How to Become a Professional Home Builder – What Sells a Home – Part II

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Many of you have heard the old adage that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Well, that is especially true on a home. So I’m going to tell you how to build a good first impression. All of these items will make or break your appraised value and saleability.

1. Landscaping And Driveway

When you go into a beautiful subdivision and you’ve had a pleasant drive to get there, the first thing you’re going to notice about a home when you drive up to it is the landscaping. I’m going to include in that the driveway. The positioning of a home on a lot, the layout of the driveways, the walkways, the design of the decks, the patios, how you landscape around them is very, very important to the aesthetic beauty of the home. To optimize the effect of those factors, I can’t stress to you enough that you always hire a landscape architect [Success Team Member] who will take your plans, and evaluate the site and home specifications. He will prepare a proposal. He’ll draw your home to scale on the survey, and lay out the driveways and the walkways. For a little extra money he will design the decks and the patios and show you how to landscape around the house. This additional effort can make all the difference in the world.

Landscape architects can take those cluster lots where you can’t figure out how to provide privacy to a home and they will do it with ease. They will take that ‘dog’ lot that all the builders have passed on and turn it into the most beautiful lot in the subdivision. They will take that difficult lot where you can’t figure out how to position the home and make it look great. In the end, you can take an ugly home by design and make it look beautiful with the landscaping.

This is where so many builders fail. They get to the end of the project, they’re over budget and they scrimp on landscaping. To do this is like taking a beautiful woman and removing all the makeup, jewelry and clothes. I don’t mean that as a sexist statement, but you get what I’m saying. I’d cut things out of the home before I’d cut the landscaping on the front of the home.

I had a student who built a home that was highlighted in the Atlanta paper. She said the only mistake they made was not having the landscape architect’s input up front. They hired one after beginning construction but wished they had solicited input up front.

And the real beauty of a landscape architect is you can get some of these people for as little as $150. Many nurseries have landscape architects on their staff. They will provide landscaping plans for free if you buy your shrubbery from them. Many landscapers are landscape architects. If they do the landscaping they may do the design work at no additional charge. As an option, you could go to a local university that has a school in landscape architecture. A senior student can be a wealth of knowledge and help.

Over the years I’ve learned how to lay out a home. As a matter of fact, I’m great at laying out a home. But the first time I dealt with a landscape architect, his ideas were so far superior to mine that I knew that I’d never, ever, do this again, no matter what the lot size. It makes all the difference in the world. I feel I get more value for the money from the landscape architect than anybody I deal with.

What you want is a complete layout as seen from the street. For the rear yard, you’ll just do the basics. The customer can complete that based on his or her wants.

Warning, you’ve got to give the landscape architect a budget. If you don’t give them a budget they will show you Paris, and once you’ve seen “Paree” it’s hard to go back to the farm. So tell them you’re only going to spend $600 or $3,000 or whatever your budget may be.

I mentioned the driveway. Have you been to homes and you drive up in a driveway and you automatically go to the side or back door? I’ve been to some homes where I can’t find the front door. I always want the driveway and walkways laid out so that the customer’s eyes are drawn to the front door. The landscape architects know this.

2. Very Steep Driveway Up To The Home

A steep drive, especially when you park at the top will cost 5% to 10% of the value and make it extremely hard to sell.

3. Driveway Inclines Down To The Home

This kind of drive will cost at least 5% of the value and make it hard to sell.

4. Gully Or Very Steep Drop off Behind The Home

This will cost at least 5% of the value and make it hard to sell.

5. Power Lines Behind Or In View Of The Home

This will cost up to 10% of the value and will make it difficult to sell.

6. Terrain In Backyard Unsuitable For Children To Play

This will cost up to 5% of the value and will make it harder to sell.

7. Two Story Drop Off The Deck

The will cost up to 5% of the value and make it harder to sell.