First time visitors to Hilton Head Island are usually quick to notice that there are no “old” houses here, as would be found in our sister communities of Savannah, Beaufort and Charleston. While Hilton Head has a long and interesting history, our buildings are generally only a few years from their construction. Original plantation houses, caretaker homes and freedmen’s cottages have disappeared, lost to war, fires and other disasters, and the ravages of time.
The contemporary incarnation of Hilton Head Island began with the creation of the master-planned community concept in the mid 20th century. Charles and Joe Fraser envisioned and built Sea Pines in the 1950’s from the timberland they persuaded their father, General Joseph B. Fraser, Sr. not to sell after the logging operation here was concluded. Soon afterward in 1956 the island’s first turn-span bridge opened, followed by electrical and telephone service. The young entrepreneurs laid out roads and had lots surveyed along the beaches that originally sold for $5,350 to upstate families who built simple beach cottages on them! Later, as golf courses were laid out and interior roads were built, prices began to climb steadily.
These days, few of the original beach cottages remain as they had been built in Sea Pines, along Forest Beach, or in Palmetto Dunes. Those simple structures have been replaced (and sometimes replaced yet again) by home of increasing size and splendor. Island properties are frequently advertised as “tear downs” – even those priced over $1,000,000. Clearly, the value of this sort of property rests in the lot’s location and size!
Much of the available island real estate has been carved into “plantation” communities, subdivided into smaller neighborhoods bordered by marshland, golf layouts and manmade lagoons. The nature of these neighborhoods is incorporated into their design. Local architects and builders work with property owners within architectural review guidelines (ARG’s) and restrictive covenants that limit deviation from master plans for the area. Yet there is immense diversity of style and character from house to house.
Many of Hilton Head’s architects and craftsmen have been here for a number of years and have established their reputations as artisans of exceptional quality. As the older generation has retired, their legacy continues in the people they have trained.
Making your dream a reality:
You’ve made your mark. Now you are ready to start from scratch to build your ideal house! You select a lot…do you know what you want to build there? Do you know who you’d use to design it? Then who’d make the design a reality? From stock plans to unique architecture, from tract builders to custom craftsmen, we are here to guide you with answers to questions you may not have thought to ask yet!
Reputation: You want to find a builder who has (1) an established building history, (2) a good record for his workers’ safety, (3) references from clients and local supply vendors, and (4) examples of his work in your community. Does he build in the price range you have established, in the area you like, and offer the sorts of amenities that will be important to you and your family?
Quality: Construction methods, materials, and building standards change frequently. Your builder should be up-to-date and capable of adapting to shifting conditions. He will welcome your questions about the products he’ll use to construct your home – it demonstrates to him that you care about his ability to work with you. Be sure to visit any model homes available, and look at homes he presently has under construction.
Service: Inevitably, problems will arise during the course of building a home. When this happens, a quality builder will correct them. When you have gotten satisfactory referrals, ask how the builder has responded to service requests during and after construction. Your inquiries should always be handled promptly and professionally.
You may have heard horror stories about the stresses you’ll endure during the building process. Look for a professional builder who can help you navigate through the course of action from site preparation to financing, from building permits to the certificate of occupancy. You can be assured of peace of mind by becoming a knowledgeable member of the building team!
Value: Among the many facets that add value to your home-building experience are your builder’s guarantees. Perhaps you will be offered a locked-in price or a promised move-in date. Does he offer in-house design options for flexibility and customization? Perhaps you are a capable “do-it-yourself” hobbyist – will he allow you to work alongside him to finish your new home?
Personal Connection: It is reassuring in any transaction to feel comfortable with your contractor and his crews. How attentive are they to your concerns? Do they offer suggestions that will help you make informed decisions about choices that will have to be made during the design and construction of your new home? They should be proud and pleased when you arrive to observe the ongoing work they are doing on your behalf!
Creating a new home from scratch is a real challenge – when you find the right builder, you will engage someone who can transform your concepts into concrete and your wishes into wood, bringing you years of pleasure. Selecting the right contractor is the initial step.
When you drive through areas that are appealing to you, stop and ask neighbors about who built their homes. You’ll want to know what contractor services were provided before and during construction, as well as how satisfied the homeowners are with the finished residence. Many times you may discover a builder you hadn’t heard about earlier.
Perhaps one name is repeated with enthusiasm again and again, or there may be several builders whose clients are happy to recommend them. Interview several builders to find the ideal person for your project.
Once you have decided who will build your new home, effective communication will be essential between client and builder to minimize problems and expenses. When you don’t understand some phase of the process, ask questions! A reliable homebuilder will have a customer-support contact person who can answer client questions to keep you actively informed. After you have moved in, your builder should follow up several times during the first year to ensure your satisfaction, with a final inspection just before your first anniversary.