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Happy custom home building client in Bethesda Maryland describes her process for selecting an architect and builder to design and build her custom home.

Lots of homeowners are trying to decide of adding on to their home is better than tearing the house down and building a new home. But where do you start? Who do you turn to?

Yingjie was faced with this dilemma. So listen and watch Yingjies story.

Yingjie first met with an architect. But the architect wasn’t much help. He was not able to tell her if adding on to the existing home or knocking down and building new was the best way to go.
Next, she met with a builder. But the builders home plans were unimaginative and looked like “one of those” homes that
so many builders put up – B-O-R-I-N-G!!!
Then, her life magically changed when she received a message one day from Paramount Construction.

Listen and watch Part 1 of her story here:

Here is Part 2 of Yingjies story and about her new Bethesda custom home building experience and how she went through the process of of selecting an architect and builder and what some of her concerns were:

Read the full interview here:

Part 1
A Life-Changing Story Yingjie Shu, of Bethesda, Tells How Life Has Changed Since Rob & Kevin Designed & Built Her Custom Home (Winner of the Gold Award)

Hint: Yingjie has Become Self-actualized due to her New Custom Home Which Reflects Her True Essence….
Ok, Maybe That’s a Bit Lofty, but She Sure is HAPPY

(R = Rob)
(Y = Yingjie)

R: What is your name?
Y: Yingjie

R: What is your name?
Y: Yingjie

R: Where do you work?
Y: U.S. News and World Report. (laughter). I really don’t know how to get started. Like you said, it took us years on debating, wrestling whether to expand our house, or tear down our house, we do love our old little house.

R: So, you….what’s your process?
Y: At first, we hired an architect, the architect came here and talked to us about one hour. I thought before the guys came here that he should have ideas and at the end he would give us some ideas whether to build a new home or expand our house. So, after I talked to this architect, I still don’t have any idea.

R: Because you are just not sure whether you should knock it down or add on?
Y: Yes, after we talked to him, we still have no idea. Looks like we have to pay him in order to have some ideas. At that point because we don’t know that architect, we are not willing to do that. So, we gave up that idea and started to look at other builders. There’s one builder that came over, you know, his plans, whatever, then he showed us, took us to of the some houses that he built and when I looked at that house, I’m not impressed, you know, they all looked like one of those houses up there. There is no character, you know. So, we let it go, you know and then suddenly, we received Paramount’s Open House Invitation in Falls Church, so you know, it was like winter time. So I said, hey, let’s go, let’s just check out. So, we went there. So, when we were driving close to the house, I said to Bill, ‘That’s it!” Co’z the house looks so charming from outside and then we went inside and our hat just brimming. I just said “Hey, Bill, that’s it”. We love the floor, we love the fixtures, we love the design especially the master bedroom, you know. So, at that point, I said “Hey Bill …….

R: Did you talked to Kevin or Rob there?
Y: Yeah, we talked to Kevin and Rob and have some ideas. I guessed Kevin asked us, you know, what we want, what we liked at the house, whatever. So, then you came over to our house with a sketch, what our house should look like. And we discussed whether we should, you know, renovate or tear down the house. You did some analysis and you said, “Tear down, get a new one”. So that’s what we did. And then you gave us some reference to another house in DC and I went there and when I saw the house, I said, “Oh, my gosh, I love this house”. So, I said, you know, we will stay with Paramount. Build a house that has us, that has the character, has the charm, something really referencing us instead of just one of those out there. And we’re very happy.

R: Now that you’ve lived in here for…., how long have you lived here?
Y: About how many…three, four months.

R: How’s your life now compared to the old house?
Y: I think it’s beyond what I can say, it’s beyond. I am extremely happy, you know. I think the house is not huge but it’s the perfect size for us and the space is really well-designed, well-used, you know. Pretty much we can use every room, you know, we have in the house. We just love everything in the house. We love the windows, we love the kitchen cabinets, we love the lights, we love the wall, the shape, you know. We love the basement, we love the loft, oh, we love the floor. We just love it, we love everything.

R: How was the design process from the beginning? When we first met you, how was the process?
Y: I think the process was really really easy. I think Kevin did a good job to get us through what we need to do. So, a lot of things we have no idea, you know, the color, the design, all that kind of things. He really get us to, you know, what will fit, you know, meet our need, meet our budget, you know, fit our style and everything came out well.

R: How about during the actual building, during the actual construction period, how was that?
Y: It’s great, really. I think everybody is really really professional. I think the neighbors love it too, you know. The impact on the neighborhood is very minimum. And whenever we come here, we always see progress, you know,”how’s the house by the way?”. We come here everyday, we passed by, you know. So, everyday, there is some progress, you know, and we’re really happy.

R: And where there meetings on a regular basis during the construction period?
Y: Yeah, yeah, we had weekly meetings.

R: You had that? How was that? Did they keep you informed?
Y: Yeah, they kept us informed, really helpful. What hasn’t been done and what’s, you know, going to be done. I think that’s really really good.

R: What do you think of the quality of the work?
Y: Oh, great. Oh, by the way, there was once… Because I don’t know much about building, that kind of thing. So, there was once I took a guy at work. He is like our facility manager, he came here. So, I showed him, at that time we were doing the outer trimming, you know. So, he said, “This is definitely a Bethesda house, not a Rockville house”.

R: What did he mean?
Y: Quality. He said its top quality stuff. He said, “Yingjie, just relax, everything’s gonna be alright for you”. So, that made me…from a colleague, somebody I can trust, somebody who knows about facility. So, that’s really comforting.

R: Where there any unpleasant surprises or changes that came up here during the construction?
Y: None that I am aware of. No.

R: How about the timeframe. How fast did it go, the construction? Did they deliver on time?
Y: I think what’s really beyond our expectation, you know, I think it’s longer to get a permit than build the house, you know. But I guess the permit is just America’s deal.

R: How about the after construction service or issues that came up?
Y: Oh, it’s great! Actually the part I was really impressed… couple of times, you know, Mike showed up to see and say, “Ms. Shu you need to do this”. “Oh, my gosh, Mike I completely forgot about it”, you know. It’s really really good, follow-up.

R: Has ______Zuckerman said anything about the house?
Y: No. But I did talk to his nephews. (laughter)
R: And are they gonna come over?
Y: I told them. I said, “ I have an open invitation, come over”.
R: How about the Obama children. Have they been over to play with Ray yet?
Y: Not yet. (laughter) They’re too young for Ray.
R: I thought Ray likes older women.
Y: But they are younger. (laughter)
R: They are younger? I thought they are older than him.
Y: They are ten (10) and seven (7).
R: Could Ray bay-sit, at least? (laughter)
Y: Maybe.
R: So well, when friends have their Christmas party here, will the Obama’s be here?
Y: (laughter) I have to ask him. We’ll love to have them here.

R: Ken what am I missing? (video taping about to end)

Click here to see photos of this award winning new home

Part 2
A Life-Changing Story
Yingjie Shu, of Bethesda, Tells How Life Has Changed Since Rob & Kevin Designed & Built Her Custom Home (Winner of the Gold Award)

Hint: Yingjie has Become Self-actualized due to her New Custom Home Which Reflects Her True Essence….
Ok, Maybe That’s a Bit Lofty, but She Sure is HAPPY

R: You’re really on trying to decide if you should knock it down or build new, you’ve interviewed the architect, you’ve interviewed the builder.
What kept you up at night? Was there any… like.. what went through your mind, if there was any fear, what was it? Before, pre making any decision?
Y: I think it’s still we’re making big chance, you know. There’s a lot of money gonna be involved. We don’t’ know anything about building and even though we went to your Open House, we got some references, but still there’s risk out there, you know. So, there were period of times at the beginning, I said, “Oh, my gosh, did we make the right decision?” you know. How about the house, is it gonna come together, how about wasting all the money, co’z we hear all the stories, you know.

R: Stories like what? What’s the worst story that you’ve heard?
Y: Like for example, I have a friend. Her sister is building the house, then suddenly, I think they poured the concrete in and there were cracks, you know. So, they have to stop the work, hire another contractor to pour the concrete and do that whole thing again, then re-fill it again. And eventually, they went to a, they had to go to the court, you know, that kind of things, throw the money down the drain, you know. That’s just really horrible, you know. I think, that house, their house, my friend’s sister started early in that house but then, you know, when they’re getting close to finish everything, they were still gonna finish the trimming. So, you hear a story like that or something, you know, people stopping the work for whatever reason, you know, the builder would go bankrupt, you know, whatever. And then the job is hanging there, never finished. So, you hear those kinds of stories. Or another thing is just, you know, you have a fixed price and then they keep raising the price and then saying, “We need to do this, we need to do that”, and all kinds of problems and then the price just went up, you know, dramatically and that’s kind of a nightmare too for us.

R: How did you get the comfort level that Paramount wouldn’t do that or wouldn’t go and have cracked foundations or wouldn’t have a price that they kept going up or wouldn’t build a complete job on time?
Y: Well, I think when everything goes on schedule

R: But how did you make that decision with Paramount?
Y: At the beginning….?
R: Yeah, because how did you determine that the price was fair, that Paramount could perform?
Y: Well, um, well the price of course we checked with some other builders, you know, we checked with a friend. So, we have some rough idea how much it’s gonna cost, so the price, you know, Paramount presented to us, like it fit in our budget, we can do what. And in terms of, you know, assurance of the work, we talked to the references and all the references we talked to were happy with the work, you know. So, we just feel like, you know, we checked, we checked with all the references, we checked like 4 or 5 references and every single one praise Paramount. So, we feel like, you know, we just have to take a chance. And also, we saw the Open House in Falls Church in 23rd St, we saw the quality of the house and I said, “Hey, we cannot go wrong”. So, we did take our chance but the risk is worth it and yeah, everything is just worth it.

R: Last question. (laughter)
Were there things that kept you up at night during construction?
Y: No. No.

New Home builders, big and small, would be among the winners if the $838 billion stimulus measure the U.S. Senate passes today.

The Senate bill seems to be more generous to home builders than the House was in the $819 billion measure it passed last month.

President Barack Obama, who spoke to the nation last night, has said he wants stimulus legislation signed by this weekend. President Obama is counting on the plan to help revive the economy. The economy has lost 3.6 million jobs since December 2007. This has caused the unemployment rate to soar to the highest level since 1992.

To quote a Bloomberg wire: “In a bill this big, there are countless private-sector winners and losers,” Rogan Kersh, associate dean of New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service was quoted as saying.

The Senate cleared the stimulus proposal yesterday by a vote of 61 to 36. There were three Republicans siding with Democrats.

It’s quite possible that U.S. home builders could see sales increase if consumers tap into the planned tax credit of $15,000, or 10 percent of the purchase price, whichever is less, under the Senate legislation.

Morningstar analyst, Eric Landry said “If someone’s going to give you $15,000 in free money it has to be stimulative”.

The proposed new tax credit does not have to be repaid. And it appears that all home buyers are eligible for the home purchase tax credit. This proposed home tax credit would replace the $7,500 tax credit for first-time home buyers that was passed sometime last year. In addition to the amount of the proposed home purchase tax credit, another difference is that the $7,500 home tax credit had to be repaid over 15 years.

Jerry Howard, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Home Builders stated, “We’re pretty happy with the way the Senate bill is shaping up. We think it will entice a lot of those people sitting on the sidelines into the marketplace.”

As a home builder building new homes in the Washington D.C. area, I feel lucky because our area inside the Washington D.C. beltway is relatively strong. Values have held up and business is steady. So I can see real benefits to home builders, subcontractors and home building and remodeling vendors.

We also work with a large number of families and individuals that are just starting out and are looking for their first home to purchase. So it will be a huge benefit to individuals and families like that. But I’m not sure it is the best thing in the long run for our economy.

What do you think? Let me know your thoughts and comments.

This is some great news if it passes and is from a newsletter we subscribe to call

Builder Business Update:

Senate Adds $15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit to Stimulus
Amendment to Senate version of stimulus bill provides the credit to all home buyers and doesn’t require repayment.
By Pat Curry

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a home buyer tax credit of $15,000 or up to 10 percent of the purchase price in its version of the stimulus bill. This proposed credit would be available to all home buyers and would not have to be repaid as long as a buyer lives in the house for at least two years. The amendment to the Senate’s economic stimulus package, co-sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), offers the credit on purchases from one year of the date of enactment and could be applied to the home buyer’s 2008 taxes.

Isakson, who spent more than 30 years in the real estate business, proposed the tax credit because he’d seen it used effectively to jump-start housing in the 1970s.

“It is rare that we have a road map to success in times of difficulty, but this country has once before realized a housing crisis every bit as bad as the one we have today and economic troubles every bit as dangerous,” Isakson said in a prepared statement Wednesday evening. “We have a pervasive housing problem, and we have a historical precedent that works. I am proud this Senate has joined together, learned from history, and repeated a method that worked by adopting this amendment.”

Dwight Jaffee, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, called the 1973-1975 recession the “classic example” of how a direct stimulus to housing demand impacted economic recovery. “Housing led us into this recession, and we really need a stimulus for it to lead us out,” Jaffee said in a statement released by the Fix Housing First coalition, a group of home builders, manufacturers, and others advocating for several housing-related measures, including the tax credit.

According to Jerry Howard, the NAHB’s CEO, the amendment’s provision to offer the tax credit for a year from the date of enactment “reflects Sen. Isakson’s in-depth understanding of housing. It gives the people who market housing a chance to ramp this up and put it in its proper perspective in the field.” Depending on the enactment date, it could make the tax credit available well into 2010. (In previous versions, the tax credit was only availble through Dec. 31, 2009.)

Howard also said Thursday that the NAHB’s staff is working closely with the Senate offices of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on additional amendments that the Fix Housing First Coalition considers crucial to solving the housing crisis. Those include low-interest mortgages for home buyers and additional measures to stem foreclosures.

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association also issued a statement this morning applauding the adoption of the amendment and thanking the senators for their leadership. “We believe, if adopted in the final stimulus package, the tax credit could go a long way toward reviving the housing economy by encouraging more home purchases, creating new jobs, and restoring consumer confidence in the housing market,” said NLBMDA President and CEO Michael O’Brien.

The Fix Housing First coalition, which includes the NAHB and NLBMDA, continues to advocate for additional housing stimulus measures, including an amendment that would provide discounted 30-year fixed-rate mortgage financing for eligible home buyers.

In appearances on television news shows, several senators this week expressed support for such an amendment. “We have a 4% mortgage proposal where creditworthy home buyers could buy down their mortgages or save them on the average $5,600 a year,” Sen. McConnell said on Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

One disappointment for home builders in the bill is that this amendment does not include the ability to monetize the credit at closing, a feature in an earlier bill Isakson filed in mid-January. “Emails were flying back and forth this morning, asking ‘Can it be used for closing?’” says Michelle Smallwood, vice president of sales for Melbourne, Fla.-based Holiday Builders.

Pat Curry is senior editor, sales and marketing, at BUILDER magazine.Senate Adds $15,000 Home Buyer Tax Credit to Stimulus
Amendment to Senate version of stimulus bill provides the credit to all home buyers and doesn’t require repayment.

By:
Pat Curry

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday voted unanimously to approve a home buyer tax credit of $15,000 or up to 10 percent of the purchase price in its version of the stimulus bill. This proposed credit would be available to all home buyers and would not have to be repaid as long as a buyer lives in the house for at least two years. The amendment to the Senate’s economic stimulus package, co-sponsored by Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), offers the credit on purchases from one year of the date of enactment and could be applied to the home buyer’s 2008 taxes.

Isakson, who spent more than 30 years in the real estate business, proposed the tax credit because he’d seen it used effectively to jump-start housing in the 1970s.

“It is rare that we have a road map to success in times of difficulty, but this country has once before realized a housing crisis every bit as bad as the one we have today and economic troubles every bit as dangerous,” Isakson said in a prepared statement Wednesday evening. “We have a pervasive housing problem, and we have a historical precedent that works. I am proud this Senate has joined together, learned from history, and repeated a method that worked by adopting this amendment.”

Dwight Jaffee, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, called the 1973-1975 recession the “classic example” of how a direct stimulus to housing demand impacted economic recovery. “Housing led us into this recession, and we really need a stimulus for it to lead us out,” Jaffee said in a statement released by the Fix Housing First coalition, a group of home builders, manufacturers, and others advocating for several housing-related measures, including the tax credit.

According to Jerry Howard, the NAHB’s CEO, the amendment’s provision to offer the tax credit for a year from the date of enactment “reflects Sen. Isakson’s in-depth understanding of housing. It gives the people who market housing a chance to ramp this up and put it in its proper perspective in the field.” Depending on the enactment date, it could make the tax credit available well into 2010. (In previous versions, the tax credit was only availble through Dec. 31, 2009.)

Howard also said Thursday that the NAHB’s staff is working closely with the Senate offices of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) on additional amendments that the Fix Housing First Coalition considers crucial to solving the housing crisis. Those include low-interest mortgages for home buyers and additional measures to stem foreclosures.

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association also issued a statement this morning applauding the adoption of the amendment and thanking the senators for their leadership. “We believe, if adopted in the final stimulus package, the tax credit could go a long way toward reviving the housing economy by encouraging more home purchases, creating new jobs, and restoring consumer confidence in the housing market,” said NLBMDA President and CEO Michael O’Brien.

The Fix Housing First coalition, which includes the NAHB and NLBMDA, continues to advocate for additional housing stimulus measures, including an amendment that would provide discounted 30-year fixed-rate mortgage financing for eligible home buyers.

In appearances on television news shows, several senators this week expressed support for such an amendment. “We have a 4% mortgage proposal where creditworthy home buyers could buy down their mortgages or save them on the average $5,600 a year,” Sen. McConnell said on Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

One disappointment for home builders in the bill is that this amendment does not include the ability to monetize the credit at closing, a feature in an earlier bill Isakson filed in mid-January. “Emails were flying back and forth this morning, asking ‘Can it be used for closing?’” says Michelle Smallwood, vice president of sales for Melbourne, Fla.-based Holiday Builders.

Pat Curry is senior editor, sales and marketing, at BUILDER magazine.

Question:
Do you think this is a good idea as a taxpayer?
If you are in the market to purchase a home, will this impact your decision to buy a home?