CONSTRUCTION: It’s All About The View…… 

As customers come through our model home center in Madeira Beach, the common question is “where do I build to get a great water view”? Fortunately here along the Pinellas Beaches, there are no fewer than 13 municipalities that have residential properties on the water. Of course there are the beach front lots facing the Gulf of Mexico for those families with large budgets. Then there are the Intercoastal lots that are fair priced and offer varying views along the water. Most customers that I speak with realize that in addition to the high price for the gulf beach front properties on the sand, there are two major drawbacks to those properties. First, when it’s time to relax and enjoy that glass of wine in the afternoon at your pool, the afternoon and setting evening sun in the west is punishingly hot. Even when inside those homes, shades have to be drawn on windows to keep the heat out. That eliminates the view entirely. Speaking of view, realistically, there isn’t really much to look at except the horizon to the west when living on the gulf.

What about the intercoastal lots? At a much lower price, these lots offer views with “movement” of boats, watercraft, and of course dolphins everyday and occasional manatees. Then too, you can have your boat in the back yard, ready for a fun cruise to a waterside restaurant or fishing. Better yet, most lots on the intercoastal have their pool and decks overlooking the water to the east, thereby allowing the home to “shade” the important relaxing areas in the afternoon and evening, free of direct sunlight. That’s really a great advantage.

As I stated in my other articles in Paradise News, there actually are many lots available along the intercoastal, and many opportunities to purchase a 60 year old home to demo and re-build. Many folks purchase the property now, and tell me they are going to build in a few years. That’s fine, but they need to realize that inflation in home prices is a constant, and in 3-5 years, a new home will probably cost over 25% more to build. In 2016 alone, housing prices escalated 14% in Pinellas County.

Our sales associates can assist in both the lot purchase as well as help in finding the right size home for you, with the amenities you want, at a price within your budget. For this month, I’m attaching  pictures of the view from our new model now being constructed. When complete in a couple of months, this home will showcase exactly what I am referring to, on the intercoastal, shaded porches & pool for relaxation, and a terrific open water view. Feel free to call for an appointment to see our existing furnished solar home, and we’ll take you a few doors down through our newest model now under construction.

GHD Construction Services, Inc. has constructed over 6,000 homes since 1971, and has a furnished model home at 14305 N. Bayshore Dr, Madeira Beach, open Wednesday thru Sunday, 12:00-5:00, or by appointment. If you have any question pertaining to new home construction, feel free to email me at:, or request a meeting at our new model.

Construction: It’s hard to “Pull the Trigger!”

I get many calls & emails each week from this monthly column that I write. The housing stock along the Pinellas beaches is old and tired, and does not have the proper elevation for FEMA regulations today, nor do they have hurricane windows or energy efficient items. The home room layouts and designs are very “1960” and that greatly affects the overall property value.

What do so many homeowners do in this situation? Many decide to put good money after bad, by putting on an addition to the tired home, only to find out that the old bones are still tired. They are restricted by the FEMA 50% Rule, and although you can get around that by a multiple stage process of permitting, construction, re-permitting, construction, etc., that process invariably costs much more time and money than starting over with a new home. It is extremely hard to believe that raising a home and building a new structure can actually be cheaper, but that is almost always the case, all things considered.

Within the past two weeks, I had calls came from over a dozen homeowners that were struggling with the decision to demo their existing home and building new. They know their existing home has much to be desired, but “Pulling the Trigger” to build new is a tough decision to make. The reality is that sooner or later that home will be replaced, and the longer they wait, the higher the home cost will be. Two of my homeowners last week had just spent about $80,000 remodeling their homes and then realized what a mistake they made. Now they are seriously considering biting the bullet and starting over.

Yes, it’s a tough decision to bulldoze a home that is still liveable and start over, but it truly is a good investment. Their lot values will continue to rise, but no inflation will any longer add to the value of the home itself. FEMA regulations have seen to that. I constantly get flyers in the mail from realtors that just listed a home on the water for $750,000. Great, but almost none of those homes will sell for anywhere near that dollar! The actual resale value is solely in the land of these aged homes below the FEMA established flood elevations. Most of those homes only sell for land value at about $400,000 – $450,000 on the water. That’s the reality of the Pinellas beaches today.

Remember, by taking some savings and investing in a new home today, you are not “spending” money, you are “reinvesting” in a hard asset that in almost all cases, will increase better than the savings account. The Tampa Bay Times reported recently that home values in the area rose 14.4% last year. Just a thought to start the year off!

GHD Construction Services, Inc. has constructed 6,000 homes since 1971, and has a new Solar model home at 14305 N Bayshore Dr., Madeira Beach. If you have any questions pertaining to new home construction, feel free to call me at 727.323.5119 x2004, or email me directly at to request a meeting at our new model.

Article by Tom Smith

Construction: Build Your New Home NOW! 

It’s funny how I see many of the same customers coming through my model home every few months, and each time they “get closer” to making that decision to build a new Florida home. Sure they are going to have to switch their investment monies from the stock market to Florida real estate, but the reward is a new very well designed home, raised above the flood plain to eliminate the threat of hurricanes, with energy efficient, hurricane windows & doors, with new 2017 designs and floor plans that are far superior to the 60 year old housing stock on the waterfront lots today. Most probably the new Florida home investment will offer a higher return to those customers for those investment dollars.

The problem is the wait! I wish I could wave the magic wand and stop inflation, but of course, that’s not the case. Building costs rise every year, and it’s frustrating for customers to bring back a 6 month old brochure with pricing on one of our homes, and then see the new higher prices on the same model when they return. “If only I bought last year…” I hear it every day!

Builders can’t return to yesterday’s pricing, but customers can make that decision to bite the bullet and purchase a new Florida home now and not pay the higher price next year. For those customers that presently own a waterfront home on the intercoastal, the land value will continue to rise, but their home itself built below the flood plain is not increasing in value, and most are not marketable for sale except for buyers that will tear down the old structure and build new. I Co-Broke with

Realtors all around Pinellas County and they all tell me their listings on the water are flat to non-existent. Many Realtors are bringing their clients to our model to see what is available with new home construction today. I’ll be introducing an exciting new model in the February issue of Paradise News that is now under construction. I’ll have Open Houses for existing home replacement customers, and snowbirds that have finally decided that the Sunshine state is a great place to live, or Realtors that want to see an alternative that they can offer their customers. Be sure to look for this “Florida Coastal” design and floor plan next month. Any Realtor that wants a private tour of the model by themselves or with a client, feel free to call me to set a private meeting. My office number is (727) 323-5119 ext 2004

GHD Construction Services, Inc. has constructed 6,000 homes since 1971 and has a new Solar model home at 14305 N. Bayshore Dr., Madeira Beach. If you have any questions pertaining to new home construction, feel free to email me directly at: or request a meeting at our new model.

Article by Tom Smith – GHD Construction Services, Inc.

Construction: Finding the Right Builder

There are good and not so good companies in every profession. That, of course, is true with the building industry. Contractors and sub-contractors normally specialize in specific types of construction of which they are best experienced. When a builder reaches beyond their area of expertise, problems can arise.

The biggest problem that arises generally relate to financial incom-petence. When a family decides to build a new home, in almost all cases they are embarking on the biggest financial investment of their lives. They need to be assured that their builder has the experience and financial strength to coordinate the various subs and suppliers, and keep all bills paid as the project progresses. All too often an inexperienced contractor receives the large draws during construction, but doesn’t have the business background to allocate those funds to suppliers, subs and the large amount of overhead that it takes to properly complete a project, before they take their profit. Many times builders underbid jobs due to the lack of a proper estimating and bookkeeping system. Many builders are not good businessmen. Worse yet, some contractors underbid projects simply for the cash flow, in hopes that they can makes ends meet. That almost always leads to problems for the homeowner.


What can a consumer do to protect themselves financially when building a new home? Florida has a Lien Law that helps protect the consumer, as long as the homeowner understands that legal process. Most important, do not let the contractor get too far ahead in draws as the project progresses. Make sure that a payment for a certain portion of the job is at a fair percentage for the work completed. When a homeowner has a mortgage, the bank has a fair system to monitor draws. Also very important, when a Notice to Owner is received during construction, make sure that invoice is promptly paid with the next draw. Finally, at completion of construction, demand a notarized Final Payment Affidavit from the contractor stating that all bills are paid.

Choose your contractor carefully. Our business model at GHD is to work closely with every customer to give them the quality that they deserve. Feel free to visit our 2016 Solar home today and speak with our sales staff about any construction questions you may have.

GHD Construction Services, Inc. has constructed 6,000 homes since 1971, and has a new Solar model home at 14305 N. Bayshore Dr., Madeira Beach. If you have any questions pertaining to new home construction, feel free to email me directly at: or request a meeting at our new model.

By Tom Smith, Contractor –  GHD Construction Services, Inc.

Construction: Building on the Beaches Takes Special Knowledge

When I began building homes in 1971, we did not even need a building permit for most single family homes. Today in some municipalities it takes longer to  get through the architectural and permit stages than it actually took to build  a home back then. Most changes are  for the protection of the consumer.


Devastation caused by natural disasters dictated most of these changes. Newer energy rules produce overall benefits for America. On Pinellas County’s beaches, the following major changes are  now being enforced by local building departments:


Years ago builders could drop off a set of blueprints and receive a permit within a day or two. Building Departments are taking an unusual amount of time in processing prints due to the abundant workload and much more complex prints that need to be reviewed. Since 2006, builders have the option of using private companies for both plan review and inspections performed by licensed architects and engineers.

FEMA Regulations:  

Most Pinellas residents are aware of  Base Flood Elevations (BFE) required by FEMA. All new homes in flood prone areas need to be at least 12” above the new BFE. Flood insurance will be even lower if the home is constructed 36” above BFE.

New Florida Building Codes

New homes today are considerably more structurally sound.  The  structural items of steel, concrete, and roof tie-down have vastly increased over the years.

Energy Items

Upon submittal for a building  permit, a set of signed & sealed Energy Calcs has to be completed. This energy audit considers glass efficiency, SEER ratings for  A/C systems, insulation types and amount, appliance rating and many other factors. This Energy Calc form must receive a passing grade before the permit can be issued. The cost of Solar Energy has fallen and many consumers are opting for a zero or greatly reduced electric bill.

Hurricane Items

Most areas of Pinellas County require new homes to withstand a 140-150 MPH hurricane. Window  & door types & installation, truss  tie-downs, and garage doors are just some of the important items needed to keep your home safe as possible should a major storm come  your way.


Today’s new homes don’t have only 8’ ceilings, mica countertops and  carpeted floors. Cathedral ceilings, granite counters and ceramic floors are today’s products of choice. And yes, most of our homes have  elevators for both convenience and help for our handicap senior citizens. GHD Construction Services, Inc. has  constructed 6,000 homes since 1971,  and has a new model home at  14305 N. Bayshore Dr. in Madeira Beach. 

If you have any question pertaining to new home construction, feel free to email me at:, or request a meeting at our new model.

Story by Tom Smith, Contractor- GHD Construction Services, Inc.