Ask a Homebuilder/Remodeler.. is part of Curbed University's ongoing attempts to give you the best non-boring advice on buying, selling and renting in the Hub. Our expert answerer is Cindy Stumpo of C. Stumpo Development. Go head and email your own questions today (anonymity guaranteed).
Readers wrote in with a slew of questions. Let's start with:
What are the most common mistakes you see other homebuilders making?
Cindy Stumpo: The biggest mistake is not hiring a contractor due to education and knowledge. The important thing when hiring a builder, the most important thing when paying for your most expensive project, is to check references. I don't mean two or three—I mean 10 or 20. Check all references and make sure he pays his bills; and make sure he comes back to the house and fixes things when the job is complete.
What advice do you have for people who want to play "contractor" and think they can build the house themselves?
Don't get trendy? Keep your home very elegant and traditional, if you are contemporary stay with your sleek lines and don't take it over the top. Contemporary can be very beautiful, but could be very distasteful making the wrong decisions.
What are people putting into houses today that they weren't putting in five years ago?
People are putting in very high-end security systems.
I have water coming in my basement. What is the best way to stop it, or the best system to put in? Can you look at it for me?
I don't know where you live, but if you live in Massachusetts, I would recommend a company I have been using for 20 years called Basement Technologies; it's a very sophisticated pump system.
I am 32 and I am exhausted trying to do it all. You have raised two kids and built as I can see a real company. One question: How? This is not easy. Why don't you write a book?
You will always have guilt being a working mom. Moms will always feel guilty going to work, but you have to compartmentalize. I do plan on writing a book. Trust me, I don't always look so good after a long day of work sometimes, and I do get exhausted trying to do it all.
Would you recommend using composite material for exterior trim or staying with traditional wood? If so, then what is the advantage?
I like composite. Composite doesn't rot and is a man-made product. Wood has knots that come through the paint.
I see you will be building a house next to Tom and Gisele Brady. The article said you may live there. Is that a rumor? The house you are building there looks amazing.
That remains to be seen if I will be moving next to Gisele and Tom.
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