Some homebuilders aspire to be the largest builder in their market. That is not the case with Nelson Builders. At Nelson Builders, we strive to be the premiere, low-volume, custom builder in Central Illinois. We can do this by delivering the best quality home, with the greatest value. Many of our past clients entered the search for a builder with a lot of apprehension, we have all heard the horror stories that going along with building a new home. By the end of their build, many of our clients tell us they wish they could build another home immediately because the experience was so enjoyable! We strive to take the pressure out of building a new home and develop real relationships that can continue after the home is built.
If you have spent much time researching new homes or builders today, you undoubtedly know that energy efficiency is certainly a trending topic. You will see other builders advertise their “energy promise” or “environmentally-responsible” building practices. They will list a number of “differences” or “advantages” they claim makes their homes more energy efficient than the competition. In reality, they are simply choosing items from the newer versions of today’s building codes and emphasizing them as differentiating features. Everyone who builds a home to today’s standards will have those features included. It takes the voluntary membership in an outside rating program, such as LEED (from the US Green Building Council) or ENERGY STAR (from the US EPA) to truly emphasize an organization’s commitment to energy efficiency. At Nelson Builders, we have partnered with ENERGY STAR and have committed that every home we build, whether contract or model, will meet the specifications set out by that program. We truly go beyond the codes of today and back our energy efficient pledge by our voluntary membership in the ENERGY STAR program.
At Nelson Builders, we want you to be proactive in your search for a builder. We know that you will investigate a number of different companies before deciding on someone you feel will be the best fit for you. In an effort to help you make sense of all the information you will undoubtedly receive, we have proposed several questions to consider when comparing builders or bids. We have also answered all the questions as to how we build a home and hope you will find in this list many things that we do differently!
Will my new home be ENERGY STAR certified?
When you build with Nelson Builders, ALL new homes we build are designed to attain the ENERGY STAR v3.1 rating. Your home will save you money by achieving this certification and you will be among an elite group of homeowners with this type of home.
What HERS ratings do your homes typically achieve?
While many builders may have no idea what you are talking about, a HERS rating is similar to an “MPG” rating on a new car. A typical new home constructed to the 2006 I.E.C.C. will achieve a HERS rating of 100, while a typical existing home will achieve a 130 rating. In the HERS scale, a lower number is better and means the home is more energy efficient. For example, a home with a HERS rating of 75 uses 25% less energy than a standard home and a home with a 50 rating uses half as much energy as a standard home.
At Nelson Builders, our recent new homes have achieved HERS ratings as low as 29, a drastic savings over a typical new home!
Do you build to meet the I.E.C.C (International Energy Conservation Code)? If so, what version?
Illinois has adopted the 2015 version of the I.E.C.C. with minor modifications. Per 20 ILCS 3125 (Illinois Complied Statutes, aka State Law) any new residential construction must comply with the I.E.C.C. We at Nelson Builders strive to deliver the most energy efficient home possible and far exceed this code. We will prove this to you with a compliance certificate and HERS rating when the project is complete.
Building to the 2015 version of the I.E.C.C. provides you with a finished home that includes the following features (items that could easily add $10,000 or more to a bid):
- Fully insulated basement
- Whole-home mechanical ventilation as part of the HVAC system (provides fresh outside air)
- Fully ducted HVAC system, including BOTH supply and return ducts
- This is an expensive item that many builders will leave out
- The “typical” old way was to use wall cavities and floor cavities as return air ductwork, this is NOT allowed by the building code
- Fully sealed HVAC system (with either approved tape or mastic)
- Programmable thermostat
- Continuous air barrier installed as part of the building envelope
- This is another very expensive item not seen on many homes in this market
- We accomplish this by taping EVERY seam on the exterior foam sheathing (not the house wrap) and then applying sprayed closed-cell foam over the drywall at the top of all the walls and ceiling penetrations before attic insulation is installed.
- If there is no mention of sprayed closed-cell foam in the attic, it is nearly certain that your home will not meet this aspect of the code as it is almost impossible to achieve reliably any other way.
- 100% LED lighting throughout the home
- Hot water lines 3/4” and larger insulted with R-3 insulation
- R-21 wall insulation, R-49 ceiling insulation
- Blower-door testing and certification (your new home must meet a maximum number of air changes per hour)
- Duct leakage testing and certification
Do you build to the same standard outside of city limits that you do in city limits?
When you build with Nelson Builders, you will have the same home as if you built within the city of Champaign. Since there are typically not regular inspections outside of city limits, many builders will neglect to do some of the items required by code but not known to homeowners. Examples of those include insulating the basement walls, installing a completely ducted HVAC system, installing whole-home mechanical ventilation, providing adequate insulation in exterior walls, providing required fire-blocking and fire-stopping, and any number of other items (some listed under the 2015 I.E.C.C question). These items could easily amount to $10,000+ that many not be included in other bids.
How do you build beyond the code to provide the most energy efficient home possible?
In addition to building a home that is certified to meet the 2015 I.E.C.C. and designed to earn the ENERGY STAR label, we go above and beyond to provide you with many additional features not found in other homes today. Some of those features include:
- Continuous 1” foam (R-5) insulation on the outside of your new home. Most homes today are built with 1/2” plywood on the exterior walls which provides little insulating value. By using continuous foam, we are able to reduce thermal bridging (the lower R-value where the stud is in direct contact with the exterior plywood and has no insulation at all). A typical wall framed with no continuous foam will have an R-value lowered by approximately 10% of the cavity insulation.
- Sprayed in place open-cell foam, closed-cell foam and cellulose insulation. Many builders today will use fiberglass insulation because it is the most economical option to choose. However, we at Nelson Builders have chosen to install spray foam and cellulose insulation in all our homes.
- Upgraded HVAC system
- Tankless water heater
What type of cabinetry do you install?
At Nelson Builders, we use only the highest quality, custom, Amish-made cabinets. We use Helmuth Custom Kitchens in Arthur and all our cabinets are constructed of solid woods and solid-wood veneers. Our cabinets are custom made to fit your spaces and we are not limited by the typical box-cabinets of many builders.
What type of lighting do you install in your homes?
At Nelson Builders, we provide a generous light-fixture allowance for all our new construction. Our clients typically have a mixture of top brands such as Kichler, Progress, and Hunter, along with some designer fixture brands such as Pottery Barn, West Elm, and Restoration Hardware. In addition, all our fixtures are installed with LED light bulbs to help you save money over the life of your home.
What type of water heater do you provide?
When you build with Nelson Builders, every home with natural gas or propane service available will have an on-demand, tankless water-heater installed as the standard. This type of water heater can save you a tremendous amount of money over the life of your home. In addition, it will provide you with an unlimited amount of hot water, as there is no tank to heat before you have hot water available.
What type of flooring do you install?
At Nelson Builders, we strive to provide luxury to our clients and specify carpet that feels plush and soft under your feet. When clients first visit one of our homes, one of the first comments we always hear is “this carpet is so soft”! We don’t install typical “builder-grade” carpet but provide you with a generous allowance to pick out a high-quality product.
In addition, our tile showers are complete with a tile base. We don’t use fiberglass pans for the bottom and simply tile the walls.
Can I really build my house within the allowances you have set out for me?
If you have toured any of our model or for-sale homes, you know the quality we build into every home. Your new home will allow you to pick the exact same finishes you saw in a model home for no additional costs. We base our allowances on those models and will discuss those options with you in detail before you decide to build with us. You never have to worry about allowances not being large enough to cover the same quality of finishes. We aim to be honest and straightforward throughout the building process and want you to come away feeling like every expectation was met!
How do you emphasize communication and transparency throughout the building process?
At Nelson Builders, we believe communication is a paramount concept in fostering an enjoyable building experience. Building a home is an incredibly personal experience and we want to share in that journey by helping to provide the most open communication possible. Whether it is through our partnership with BuilderTREND, a cloud-based construction management platform, or our weekly site meetings with our homeowners, we strive to make sure every concern is addressed before it has the chance to tarnish your overall experience.
Is my contract really a firm price, or will there be upcharges and overages along the way?
When we provide you with a bid (and eventually a contract), that price is truly all inclusive. Throughout our design and discovery process, we will have narrowed down your selections and priced them into your new home. As long as you stick with what you selected, there will be no surprises and the home will be finished for the price originally proposed at the start of our process! However, that is not to say you can’t change your mind. We realize that there is a lot to think about and you may decide to go a different direction at certain points in the process. We can simply issue a change order that clearly lists the requested changes, an addition or credit to the price, and the impact on the schedule. We are a custom builder and pride ourselves in being able to deliver exactly what you, our customer, desires!