Building Your Home Wisely In 9 Steps – STEP #1


There is no way around it – building your dream home is a big undertaking and it will come with some challenges, but even bigger rewards. You have heard sayings like, “nothing easy is worth fighting for” or “The rewards for those who persevere far exceed the pain that must precede the victory.” The same goes for building your custom home. Great things come to those who are patient and the challenge is what makes the reward that much more rewarding. At Millstone Custom Homes, we want to work as a team to reduce your challenges while increasing your reward. Understanding these 9 STEPS are a great start to making your experience more enjoyable and the outcome more rewarding.


Yes, organizing your finances is often considered the boring part of the building process for most people. If you think about building, in it’s most basic form, you realize that the foundation is the most important structure. Without a good financial foundation your dreams will crumble before your eyes or create unnecessary stress that can last for many years.

The most important thing to acknowledge is that your land, home design and construction quality all impact the price of your home. A custom home DOES NOT mean it will be more expensive than buying an existing home. Spend time on determining what you TRULY can afford in the creation of your dream home. Understand that sometimes your dream can’t be converted directly into reality. Be open to adjustments to your dream and the likelihood of a “Happily Ever After” will be greater.

First you will need a construction loan. Ask your builder about their relationships with financial institutions. This can often pay off for you not only in your bottom line, but also by reducing the hassle of searching for the perfect lender. If you already have a builder picked out, be sure to include the construction loan in your interview (see step 2).

Bulk is less expensive than purchasing materials on an individual basis. This means changing your plans will change the cost. We can’t emphasis enough that you need to prepare a well thought out plan and stick to it as much as possible. More on this in Step 7.

If you do not have your own land, you must finance the land that you purchase in addition to the construction. This sometimes results in two closings which are accompanied by two settlement fees. This is often something not considered by those building their first home. Talk to your title company and builder to reduce confusion regarding your closing.

More often than not a good credit score, along with a down payment of at least 20-25%, is needed to qualify for your construction loan. For custom home borrowers, most lenders require more cash reserves to make sure that you have the funds available in case there are any extensions in the construction time. Save up and don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.

Last, but not least, do not forget about proper insurance. In addition to making sure your builder has proper insurance (minimum of general liability and workers comp), get the right insurance coverage to cover you during the construction period and this needs to be part of your budgeting plan.


Step #1 – Step #2 – Step #3 – Step #4



Holiday Craftoration #2 – Cylinder of Joy

The Cylinder of Joy is a fun craft and a beautiful center piece for your kitchen table, highlight for your coffee table or the focus of your mantel.

What makes this such a great project is that you can use your imagination and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Searching for objects around your home or neighborhood to paint silver, gold, red or whatever colors you like, is the most fun part of this craft.

Below are the recommended items, but don’t limit your creation to the things you see here. For example, you can use large acorns instead of buckeyes or other objects around the house that are roundish like ping pong balls or golfballs.

#2 Cylinder of Joy

Step 1:

Gather items around your home or neighborhood that you can paint and some to be left in their natural state.


Step 2:

If you don’t already have spray paint you can find inexpensive cans of paint at your local hardware or discount store. We recommend metallic gold and silver spray paint as the main colors, but the color choices are up to you.


Step 3:

Aluminum foil balls create a nice texture that gives your creation a little extra punch. Rip off a sheet of aluminum foil that is approximately 12 inches by 12 inches (depending on how big you want you spheres to be). Slowly crunch the foil into a ball and then roll between two hands as tight as you can to smooth out the edges (wear gloves if you have sensitive hands). You might need to roll it against a hard surface like a table, but be careful not to push down too hard. The best thing about aluminum foil is it that you don’t have to paint them silver.


Step 4:

Find a well ventilated area to paint your items and layout newspaper or plastic to keep the paint from over spraying onto something important. Paint the items you wish to place in your glass cylinder. Be patient and spray two light coats and if you want a little extra shimmer, add some sliver or gold glitter to a few of your painted items. Place in a well ventilated area to dry and air out – you definitely want them to air out before placing in your home.


Step 5:

Place object in however you like. The more random the better, but sometimes random ends up having too many items of the same shape or color grouped in one area. If it doesn’t look just right, take the object out and rearrange until you get it just the way you like. And that’s all there is to it, except finding the perfect place for it to shine in your home.  Enjoy creating this craftoration with your husband, wife, children or parents. That’s how holiday memories are made – with family.

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If you could go back one hour

As you go through this Daylight Savings weekend, think about what you would do if you could go back just one hour. This is the one time of year that you can “technically” go back in time. What are you going to do with that extra hour? Here are our top 7 suggestions:

  • Spend a little extra time with your family
  • Check your smoke alarm battery and expiration date
  • Watch an extra hour of football
  • Change your home air filters
  • Give your kids an extra hour to clean their rooms, they will love you for that.
  • Clean the gutters
  • Or our favorite, get that extra hour of sleep that you have needed since the time went forward on March 13th. 🙂

Let us know what you plan to do with your extra hour by leaving a comment on Facebook and don’t forget to set your clocks back!


HBA Home Remodeling Show 2016 – Come Visit with Us


Make plans on October 7th through the 9th to stop in and visit with us at the 2016 HBA Home Remodeling Show. We will be there all three days with photos of completed project and excited to discuss your plans for your remodeling or building project.

Show Hours:

  • Friday, October 7 – 1pm – 6pm
  • Saturday, October 8 – 10am – 6pm
  • Sunday, October 9 – 11am – 4pm


11 Tools for New Homeowners – Equipped

Chapter 2

Last week we covered the must have tools for the “Basic Homeowner” and this week we take a step up to the “Equipped Homeowner.” Each homeowner differs in knowledge, ability and desire to maintain their home and homeowners should always consider hiring a professional. For simplicity sake, we have segmented the homeowners into three categories (Basic, Equipped or Master Homeowner).

If you are a seasoned homeowner, please share your knowledge with a comment on our Facebook page.



CIRCULAR SAW – Some would argue whether a jigsaw should be purchased before a circular saw because it is less intimidating and appears less dangerous. It honestly comes down to cutting needs and comfort level. Circular saws cut straight lines more accurately and quickly. They are an incredible tool when used correctly. Please study safety and keep your cord and hands away from the blade.


JIG SAW – This tool is great for homeowners when cutting curves is needed. Because it is less intimidating than most saws, it might be a good way to experiment. Even though the jig saw appears to be more safe, it comes down to tool safety. Carelessness with tools and lack of respect for their power leads to danger. Please study jig saw safety.


SHOPVAC – The shopvac could probably fall back into the “Basic Homeowner” category, but for the most part, a shopvac becomes more valuable the longer one has been in their home and as saws become a part of home maintenance/modifications.


NOTE: We did not include screw drivers and pliers in this list because they are tools already owned by most homeowners and non-homeowners alike. They are obviously “must have tools.”


See the first four tools for the Basic Homeowner.

See the last three tools for the Master Homeowners.



Independence Day & Home Ownership

At the heart of the American Dream is independence. The foundation of our great nation, and its military, has served to ensure that Americans can own land, build a house and call it home.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Enjoy and celebrate America’s revolutionary Charter of Freedom!


For fun facts about the Declaration of Independence – Click Here.

Read The Declaration of Independence

April Fools Advice on Finding Your Home Builder or Remodeler

You want your home built fast and cheap, so why go by a proven process for the biggest purchase you will ever make?*

  • If the builder/remodeler has been in business for less than a year…  GO FOR IT! They are probably going to give you a great deal and the experience they receive will really help them out on building their second or third home. Consider it a learning experience for you and the builder. How else will they learn how to build a house properly? Let them experiment on YOU!
  • Don’t look at their BBB rating. If they have a BBB rating of under a B they are probably just really busy and have not taken the time to fight ALL the complaints. In addition, a bad BBB rating will only increase your odds that they will goof up real badly and you can file a lawsuit after your home catches fire or crumbles to the ground.
  • No need for workers compensation and general liability. This is a waste of money and they will probably only charge you more if they do have workers compensation. Don’t worry that you may end up being liable if there is a work related injury. An ER visit for incompetent workers with nail guns couldn’t be that expensive. What are the odds anyway, right?
  • Don’t ask for names of previous customers. This is not only a waste of time, but nobody is ever honest about their building experience and it is really annoying to those customers that have had a good experience with their builder. Everyone is out for themselves and do not want to help out those that have treated them well.
  • DO NOT ask if you can see the builder/remodelers work. Checking for quality of workmanship and materials is the last thing you have time to do. You will know after a few years if the workmanship and materials are substandard and you can ask them to rebuild your house for free. There is a lemon law on poorly built homes, isn’t there?
  • Don’t try to communicate with your builder. They are busy and don’t have time for you. Just let them do their job and only speak to them when spoken to. Communication is overrated with technology today. Expect only short text messages from a quality builder and if he or she is harsh and does not listen to you, they are just making sure your home will be built to your needs.
  • Whatever you do, do not get a complete and clearly written contract. The contract only benefits THE BUILDER. How could it benefit you? Quality builders don’t supply a home warranty and homeowners manual, so don’t even ask for one. This is just plain ridiculous, so we won’t say any more.
  • If you are getting bids and one is a lot lower than the other builders – you just hit a gold mine. Don’t hesitate, take a chance and go with the lowest bid and worry about the problems later. If the builder/remodeler is unable to pay for the materials and labor as the project proceeds, this is an indication that they are frugal and really know how to watch out for your best interests and your dollar. Keep in mind that less expensive ALWAYS means a better deal!
  • Last, but not least, if you ask family, friends or coworkers for recommendations you are only being a pest. Furthermore, if you visit the HBA Home Show, HBA Home Remodeling Show or tour the HBA Parade of Homes you are once again wasting time and money. Talking and meeting with Quality Insured Home Professionals is hogwash. They will not take the time to talk with you since they paid good money to be in the show and many of their competitors will be there as well, so you have to wonder if they are all working together. Trust your conspiracy theory feelings. They all probably work for a secret government agency. Shhhhhhh, you didn’t hear this from us.

Bottom line is to not be fooled by an inexperienced home builder. If you follow any of the “fake advice” above, you are most definitely an APRIL FOOL 🙂

*NOTICE: This post is satire!

noun: satire
  1. the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Happy April Fools Day Everyone!!!

5 Tips for Visiting the HBA Home Show


Great tips for visiting the HBA Home Show at the Springfield EXPO Center (January 29-31, 2016)

#1 – Visit Millstone Custom Homes and Renovations. That should be #1 for everyone:-)

#2 – Plan ahead and set objectives. The more time and effort you put in, the more you will get out.

  • Take notes.  Use your phone, tablet or take a pad and pen to jot down notes. Most phones have a memo app where you can record voice notes.
  • View the vendor list and map online before you attend ( Once at the HBA Home Show, grab a magazine containing the vendor list and map in the center section.
  • Develop a plan and checklist of which exhibitors you want to visit. Organize your list as “must visit” and “want to visit.”
  • Know what information you would like from each exhibitor. Research exhibitors to find out how they differ based on what’s most important to you. Prepare intelligent questions.
  • Make appointments with exhibitors you really want to meet with. Vendors appreciate knowing when a serious visitor has arrived.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Walking shows can be tiring. Try insoles for extra comfort.

#3 – Give yourself enough time. Time will get away from you and you will not have achieved half of what you set out to do by the end of the day.

  • Decide how much time to spend at the show and at each booth. Allow extra time for browsing, distractions and waiting for a booth to clear out that is on your “must visit” list.
  • Allow enough time for unscheduled conversations as well as planned meetings. Even when you plan ahead, something will likely pull you away unexpectedly.

#4 – Be open to ideas. In many situations, when needing innovation, it’s the idea not considered that offers the best solution.

  • Attend Live Presentations (Seminars). Take advantage of these free educational opportunities. Don’t go into them with an attitude of, “I already know about that, done it, been there.” If you can get one take-away from the presentation, then consider it a victory and odds are you will take-away more than one idea.
  • Listen to the vendors even though you feel like you have heard if before. Much like Live Presentations, there is usually a gem in every conversation if you keep your mind open.
  • Take a good look around and try to avoid tunnel vision. Plan for your plan to be derailed by something you may not have considered looking into.

#5 – Pull it together after the show.

  • After the show is over, be sure to keep in touch with your contacts and connect to their social media.
  • Organize your notes and materials. File away brochures, magazines and other materials as well as your notes. You may think you will remember a company name or concept, but time has a way of deteriorating memory.
  • Thank the HBA of Greater Springfield by posting your positive experience on social media. #HBAGSHomeShow

Reminder – don’t forget the #1 tip!