FAQs

WHAT IS A SQUARE FOOT? HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BUILD?


As custom builders, our work, and the cost of our work, is not described exclusively in finished square feet but instead by the details, fininishes, complexity and components that are not included in finished square foot measurements. Examples include porches, garages, unfinished basements or vaulted ceilings.

As building designers, however, we need some idea of cost per square foot so that our new design will better match the project’s budget goals. We use the “factored square foot method” to try and answer the cost question while in the design phase.

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DO YOU BUILD HOMES THAT ARE "GREEN CERTIFIED"?


With our Certified Green Professional designation each new home will meet the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) to assure your home has lower operating costs, less maintenance, and superior indoor air quality.

Our goal for each new home is to provide a satisfying, rewarding, and fun building experience. We want our customers to enjoy the process, love their new home, and appreciate their building team. We’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Bottom line – we design and build distinctive homes that please the eye and soothe the soul.




WHAT MAKES A HOME "GREEN?"


Today we define green building as an integrated systems approach, or whole house approach, to designing and building homes that are comfortable, durable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible. It is a close partnership between the designer, the building team and the owner to select and execute the green building components that are best suited for each project.


For a home to be Certified Green by National Green Building Standard ™ a builder must meet minimum point-based requirements depending on the performance certification level. These points must be collected from all 6 of the following required green building categories:
1) Site Planning;
Examples include a detailed site plan showing limits of grading and the protection of critical natural resources as well as water management.

2) Resource Efficiency;
Examples include use of prefabricated components or engineered wood. Enhanced durability by using best building practices for flashing and waterproofing. Recycling of construction waste and use of salvaged or reused materials.

3) Energy Efficiency;
Examples include efficient HVAC systems, Level 1 insulation installations, Energy Star lighting and appliances and Low U-Factor windows.

4) Water Efficiency;
Examples include water-conserving appliances, low flow faucets, roof water collection systems and landscape plantings that require less water.

5) Indoor Air Quality;
Examples include controlling sources of pollutants from the garage or heating equipment. Use of adhesives and paints with low VOC output. Improved building ventilation systems. Conditioned crawl spaces.

6) Operation, Maintenance, and Owner Education:
Examples include a Homeowner’s Manual with a photo record of wall framing with utilities installed before drywall as well as information about building maintenance. A training session to familiarize the owners with the systems.




WILL YOU WORK WITH MY ARCHITECT?


We love it!

We welcome the opportunity to work with architects. The best projects evolve when the architect, construction team, other consultants and the owner are committed early in the process and work together toward a common goal.
Our design/build perspective allows us to understand the world of architecture, and architects, and ensures that we’ll deliver the expected product.

We are fortunate to have worked with a number of notable architects, both local and out of town, including the personal homes for several professors at the University of Virginia School of Architecture.




WHAT IS A "PROGRAM"?


A program is a wish list of “gotta have it,” “really want it,” and “why not ask” features that will distinguish your custom residence from a production or “off the shelf” home. Your program might include cathedral ceilings, a kitchen-family room, a cottage feel, a gabled roof, morning light, a luxury master suite, a walkout basement, whatever features are most important to you.




HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD A SMITH & ROBERTSON HOME?


The entire building process, from that first meeting until you finally set out your welcome mat, takes a year to a year and a half. We usually plan on 10 months for actual construction of our custom homes. During that time, you and your builder will brainstorm, problem-solve, modify, and make decisions as you complete various stages of the project. Communication is key, which is why choosing a builder you can talk to is so important.




WE HAVE A BUDGET IN MIND. IS IT POSSIBLE TO GET WORK WITHIN A PRICE RANGE BEFORE WE GET STARTED?


Yes. Budget usually comes up early in the dialogue, since it often limits how much of your program you can afford. It’s a good idea to determine how much you will have to spend before you meet with prospective builders. That way, your program can be honed to match that budget. But don’t leave out those “why not ask” details; Some novel extras may not cost any more than standard fare! Again, dialogue is key. If we know you want something, we can try to work it in. The client must make the final decision about budget.




WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE DECIDE TO WORK TOGETHER?


We generate a “Design Agreement” which allows us to begin site planning, design development, schematic plans and ultimately working drawings for your proposed new residence. This Agreement outlines proposed house size, features and a preliminary construction budget with factored square footage price range. It is accompanied by a Design Deposit, generally of $1,000. As you review the plans, you have the chance to ask questions and request changes that can affect budget or style. We might suggest that you visit one of the houses we have built to get a feel for what’s possible. Once we have addressed all decisions and selections, we’ll make a final set of construction drawings and submit a final contract price for your approval.




DOES SMITH & ROBERTSON WORK WITH CLIENTS WHO LIVE OUT OF STATE, WHILE THEIR HOME IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN CHARLOTTESVILLE?


Yes. We have built a number of homes for out of town clients. We keep in touch via next-day air, email, phone calls, and weekend visits with many out-of-state and overseas clients. We routinely send photos and material samples to keep our homeowners up to date.




WHAT STYLE OF HOMES DOES SMITH & ROBERTSON BUILD?


We design and build homes across a wide spectrum of architectural styles. Past projects have ranged from intimate cabins to grand estates, from the classic American Farmhouse to French Country Cottage, from Colonial to Modern. We take the style you like and create a home you'll love. And with us, energy efficiency is always in style.




IN WHAT AREAS DOES SMITH & ROBERTSON BUILD?


Our building projects are distributed throughout the greater Charlottesville area, including Albemarle and all surrounding counties within an hour of our downtown Charlottesville office. We have built on larger parcels as well as in a number of subdivisions, including Beaver Creek, Bentivar, Blandemar, Burruss Branch, Cedar Creek, Dunlora, Far Hills, Farmington, Foxwood Forest, Glenmore, Hackingwood, Hardwick Mountain, Ingleside, Key West, Luxor Terrace, Lake Monticello, Mallard Lake, Owensfield, Peacock Hill, Rosemont, Solaris, South Keswick, Springhill, Squirrel Ridge, Stony Creek, Terrell, The Rocks, Waverly, Woodcreek, Inglecress, Indian Springs, Mountain Valley, South Fork Farms and Whippoorwill. We also design Timberpeg and other residences for properties outside our building area.




CAN I MAKE AN EXISTING HOME "GREEN"?


To a point, yes. Some parts of the structure are going to be tough to change. The foundation, framing, wiring and plumbing all are components integral to the house. Although an unlimited renovation budget opens all kinds of doors, altering these parts of the house can be very expensive and beyond the means of many homeowners. That said, there are many upgrades and changes that will make a house more energy efficient, healthier and more durable. Upgrading windows and heating and cooling equipment, putting more insulation into the attic, sealing air leaks, installing ventilation equipment, and switching to low-VOC paints and finishes all are examples of positive steps. (VOC is shorthand for volatile organic compounds, which include environmentally harmful solvents that evaporate into the atmosphere after paints or other finishes are applied.) Keeping sustainable building practices in mind during routine maintenance and repairs can help. Let’s say you need new siding. Wrapping the house with an inch or two of rigid foam insulation before the new siding goes on can mean substantial energy savings. If you need new windows, why not choose high performance versions designed for your climate? Once again, it boils down to applying the principles of green building to the decisions we make. Books and magazines that routinely deal with this topic are a good start.





 

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