“Should I hire a builder or architect first?”

“Should I hire a builder or architect first?”

This is a question that we hear often as people contemplate a new home or renovations/additions to their existing home.  It is understandable that confusion exists as nearly every builder and architect will give you a different opinion. 

Our intention with this post is not to argue that our opinion on these facts is the only right answer, but simply to describe what we have found to work best.  So, before you need to read any further, here is our answer to the question:

TEAMWORK is best

The best results, in architectural design, specification design, and costs, happen by being able to engage with all the key players early on.  These key players are of course the architect and the builder – but should also include an interior designer and cabinet designer, along with potentially a landscape architect, audio/video/automation integrator, and others (depending on the size and complexity of the project). 

By using a team mentality from the very beginning several favorable results are realized:

  • By including the relevant team members, the intentions are communicated from the beginning, helping the team understand the “why” of the design.  This can reduce confusion or omissions later in the project.
  • A complete team will be able to bring their expertise to the table, providing useful/additional ideas to the project.
  • The team can help provide some cost benefit analysis during the design process, helping the homeowner understand the financial ramifications of ideas before extensive design rework may be required.

An overall project balance can be achieved.  With a team in place, the design, specifications, and budget are all able to stay in alignment – with the homeowner being able to understand the relevant possibilities for the home.


For you, the homeowner, your desire is to get the best design that aligns with your dreams, with the best possible specifications and quality level that meet your expectations, all at what you determine is a fair price.  Here at Troxel Custom Homes we call this the “Troxel Triangle!”  The idea is that the 3 points of the triangle are the Design (what the size and structural complexity of the home are), the Specifications (what you put into the home), and the Budget (what it costs to build the home).  For the Troxel Triangle to be in balance, one of the 3 points needs to stay a variable.  So, in practice, if the design of the home is fixed, and the specifications are fixed – then you will need to understand that the cost for the home will be what it is.  If that cost is too high for expectation, then either the size/design will need to change or the level of the expectations for the specifications will need to change to get the triangle back in balance.  If a team has been involved from the beginning, then the balance of the “Troxel Triangle” can be maintained from the beginning!

We are here to help be your guide through this process.  If you are contemplating building a new home or renovating your existing home, get in touch with us to learn more about how we can facilitate the best possible process for you!

Planning for your future home improvements while in quarantine.

Planning for your future home improvements while in quarantine.

Here in Michigan we have had a “stay at home order” since mid March, giving us lots of time to make a laundry list of things in our homes that need to be done, and things we want changed. Now that we have a list of wants and needs, what next?

Some things, like clearing out pantries, and tidying up the kids’ playroom are things we can tackle on our own. Turn on Marie Kondo, spark some joy, and declutter. Other things, like wanting to add another wing onto your existing home for family expansion, well… you may need some help with that. 

Start with an outline. Browse through pictures, magazines, and websites like Houzz. Save pictures of homes, products, or details you really like so you can refer back to them later. Think about your lifestyle and different aspects of your home that will reflect that. In your renovation, are you looking for more room to entertain (when you can finally have friends over), or maybe a whole room dedicated to music for your talented children to practice and record in? These are all important pieces that can make your home uniquely yours. Now that you have an idea, (or a few) of what you want your home to look like and incorporate, we would love to hear from you.

At Troxel Custom Homes, we pride ourselves in our unique processes that include the homeowner every step of the way to make sure your home is just that: uniquely YOURS. On our website, you can download our New Home Starter Guide. It includes what we talked about above, and more to help you get started, and is a great place to keep all of your notes. We hope you are staying safe, and healthy, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day 2020

Earth Day this year brings new meaning to our lives. As we all have been affected in significant ways by the pandemic covering all corners of the earth, we realize that HOME truly where the heart is. We are spending more time than ever in our homes as we seek shelter with those we love and hold most dear.

For Earth Day this year, we need to think all the more about how our homes affect our planet and how they affect our physical and mental health. I think we all realize that building energy-efficient homes that minimize our impact on our world is a good thing; it is something that we have been doing as a standard at Troxel Custom Homes for many years. But this year I think we are all starting to think about how healthy our HOME is for US!  Our physical well being can be affected by heating and air-conditioning systems that ensure enough fresh air is being brought into the home – how is our air filtered and treated, what products are used and how might those affect air quality, and how is light treated (both natural and otherwise)? It’s also important to know how your home affects your mental health. Through the use of thoughtful design, careful product integration, and lifestyle consideration a home can become more than just shelter. It can actually become a refuge; a space that warmly embraces us, an environment that allows us to thrive, and a space that your family and friends recognize as special and uniquely yours. Your home can be the warm and embracing hug that we all wish we could experience more in these trying times.

If you are interested in exploring what that can look like either as a renovation to the home you have now, or a truly custom home built just for you, we are here to talk! The initial conversation where we listen to your dreams and introduce you to our process is free of charge!

Should I renovate? Or build a new home?

Should I renovate? Or build a new home?

The Case for Renovations (remodeling & additions):

a)      Your home is dated, worn, or doesn’t meet your needs anymore … but you really like where you live – remodeling, and maybe an addition, with Troxel Custom Homes can bring your existing home up to date with your current and future lifestyle!

b)     You are moving and have a specific area you want to be in, but just can’t find the right existing home – consider working with Troxel Custom Homes to show you what might be possible to renovate an existing home to meeting your expectation and desires.

Before Renovation
After Renovation

The Case for a New Custom Home:

a)      You are moving to an area where there just aren’t existing homes available but there is available land – Troxel Custom Homes will help you pick the right location and then help you bring your dream home to reality.

b)     You want a home that will fit exactly what your lifestyle demands now and into the future – Troxel Custom Homes can help design and build that perfect home for you.

Foundation of a new home
Finished new home

Whether you choose to renovate or to build, Troxel Custom Homes will work with you to balance your budget, the size/design of the project, and the specifications (finish details) to be sure that you can be happy for years to come in your new space.

How to Set a Budget for a Custom Home in Michigan

How to Set a Budget for a Custom Home in Michigan

Perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of home building is setting a budget. While it’s not hard to pick a number, it is stressful to go through your finances, talk to your lender or financial advisor, and finally decide to spend the money on building a brand new home. At Troxel Homes, we know setting a budget can feel overwhelming even before construction has begun, so whenever we meet with a new custom home client, we walk them through the Troxel Triangle. It’s a way to visualize the home building process, and it helps our clients understand how to set a budget that’s realistic for their project goals.

The Troxel Triangle has three points: Design, Selections, and Budget.

We ask that each client remain flexible on at least one of these points. The other two points can be fixed, but at least one of the points of the triangle has to be flexible for homeowners to truly get the most out of their custom home and keep the entire process as stress-free as possible.

For example, say a client has a set budget, and they really want their home to conform to a certain, rustic farmhouse style. If they’ve already got their hearts set on certain selections and specifications, like wood floors, granite countertops, and custom cabinets, then design would be the flexible point of their triangle. To ensure they got the selections they want while maintaining their budget, the design (size, square footage, and structural complexity of their home) would be the aspect that’s flexible.

On the other hand, say a client already has the blueprints complete of the beautiful custom home they want to build. Knowing the plans, if they have specific ideas of what selections and specifications would make up the interior, then their budget would need to be the flexible point of their triangle.

The Troxel Triangle offers an excellent way to keep your custom home building process on track while ensuring you get exactly the custom home you’ve always wanted. At Troxel Custom Homes, we will guide you through this process and will work with you every step of the way to ensure that we keep the triangle balanced and that you understand how a decision in one area affects the other two.

We know that we know that this all seems easier said than done, so here are a few tips to help you through the budget-setting process:

Separate Wants and Needs

One of the most important aspects of setting your budget is being able to separate your wants from your needs. Sure you want an indoor jacuzzi in the basement, but you need a separate room for each of your kids or a guest bedroom for when the grandkids stay over. If you’re having trouble, consider sitting down and making a wants/needs lists. This will help you visualize what you’re looking for in your custom home, and it will give you a better idea of a realistic budget range.

Remember Selections Affect Your Budget

Often, homeowners forget how much selections can affect budget. Even if you’re building a really small home, if you purchase the most expensive flooring, tile, and appliance options, your budget is going to go up. If certain luxury selections are important to you, remember that building a smaller home can help ensure that your budget stays in line (think back to the Troxel Triangle!)

Choose a Custom Home Builder Who Respects your Budget

Perhaps the most important aspect of setting a budget is choosing a builder who will respect it. You’ve worked hard to plan and budget for a custom home that’s totally yours, so you need a builder who will respect your vision and your budget. When you’re looking at custom builders, be sure to choose someone who has good references, and who historically comes in on budget and on time. Great custom builders can help you realize your dream home vision while sticking to your budget.

Having a budget that you are comfortable with is one of the most important steps of the custom home building process, and we know that once you’ve decided on a budget, you want to be able to trust that your builder will be a good steward of that money. At Troxel Custom Homes, we hold the utmost respect for our clients’ budget and we will work with you every step of the way to achieve your dream home. For more information on our custom building process, contact us online, give our office a call at 616-355-2600, or see images of our past projects on our website.

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