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Teamwork makes the dream work at MGM Builders, Windham Maine

Three fundamental factors drive the success of a custom home construction and renovation.  First and foremost, customer based approach to design. Second, a customer service approach to project management, from plans, to lot choice, to first touch of the shovel through to keys in hand and beyond. Finally, interwoven through all things, clear and helpful communication. if you are looking to build a home in southern Maine, with these three factors as your guide, look no further than MGM Builders in Windham.


Mike and Anne Manning built MGM Builders based on their love of their own experience building their own first home over 30-years ago.  Since then, they have raised their children in the same love of the craft, sharing their collective knowledge, joy in the process, and well-honed skills in every aspect of the endeavor with their customers, year after year.

"When you build with MGM Builders, you're more than just another customer to us. We're excited to learn about who you are and what you want in a home. You'll have an experience tailored to you and your family’s needs that's easy and streamlined. We prioritize quality in all that we do, never cutting corners and always making sure every detail is just right. In the thirty years we've been in business we've built over 200 homes, and are proud to have become a trusted Maine home builder and renovator over that time." - Mike Manning




MGM Builders has their own design team.  Many ready-made designs are available either as a ready to go package, or a template to start your own awesome idea. Adaptations to your particular wants and needs are quickly talked through and translated to a working design. This leaves all the fun up to you!


There are countless variables in the new build process, and sometimes changes and challenges need to be met in the moment.  MGM Builders has a great model for project management and communication.  Up close and in person style communication brings you right to the job site, even from miles away.  





The most important part of a dream come true is knowing the realization of that dream is built to last.   When Mike and Anne Manning built their first home, they had plans for the future hammered into every nail.  Now that vision-to-reality commitment has become an ongoing family commitment to customer service and quality construction.  If they build it, it will last.



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    Building new community roots with John Libby Construction, Inc

    Building a brand new home, from the unique design, quality materials, and custom finishing touches includes building new community relationships. When choosing a builder, consider their over-all approach to the nuances involved in the change of landscape that is your project.  Ideally, you want a builder who not only opens the door to your house, but also generates welcome to the people, businesses and trades connections you need to truly feel at home.

    Unique Roots in Maine

    John Libby Construction, Inc, based in Harpswell, Maine is a fantastic example of a residential construction company that naturally fills the bill of new community network ambassador as a part of daily operations. John Libby started his company as a local contractor in Durham, Maine. He has since built his business with local Maine tradesmen, crew, and office support. He uses the same network of sub-contractors for all projects, so they are all familiar with the building process, timelines and standards. These are Maine homes, bringing the best of Maine right to your doorstep, with modernized flair. When the process is complete, you are part of the neighborhood.

    Energy Efficiency

    Maine weather is wild and unpredictable. And while there are many ways to build an energy efficient home - John Libby Construction, Inc focuses on methods that create and maintain household comfort that are cost effective to build, operate and maintain.  These unique methods are the core of every project from waterfront wonders, to new neighborhood beauties. His energy efficient designs are elegant at every price point.


    John and his team will work with you on all aspects of building a home – from assessing potential building lots, to designing, estimating and selecting finishes.  The thorough estimating process creates custom specifications tailored client preferences and budget. Clients have the opportunity to work intimately with a team member throughout every step of construction, ensuring projects run smoothly and on time. This person to person approach is not only a key to John Libby Construction success, but also a key component of Maine culture.   People working with people to create something beautiful and long lasting makes for a strong start for a new home in Maine.









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      The Joy of the Custom Residential Build - Highlight Brush and Hammer Builders

      For many home seekers, there's a romantic ideal to new construction. It's exciting to think of starting fresh, in a brand new home. In reality, however, the seemingly simple idea "I want to build new" can become immediately overwhelming without good guidance.  We had a chat not long ago with Anthony Requia at Brush and Hammer Builders, Inc of Portland Maine to get his take on the best route to success for the uninitiated.  Here is what we learned.

       The custom home process can be broken down into five distinct phases. Location, Contract Negotiation, Design, Build, Follow-up.  Each of these, managed independently become the collective foundation for turning an area of raw land you love into the home of your dreams.


      This part is entirely up to you.  But a discussion with a skilled realtor in advance, in coordination with your builder will help you choose based on where you want to be, dream house style and size, and cost of the lot.   From the get go, knowing your whole project budget will help you with location, as the builders costs will be on top of the land, just like the house.


      This is where you and your builder get to know each other and where the nitty gritty details are defined.  Anthony has told us that the focus of the contract negotiation process at Brush and Hammer Builders is about building trust.  "We want our clients to be happy and comfortable. We'll take all the time they need to put together a contract that everyone understands."


      Hand in hand with contract negotiation is the actual design of the home. From foundation, to studs, to fixtures, to outlet locations, each item of your new home should be considered. Price goes with updated details, siding choices, roof lines and porches, but this is the fun part! From the basics to the beautiful, you get to choose.   



      The build process takes several months.  A quality builder will keep you informed as the build goes along, and will involve you in decisions when things go off plan, suggest new ideas that arise in the moment and keep the momentum going for you.  This part is also exciting, even thrilling, as the new home gradually materializes.


      Before you take ownership of your new home, be sure to go through the house with the builder for a punch list of details that may still need attention. There is a standard builders guarantee in the State of Maine, that is in place for the first 12 months after you take on the keys, but the best builders will stick with you through the seasons on their own guarantee as well to address settling changes, manufacturing defects, and relevant items that may need attention as the house becomes your home.  Pride in craftsmanship is something to look for in a builder, even as you are in the first phase of location search.  You want your builder to love your home as much as you do!

      "Alot of times, when we first get started, people are very nervous. But we believe the build process should be fun for the client.  It's a big investment, and their home! So we work very hard to take the stress out, from day one, until they don't need us anymore." 

      - Anthony Requia, Brush and Hammer Builders, Inc.   


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        The Road to Christmas Creek Subdivsion: a story of growth and good business

        For many years, the Vinings Christmas Tree Farm on Tuttle Rd was a destination for family memories, community spirit and the splendor of nature in the heart of Cumberland Center, Maine. It is really no wonder then, that when the Vinings retired, a new vision would take shape on the land so loved by so many. In 2018, the property was sold to a small group of local investors with a vision for a neighborhood that preserved the spirit of the property, while enhancing the highlights of culture that are close to the heart of the Town of Cumberland. With an ideal of large lots, craftsmanship homes and seamless development, Beta Zeta Properties teamed up with Brett Davis Real Estate and Dirigio Engineers to create a near literal pop-up class-A neighborhood in Cumberland Center to be completed over the next two years.  Voila! Christmas Creek Subdivision was born.

        If such an enterprise seems simple watching the road go in, think again! From initial proposal in January 2019 to  the Cumberland Planning Board final stamp of approval in September, the wheels of development behind the scenes have been turning, churning and integrating to ensure environmental standards, vet and encourage participation from quality builders, maintain enthusiasm and interest through the Town Approval process and make the whole project a well-marketed success from start to finish.

        "This has been the most challenging, and most gratifying experience of my career so far", says Brett Davis "a total team effort, and a real success for everyone. I am very grateful and thrilled to see it coming to life!"

        Connected to the Cumberland Trail system, the Twin Brooks preserve and the brand new cultural arts Center, Christmas Creek Subdivision is deeply rooted in Cumberland Center.  Updates and highlights from construction partners to follow in the coming months.


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          Build New - Is it for you?

          Finding the right house in the perfect location is the fundamental search criteria for every home buyer. Of course, what that means to each person will be quite different but the allure of starting from scratch is a nearly a universal consideration at some point for everybody. What better way to start out in a new lifestyle, than to start brand new? Here are some key points to consider.

          How long does it take? 

          Consider three months as the average build time from foundation to first day in the house. Preparation for the build can take just as long more or less, depending on readiness/availability of the new lot, design time and completion of build plans. If you want a custom project, don't rush. If you need to move in fast, look for subdivisions or small developments that are building spec homes you can move into as soon as complete. 

          How much does it cost? 

          New construction is not cheap, but can be an affordable option, especially if buying on spec. Expect to pay market value for new construction, with minimal room to negotiate. Builders are in business for their margin, and as skilled trades people, they are managing materials and labor costs, marketing expenses and administrative needs, along with your expectations in the finished project. You are hiring their business, along with buying a house. Most of the cost is fixed in advance by necessity. Cost of land is in addition to build cost!


          The first place to start when considering building new is financing.  Approval conditions, down payments and loan structure will vary depending on who owns the lot during during construction and the phase of the project you are purchasing (custom new vs. completed or semi completed spec).  Even if you are already pre-approved to purchase an existing home, your first stop when you decide to build new is your lender and/or financial advisor.  Knowing your budget in advance is key to success when building new.

          Location Location Location

          Location for a new build requires available land. Land costs for private lots with a view in a great location are much higher than similarly ideal new homes in more regional areas. In the State of Maine as an example of prime semi-rural opportunities, small towns are growing. New subdivisions are making the opportunity to start brand new extremely attractive both for immediate quality of life and long term investment. These new neighborhoods establish community, set standards for marketability and manage the environmental impact of social growth.  Building new is exciting, gratifying and a great way to go!  Plan ahead, review your lending options and find the perfect spot.




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            The March winds are winding down and the sun is shining, but the days are still a tiny bit too cold, the ground is "snarsh" (snowy marsh) and the roads are still posted.  The spirit of adventure is on your doorstep! But conditions are challenging in the most mudane way.  It's time to plan some "Spring Things" to do!   Here's what's happening in Freeport Maine. 


            If you haven't found this gem of a resource for fun, education and economic development excellence, now is your season! Free and open to the public everyday, dawn to dusk - Wolfes Neck Center has something for everyone all year long.  Learn about the environment, take a locally remote hike, find out how the Center supports Maine Local Farms. Check out their visitor page and events calendar here:  Wolfes Neck Center

            LL BEAN Discovery Schools

            Ready to get outside "right now"?! The LL BEAN Discovery Schools are geared for the weekend enthusiast, kids and families, and the extra courageous.  Find your outdoor educational fun starting right in the center of LL BEAN's home town in Freeport or any number of places in it's growing retail network in New England and throughout the world!  Start here to learn more: LL BEAN Discovery Schools. 


            Start with the basics right at home. Sometimes the best place for the most fun is right at your finger tips.   The Freeport Community Library keeps a full calendar of indoor activities and events for all ages.   Adventure with new friends, interesting ideas and a great place to gather.   Check out the Spring Newsletter here: Freeport Community Library Quarterly Newsletter.

            What ever your personal temperature or temperament for the outdoors in early spring, there are plenty of Spring Things to Do in Freeport Maine!  Get your "Ready for Action" on and join in the fun! 


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              Make your home your Sweetheart!

              The month of February is a short month that can feel like an eternity.  Getting outside and enjoying winter recreation is a great way to beat the blues, but takes extra time and energy that the work week may not always allow. Another option is to focus on the inside! Take some time for yourself, commit to inside renovations that are easy and fun, get cozy! 

              SMALL Changes BIG Results

              Renovations in the wintertime can be a challenge. Big projects might be too messy. It's hard enough to keep the house in order! Solution, make a list of smaller fixes that are easy to skip when it's beautiful outside. Fix that broken latch, replace those tired curtains, clean out your closet, paint the kitchen cabinets.  PRO TIP:  pick a corner of one room as a staging corner.  Keep project supplies at hand, neatly packed in totes or covered with a tasteful throw. Tick those tiny projects off your list and February will fly by. 

              Pick a Room for Meditative Makeover

              The beauty of the winter months in the north are wrapped in solitude.  If your mind is striving for action, but the weather is driving you inside, your house can feel like a cave.  Transform it into a retreat!  Pick a space, or a whole room to make a cozy place to rest, read or simply sit and soak in the silence that snow, ice and cold create in nature.  Make the space your own and enjoy some inner interests. 


              Nothing makes a home cozier than the smell and sight of baked goods.  Even if it's not your usual thing, even boxed baked goods are great to create.  The internet is also full of easy to achieve baking projects that are fun and yummy! Spend some extra time in the kitchen, turn on some tunes, dance the ice away! 


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                The House Hunt in Winter - Benefits for both sides of the sale

                Cold weather inspires both adventure and hibernation, and either or both can be great motivation for house hunting. While indeed the winter season can be slower, patience often is the best deal maker. The committed seller and the motivated buyer, making the most of the seasonal advantage, can be very successful in the winter.

                BUY LAND - BUILD NEW!

                A benefit to land sales or purchase in winter is that the lay of the land in many respects can be more easily observed.  Land walks are an adventure in any season, but not everyone is willing to take their first steps in the snow. Strap on your snowshoes! Fire up the snow machine.  Take a look around.  Benefit to the to brave of heart! Buy land now, plan your dream house and start building this Spring!


                A well groomed exterior lot in the winter catches everyone's eye.   If your house or land is for sale, the best invitation to buyers is clear access, safe walkways and making it all look easy! Use your snow rake frequently on the roof to avoid ice-dams. Keep a tidy mudroom. Taking the few extra steps on the outside, will warm up every showing.   Groomed access makes land lots easier to spot in the winter, and groomed house lots jump out to driver's by much more brightly than in the warmer seasons.  Make a show piece of your property in the snow!


                It can't be said enough that both buying and selling property requires patience.  In the winter, go with the season and slow down both expectations and demands.  Buyers, keep your focus on your wants, needs and budget.  Sellers, know that those who are house hunting, while fewer, are more serious.  Both parties have the benefit of less pressure.  Take the next step - make winter your season!


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                  Let Freeport Maine Light up your holiday season!

                  December 7 - 9, 2018 was Freeport Maine's Famous Sparkle Weekend.  From parade Friday night, through promotions and celebrations throughout the weekend, Freeport Village was full of visitors!  This fantastic event, promoted by Visit Freeport, included a light parade, visits from Santa, concerts and contests all hosted by local merchants and organizations.  With a 25-year history of fun just as the cold hits the streets, this outdoor adventure is a blast! 

                  If you missed this year's Sparkle Weekend, never fear! Freeport Village and surrounds is ho-ho-hoing through the season, with plenty of activities, enrichments, entertainment and shopping offerings.  Check out Visit Freeport Maine website for loads of information to inspire your next visit, entice your holiday shopping, or just learn a bit more about this hub of Holiday Cheer. 

                  Like the idea of living in or near Freeport?

                  Come visit Brett Davis Real Estate, 12 School St, Freeport Maine

                  Right in the heart of town!  Enjoy the Season. 


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                    Get to know your VA Loan

                    Shopping for the best mortgage option is a fundamental first step in the home-buying process. If you or a direct member of your family are in the military or a Veteran, the VA offers a competitive loan program that may be a great option. You'll want to compare long term costs, loan entry  benefits and property requirements with other loan programs with a professional mortgage broker or a Bank/Credit Union loan officer. But here are the basic details of a VA Loan to start the process.

                    VA Loan Mortgage Requirements

                    A big benefit to a VA Loan is that they offer 100% financing.  This means that it is possible to get started without a downpayment. The VA Loan program will also allow you to ask sellers to contribute up to 4% of loan value toward closing costs. Closing costs include but may not be limited to lender fees, pre-paid taxes and insurance payments and transfer taxes.  4% on $200,000 loan equals $8,000. If closing costs can be negotiated into your purchase, this will also allow you to get started as a homeowner without surplus savings.

                    LOAN LIMITS:  Be aware that depending on property location, there may be a limit on the total amount you can borrow with 100% financing (this is called a conforming limit).  If you want to purchase above the conforming limit, some programs will ask you to pay 25% of the difference between the sale price and the conforming limit. This still makes a big difference in upfront affordability for Veteran homebuyers.

                    VA Loan Property Requirements

                    VA Loan programs, like all Government Loan options, include specific requirements regarding the condition of the property a borrower chooses to purchase.  The intent of these requirements are to ensure the property is safe and free of costly deferred maintenance in the first years of ownership.  Properties must be certified as pest free (in some locations) and in cases of private water supply, a test must be provided ensuring the water is safe.  Common repair items to look out for that must be completed before closing include:  Chipped/Peeling paint and/or missing siding, installed safety railings, missing flooring, holes in walls, rotted window sills.  Roof and heating systems must be in good condition and have at least a 3-year remaining life span. 

                    CONDOS:  Not all condominiums are approved for funding through the VA Loan Program.  Approved Condos are listed here: https://vip.vba.va.gov/portal.VBAH/VBAHomes/condopudsearch. 

                    Budget Basics

                    When researching the best loan option for your situation it is important consider long term costs. 100% financing is helpful if you have limited cash up front, but it can result in higher monthly payments. Most lenders will require you to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) until you have 20% equity in the property. You will also pay more in interest over the long term.  Your VA Loan also may, or may not offer the best interest rate at your time of purchase. If you have cash available to contribute, check with your mortgage lender or bank loan officer to review interest rates in comparison with conventional loans or to review the benefit of contributing to the purchase though the VA Program.  

                    WORD to the WISE:  Monitor your own investment!  Often, what you are eligible to borrow, may be more than you can ultimately afford based on how you manage the rest of your finances. Ask your lender to fully clarify all the costs of the loan and what will be included in your monthly payment.  Check those costs and payments against your monthly income and expenses today.  Seek professional advice with any questions.  Once you are clear about what you can afford, find your new home! 



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