At Unity, we know building a home can be one of the most important decisions you make. Decades of experience building homes has helped us understand what clients need and how we can best support them. Below are ten steps that outline the key project phases for planning and building a Unity home.
Step 1: Gather Information About Site, Designs & Budget
Because the site on which you plan to build can have a significant impact on the design of the home, it’s helpful for us to have a site survey—ideally with topo lines—as we begin to explore design options with you. If you don’t yet have a building lot, then we suggest holding off on developing any formal plans. Be sure to read our Guide to Building Lot Selection and House Siting for more information.
Unity’s design system is based on standard platforms (with unusual names!) that can be configured to meet a variety of needs and sites. Familiarizing yourself with the design platforms and options helps to jumpstart your work with us. If one of the sample plans on our website works well for you with minimal changes, then you are a good candidate for Unity’s “Streamlined” design process. If you anticipate making changes to the sample plans, then we’ll guide you toward our “Personalized” or “Semi-custom” paths.
As your design direction begins to take shape, we provide preliminary cost information to help ensure that the design remains within the budget. These early estimates will serve as a guide to help you decide on the best design platform, home size and level of finish to meet your needs. The “Costs” page of Unity’s website has more information about the factors that influence the cost of building a Unity Home.
Step 2: Engage With Us
When you’re ready to deepen your exploration with Unity, please fill out a Contact Us form on the website. This form ensures that your contact information will be in our system, and it provides background information that will help us to respond most appropriately. Your initial discussions with our Sales Advisors will likely focus on “big picture” items such as the site, your preferred platform, your budget and the project schedule. We encourage you to participate in any public events – whether virtual or in-person – that Unity offers. These events are described in our newsletter, and also on the Events page of our website. There really is no better way to experience how we deliver uncompromising quality and performance in a streamlined, efficient manner than to engage with our team, see our facility or experience one of our homes.
Participating in one of our events will help you better understand Unity’s:
- Design system that allows for efficiently configuring plans
- Off-site construction methods that translate into health, comfort and durability
- Efficient mechanical systems that provide both heating and cooling
- Ventilation systems that ensure a continuous supply of fresh air
- High-performance triple-glazed windows
- High quality craftsmanship, finishes and fixtures
Our team is happy to provide you with all the information you need to feel comfortable proceeding.
Step 3: Determine Your Build Option
Unity offers three build package options: Shell, Tempo and Whole House. Most of our projects involve either Shell or a Tempo packages, because they’re located outside of the relatively small area in which we can efficiently general contract projects. Unity’s sales advisors will guide you toward the package option that is most appropriate for your project.
Unity assembles the high performance building shell of your home on site (wall, roof and floor components along with windows, doors and interior partitions.) We coordinate with the local builder who installs the foundation, and finishes the exterior and interior of the shell we erect.
In addition to the Shell, Unity provides many of the finishes and fixtures for installation by others—typically a local builder or the homeowner. Available throughout New England.
Unity oversees the construction of your home from foundation to finish. Because our ability to provide this service is limited, we carefully consider the project’s location, complexity and schedule before committing.
Step 4: Develop the Design
Once you’ve decided on a design platform and determined your preferred package option, we engage in a Preconstruction Services Agreement (PSA) to further develop the design, specifications and pricing. This phase culminates in a fixed price contract for construction (Step 8).
We offer three paths for the Preconstruction Services phase, each with its own fee structure: Streamlined ($2,500-$3,500), Personalized ($6,000-$7,000) and Semi-Custom ($10,000-$11,000). Streamlined projects adhere closely to our sample web plans, the Personalized path has more options available, and the Semi-Custom path allows even greater flexibility. An additional fee of $1,000 covers the Selections process for Tempo and Whole House projects.
The Unity team member with whom you are working can explain in more detail the design options available in each path. Our design team uses Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software to develop a 3D model of the design. Depending on the path chosen, we may utilize our extensive library of components to configure the home to better fit your needs and site. The information embedded in the 3D model will instruct the computer-controlled machinery in our shop during the construction phase.
Step 5: Select Finish and Fixtures (for Tempo and Whole House)
Unity’s design team is utilizing an online cloud-based platform to share resources and collaborate with clients on selecting their finishes and fixtures. Using this tool and its associated three-step process eliminates the stress and pressure of making multiple decisions in a single setting. This allows clients the freedom to consider our standard offerings, research alternatives and confidently select fixtures and finishes in a relaxed setting.
Learn more about Unity’s Fixtures and Finishes.
STANDARD and UPGRADES
Our offerings include a number of different finishes and fixtures for various budget levels. Options are clearly designated as STANDARD or UPGRADE. Clients who stick closely to Unity’s standard offerings realize the greatest value.
Compare STANDARD and UPGRADE options.
Step 6: Engage a Local Builder (for Shell and Tempo)
While Unity is able to provide Whole House (turnkey) services within a limited radius of our southwest New Hampshire headquarters, beyond a certain distance it’s usually most efficient for the work on site to be managed by a local general contractor. The contractor prepares the site and the foundation so that we can assemble the shell components, and finishes the home after our crew’s work is complete.
Finding a knowledgeable, competent contractor who is a good fit for the project is a key element of success on Shell and Tempo projects. Having built homes across much of New England and beyond, we can often recommend a good local builder with whom to work. We also welcome the opportunity to work with builders who clients bring to the project.
We provide the information needed by the builder to estimate costs for his or her scope of work. Through careful documentation and good communication, we ensure that all aspects of the project are covered.
Step 7: Secure Financing
If you are seeking bank financing, Unity Homes will supply you with a Bank Set of documents that includes floor plans, elevation drawings and electrical plans. Unity Homes does not currently offer in-house financing, but we can provide contact information for banks that have financed Unity Homes for past clients. We will also provide helpful information for the bank to use in the appraisal process, because properly appraising a high-performance home requires specialized expertise.
We recommend that you work with a bank to prequalify for a loan early in the planning process. Because the bank will require cost information from the local builder as well as from Unity (on Shell and Tempo projects), it’s important to involve the local builder during the Preconstruction phase.
Step 8: Sign Construction Contract
After you have lined-up financing and are ready to begin construction, we will develop a fixed price contract for Unity’s scope of work for your review and approval. For Shell and Tempo projects, this is typically when the local builder prepares a contract as well. When we receive the signed contract and the deposit, your Unity project manager will create a project schedule and begin to guide your project through the fabrication and build stages.
Step 9: Experience “A Better Way to Build”
Once the construction contract is signed, we will finalize the virtual 3D model of your home, and generate the construction drawings needed for work such as the foundation that will happen on site. While the site is being prepared and the foundation installed, we prefabricate the shell components in our state-of-the-art, climate-controlled facility, using innovative off-site construction methods.
The on-site assembly process—which we call “Montage”—begins when we deliver the building component bundles to your site. The bundles are unwrapped from their weather protective covering and each panel (floor, wall or roof) is then lifted into place in a sequence optimized for efficiency. In just a few days your home will take shape and be weathertight. Although we have built many homes in this way, the speed of the process still impresses us. We are confident that you’ll be impressed too!
After your building shell is up, the post-assembly work can be completed, including the electrical, plumbing and HVAC work, and exterior and interior finishes. While many factors affect the project schedule, a Unity Home can be completed as quickly as 6-10 weeks after the weathertight shell has been assembled on site.
Learn more about our Design and Build Process.
Step 10: Move In!
If we are providing Whole House services, then your Unity project manager will conduct a walk-through when the project is substantially complete to identify any last “punch list” items. After you have moved into your new home, we will provide you with a Unity Home Owner’s Manual for convenient reference. We look forward to staying in touch after the project is complete to ensure that you are settling comfortably into your new home.
Congratulations, and WELCOME HOME!