Members from the Thelen Total Construction team attended the 2023 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders’ Show.

Please come visit us at our beautiful home on Lauderdale Lakes at the 2022 Parade of Homes – Home Showcase

Appreciating the beauty of one’s shower space is becoming increasingly more important to homeowners, especially spending more time at home.

Allowances items are an important part of your Building Contract and Home Specifications. But how can you make sure your allowance items for appliances, cabinets, lighting, plumbing fixtures, and flooring are reasonable since the cost of these items are estimated?

Some homeowners have trouble making decisions before work begins. In those cases, the builder can allocate a dollar amount to each category and let the homeowners choose specific products later.

That doesn’t mean homeowners can postpone thinking about these products altogether. For an allowance to serve the homeowners’ interest, it must be based on accurate numbers. The homeowners should at least decide what grade of products they want. That decision can require legwork as well as self-awareness.

If you go online to compare products and prices, the results can be misleading. Although internet pricing may show the relative costs of different grade levels, the quality and warranty coverage may not match that of products sold by a professional supply house.

The best way to create an allowance budget is to visit the builder’s recommended suppliers or showrooms. The builder can then work with the showroom after the initial visit to generate a realistic number for the grade of products the homeowners want. The time invested in this work will yield allowances based on real-world numbers, not on guesswork or wishful thinking.

The builder can also provide average dollar numbers based on past experience with similar projects, but this is only the first step. The homeowners need to ask follow-up questions of the builder. For instance – Light fixtures. How many of what kind of fixtures in the home are included in that Allowance. Does the Allowance include bulbs? Recessed cans, sconces and chandeliers come in a range of prices, so it’s also important to do preliminary shopping, pricing and estimate the number of light fixtures needed to determine a reasonable allowance for light fixtures.

Another example is tile. Your $5,000 shower tile allowance would cover the cost of a large-format ceramic or porcelain, but now you fell in love with travertine at the show room. It’s best to decide up front and budget for it, including finding out whether the price includes additional labor.

If you are talking to a few builders about your new home building project – make sure that quality levels for the allowance items are the same. If one builder bases its cabinet allowance on lower quality boxes while another assumes plywood, it’s not a meaningful comparison. (Comparing bids is notoriously difficult, which is why it’s better to find a trustworthy builder and then work with them to create a reasonable budget.)

The homeowners should also consider if allowances the builder gives are realistic.  That is a good question to ask of the builder’s homeowner references. Professional builders make sure customers understand what their budget will and won’t cover because they know the clients will be happier in the end.

There is a deadline for every allowance choice. Meeting this deadline is crucial to getting products delivered in time for installation. If the homeowners miss the deadline, the allowance money will still be there, but the delay will throw off the job schedule and could potentially raise the final cost.

In summary, it’s best to make as many product choices as possible before work begins, keeping the job running smoothly by doing your homework thoroughly

Usually this time of the year, I’m getting ready for the annual Lakeland Builders Association Parade of Homes.  People start calling me for information. We typically will have a home or two in the event. However, this year – we will not have a home in the LBA Parade of Homes, which I know will come as a surprise to many.

In the 29 year history of Lakeland Builders Association Parade of Homes, there has been 50 Thelen Total Construction Parade homes. No other LBA member builder has come close to that number of homes.

2005’s Parade Home was an eclectic rustic log cabin

Of course, we could not have done it without the cooperation of those 50 homeowners. For giving us the opportunity to showcase our work, we are immensely grateful.

Some of those years have been particularly memorable. In 1998, we featured five homes. Which was a daunting task to have ready in time for the Parade.  I think the paint was barely dry on Marilyn Thelen’s Parade home when the doors opened at 11 am!

2002, we featured a spectacular home on Black Point Drive in  Lake Geneva.  An 11,000 square foot mansion that took close to two years to build, and the dedicated craftsmanship of many tradespeople. Almost 2,400 people came to see it during the four day event – amazing, since people waited patiently to be shuttled from the Reek School location about a mile away. And took an hour long guided tour to see the entire home. (Good news! You can see it again if you want to arrange a private showing, as it is on the market for $10,790,000 through Shorewest Realtors.)

2002 Black Point Lane Parade Home

We’ve been very proud to show the many unique styles of custom homes we design and built: From the very elaborately designed grand homes, to the remarkably detailed, smaller scale lake cottages.  Over the years we have shown English Tudor, Prairie Style, Craftsman, Modern and Contemporary, French Country, Rustic log, Traditional Farmhouse, Modern Farmhouse, a combination of more than one architectural style, and often one of our very popular Lake Cottage style home, on a number of beautiful lakes in Walworth County.

Some visitors love to come and see what we have done this year; others are there to find a builder, and possibly become our next client. A number of visitors are people we built homes for in the past. Our Parade Homes do feel like an actual “open house” event when you see familiar faces and friends each year. That part will be missed by all of us.

Our objective in having a home (or homes) in the LBA Parade of Homes was to be known as one of the area’s best builders of fine custom homes. A “whatever your heart desires” kind of home. After 50 Parade homes in 29 years, in a myriad of architectural styles, I think the mission is accomplished!

Classic Modern best describes this 2016 Parade Home

So while we won’t have a home in this year’s 2018 Parade, we are very happy to support Lakeland Builders Association and the Parade of Homes by being their Gold Sponsor of the 2018 Event. It is a great opportunity for the public to see beautiful homes built by LBA Builder members. I know I’ll be among the many people attending the Parade. It’ll be nice to be a visitor for a change!

For more information about the 2018 Parade of Homes, please visit the LBA website  or the LBA Facebook page.