New Homes Billings MT
What Is an Earnest Money Deposit

Prospective new home owners can often become confused by the strange-sounding terms used throughout the process of looking at homes, finding one they love, and wanting to actually buy that house. There are a lot of steps involved from looking to moving in. One of those steps at the decision-making stage is the earnest money deposit.

The Earnest Money Deposit

The earnest money deposit is important because it tells the seller of the house that you are a committed buyer with the money to go ahead with the sale.

Without the earnest money deposit, there would be nothing to stop a prospective buyer from making offers on many homes, which would result in them being taken off the market until the buyer decided which one they liked best - leaving the other sellers in the lurch. These days, most sellers insist on having a deposit of some kind as a part of accepting your offer.

The Earnest Money Will Be Part of Your Down Payment and Closing Costs

Many people worry that this is an additional cost on top of all the other financial obligations involved in buying a home. The truth is that the money will go towards the down payment and/or closing costs when the sale goes through.

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What If I Change My Mind?

The only exception to getting all your money applied towards the sale is if it does not go through. If you change your mind, for example, there will usually be a fee involved, with a small percentage of the money forfeited.

On the other hand, if you want to back out of the sale because the house does not pass the inspection and/or there will be too long a wait for the seller to redress the issues, you should not forfeit any money. Sometimes the seller might also discover that for various reasons, they are not allowed to sell the home. This could be because they are in foreclosure, have a tax lien on the house, or are not aware they are in a flood zone and need to follow certain rules and regulations when selling.

Earnest Money Deposit What is itHow Much Earnest Money Will Be Required?

In general, it will be around 1% to 2% of the agreed-upon price for the home. You should have this money available before making a firm offer. If it is a lively market, they may ask for 3%, but they might also be willing to haggle on the price if they can be assured of a large down payment and quick sale.

What Happens to the Deposit?

Once you have signed the purchase agreement, the money will usually be put in an escrow account by the realtor, or title holder if you are opting for a foreclosed property. Never give the money directly to the seller. You should of course use only a reputable realtor and be clear about how they will hold the money.

Once the sale reaches the final stages, the money will be released from escrow and applied to your down payment for the house.

What to Do to Get Your Money Back

If the deal falls through, a small cancellation fee might be charged, especially if you change your mind.

The rest of the amount in escrow will be handled based on what is stated in the purchase agreement, so make sure there is a clause about this in the agreement.

The agreement should also state certain contingencies. For example, sometimes even pre-approved customers actually get declined for a mortgage in the end. In this case, you should be able to recover 100% of the earnest money deposit. Issues with the seller not being able to sell, or the home inspection, should also be stated in the clause to ensure you get back you full deposit.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about finding your new home in Montana!

Retirement Living-Need to Know

So you have been considering moving to a new place for your retirement. Obviously there are a plethora of choices that exist for you consider around this great country of ours, but many folks these days have at least thought about, or are strongly considering moving to Montana for their retirement years.

If the state of Montana is on your radar for retirement living, there are some things that you need to know.

First off, here is a little background and geography for you to consider. The name Montana comes from the Spanish word for mountain-‘montana’. As you might expect, there are numerous mountain ranges covering the state, 77 ranges in total. Most of these are part of the Rocky Mountains and cover the western part of the state, while the eastern lands of Montana are mostly prairie and badlands. To the north, Montana is actually bordered by three Canadian provinces: Alberta, British Columbia (B.C.) and Saskatchewan. Some of the primary sources of income in the state include: farming and ranching, oil, coal, and gas, as well as rock mining and timber harvesting.

One of the most important things to take into consideration when planning your retirement in Montana is the climate. Montana is known for her harsh winters, as well as the very warm summers, so you will need to appreciate all four seasons if you plan to make Montana your home. If you have a problem with snow, Montana may not be the place for you, as it is inevitable during the winter months. Many folks who live in Montana appreciate the cold winters, as well as the activities that the winters provide such as skiing, snow shoeing, etc. No matter what your outdoor pleasure is, you are going to find it either in the winter months or the summer months in Montana.

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The state of Montana is sparsely populated when compared to other states, as Billings, which is the most populated city, has only a little over 100,000 people. The capital of Montana is Helena, with a population of only about 28,000. Great Falls and Missoula are a couple of the other most populated hubs, with in the neighborhood of 50,000-70,000 people. After that the 56 counties of the state are made up with many smaller towns and communities.

Retirement LivingOne of the many things that you may appreciate about Montana is the cost of living. The cost of living in Montana is 6.3% lower than the rest of the country, making it a tempting destination for retirement living. In addition, Montana is one of the few states left that does not have sales tax, so many people find that the costs are much less than what they have grown used to when living in more metropolitan areas. Montana also has relatively low property taxes as well, coming in at ab out 1.19% lower than national averages. Tax rates are usually determined by location in relation to cities, counties, and school districts.

If you are looking for cuisine when it comes to Montana, you will find the food to be diverse, depending upon location. Overall, Montana is known for its cattle as well as pigs and hogs, so you will find some of the best steaks around at the various Montana eateries. Many delicacies exist in various regions of the state, from the huckleberries of western Montana to the elk burgers and bison burgers of the upper crust restaurants.

Here are some other pro’s to making Montana your home in your retirement years:

1) Yellowstone National Park. If this national treasure doesn’t perk your interest, then nothing will!

2) Glacier National Park. The only location perhaps as scenic and breathtaking as Yellowstone is Glacier Park in the north-western region of the states.

3) Low taxes. Nothing more needs to be said here.

4) No tolls. You will not find any tolls as you drive around the vast state of Montana. Once again, this weighs into the lower cost of living that the state provides.

5) Less dense population. If you like your space and don’t want to live right on top of your next-door neighbors, Montana provides that in a big way.

6) Outdoor activities. Whether its fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, golfing, skiing, horse back riding, or anything else you can think of, if it takes place outdoors, Montana provides it.

7) Liberty minded people. Montanans like their freedom and if you don’t need a new law every time you turn around, Montana is probably the place for you.

8) Living in Montana offers options that you just plain will not find in any other state. If you like a more cosmopolitan type area, then the bigger cities such as Billings and Missoula offer that, while still having outdoor activities right out your window. If isolation is what you seek, you can purchase a property that requires you drive 30 minutes just to retrieve your mail. You may not even have a neighbor and if you do, you may never see them!

9) The great outdoor living is in general, healthy. Montana is rated as the least obese state in the nation.

Again, if you like to experience all four seasons, Montana offers that where other states do not. As opposed to somewhere like Phoenix Arizona, where you get extreme heat in the spring/summer/fall, along with very temperate, beautiful winters, Montana will run the gamut. In certain parts of the state it may be -25 degrees in the winter and 95 degrees in the summer.

Overall, like most places, there are pros and cons to living in Montana. No place is perfect and Montana is no exception to that rule. However, there are some aspects to life in Montana that you will not find anywhere else that you may consider for your retirement living. It is up for you to decide if those aspects appeal to you, your family, and your way of life.

Many folks find Montana to be the ultimate place to live in their retirement. You might try it and feel that way too.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about finding your new home in Montana!

Money Saving Household Tips

Nowadays, who isn’t looking to save money? Most of us love to save a dollar or two where ever we can and it is surprising how much money you can save by making a few little changes and adjustments around your house.

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Sure, your home is a source of pride and security for you and your family, but it can also be a source of saving money if you follow these handy tips for saving money around the household.

  1. Change to LED bulbs. By replacing as few as five of your most used light bulbs with LED bulbs, you can save as much as $75/year on your energy bill. You wouldn’t think a few light bulbs would make that much difference, but LED bulbs are so much more efficient than regular light bulbs that the savings can really add up fast.
  2. Speaking of light bulbs…….ever hear of cleaning your light bulbs? Dusty, dirty light bulbs can emit as much as 30% less energy than a clean one will. By simply cleaning your bulbs, you can brighten any room and thereby turn on less lights and use less energy. Sounds simple? It is!
  3. Fill your fridge. Here is another tip that sounds to simple to be effective. A full refrigerator will retain cold air better and therefore use less energy. If you are going to be out of town and don’t want to leave a bunch of food in your fridge that may spoil, simply use water bottle to fill up the extra space. This is a simple act that will save on electricity.
  4. Power strips. You probably have these in your house anyway. Many of your appliances such as computers and coffee pots, will continue to suck electricity even when not in use. A simple way to avoid this is to hook them up to a power strip and flick the switch off when not in use.
  5. Set your water heater to 120 degrees. Most water heaters tend to be set much higher than is needed. By lowering the temperature to 120, you can save 3-5% off the cost of your hot water heating.
  6. Money Saving TipsWash your clothes in cold water. This is another simple tip that may have you smacking your head because you didn’t think of it first, but washing clothes in cold water means you don’t have to heat water for the wash, thereby saving money on your electric bill. Simple and yet effective!
  7. Don’t use the highest setting on your dryer every time. Much of the time you are drying your clothes, you don’t need the highest setting and it wastes energy to ‘overheat’ your clothes. They will dry on cooler settings and you can save money by doing so. Want to save even more? Hang your cloths out on a cloths line in the nice weather and don’t pay any electricity to dry them at all!
  8. Want another laundry tip? Try cutting back on laundry detergent. You can get by with a lot less detergent per load than that little ‘fill line’ on the detergent cap tells you. Think about it; Tide wants you to use more detergent for every load, so that you have to buy more detergent from them. Don’t fall for it. You will be amazed at how much less you can actually get by with.
  9. Ditch the Swiffer. Disposable mop and broom heads cost money. You can get by with more traditional means when it comes to cleaning your floors and it will save you a ton of money on a yearly basis. Plus you will be doing a favor for the environment by creating less waste.
  10. While we are ditching things, add dryer sheets to that list. Dryer sheets are not necessary and if you want to get rid of static cling, try tossing a couple of tennis balls into the dryer. You will get the same effect, save money, and again, create less waste.
  11. Don’t rinse the dishes. Want to save on the water bill? Get rid of the tedious process of rinsing off your dishes prior to putting them in the dishwasher. You can do a good job of scraping them off into the garbage can and then put them in the dishwasher. Don’t waste water by ‘pre-washing’ the dishes.
  12. Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator. If you drink water out of the tap, save water by not having to let it run to get it cold. Keeping a nice, cold pitcher of water in the fridge will save on your water bill and you can also use a filtered pitcher for added benefits.
  13. Cut your shower time. One of the best ways to save money on your water bill is to simply cut down on the amount of time you spend in the shower. If you even cut down by a couple minutes per day, it will save you a lot of money when added up over the course of a year.
  14. Close the closet. Many people don’t stop to consider this, but if you leave closet doors open, you are just heating or cooling more space because of it. You don’t need your closet to be as warm as the rest of the room, so shut that closet door and save money on your heat bill.
  15. Use ceiling fans. If used correctly, ceiling fans can reduce your bill for cooling the house in the summer and also heating your home in the winter. By keeping some air flow going, you will make both your AC unit and your heating unit more efficient and save yourself a few bucks at the same time.
  16. Weather-strip your windows and doors. This is another simple fix that people often forget. Over time, you can develop small cracks around your windows and doors as the original calking or weather-stripping wears out. Make sure you don’t have drafts where hot air is escaping in the winter, and cool air is escaping in the summer.
2-10 Home Buyers Warranty

Whether you are buying a brand new home or a pre-owned older home, one of the things that every home buyer has to think about is: what if something goes wrong?

Obviously, there are a lot of moving parts in your house, from the furnace to the roof to the plumbing to the kitchen appliances and having to make large expenditures to replace an item in your house can be very stressful and quite taxing on your wallet as well.

Expenses can pile up quickly, which is why many homeowners go with a 2-10 Home Buyer’s Warranty.

So, how does a home warranty work?

Basically, a home warranty is a contract that you can purchase that provides coverage for the major systems and major appliances in your home. Depending upon the warranty, different items may or may not be covered and you will want to make sure to do some research to find out which one may be right for you.

2-10 home buyers warranty

Standard warranty agreements will cover things like: heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical systems. Appliances covered will usually be items such as refrigerator, stoves and ovens, hot water heater, dishwasher, and possibly even things like your garage door opener. If any of these items fail during the period of your warranty, the warranty company will pay to have them repaired or replaced.

A home warranty is different from your homeowner’s insurance and is usually purchased before the completion of the sale of the home. Home warranties cover items that fail due to normal, every day, wear and tear. Your insurance covers accidents, such as hail damage or flooding.

You should also be aware that home warranties can be purchased for various periods of time, as little as 2 years, and as many as 10 years. The length that you purchase will depend a lot upon the home that you are buyer and your specific needs.

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Not all home warranties are created equal.

Costs will vary as well as the items covered under the warranty. You should also take into account the reputation of the home warranty company. The last thing you want to do is spend money on a home warranty with a ‘fly by night’ type of company who will not honor a claim when you need them.

Make sure you do your due diligence and that you know exactly who you are dealing with prior to purchasing a warranty.

A 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty is a specific warranty from a  specific company, know as 2-10. 2-10 is a name brand company who stands apart mainly due to their stellar reputation.  It is one of the few home warranty companies that has been approved by HUD. (United States Department for Housing and Urban Development.) They also have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Having your own warranty with such a reliable company is certainly great for your peace of mind and you know that should a problem arise, it will be taken care of quickly and efficiently.

When the time comes to file a claim, you simply contact your home warranty company. Don’t contact a service professional or repairman of your own. The warranty company will send someone out who they work with. There is generally a nominal fee to go with any claim, much like you would pay a deductible with your insurance policy.

The warranty company then takes care of things from there; if the item can be repaired or serviced, it will be. If not, it will be replaced.

It is important to note, in the beginning what your home warranty will cover and what it won’t. Some items are covered by your homeowner’s insurance, and some by home warranty.

Know what you are getting in the first place to avoid confusion down the line. Also keep in mind the length of your warranty and when it does run out, you will have the option of purchasing a new warranty for either the same or a different length of time.

Smile knowing your home is protected for a full 10 years.  Learn more here!

Fall Yard Cleanup

One of the great pleasures of owning a nice home, (and also one of the greatest sources of work!) is taking care of your yard.

The more beautiful and complex your yard tends to be, the more work it is to maintain.

Chances are, even if you have someone come mow the lawn, you want to take care of things like flower beds, fountains, bushes, etc yourself. Here are some fall yard cleanup tips that will help you save time and also keep the outside of your house as well kept as the inside.

  1. Perennials with different blooming seasons. Everybody thinks of summer as the time for flowers to bloom and your yard to be at its peak. However, there are many perennials that bloom at different times, and in different seasons. You can look to plant perennials in the fall to mix things up and create a different looks for each season. More hardy fall and winter perennials include: mums, holly bush, Japanese maple, camellia, winterberry holly, sumac, yellow or red dogwood, hellebore, Russian sage, and beautyberry.
  2. Keep in mind that there are other options besides grass. Clover, moss, and other low growing ground covers are great to substitute for grass, and there are also other options that are deer resistant as well. Make sure that the option you choose is not too aggressive, because some will creep and crawl out of the area that they are intended to occupy. Clover has even been known to keep weeds at bay.

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  1. Over-seeding your grass. If you are going to go with grass, over-seeding it at this time of year is a good idea. Cut your grass down to about one inch high and make sure and rake up the grass clippings. By doing this, you can now spread out new seed and fertilizer once the grass germinates.
  2. Mulch your plant beds. One of the best things you can do for your plant beds is mulch. It organically adds nutrients to the soil and provides tons of benefits for your beds with a very minimum amount of effort. Mulch thickness should be kept around three inches in depth and you will want to keep an eye on it. Over time it will thin out, and that just means that you need to add more.
  3. Decorative rock. If you have areas around your house or plant beds where it is tough to get things to grow, you may want to think about installing some decorative rock. Rock provides endless variety in both color and size, so you can pretty much use it in any way that your imagination can come up with. Keep in mind, the smaller the pebbles, the more likely they are to blow around, so if you live in an area with high winds, you will want to go with larger stones. Other than that, get creative with it and you will find that the ‘trouble’ area in that one flower bed is now not only beautiful and interesting, but it is basically maintenance free.
  4. Check your watering schedule. With fall coming on you are going to want to adjust the amount of water that you apply to the various parts of your yard. What works during the summer will need to be altered for fall and winter. Drip hoses are great for flower beds if you do not have soakers installed as a part of your automatic sprinkler system and there are tons of other options that you can use to get to the parts of your yard that don’t get as much moisture. Timers are also helpful to add so that you don’t need to water when rain is expected. There are also many ‘smart’ options that you can use to set your watering cycles if your house is equipped with Alexa or another smart device.
  5. Grow local plants. If you focus on plants that are native to the region you live in, you will have much better luck at keeping them growing year round. You can usually find local varieties at your local nursery, and they tend to be fairly inexpensive. Simply asking for advice at one of these places will likely get you some great tips as to what grows the best in your area.
  6. Stop pruning. In order to keep your plants growing at their peak level into the following year, you will want to make sure to stop pruning in the fall months. Everyone has the urge to prune them back for winter, but it is much more healthy to let them grow out a bit. They will look better in the spring this way and you can also take a break from the maintenance for a few months.


More Tips on Retirement Living

Many people make the decision to move into a new home when they retire.

It is not uncommon to buy or build a new home in a new location for your retirement years.

You may even have a place where you take vacations that you have always thought about retiring to. The time to start planning your retirement home, however, is before you actually retire. Even five years or so prior to your retirement is not too soon to start making plans.

There are many factors to consider when buying a retirement home, both financially and non-financially as well.

With that in mind, here are some things you may want to think about.

First, and perhaps most obvious is the mortgage that you will have during your retirement years.

For most of us, our incomes are higher prior to retirement, making our debt to income ratio much better, and thus making it considerably easier to qualify for a mortgage. If you wait until after you are retired before trying to apply for a new mortgage you may find yourself much more limited on your budget than you would like.

Locking in a low interest rate now could really improve your retirement budget. Keep in mind that a mortgage on a second home is slightly more difficult to obtain and you will likely need a larger down payment. You will probably be able to obtain a better interest rate for a vacation home than an investment property.

retirement living
retirement living

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Another aspect of buying a retirement home prior to retiring is that it can not only diversify your investment portfolio, but you can add some income for a few years by renting it out. You might consider renting it on for several years on yearly leases, or if your new home is in a vacation area, it is many times possible to rent it seasonally.

If renting your home sounds difficult and intimidating, keep in mind that there are all kinds of services these days such as or Airbnb that will take care of everything for you and take the hassle out of renting the place out yourself.

You will of course have to pay a fee to use these services, but it can really be worth it to not have to manage the rental process yourself. Before you decide to rent out your retirement home, make sure that both your mortgage and your homeowner’s insurance will allow you to do so.

If you purchase a brand new home for your retirement you will not have to worry about any improvements or home repairs, but otherwise you will probably want to make some upgrades so that your new property suits you and your lifestyle.

Make sure that you have some cash set aside for these improvements, as the time to make them is while you still have an income, not after. Again, renting out your home can help you accumulate some money to make upgrades and repairs, but it can also result in more wear and tear on your home as well. If you end up renting your house out for a couple years or more before you retire, you may want to make allowances for things like new carpet once you move in yourself.

Another nice aspect of buying your retirement home early is that it will give you a great idea of the expenses you will have once you retire. You will know all your monthly expenses such as utilities, taxes, and insurance in advance and have an opportunity to plan accordingly. This should give you some peace of mind and lower your stress levels when you are thinking about your retirement years. By making your purchase while you are still part of the workforce, you will knock one more thing off your list for retirement and make the whole process much easier and worry free.

You may also have the opportunity to find that your new home is not as ideal as you thought it would be and by giving yourself a chance to find out more about it before you are actually committed to living in it, you give yourself some additional freedom to make choices.

If you pick out a home in a vacation area and spend several years visiting it only to decide you don’t like the area as much as you thought, you still have the opportunity to sell the home and find another one that suits you rather than having to commit to it 100% just because you are retired and don’t have other options. Flexibility is a great thing when it comes to your retirement and your peace of mind as well.

The Right House Plans

Choosing your home is one of the most exciting things that you can do in life. There are many things to consider that make it fun and exciting for your and your family.

Building your home can be even more rewarding because it gives you the opportunity to customize it to suit your lifestyle. You can decide on so many aspects that will make your new home the perfect place for you and your family to live and enjoy. However, because of the myriad of choices for you to make, it can also be overwhelming.

Here are some things to consider that will help take the stress out of finding the right house plans to fit your needs.

First, and maybe the most obvious factor to consider is what size home you need.

Rimrock House PlanNot every family needs a big, huge mansion, but not every family wants a small, 2-bedroom cottage either. Choosing a floor plan for your new home starts with taking into account your lifestyle. How many bedrooms and bathrooms you need will determine the square footage of your home, which will directly affect the cost. Figuring out the size is the first thing you need to consider.

The next factor to look at is style.

What type of home do you want? Are you only interested in a single level, rancher type home? Do you like having an upstairs and a downstairs? Attached garage or no garage at all? Do you like a more traditional, compartmentalized floor plan, or are you interested in a modern, open floor plan? You will also want to take your furniture and furnishings into account when choosing the type of home that you want to build.

The location of your new home will also impact what style you ultimately decide to go with.

Single-family homes with nice outdoor spaces like a backyard and driveway are typical of certain areas and more urban areas might entail a condo or brownstone type design. Split-level homes are also more common in certain areas than others, depending upon what city you live in. You will obviously need to have some continuity with the rest of your neighborhood, in the event that you are building in a neighborhood. If you are building a new home out in the country, then chances are you will have a lot more freedom to choose any type of design that you desire.

Another thing that you need to keep in mind is that there is no ‘perfect’ floor plan.

Each plan you look at will have advantages and disadvantages. Making a list of what your priorities are will help you figure out what you can live without and what you cannot. For example, having a large, open living room with a lot of natural light is a good thing. However, this can also serve to drive up the cost of your utility bill. An open floor plan can make it more expensive to hear and cool your home. There are pros and cons to every floor plan that you will look at, so just keep in mind that nothing is perfect.

Choosing the right plan for YOU is the most important thing.

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Make sure you choose your floor plan based upon your activities and lifestyle rather than things like finishes and furnishings. Items such as counter tops and appliances can always be changed later on down the road, but your floor plan is permanent. Don’t be wowed by custom flooring or carpeting when you are making your decision. Instead, be wowed by the flow of the rooms and how you and your family is going to utilize them.

Also keep in mind that it is ok to seek assistance and ask peoples opinions.

There are professionals who have a lot of experience in building homes that can go over various features with you. Start with your home-builder or other real estate professionals who can answer your questions based on experience. There is a lot of knowledge out there to be had, don’t be afraid to seek it out and use it. What might seem like a difficult question to you is probably something that your home-builder has dealt with many times in the past.

House PlansOnce you know your floor plan, now is the time to take your furniture into account.

Will you be using your old furniture or buying all new? Furniture is a major investment with tons of options that can be overwhelming, so take this into account and start planning the furniture to match your desired floor plan. You may end up finding out that the floor plan is not as ideal as you thought it might be when you find out what new furniture will cost to furnish it.

With choosing the floor plan and furniture, will also come budget considerations. All of us obviously wan the biggest and best that we can get when it comes to building a home, but most of us are also limited by budget. Before you get your hear set on something, make sure you find out the costs associated with building your new home.

You should be able to work with your contractor to lay out the costs in great detail so that there will be no surprises once you make your decision to move forward. Nothing is worse than finding out that you can’t afford what you thought was your perfect home.

Keep in mind you can also modify floor plans at times to help fit your budget. Your floor plan does not always have to be etched in stone.

Custom Home Build Features

Being at home and enjoying it is a priority for a great many people. It should be.

We spend a lot of our life times at home and relaxing inside as well as outside your home should be one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. However, to ensure that you get the most possible out of your home, many people look into a custom home build. In this manner, you can have the features that you want, and the features that mean the most to you and your family.

Building a custom home offers you complete control over every aspect from the design and layout to the features and fixtures.

Obviously there are many things to consider with a custom home build. There are basic things like the amount of bedrooms and bathrooms, the size of the garage, as well as the layout of the kitchen, laundry room, and family room. But there are also some smaller aspects and details that you should think about that can make a big difference in building a home that you can enjoy for many years to come.

Here are some features that you might not think of right off the bat, but they are ones that you may be happy you didn’t overlook once your dream home is finished.

Let's get started.

custom home build covered porch
custom home build covered porch

First, consider what you need from the outside of your home. Many people spend hours upon hours considering every last detail about the interior when they build their custom home. However, you will also be spending time outside you home as well. Rather than a deck, consider a covered porch.

Covered porches can be a great way to utilize additional living space, and depending on the area of the country that you live in, you may find that you spend a lot of time on your porch if you construct it correctly.

Covered porches are particularly useful if you have a large family, or if you do a lot of entertaining.

You can easily add a covered porch to your custom build that you and your family and friends will spend many happy hours on. Plus it gets you outside a bit more and it is easier to clean than the interior of your house.

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Another very small detail that many people overlook is power outlets. Have you ever noticed that many of the houses that you have lived in over the years either don’t have a sufficient amount of power outlets or have them in all the wrong places? Most people don’t even consider power outlets when it comes to designing the electrical aspects of a home, but have accessible power outlets for everything from your cell phone to your vacuum cleaner is something that can make life a lot easier. The kitchen is another place where having more, instead of less, power outlets will always come in handy.

Take the time to plan out where you can place additional outlets during the early stages of designing your custom home and you will be happier with the result later on.

Flooring is another feature that sometimes gets overlooked in custom home design. These days, many people are going to hardwood floors in most of their home rather than carpet. Making sure you select the right style for you and your family is crucial and can take a lot of planning and research. Of course you want your floors to look good, but you also want them to be functional, as well as easy to clean. Your flooring should last a long time and be able to withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Think about the high traffic areas and consider using different flooring in those areas than the more decorative flooring you might use elsewhere. Flooring doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it can make or break your new custom home and it also needs to last you for as many years as possible.

custom home build lighting
custom home build lighting

Custom lighting is another is another aspect that doesn’t immediately come to mind, but can make a huge impact on your custom built home. In decades past, it was more about just making sure you had adequate lighting in each room, but with all the advances in technology, it is easy to create some incredible ambient lighting in your house. You should also think about accent lighting in certain places and also making allowances for smart lighting that can pair with things like Alexa and other smart devices are features that you can really utilize. There are so many more things to consider when it comes to lighting that in the past seemed like they might be more part of a science fiction novel than your actual home. Don’t skimp in this area and you will create some very unique features.

Speaking of smart lighting, keyless entry is another newer feature that many people are adding with a custom home build. Nobody disputes the fact that life can be a lot easier without having to worry about where you left your keys, and there are many keyless entry systems available. Keyless entry is also useful when adding a security system to your house and it also makes it easier for people such as house keepers, pet caretakers and other service providers to access your home.

There are many more details and features that can be added to your new, custom built home. Working with a professional builder is the first step in the right direction, because builders have the experience of knowing what features are the most important and which ones work the best in certain settings.

Don’t be afraid to get the opinion of the professionals when it comes to designing your home and adding features to it.

There is a reason why you have partnered with a builder and you should take advantage of all their experience and knowledge.

Move In ready Home

If you have been looking at homes in Billings MT, you have probably seen the term ‘Move in Ready’.

Obviously, if you are looking at moving, you want a home that you can live in right away, unless of course you are building a new house. You don’t want to have to make a lot of changes, you don’t want to have to wait for various aspects of the home to be repaired, you want to move in and live there!

But, what does a move in ready home actually mean?

Move in ready is a term that gets thrown around often in the real estate market, but what it actually means can depend a great deal on who is talking and who is using the term. Move in ready can mean a pretty wide range of things to different people and you don’t want to buy a house that you think is move in ready and find out that it isn’t.

For some, move in ready means that everything in the house is freshly renovated and updated to not only reflect the newest styles and trends, but to also reflect the fact that things like appliances and window treatments are new and will have no problems or issues.

For others, move in ready may simply mean that all the appliance actually work, regardless of age! Some people may define move in ready as having all the paint colors in all the rooms redone to match tastes and/or current trends and it wouldn’t be move in ready if this type of work still needed to be done.

You can probably see that it is hard to exactly pinpoint what move in ready means because it depends a lot upon who is using the phrase.

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To help with this, we have compiled some guidelines and definitions that will help you navigate what is really being said when you are searching for your next ‘move in ready’ home.

remodeled kitchenYou should start by always taking ‘move in ready’ at face value. Just because a kitchen has been remodeled and the walls painted, does not mean that the home couldn’t possibly have structural damages for example.

Move in ready will generally take on a more cosmetic meaning than if will structural meaning so keep in mind that you will need to inspect aspects of the house other than what you can see with the naked eye.

Don’t forgo a home inspection just because you have been told that the home is move in ready and you can see the remodeling that has been done.

Be prepared to describe to your real estate agent what ‘move in ready’ means to you. Because definitions vary, be prepared to discuss what you expect in your new home. If you are looking at houses in an area where most of them are 20-30 years old, you can expect that they will need updating, and maybe some serious updating. Once appliances, particularly things like hot water heaters get to be of a certain age, they may need to be replaced at a drop of a hat.

The same goes for color schemes, particularly when it comes to carpet. Carpet that was laid in the mid 90’s is probably going to be sorely outdated when it comes to color. If those types of issues are important to you, you need to be sure and relay this fact to the agent that you are working with.

Different strokes for different folks, and this is especially true when it comes to houses and how up to date they are.

If you are really selective when it comes to finding a move in ready home in pristine condition, you may want to alter your search from looking at older, pre-owned homes, to new construction. This way you can either add your own preferences or simply have the house built to your tastes in the first place.

Many builders will offer homes, particularly in newer subdivisions, that are almost finished. This allows the potential buyer to finish off the home to suit their tastes instead of being stuck with whatever the builder decided on.

Timelines can be a concern in cases like this if you are under pressure to move by a certain date, but most builders in these cases want to make the sale and will work hard to accommodate you and your needs.

If you are in love with an area but yet having a hard time finding a home that you view as move in ready, you might have to consider lowering your expectations a bit and living with a little ‘ugly’ for a while. Sure, it is nice to move into a home with all new carpeting and freshly painted walls, but this is also stuff that can be done over time while you are living there, especially the painting.

It’s not the end of the world if the bathrooms are not all painted to suit your tastes, and it can be fun to work on some of these aspects yourself after you have purchased your home. It may be worth it to live in an area that is, for example, closer to your work, or close to your children’s school.

There are trade offs to everything (unless you have an unlimited supply of money) and you may need to decide what is more important to you and your family.

Overall, finding a place that is move in ready can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You may have to remain somewhat flexible in what you are looking for and your definition of the term, and it may make financial sense to do so.

Remember, finding a perfect home is tough. Finding a home that you can live with that you and your family will be happy in is the main thing, and whether it is a move in ready home or not, you need to take all the factors into consideration before jumping in and making the purchase.

Online House Plans in Billings MT

Interested in Online House Plans in Billings MT?  You should be!

The internet has changed many things in our daily lives and one thing that it has done for sure, is to make searching for online home plans in Billings MT much easier. With literally thousands of builder ready plans just a click away you can find pretty much anything you need quickly and easily.

If you have already roughly determined the square footage that your new home will be, you can match up your budget with the style of home that you like, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that you want, as well as the number of levels to the house and garages etc.

home plans billings mt
home plans billings mt

One thing that you need to make sure of before you actually purchase any plans is that they standards and code compliancy for your area. There are critical elements and structural detail for all home plans that you may be looking at buying and you will learn about any possibilities of required engineering, structural sizing, and code conformity, as well as foundation requirements and any requirements in relation to water, sewer and/or septic, and power requirements.

If you are in the stage where you are still a bit unsure as to the characteristics of the home you may be building, you can search by various criteria that give you a wide selection and allows you to make changes as you go. Many plans offer flexibility so that you can add things like a 4th bedroom or a utility room as you go. If you are still flexible as well, you might be able to come up with a design that you haven’t even thought of yet, as it is quick and easy to make changes to your plans online.

Garage options are something that you might not have given a lot of thought to, but there are many things you can do with the size, number, and placement of your garage(s). You may find a house plan that has front entry facing garage doors, but you prefer to have a side entry garage.

Most house designs can be easily modified to accommodate this type of change. Some people, especially retirees that may have a motor-home or boat, may want a smaller house that only calls for one garage bay when they obviously need more than one. Adding garage bays can be quite easy when you are looking at house plans online.

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Most house plans are able to accommodate any foundation, whether you want a basement or crawlspace, or some variation thereof. If you really like a home plan that doesn’t offer a basement, it is a snap to have the plan modified to add one. Daylight basements, slab, and pier foundations are also options when it comes to most home plans. Overall, this type of change is one that can be made to fit your wants and needs.

Interior options can usually be added by you or your builder. Items such as fireplaces, etc can be added or removed and even things like raising or lowering the ceilings can be taken care of in the planning stages. You might decide you want something like a wine cellar as you are planning, so its not a good idea to limit your search results by selecting too many options.

Options can always be added or subtracted later on, especially interior ones. Kitchen requirements can also be easily added or removed, particularly when it comes to things such as counter tops or appliances. You don’t have to feel locked in to a certain options and while you may not feel like you want an island or breakfast nook, that may change as your planning goes along.

Rimrock Plan
Rimrock Plan

Bedrooms are another aspect that can be changed at will, although if you want a detail in your house plan where the bedrooms are split, for example, with the master bedroom located on one side of the home and the rest of the bedrooms located on the other side of the home, that is something that you may want to consider early on.

Many people like the privacy of having the master suite on the opposite end of the house as the other bedrooms and that will change your floor plan early on. If you are considering a 2-story home, the master bedroom on the main floor is also appealing for some people and is an option that you will want to plan the rest of the floor around.

Bathrooms are generally planned out around the bedrooms, but those can be split and added as well to accommodate your wants and needs.

Porches and patios are options that are sometimes left for the end unless there is something very specific that you are after. If you want a covered front porch, or if you want a wrap-around deck, these can easily be added to your home plan even after everything is basically finished.  A breezeway or a sunroom are other options that you may want to consider and any decking that you may want to do can be left until the end to decide.

The last thing you may want to consider when looking at home plans is the characteristics of the lot you plan to build on. Most house plans can be designed for a corner lot (as opposed to a regular, straight ahead lot) but if you need a design for a very narrow lot, or one that slopes, you may want to check into these options from the beginning. There are certain plans that are made for sloping lots and sometimes home plans made for regular lots may not quite work to be modified for irregular lots.

Finding the home plan that suites your desires and needs is fun and easy and it also reduces the stress that can come with building your own home, as well as eliminate modification fees which will save you money in the long run.

Take the time to find the house plans that you really want rather than settling for something that is close enough, will make for a much easier, less expensive, and less time intensive process when it comes to actually building your home.

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