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Home Warranties – A Primer for Home Buyers

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 23, 2016 | Comments Off on Home Warranties – A Primer for Home Buyers

When you’re considering a purchase as large and as important as a new home, you need to make sure you protect your investment. Warranties are a key component of caring properly for your new home. Repairs and replacements can be costly, and many families don’t have thousands of dollars socked away in an emergency fund to cover the expense.

Although some home builders may lead you to believe that one warranty is just as good as another, the “one size fits all” mentality just doesn’t work in this situation. Warranties can and do vary widely in terms of coverage, duration and how quickly your problems are addressed once they are reported.

So what exactly is a new home warranty? Simply put, it is a form of insurance offered by the homebuilder that will protect you from defects or malfunctions that may occur after your home is built. Most reputable home builders will offer an automatic warranty on the homes they build, but you can also purchase a home warranty from an outside company. Commonly covered issues include structural problems, repairs of built-in appliances, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems and roof leaks.

Warranties may specifically exclude certain after-market items such as pools, spas, decks and appliances that are not provided by the builder. Make sure you read the fine print to get the full picture of what is covered by your warranty and what is not. Also, the terms of your warranty may state that covered repairs can be made by any qualified technician, or you may need to use a specific provider or company specified by the builder. You should also know if you will be expected to cover the cost of the repair and then be reimbursed, or if the repair will be done without money actually changing hands.

Your warranty should also give you detailed instructions on how to file a claim, state if there are deductibles that must be met or if a premium will be charged during the term of the policy. Some home builders include the warranty in the price of the home, while some offer the warranty for a nominal fee. You should also ask if the warranty on a home is transferrable; in other words, if you decide to sell the home, could any unused portion of the warranty term be made available to the new owners.

You also need to keep in mind that as a homebuyer, you do have some responsibilities when it comes to preserving your home warranty. You must keep your home well-maintained. If you ignore issues when they first appear, there is a good chance that you may be violating your warranty by allowing the problem to persist. You may be responsible for repairs that are the result of unusual wear and tear or if you make changes to your home that violate existing building codes or install after-market items incorrectly.

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we offer the best new home warranty of any homebuilder in the Savannah, GA area. We provide a comprehensive homeowners manual – “Caring for Your Home”, which provides a full description of your responsibilities as a homeowner in Section 8. When you complete the purchase of your new home, you will receive our exclusive 2-10 Homebuyers Warranty. It covers workmanship issues for the term of one year, systems coverage for two years, and a ten year structural warranty. Specific coverage details are available in our exclusive warranty booklet. For a sneak peek at our warranty program, visit our Warranty Information page.

If you have questions that aren’t answered on this page, please call our Sales Team at 912-756-4135 or send us an email, if it is more convenient. We’ll be happy to give you the answers you need!

Get Smart About School Districts

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 15, 2016 | Comments Off on Get Smart About School Districts

When you’re buying a new home, one of the hot topics of discussion always seems to be “What school district will service this house?” Of course, if you have school age children, or are planning to start a family, the reason this question is so critical is easy to understand. Every parent wants the best possible education for his or her child, and nothing is more disappointing than finding the perfect house, only to find that the school system that covers it is an absolute disaster.

But believe it or not, other factors come into play when you’re looking at the school district that will serve your new neighborhood. Here are some other considerations related to the ever-important school district question:

  1. The school district will affect the resale price of the home.

While you may or may not have children, keep in mind that parents are willing to pay more to have access to a superior local school system. This will drive up the cost of a home in that particular neighborhood. When a good number of people out there are willing to pay a premium rate to purchase a house in a certain school district, the overall cost of housing in the region will rise. Even if you don’t have children, you may want to invest in a home in a good school district, as it will most likely result in a higher resale value for your home when you decide it is time to move on.

  1. A good school district can protect your home from market fluctuations.

Even when the housing market is in a slump, homes in good school districts continue to move briskly. A quality local school district is one of the few things that will help a home preserve its value in a poor housing market. Prices of homes in excellent school districts tend to drop less during a stressed market, and these smaller price decreases tend to rebound more quickly once the market begins to correct.

  1. Better schools usually mean better neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods with a good number of children usually focus quite a bit other their efforts on safety. You tend to see less violence and crime in neighborhoods with good schools, and often there is a more connected neighborhood social system, often including a “watch” program of some kind. In particular, older individuals, single women and those who have a good many valuable possessions may want to look closely at the quality of the school system where they are hoping to buy, even if they don’t have children.

  1. If appearances matter to you…

Homes in neighborhoods served by excellent school systems are often very well maintained. We aren’t going to lie…high-quality home maintenance can set your budget back a bit. However, if you prefer living in a community that is visually appealing, with neat, tidy-looking houses and lawns, you’re not likely to find many eyesores in locations served by excellent schools. In most cases, those who can afford to buy homes in these higher-priced areas can also afford to keep them ship-shape.

At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we realize the value of a home located in a great school system. Our communities are placed in some of the top rated local school districts in the Savannah, GA area, including South Effingham/Effingham and Bryan County/Richmond Hill. These exceptional schools serve our customers well, providing their children with excellent public school educations. If you have questions about the school systems serving any of our communities, don’t hesitate to call our Sales Team at 912-756-4135 or drop us an email. We can give you the information you need to make an “educated” decision!

Under Control – Run Your Home Remotely

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 9, 2016 | Comments Off on Under Control – Run Your Home Remotely

Have you ever run back home to make sure that you’ve closed the garage door or adjusted the thermostat? If so, you can immediately appreciate the value of dozens of new technologies and apps that allow you to supervise the functions of your home remotely…with just a cell phone!

If you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, or a mobile Android device, it will become your new best friend when you’re away from home. With your portable device, you can control which lights are on and how bright they are, automatically turn them on and off on a pre-programmed schedule, use sensors to activate lights with motion and operate more than one light at a time, all with the touch of a button! You can also adjust your thermostats, turn your appliances on and off and monitor the amount of energy they use and control lawn sprinklers and fountains from your device as well.

Keep your home safe with sensors that detect motion in your yard and at doors and windows, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide levels and warn you when water leaks are spotted. You can even run Wi-Fi capable security cameras from your device!

While many home automation companies resemble each other greatly in the services they offer, some have a “calling card” they use to set them apart from the competition. For example, Loxone Home Products’ flagship product, the Loxone Smart Home system, also functions as a universal remote and weatherstation. Founded in Europe in 2009, the company opened its first US office in 2013, and has become one of our country’s leaders in “green” home automation.

Control4, another major player in the home automation industry, understands the importance of providing full information on each of the highly specialized services it provides. They’ve put together a wide variety of videos, which they’ve housed on their website, that go into deep detail about the home automation products they offer. You can view them all here.

These well-known and well-respected companies are just a few of the players in this fast-growing and highly competitive industry. In fact, it can be difficult to choose between them! If you need a little guidance, we’ve collected a few review articles that can give you some insight as to which companies have achieved high rankings in the industry. This top ten roundup from Top Consumer Reviews can be helpful, as well as contributions from Search Engine Journal and Top Ten Reviews. Some home automation companies appear on more than one review, but keep in mind that any one of these companies may have a specific feature or function that makes it the best choice for you.

If you’re not looking for a full service home automation system, there are still some interesting gadgets and “toys” that fulfill one or two more specialized needs. Which of them does the job the best? Again, it’s a tough call, and a little subjective, but the experts at Android Central have weighed in with their knowledge of the latest technologies to provide a roundup of some of the best specialized automation options. Check out the reviews from the editors here.

One thing that almost everyone can agree on is that the benefits of home automation make it well worth the relatively short period of time you’ll spend researching the best fit for you!

Hints from Hotels – Add Luxury to Your Home

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 30, 2016 | Comments Off on Hints from Hotels – Add Luxury to Your Home

When you go on vacation and splurge on a high-end hotel, it can be quite a shock to return to everyday life. The elegance, comfort and relaxation you experience when you’re living the high life can seem so far away when you open the door to your own home. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could live in five-star hotels all of the time?

Well, most of us can’t afford to do that, but there are lots of hints, tips and tricks we can pick up from luxury hotels that can make us more comfortable in our own homes. Pamper yourself with some of these fantastic ideas and upgrades!

The Bedroom

If you’re like most homeowners, you tend to scrimp and save a bit when it comes to furnishing and decorating your bedroom. After all, most people don’t see it. It isn’t a public area of the house, so bedrooms are usually given the short end of the stick when it comes to spending. However, a great night’s sleep is one of the best ways there is to feel good, look good and have the energy you need to get through every day. Some tips for copying a luxe hotel bedroom:

Buy a good mattress and good sheets – the best you can afford. Add soft, washable comforters and pillows. Invest in thick coordinating curtains that block out the sun. One of the nicest things about staying in hotels is that you’re never awakened before you’re ready by the bright glare from the windows. Try sewing them yourself or hire a seamstress to create them for you, so that you can have the exact fabric that you want.

Make sure each sleeper has a night table within easy reach for quick access to alarms, glasses, water or any other item needed at night or first thing in the morning. A classy hotel will have plush armchairs for relaxing as well, because not everyone chooses to lounge on the bed. Choose a comfy recliner for a cozy corner, and outfit it with reading lamp.  An HD TV with a clear picture and good audio can be tucked into a stylish armoire to keep the look of the room tidy and upscale. As a finishing touch, make sure to leave a small dish of wrapped quality chocolates on your handy nightstand. It’s your own version of chocolates on your pillow!

The Bathroom

A few small tweaks will turn your everyday bath into a spa – and many of them are readily available with today’s new construction. For example, at Ernest Signature Custom Homes we offer bathrooms with dual sinks, deep garden tubs and stand-up showers with top quality shower heads and elegant fixtures. Add thick, fluffy towels, scented candles, a glass of wine and a mound of bubbles, and all of a sudden, you could be back at the Ritz! If you’re feeling flush, add another small TV for the “WOW” factor.

Entryway Chic

When you first walk into a posh hotel, you’ll see glitzy mirrors, flowering plants, elegant vases on stylish tables. Choose one or two of these elements to decorate your entryway or foyer. Imagine a small table in highly polished wood, lacquer or perhaps even marble, topped with an artistic key dish, decadent bowl of fruit, fresh flowers or a pretty lamp. Add a gold-trimmed mirror for last minute touch-ups on your way out the door. Viola! You’re done!

Throughout Your Home

Climate control is a trademark of high-end hotels. Programmable thermostats and wireless climate control systems you can operate from your cell phone make keeping your home at a consistent, comfortable temperature easy.

Lighting is also important. Luxury hotels usually have dimmers on the lights in guest rooms so that everyone can have the level of light they need and want. Make sure you have enough lamps in high-use areas to increase visibility. Quirky or elegant lamps also provide unique decorative touches to your rooms that express your personal style. Wall sconces placed strategically over artwork gives your home a sophisticated look.

The addition of greenery or natural décor helps to strike an elegant note throughout your home. Never use artificial flowers or plants if you’re going for a high-end look. If you don’t have a green thumb, a vase filled with dried flowers or twigs, a bowl filled with acorns or river stones or a fish tank are all wonderful ways to bring a touch of life to your home.

On-Site Recreation

A swanky hotel has workout rooms, a pool and a hot tub that completely spoil you – you don’t need to go anywhere else to get fit and get happy. You can mimic these amenities in your own home more easily than you might think.

Convert an extra room or part of a guest room into a home gym by adding a treadmill, stationary bike or weight set, a TV for entertainment, a home water cooler and a stack of hand towels in the closet. If you don’t have to trek to the gym each day, it’s amazing how much more exercise you can squeeze into your busy schedule! You can also create a yoga studio in your own home. Choose a quiet, dimly lit area. Add candles, a cozy floor pillow and comfortable mat or rug for stretching or meditating. An eye mask and incense for a lavish relaxation period afterward is the perfect finish to your workout.

You may or may not want to invest the money and effort required to have use of a full-size pool (Even though here in Georgia it’s nice and hot…we can usually swim from April to October…) but you can install a small swimming pool like one of these from Endless Pools for less than you might expect.

You can also indulge in one of the many portable, inflatable hot tubs on the market today that provide the joy of a spa at a fraction of the price. Check out models by Coleman, Intex or Mspa!

So, how many of these ideas are making their way on to your ‘to-do’ list? Probably quite a few – it’s tempting to make just a few small changes here and there that can make every day a vacation…right in your very own home!

Throw Yourself a Housewarming Party!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 24, 2016 | Comments Off on Throw Yourself a Housewarming Party!

So now you’re a homeowner!

At long last, your dream of a place of your own is a reality. And if you’ve purchased new construction in Savannah, GA area, more than likely, you’ve become members of a planned community. Luckily for you, it means that you have a great opportunity to make a bunch of new friends all at once! All it takes is a ‘Welcome to Our Home’ gesture to show your neighbors that you’re ready to join their ranks.

Planning a housewarming party doesn’t have to be stressful. Keep it simple, and plan for guests to come and go as they please. Keep a good supply of finger foods, appetizers, snacks and beverages on hand, so that folks can nibble and nosh on their own schedules. While a suggested start time to begin receiving guests and a drop-dead hour to ‘close up shop’ is a great idea, expect that invitees will stop by for a while, then continue on with their day or evening. This open house type of set-up encourages new neighbors to stop by. Remember that for now, you’re all strangers. Committing to a specific chunk of time with someone you don’t know can be intimidating. Make sure that your invitations clearly state that people can wander in and out of your party as they please. Of course, if you have local friends and family, they will probably plan to spend most of the hours available with you as the backbone of your guest list!

Offer to give house tours frequently. You, your spouse and even your older children can lead guests from room to room, allowing them to see ‘what you’ve done with the place’ while other family members help entertain visitors.

Some of the most popular themes for housewarming parties are custom built for an open house format. Try a backyard barbecue with hot dogs, hamburgers and other quick, easy to prepare foods. Horseshoes, lawn darts, pickup volleyball or croquet games can help entertain children and adults alike. If its high summer (as it is now!) make sure there’s adequate shade available by putting up a canopy tent on the lawn. Be sure to offer indoor shelter if you’re comfortable with more than quick tours of your new home. You’ll be surprised how quickly guests will fill up your kitchen and living room, making these family gathering places feel like home!

You can also throw a ‘build my book’ party that will not only encourage your neighbors to visit, it will give you valuable information about service providers in your area. Invite each guest to bring contact information for a local service provider they’ve used that will come in handy someday. You can glue or staple business cards or information written on a slip of paper into a bound blank book or spiral notebook for when you need professional help from a plumber, babysitter or pet sitter, landscaper, handyman or pest control company, just to name a few examples.

Another great idea is a karaoke party. You can rent the equipment at a reasonable price from party supply stores or other vendors, or hire a professional to come in and stir up some fun! After the first two or three singers take the stage, guests will usually get into the swing of things. Encourage whole families to sing together and pair up random guests for awkward (but entertaining!) duets.

A ‘white quilt’ party is always a hit! Buy a plain white quilted bedspread or duvet, and have each guest ‘autograph’ the quilt with their name with a permanent marker. Once the quilt has been decorated, it makes a great accent to a guest bedroom or a fun throw for chilly nights in the family room. If you prefer, you can create a piece of wall art using the same idea – just get a prepared canvas from a craft or hobby store and have it framed afterward.

Some guests may bring gifts, although they are by no means expected. Accept all gifts graciously, and have a dedicated area set aside for them. Remember to send thank you notes afterward! You may also consider giving a gift to guests – a party favor to remember the occasion. Sweet treats like candies or cookies are popular, or you can go with a personalized takeaway item such as pens, notepads, beverage koozies, bottle openers or refrigerator magnets to commemorate the event.

But most of all, remember to relax and have fun!

Trends in Home Furnishings

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 16, 2016 | Comments Off on Trends in Home Furnishings

If you’ve recently bought new construction in Savannah, GA, or are thinking about buying a new home, more than likely you’ll be picking up some new furniture to go along with it. In fact, you may need to start from scratch and outfit your whole house!

If you’re going to be investing in new furnishings, we’re here to share some of the latest trends in home décor. Our Design Studio staff takes pride in staying current with what’s new and exciting when it comes to decorating options for your new house.

Go Green

Today’s furniture is often designed and constructed with an eye to conservation and a smaller carbon footprint. Environmentally sustainable, recycled and repurposed materials are becoming more and more popular.

Another important aspect of the green furniture movement is a growing interest in antique and vintage furniture, where all-natural materials and quality construction were part of the manufacturing process. Restoring vintage pieces yourself is not only rewarding, it can be significantly less expensive as well!

Size is Everything

Over the past decade, furniture in general has become smaller, sleeker and less ornate. A more contemporary look is common in today’s homes, as buyers tend to choose less ponderous pieces for their rooms. Streamlined furniture allows home owners to maximize the space they have.

Multipurpose Furniture

Ottomans that open for storage or unfold into comfortable beds, fold-away bars, end tables that house kitty litter boxes or beds mounted on drawer units with built-in bookcase headboards are great examples. With many homeowners chronically short on space, these handy pieces do double duty.

The New Face of Leather

Always popular, leather furniture has been making a resurgence. Now available in a wide variety of designer colors and updated silhouettes, leather is easy to maintain and retains its good looks longer than many upholstery fabrics.

Beyond Your Everyday Bed

In the last few years, there has been an explosion of options when it comes to sleeping surfaces. Memory foam, cool-sleep options, number control mattresses and adjustable beds are just a few options that are putting pressure on standard mattress manufacturers. No matter what your preference, you find the ideal way to get a good night’s sleep.

Custom Built Furniture

For many years, homebuyers ‘made do’ with pieces of furniture that were almost what they wanted. However, custom furniture shops are springing up everywhere, as homebuyers invest in creating the perfect item for their needs. Even mainstream manufacturers such as Ethan Allen and Thomasville are offering an increasing amount of customization to their customers.

Outdoor Furniture Takes Center Stage

As more homeowners expand their living spaces with sunrooms, covered porches, decks and patios, outdoor furniture has come a long way since the days of aluminum tubing and plastic webbing. In fact, many manufacturers offer lines of outdoor furniture that is right at home indoors as well. The texture, color and patterns of outdoor furniture textiles has improved enormously in recent years, making these pieces more comfortable and appealing for everyday use.

Technology-based Furniture

Entertainment centers, desks and bedroom furniture have entered the digital age! Now constructed to allow for the placement of a wide variety of electronics, gadgets and devices, your home office and media centers have evolved with the times. Nightstands and accent tables even have pull-out shelves, outlets and USB ports for charging laptops, iPods and phones!

Go Bold

Unlike decades past, today’s furniture shoppers are more likely to go with bright, deep or unusual colors when shopping for furniture. The days of “It’s a neutral color that will go with everything” thinking have passed. Now it’s about striking patterns, florals unusual textures and visual interest. Many consumers have become more adventurous when it comes to furnishing their homes.

Our Design Studio staff at The Gallery at Ernest Homes is at your service! When you’re getting ready to create your home space, we’re here to answer questions, provide guidance and offer options you may never have considered. Call us at (912) 756-4135 or send us an email today!

To Pool or Not to Pool…That Is the Question!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 12, 2016 | Comments Off on To Pool or Not to Pool…That Is the Question!

When it’s hot outside, most people who don’t already have a pool think about getting one. It’s that time of year now, and a lot of potential homebuyers are asking our opinion about pools. Truly, though, the answer always lies with you. There are good reasons to get or not to get a pool, and only you and your family can decide if a pool is a good fit for your lifestyle.

First of all, consider whether or not your community has a pool. If you live in a planned or gated community, you may have access to a fine in-ground pool that is used only by the residents of your development and their guests. Because this is a relatively small group of people overall, you may want to pass on installing a pool of your own. The same is true if you live in a residential area that has a well-maintained public pool that is not overly crowded.

However, if these options aren’t open to you, it’s time to consider a few factors closely before ‘diving in’ to pool ownership.

Cost

Pools are expensive, not only to buy and to install, but also to maintain. The average basic, in-ground swimming pool with minimal landscaping and few extras will seldom cost less than $25,000 to install. In 2014, the national average cost, upfront, for buying and installing a residential, in-ground pool was a little over $39,000. Fancier pools with slides, diving boards, pool houses or cabanas can run upwards of $50,000 to $100,000 to install.

Small swimming pools such as those offered by Endless Pools can be more economical if you don’t have a large family or if family members tend to swim alone or in small groups. Costs for these pools start at about $23,000.

Maintenance costs can easily run up a big bill if you have a larger pool. While some pool owners spend less than $100 on average monthly, the average pool owner will spend about $190 a month on pool supplies and service. You can get a good average breakdown of the costs here.

Above ground pools are certainly less expensive. The average above ground swimming pool kit will cost between $1500 and $4500, depending on the quality of the pool. However, keep in mind that this price usually doesn’t include decking, which can cost just as much as – or more than – the pool itself. Surprisingly, maintenance costs aren’t significantly lower for above ground pools.

Ground Conditions

Take a good look at the surface where you’re thinking of installing the pool. Is it hilly? Rocky? Is the soil light and dry, or heavy and wet? While these questions are important in all cases, they will have a big impact on the installation of an in-ground pool.

Insurance

Check with your insurance agent to see if your pool would be adequately covered under your homeowner’s policy. Residential pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” by most insurance companies, and they usually advise that pool owners purchase additional liability insurance. Most homeowner’s policies include a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability protection. Pool owners, however, may want to consider increasing the amount to $300,000 or $500,000.

Local Regulations

Each town has its own definition of what a “pool,” is, and usually it is based on the size and water depth of the pool. If the pool you are planning to buy meets the criteria established for a residential pool, you’ll need to meet local safety standards and building codes. These can include installing a fence of a certain size, locks, decks and pool safety equipment.

Safety Concerns

It’s common to hear stories of young children falling into pools, some of the tales with sad endings. Other safety concerns include injuries due to roughhousing, diving or jumping awkwardly into the pool, or swimming while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Having a pool is a big responsibility, and many people don’t want the additional worry of monitoring a pool, whether it is in use or not.

Time and Lifestyle

Although you love the idea of a pool on the ten days it is 100+ degrees, you have to take into consideration how often you and your family will actually use the pool. If the kids will be in it practically every day and/or you like to swim for exercise four nights a week during pool season, you’re probably going to want to go ahead with the pool. However, if family members are rarely home or aren’t avid swimmers, the pool may not get enough use to be practical.

Home Resale Value

It’s a widely held myth that homes with pools always command a higher price tag. While some buyers are excited at the thought of buying a house with a pool and are willing to pay more to get one, at least an equal number see the pool as a drawback to ‘closing the deal’. Don’t install a pool simply because you think it will drive up the value of your home when you’re ready to sell.

As you can see, there’s a lot of points to ponder and angles to consider before you ‘take the plunge’ and purchase a pool. Do your research and give the subject a lot of thought before making a final decision. And don’t hesitate to trust your gut reaction – for a pool to be fun, you have to be completely satisfied with your choice.

Buying New Construction – Get Answers to These Important Questions

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 30, 2016 | Comments Off on Buying New Construction – Get Answers to These Important Questions

When you’re shopping for new construction in Savannah, GA and the surrounding area, you’ll have a number of homebuilders promising you that they’ll give you the best deal on a fantastic home. And while many will make good on that promise, you’ll need to dig a little deeper to make sure that you are actually working with the homebuilder that is the best fit for you and your family. That may sound like a daunting task, but really, all that’s required is a little research – and asking the right questions.

And to make it even easier, the staff at Ernest Signature Custom Homes has put together a list of those questions to help you!

  1. Does the builder have a good reputation in the community?

Public opinion has a measurable effect on the value of your home, especially if you think you’ll be selling it at some time in the future. Make sure that the builder uses quality materials and delivers a solid product. If you don’t know anyone in the area, get references from the builder and check with the local Better Business Bureau.

  1. Is the homebuilding company public or private?

There are reasons this is important. You’ll need to know if your investment dollars are supporting local businesses or subsidizing a national company with headquarters outside the county or state. Privately owned homebuilding companies tend to have a local focus. They also have no stockholders, no board of directors or pre-set production and sales quotas that need to be met.

  1. How many years has the homebuilder been in business, and how many homes have been built?

While new companies can do a wonderful job and have a solid financial balance sheet, you’re usually in better hands with a company that’s been around for a while and has built a good number of homes that you can “tour” with a drive through their communities.

  1. Is the homebuilder fully licensed and carrying all major insurances?

Make sure you’re working with a company that protects you and their employees properly. General liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, full licensure and the ability to obtain all necessary permits are essential. You’ll also want to find a homebuilder who belongs to at least one professional builder’s association of one kind or another – these groups also act as watchdogs for the consumer.

  1. Does the builder sell to owner/occupants or investors?

Owner/occupants tend to live longer in home and take better care of it, helping to keep the community clean and safe. If the builder sells mainly to investors, you may not end up in the best neighborhood.

  1. Do you have any questions about the contract or cancellation clauses?

Be sure to read all paperwork thoroughly and ask questions about anything you don’t understand perfectly. If the explanations you get don’t make sense, or seem skewed in any way, you should move along to a different homebuilder.

  1. Will your lender finance any type of upgrade you choose?

Some lenders won’t give approval for certain upgrades, so make sure to check first if you plan to add special features to your home.

  1. Will your builder let you use your own inspector?

For peace of mind, you may want to have an objective inspector look at the new home before you take possession of it. Ask your homebuilder if this would be possible.

  1. What is the current stage of development in the community?

If you are among the first buyers in a new community, you may be dealing with construction sights, sounds and vehicles for quite some time as new homes go up. If this is a concern for you, it’s best to know this before you make a commitment.

  1. How long do you think you will live in your new home?

If you expect the size of your family, your location or your job situation to change substantially during the next few years, buy the size and style of home that will fit your expectations, not your current needs. If you outgrow your home or want to size down, you may need to sell before you’ve accumulated enough equity in your home to allow you to put together a reasonable deal.

  1. Will my house be ready when I need it?

It’s important to get an accurate estimate on the expected build time, especially if you’re selling another house or will be ending a lease.

  1. How good is the homebuilder’s warranty?

Know exactly what is covered and how long the warranty will be in effect before you sign a contract.

  1. Is there a homeowner’s association, and do they have their own rules?

If there is a homeowner’s association in the community, get a set of their rules and regulations before signing on the dotted line. If you feel that any of the stated limitations will be difficult for you to live with, you may want to consider another property.

  1. What is the average price of a home in the community?

If the builder’s prices are much higher or lower than the going rate of other properties nearby, ask additional questions. There may be good answers (using higher quality materials, larger lots, more standard features that are considered upgrades with other builders) or there may be a problem. For example, a high number of foreclosures in the neighborhood may drag down the value of newly constructed homes in the community. A price near the norm is often reassuring.

  1. Why has your lot been given a premium price?

Some lots cost more because they have a more desirable location or are more suited to building. Some are randomly assigned a higher price. If your lot carries a premium charge, find out why.

And most of all, if you have any questions about the questions you should ask a homebuilder, feel free to contact our team at Ernest Signature Custom Homes. We want to provide the best, most up-to-date information to those interested in the new construction process. Drop us an email or call us at 912-756-4135 today!

Employee Spotlight – Meet Tony Sardinas!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 29, 2016 | Comments Off on Employee Spotlight – Meet Tony Sardinas!

Building trust is every bit as important as building homes. At Ernest Signature Custom Homes, we specialize not only in creating unique homes that are perfect for your lifestyle, we build relationships that last.

Our employees are the backbone of our relationship-building team. As the leading homebuilder in Savannah, GA, we know just how important it is to find just the right people to work side-by-side with our customers, constructing, designing and putting the finishing touches on their dream homes. It’s important to us that you get to know our team members, so we’re introducing one of our finest to you today!

Tony Sardinas is one of our top Sales Agents, and he has been with us for almost four years. A graduate of The University of Connecticut, he majored in Political Science, but discovered a true love for real estate fifteen years ago. He’s licensed to sell homes in both Georgia and Florida.

Originally from Connecticut, he spent 20 years in Florida before relocating to Richmond Hill four years ago to be closer to family. One of the bonuses of the move – our gorgeous weather. “After 20 years of heat in Orlando, this area has the best of four seasons,” Tony says. He and his wife, a nurse at St. Joseph’s/Candler, have two sons, one a sophomore at Richmond Hill High School, the other in seventh grade at Richmond Hill Middle School.

We asked Tony what sets an Ernest Signature Custom Home apart from the competition, and he was quick to praise the quality of their construction. “I have sold other builder’s homes and Ernest by far builds the best quality homes in the Greater Savannah area.” He also enjoys working for a smaller, family-owned company, rather than a large corporation. “I want to continue helping people achieve the American dream of owning a home,” he continues. “That’s absolutely my favorite part of my job. It’s great that what I love the most about working here fits right into one of my career goals – I want to stay on the top of the list of the most successful real estate agents in the Greater Savannah area.”

Customer service ranks first with him – which is probably why he’s one of the best sales agents in our region. “Listening to people’s concerns and making the home buying process easy is the key to great customer service,” he says. “I also make sure to remind them to look at the workmanship of the different builders and realize that ‘you get what you pay for’. When they do an objective comparison between our homes and the competition, they see that a lot of features that are upgrades with other builders are standard with our company.”

When we asked Tony the million-dollar question – what is the most interesting thing you keep in your garage, he surprised us with the answer. “I have a book case that I made in wood shop over 30 years ago that still looks great and we use every day,” he replied.

We had no idea that not only is he a customer service pro and a top salesman, he’s also pretty handy with saws and hammers. We should probably ask him what books he has in that case…there’s sure to be a great answer to that question too!

Great Eats in Guyton, GA – Small Town, Big Flavor!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: June 23, 2016 | Comments Off on Great Eats in Guyton, GA – Small Town, Big Flavor!

Who says you can’t find excellent food in a small town? Our popular communities in Guyton benefit from a nice variety of delicious choices – and they’re within just a few miles of your new home! You don’t have to go all the way to Savannah for a fantastic meal…try some of our favorites!

Southern Kafe on 17

If you’re looking for a truly five-star experience, trust the folks on Yelp.com to steer you to the Southern Kafe on 17. This eatery is kid-friendly, known for great service and a welcoming atmosphere, and serves some of the most delicious salmon patties ever made in the Coastal Empire! A truly local business delivering tasty treats to the residents of Guyton, Southern Kafe on 17 also gets rave reviews for the biscuits and gravy…with desserts that are – to quote one reviewer – “off the chain”. Don’t miss this dining experience – it’s a gem!

Brass Rail Food & Spirits

“Laid back”, “friendly”, and “cool” are all words used to describe the Brass Rail. Kid-friendly during the day and through the dinner hour, this neighborhood hangout caters to the local families, then as the night goes on, the grown-ups wander in to play pool or darts, listen to live music and have a few rounds while noshing on some of the best pub food in the area. A solid 4.5 stars from Yelpers, this bar/restaurant is a favorite with Guytonites, their friends and their guests.

Amy’s Ice Cream Parlor

If you want to be the first reviewer on Yelp, stop in and share your thoughts! Judy’s Book has weighed in on this “sweet treat” of a place that serves delicious hand-dipped ice cream along with tasty chicken fingers, hamburgers and sweet tea. The warm, welcoming atmosphere and friendly staff set this “sweetery” apart from many others – plan a trip to Amy’s for lunch or on a warm summer evening!

The Laughing Boar

Fine dining? In the country? You betcha! Chef Nick at The Laughing Boar spotlights local organic veggies and regional fish, seasonal dishes and creative, multi-course meals sure to satisfy! Looking for a little romance? Get a sitter for the kids and head over to The Laughing Boar for date night – you’re sure to discover something astounding!

Pizza Chef

Pizza, pizza, pizza! When nothing else will do, Pizza Chef is there for you! Featuring piping hot pizza pies with your favorite toppings, wings, salads, subs and entrees, you’ll “get your fix” right in your own backyard!

Hunter’s Pride

BBQ to go! Call in your order and dinner is served! (Or lunch, for that matter!) Famous Hunter’s Pride BBQ sauce guarantees that your family will want seconds…and you won’t have to cook! Open until 7pm for pickup, your lunch and dinner needs are just a phone call away! Visit their website for their take-out menu.

The Joy of Adult Beverages – Butterducks Winery

Do you know that Guyton has your wine needs covered as well? Locally crafted, delicious adult beverages are available for tasting and purchase at Butterducks, where the friendly staff will answer any questions you may have about their wines. Open weekends, they also stock tasty cheeses, chocolates and other specialty snack and party food items. Don’t miss this unique experience – one visit and you’ll be hooked!

Getting hungry? We are too…and heading up to Guyton to grab a bite!

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