gradually takes shape before your eyes.
  6. Finishing Touches and Final Inspections: As construction nears completion, attention shifts to the finishing touches that will bring your home to life. This includes interior and exterior paint, cabinetry installation, flooring, and landscaping. Once the construction phase is complete, thorough inspections ensure that every aspect of your home meets quality standards and regulatory requirements.
  7. Move-In and Enjoy: After months of planning and construction, the moment has finally arrived to move into your custom-built home. Unpack, settle in, and savor the joy of living in a space that is uniquely yours. Whether it’s hosting gatherings with loved ones or simply relishing quiet moments of contentment, your custom home is a reflection of your personality, values, and aspirations. 


In conclusion, building a custom home is a labor of love that involves careful planning, collaboration, and attention to detail. By understanding and navigating the stages of construction, you can embark on this journey with confidence, knowing that your dream home is well within reach. From finalizing the design to making material selections and overseeing construction, each step brings you closer to the realization of a space that truly feels like home. If you’re ready to get started on stage one of your construction project, reach out to SM Built at office@smbuilt.com.