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Building a Custom Home

By Zark Markovich

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Well this my 29th year in business. I started out when I was 23 years old with a good work ethic, a sense of determination and a truckload of ambition. A lot of people laughed or didn't think I would be able to do it, I guess they didn't know me very well. I started out doing quite a bit of subcontract work for a couple of builders I knew and doing my own work in between. I quickly found out my own work paid better and was more rewarding, although it took much more effort. It wasn't long and that was all I was doing, additions, remodeling and building homes under my own name.

What are some important questions to ask a contractor before beginning this process?

There are the standard questions that should always be asked such as:

  • Are you insured? (And don't be afraid to ask for a Certificate of Insurance)
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Have you done similar projects like this and are you experienced in this area?
  • Always ask for references and check them.

I think it is also important how the contractor handles your phone calls or meetings. Are your phone calls or emails returned in a day or a week? Is the contractor punctual for your meetings? Is the contractor attentive and addressing all your questions and concerns? These are all signs of the shape of things to come.

Is there a certain style of home that you specialize in? If yes, why do you believe this style is beneficial?

Over the years I've built standard stick frames, structural insulated panels, timber frames and log homes. I would not say that one is maybe more beneficial than the other it's more of a personal choice or what the customer can afford. A standard stick frame home is going to cost considerably less than a timber frame and not everyone can afford that difference or want to. You could say I specialized in log homes for awhile. Mainly because I liked building them. Some people would say I'm particular about my work, when I would build a stick frame all our cuts and the way things were fitted together were covered with drywall or siding. In a log home almost all your cuts are visible and I liked the way people could see our workmanship, plus it was just more of a challenge with hiding wiring and planning your plumbing and HVAC. You had to visualize how everything was going to be and plan everything ahead of time because once those logs were laid up you probably weren't going to get a wire in there for a switch.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to designing/building homes? Are there ways to avoid these?

I think the biggest issue in the design stage is that the customer starts to design something out of their budget. I always give the customer a rough idea of the cost of the home they are looking to build before I start the design. But its human nature, you get started and get some good ideas maybe see something in a magazine and next thing you know you're over the budget and looking for ways to cut back. It's easy for me to say but you have to be realistic about your budget and stick to it, sometimes things on the wish list can be done at a later date. For instance maybe my customer has found their dream house with a nice full porch across the front but that porch is putting them over their budget, do the porch later when you have the finances to do it. When the design is done keep this in mind so nothing is going to interfere with roof lines or porch posts etc... When the grading at the front of the house is being done maybe it needs to be done to allow for a porch. What I'm saying is thru the course of designing and building the home keep it as simple as possible to add that porch later. As far as common issues that are faced in building the home, you always have the weather, permits, availability of materials and so on. The three words that always work for me are planning, planning and planning. I really try to make sure all my ducks are in a row, I apply for permits long before I need them, make sure any special order items are ordered well in advance and make sure all subcontractors are aware of when I'm going to need them ahead of time. I guess I plan for the worse and hope for the best. But if you put the effort into planning the construction of the home it usually pays off and things go smooth.

What advice do you have for the homeowner during this process?

Building a home can be very stressful for the customer, put yourself in their shoes. They are making one major decision after another plus it is a life changing event. I always try to walk them thru the whole process and try to answer questions before they come up.

What I always tell my customers is long before we start building when you're looking at a magazine, walking thru a home improvement store or driving down the road. Look at siding and roofing colors, look at kitchens, flooring, wall colors, anything to do with building. If you see something in a magazine, cut the picture out, take a picture of something you like and start a file. Go back and look at these things as the time gets closer to building your home and it should give you an idea of what you like or at least have your choices narrowed down. Anything you can do in advance of the start of your home will help you so that you are not overwhelmed when the time comes.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

There is always the phone 570-769-6400. My direct email is or you can always look up my website and contact me thru there.

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