Frequently Asked Questions

Why does Sage Homes use the employee model instead of outsourcing workers?

Many home contracting companies outsource their workers. If they do not have control over the workers in your home, how can they guarantee the quality, cleanliness and timeliness of the project? They are not responsible for training the workers, they don’t provide quality tools to the workers, and they are not responsible for the safety of the workers. Why would you want unaccountable people in your home every day?

Sage Homes believes that skilled carpenters and craftsmen are created. Our senior workers teach skills to our junior workers in order to deliver a consistent, quality product. Our employees are required to dress correctly, have an appearance that inspires confidence, and use reliable, well-maintained equipment for their work. They will not use foul language or tobacco products on the jobsite, and will be respectful to your home and your family.

Having employees gives us the flexibility to be where we need to be to give you the best value. If something on your project needs our attention immediately, we can adjust our employees' schedule to deal with it right away – not next week. We also like to have you meet our employees in advance, so you can see we are the people to trust in your home, with your possessions, and with your family.

How do I get a quote?

Sage Homes will have an initial meeting with you to discover the scope of the project you're interested in and will discuss a range of pricing that a project of that nature could cost. Once it is established that you want to move forward with the project and are comfortable with the pricing range, we can enter into a design contract. Sage Homes will give a very detailed and accurate quote for the project once it has been designed. As they say, "You can't quote what you don't know," so spending time in design is very important.

How do I design my project?

Designing a home is a team effort between the homeowners and Sage Homes. Because we are a design/build company, we know how to listen to what you want and need (even if you don't know at first) and turn those ideas into a thoughtful plan. The designer will provide renderings (visuals) and drawings to ensure everything is correct. Communication is key here!

The teamwork doesn't end there, either. The designer will work closely with you to get all of the details and selections in a well-designed, on-budget way. Once we have a plan of action, the designer will create construction documents (floor plans, elevations, electrical plans, etc.) – specifications the build side of Sage Homes uses to make the project a reality. Sage Homes is more than happy to assist with furnishings, too – just ask!

For projects using steel or requiring complex structural elements, Sage Homes works with licensed engineers to design the components properly. All cities require a minimum level of plan detail for permitting purposes.

How do I select the materials for my project?

Selecting finishes will be done with our in-house designer. We like to have all materials selected and sourced prior to getting a quote, so the quote reflects exactly what you are expecting to see. The fewer allowances the better.

As for the building materials, Sage Homes has the ability to tell you when a product or material should be avoided, or chosen only under certain circumstances. New materials flood into the marketplace all the time – many of which last for a short while and then disappear. Homeowners who buy a new trendy product, only to find out that it does not perform well, are stuck with it or have to replace it. Homeowners should also be aware that many products sold in “big box stores” are not legal to install in, or on, your home. The law does not prevent them from selling it, but the local inspector can make you remove it. Sage Homes takes pride in researching materials that are proven to be effective and give the homeowner the value and longevity they desire.

How does Sage Homes make the custom materials I need for my project?

Sage Homes has a custom wood and metal shop where we create individual products, or certain structural components for our customers. Many other contractors must go to expensive woodworking and fabrication shops to have these items made – usually with long lead times. Our goal to our homeowners is value. Our ability to create unique items for a project gives us an advantage over others.

Is quality really that different between various home contractors?

Yes! We have worked with several homeowners who were previously disappointed by other contractors' definitions of quality. Homeowners will also find that contractors display completely different levels of professionalism and integrity. Be sure that you investigate the history of a contractor and talk to a previous client or two before you sign a contract. It can become very unpleasant if you find out that your contractor does not care about jobsite cleanliness, safety to your family, and has a low level of professionalism. You should not assume that your contractor has your best interests at heart, or that they value your home the same way you do. A quality contractor will treat you and your home in a manner that is consistent with your lifestyle and your values.

How do I know your estimate is accurate?

An estimate from Sage Homes will be specific, detailed, and will state clearly what is a fixed price and what is an allowance. An allowance is used to give an approximate price for an activity or product, based on our best understanding of what you want, or what we can see.

For example, an allowance might be used for electrical wiring that exists in a wall we intend to remove. We do not know how much wiring is in that wall, so until we can open it and determine what we're working with, we use an allowance to reserve money for that work. An allowance will help you in estimating the costs for unseen items that may need to be fixed as part of the project. It is important to know that the actual price may be more or less than allowance amount. If it is less, you get money back.

How do I compare estimates from several contractors?

When you get competitive bids from contractors, be sure to give them all the same information to quote from. The goal is to have all the bids include the same work so you can have confidence in the estimates. You should expect a contractor’s detailed estimate to be... detailed! A sloppy and undetailed estimate indicates the contractor has not put much thought into the project and you should expect problems. The Sage Homes goal is to document as much as possible in the estimate to ensure you know we have an exact understanding of your expectations. If you see something in an estimate that you do not understand, be sure to ask questions. Don’t assume anything. If it is not in the bid, you probably won’t get it!

How do I verify a contractor is licensed and insured?

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for issuing contractor licenses. By checking their website, you can see if a contractor is licensed and/or if there have been any enforcement actions against them. Minnesota verifies that the contractor is insured at the time that the license is issued, but not thereafter. Be sure to get a Certificate of Insurance from your contractor showing that they are covered for liability and for all worker injuries on your property. If the contractor does not have the proper insurance, any person that gets injured on your property could hold you responsible for paying for their care. Many contractors are under-insured, or have let their insurance lapse. Verify that your contractor wants to protect you as well as their workers.

What kind of warranty do I get from Sage Homes?

Sage Homes offers warranties based upon Minnesota statutes 327A. These statutes specify the requirements for warranties, the timelines of warranties, and the items covered by warranty. Please ask for specifics during the estimating phase of your project.

Is there a bad time of year to build?

No, but there are times when it is more difficult and messy. Early spring creates some problems with the ground being soft and muddy. Rain is always a problem for construction materials and we take it very seriously. We actively plan portions of our projects around the rain and work very hard to keep the project as dry as possible. Dealing with snow in the winter is much easier than dealing with rain. We use a temperature of 10 degrees farenheit as our trigger point to work outdoors or not. Below 10 degrees farenheit, temperature creates safety problems for carpenters and it can be hard to operate the tools properly. Thawing ground in the winter for concrete footings and foundations has become very easy to do and because the ground is frozen in the surrounding area, less damage is inflicted on the yards and outdoor surfaces. We encourage our clients to look at winter as a good time to build.

What do I need to know about selecting a contractor?

Sage Homes is a licensed Residential Building Contractor, which means we have met the education and testing requirements of the State of Minnesota. We carry liability and workers' compensation insurance. Typically, we are the only contractor you need to work with on your project.

Will Sage Homes let me do some of the work on my project?

Some homeowners want to be the General Contractor for their project, or would like to be responsible for certain aspects of their project. We are very comfortable working with homeowners in this way and you will find us to be accommodating and helpful with your ideas and thoughts. Handy homeowners will find this to be a great value in their project.

How long does a typical project take?

Typical projects will take between 8-16 weeks. Small projects may only take a week or two. Very large projects can take up to 6 months in some cases. The timeframe is typically dependent on how available the materials are, and whether the homeowner has selected all of the materials as part of the design before starting. In some cases, we have waited to begin until the required materials are either complete or available to us, to avoid long delays in construction (ie: waiting until custom cabinets are done before removing the existing kitchen allows for a shorter time without a kitchen).

How do I pay for my project?

Most builders and contractors do not provide financing directly. Some homeowners save for the project in order to pay in cash; others have a relationship with their bank. Sage Homes is an approved contractor with many major banks for home construction loans. A construction loan is a loan that a bank will give based on the value of the completed project.

Do all projects require permits?

No. Local and state guidelines specify what type and size of project requires a building permit. In some cases, additional approvals are needed from city planners for an expansion of your home.

What do inspectors do when they inspect? Is this inspection a guarantee of quality?

Inspectors come to the project site to review that the work completed meets state and industry acceptable workmanship and statutory requirements. Typically, they are required to sign a document saying they have inspected the work and found it to be acceptable. If it is not acceptable, inspectors will note that in a Corrections Form. State and local building codes usually represent the minimum standards the work must achieve. It is no guarantee of quality of work, or that the work will not exhibit problems in the future. Local building inspectors have no liability for their inspection and you will not be able to hold inspectors accountable for their inspection if you find a problem later. Many homeowners think local inspectors provide them a guarantee of a quality product and this is definitely NOT the case. It is up to the homeowner to be sure that the contractor has the integrity and skill set to perform the job beyond just the minimum level required.