"Never neglect the little things.
"Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do
"You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark, if you are cutting corners and shirking responsibilities.
"You are special. Act it. Never neglect the little things." - Og Mandino

It's Success Time: print, read and learn how to
Design & Build Your
High Performance Home

Don't worry - we do most of the work for you!

1. Select a Home Site (green building begins on your Lot selection)

This step begins your custom home process. Unless you already own a parcel of land, most folks use the services of a qualified professional Realtor [look Right >>] to guide them in home site acquisition, and we recommend that you do so. Before starting to design your home, it is generally necessary to know the constraints the home site will impose on final house design. You should have the lot under a firm contract to purchase, but need not have settled on the purchase.

We would like to see a current survey, topographic information if it is available, the current zoning and how utilities (sewer, water, electric, gas and telephone) will serve the home. If your Realtor is unable to site specific features (e.g. septic field locations relative to water well) then you should contact a civil engineer sooner than later (later being during Step 3 below). If (s)he is uncomfortable with green building methodologies, then contact us for guidance.

If you have not already selected a Realtor we strongly recommend Kristi Neidhardt, a down to earth, professional EcoBroker.

Kristi is experienced with sustainable construction, and  can identify new building lots not just on the typical aspects (location, schools, etc) but on green features, such as orientation for passive solar gain and natural tree shading, among others. With all things being equal among most Realtors, she's far more appealing with this added expertise!

2. Design & Preliminary Drawings (green design work in earnest)

We will work with you to do a computer crafted floor plan of your customized home and help you select the major components which you want included. Finish Werks is a FULL CUSTOM builder... If you can dream it we will try to design and build it on budget. You are not limited to "5-flavors" like so many other small builders. We suggest starting using one of of our in-house plans, or any other manufacturer's plans as a baseline for your home. Simply email us the link to plans you find online >>. We do not suggest using ePlans.com or other online plan provider as these plans are often designed only for site building (which we’ll build, but avoid for obvious reasons). While we can convert sophisticated "stick-built" plans to modular, the effort entailed often leads to more expensive full work-ups that will incur more charges. If design work exceeds 3 sketch plans and Prelim Drawings, we will arrange a fee schedule for you for extended customization - visit Modular Home Prices and Financing for details.

When this joint planning process is concluded, and you have accepted the preliminary design, we will request a Preliminary Drawings fee >>. AutoCAD drawings are converted to Adobe PDF line drawings which become your property upon payment. At this time, we will provide you a house foundation plan which will be required by your civil engineer to precisely position your house on your lot (Step 3) and a house construction budget for the lender (Step 4).

Find Modular Home Plans fast

Contact Us to receive our Price Schedule if you would like to know more about fees associated with the design of your custom home.

3. Site Planning

Now, you must retain a licensed professional civil engineer (or surveyor) to design a site plan (aka grading plan) for your house and lot. He/she will dictate what can be built on your lot. We will recommend an excellent firm or you can search your own >>. This site plan will contain a wealth of information necessary for the land development and house construction phases of the project. It is a requirement for obtaining a site work permit and building permit from the appropriate local jurisdiction. The engineer will also point out if there are any unusual site conditions or utilities issues which must be addressed.
Contact us for a referral

(civil engineers and surveyors surrounding Laurel, MD by Google)

civil engineers and surveyors within a 20M radius of Laurel, MD by SuperPages)

4. Construction / Permanent Financing

It is time to get the lender involved. You now have your lot cost from your realtor, a budget house cost from us, and a general idea of the site conditions and utilities. The lender >> will likely seek our input and assurances on the overall construction issues facing the project and arranging a tailored funding schedule for house construction. Remember that our Systems Building (modular components) process has unique requirements which must be structured into the loan. The end product will be a written, non-contingent construction / permanent mortgage loan commitment (contract) between you and the lender. Your home project must complete this requirement before it can move forward to the next step.
Because not all banks/lenders are familiar with systems built homes, we recommend that you speak with SunTrust Mortgage on our Resources page.

If you're really
green, then consider a "green lender" that can put money in your pocket while reducing your carbon footprint - just contact us.

5. Permit Sets (aka ‘Sub Sets’ or ‘Working Drawings’)

You have your lot, your site plan, your Preliminary Drawings and you have your financing or construction-to-permanent mortgage. You are ready to finalize your Permit Sets in specific detail. At this point we will begin the design, drafting and structural engineering necessary to produce a final set of architectural plans and specifications for your home. The process starts with the Preliminary Drawings which we completed in Step 2, above. These preliminary plans go to the engineers and draftsmen who computer generated the first draft of your detailed structural house plans. The process is made quite efficient because they know that you have accepted the preliminary design as a starting point and we have used known components in the design (Modular or Systems Building). We will review their output and your house specifications several times, and revise them as appropriate until we have a final set of plans and specifications which you accept. This process usually takes only a couple of iterations >> because we are mixing known components to reach the final design. This final set of large scale Permit Sets now belongs to you.

* The charge for Permit Sets is included in the Preliminary Drawings Fee.

Major changes to the design may incur a change order fee for additional engineering at the factory. Any structural engineering that must performed on site-built features (e.g. basement foundations, garages) for your County's permit approval will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

6. Construction Agreement

Now that your homes detailed construction plans and specifications have been finalized, we can, at last, give you a firm price to build your home (cue drum roll please). We will collect cost data from our various systems subcontractors and tradesmen over a two week period (more or less) and give you a written cost proposal. You should review this with your lender for their input and adjustments to your commitment which was based on our preliminary house budget. If all is acceptable, we will then enter into a firm Contract Of Sale >> which will finalize the planning steps above and start the building process.

Our Contract Of Sale complies with Maryland State's Attorney General's Office requirements for registered home builders.

Our MHBR Number is listed online here.

7. Utilities, Permits and Municipal Approvals

Time for you to get involved in the process in greater detail. As the owner, you must secure the necessary approvals from the appropriate local and state authorities for the development of your land, the right for your driveway to enter a state road, the easements and service agreements necessary for providing your lot with utilities, the approval of your well & septic system plans (or sewer & water system tie-ins), and municipal approvals of your site plan and building plans which will result in your building permit being issued. You can do as much or as little of this as you desire and we can point you to reliable contractors and professionals to lend a hand where needed. While it may sound like a handful, all of the agencies and utilities with whom you will deal are really quite helpful to the individual homeowner going through the process. At the end of the day, you will have learned valuable information about your lot and your home, and be the expert of your own domain. We recommend you take an active role in this process >> even if you choose to have work done by others.

Utilities are the single most significant bottleneck to construction in our area.

PEPCO has taken 4+ months to provide our clients new service, and WSSC can take even longer. We can finish a job in less time than it takes to get either of these services!

 Please be prepared !

8. Land Development

Before we can start construction on your home, most all of the required or desired improvements to your lot must be completed. This can vary from just a few days work to a fairly significant undertaking. It can include demolition of an existing structure, clearing, grading, import or export of soil, installation of a well, septic system, sewer laterals and/or water laterals, rock blasting, installation of electric, gas and telephone to a temporary pedestal by the house, and providing road and driveway access to the house location for heavy vehicles. Again, you can be involved with as much or as little of this land development as you wish. We can set you up with experienced contractors or subcontract some of this work on your behalf with payment coming directly from the lender. In our experience, a knowledgeable and involved owner >> results in greater long term satisfaction.
These issues were part of the evaluation of the purchase of your lot, so most of this will not be new to you.

NOTE: much of this work is performed by your civil engineer (Step 3)

9. House Construction

Time for you to stand back and let us do our thing in the main event. Our Contract Of Sale (Step 6) will grant us and our workers access to your home site for this process. When the land development phase (Step 8) is complete, we will first install a construction entrance from the access road to your house site. Weather permitting, we will excavate for your foundation. Once the foundation walls are in place, we plan to have our portion of your home construction completed within 90 days - less if by ModularDirect. At certain critical stages, our work will be inspected either by municipal inspectors and/or licensed engineers. We will provide you copies of their reports upon request. If you wish to bring in contractors to add other improvements (such as a pool or sauna) we will work with you on integrating them smoothly. You will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly and efficiently our modular construction process goes; your home will be finished before you know it.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

10. Home Acceptance

When we have completed our work, we will have a formal inspection and acceptance by both you and the lender's inspectors. Deficiencies noted, if any, will be promptly rectified. Depending on whether you plan to have additional work done by other contractors under the same permit, the acceptance process may or may not include inspections by municipal inspectors. That's it! Your construction loan converts to a permanent loan and you move in. Welcome home!                                                          

On most homes and additions, we'll have your home re-tested for energy efficiency, and if you've chosen a GreenWerks package, we'll certify again.

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