Is building a home something you have always dreamed about? Now that you are finally ready to take the first steps towards bringing your vision to life, you will want to take your lofty dreams and put them on paper! It is possible to have the house you have always dreamed of. Make no mistake though, building a home that lives up to your expectations and fulfills your dream vision is not an easy undertaking. This is a process that will be challenging, and at times extremely stressful and trying. But…it can also be tremendously rewarding, not to mention a great financial investment.
What better to invest in than the home of your dreams? After all, we spend a lot of time in our homes and for many of us, it’s a haven and a sanctuary. It’s where we gather with friends and family, celebrate holidays, and make our most valuable memories throughout life.
Since you are about to set off on the gargantuan journey that is building a home, you will want to be well prepared for the many ups and downs and knowledgeable of the ins and outs of homebuilding. It is highly recommended that you take advice from custom home builders from the get-go so you can proceed with confidence – and a solid plan!
Big Steps to Building Your Dream Home
Let’s get organized: it is important to have a thorough homeowner’s checklist for building a house. Not only does this ensure you think about every aspect of the home building process (and there are so many to keep track of!), it is incredibly satisfying when you start to cross items off!
Start with a Mission
What do you want your home to be? How will you use it and what does it mean to you when someone asks you to describe the home of your dreams? Think in grand terms as an exercise in creativity. Allow yourself to imagine that anything is possible with your new home. Really think about what it is exactly that you value in a home.
Allow yourself to be sentimental and emotional for this step. Is there a home from your childhood that you want to model your dream home after? What do you want your new home to feel like when you walk in the door when you invite friends and relatives to dinner or host parties?
This exercise may sound silly, but it will help you establish what values you hold most dear in a home. Through this process, you can prepare yourself for what’s ahead by knowing what you truly mean when you talk about building the home of your dreams.
- Write out or sketch out your ideas.
- Visit sites like Pinterest, custom builder’s websites (the galleries are great inspiration), Houzz, and others for ideas.
- Look through home building and design magazines. Clip your favorite images and ideas.
Assemble this into a portfolio that you can take to show your custom home builder. You will have to work within your budget and some items may not be feasible in terms of cost or structure, but it is important to have a foundation on which to build!
Draft a Budget
Now that you have taken some time to dream big and imagine that the sky’s the limit, it’s time for a little lesson in reality. Depending on your resources, you may be able to fulfill every wish you could come up with from step one, but more likely you will have to spend some time prioritizing and reprioritizing after a home building budget has been developed. A preliminary budget is an extremely important step to building your dream home.
- Determine what you can afford – and be honest. It does you no good if you overextend yourself; your new home will become a source of stress instead of a haven.
- Prioritize. A custom home costs between $80 – $200, or more depending on size and features. Figure out your “Must-Haves,” your “Nice-to-Haves,” and your “I-Can-Do-Withouts.” When you are working with your custom home builder, they may be able to cost engineer many items so you can get a better sense of what you can accomplish within your budget.
- Consider all the Costs. You can find a checklist online to detail every line of a home building budget, but here are some of the top-line items:
- Construction cost and labor
- Infrastructure such as plumbing and electricity, kitchen fixtures such as cabinets and counters, doors, lighting, storage, hardware throughout, major appliances
- Interior decorating elements (from dishware to drapes!)
- Exterior spaces like gardens and entryways
- Check Your Credit Report. You have access to three free reports a year, so take advantage of that. Look for debts that you can clear or errors that may be dragging down your score.
- Get Your Down Payment In Order. How much do you need to put down? Typically, this is 20-25% of the cost of the home. Save as much as you can, and don’t forget to factor in closing costs.
- Look Into Financing Options. Learn about different mortgage options (e.g. fixed-rate, 15-year, 30-year, FHA, VA, etc.) so you can find the right choice for you. From there, it is important to get preapproval from your chosen lender.
Find the Right Custom Home Builder
The best time to start working with a custom home builder is… as soon as possible. It is important to establish this relationship, and they should be able to help guide you through the process in a less-stress way!
Working with custom home builders is a great way to ensure that you are going to create your dream space in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Custom home builders generally work with clients after they have acquired land or property, however, that is not always the case. A custom home builder will work with you to design the home you want and you can work with them closely to ensure that all of your goals come to fruition.
Custom home builders may work with architects and designers to construct your home. The best custom home builders work with you to curate materials that are of high quality and suit your particular style and needs. The builder will see the construction of your home through and stay in close communication with you throughout the process to ensure that all of your expectations are being met and you are involved in the decision-making process down to the last detail.
Finding the right builder is essential:
- Do Your Due Diligence. Look into custom home builders in your area. A Google search will get you started but dig deeper. Examine each potential builder’s website: do they have helpful resources, case studies/testimonials, a gallery of images, and other useful information?
- Ask For Recommendations. If you know anyone who has recently built a custom house or is in the process of doing so, ask them for their recommendations. How was their experience? Would they choose the same builder again?
- Ask Questions. Ask all the questions! This is your time, and it will be your home. It is important to take the time to ask about processes, timelines, budgets, etc. As important: use this as an opportunity to evaluate the builder. Did they listen? Did they take the time to understand what you need and want? Were they respectful? Or did they rush you? Were they dismissive?
- Ask For References. When you have a shortlist of possibilities, ask them for references – and follow up! Ask about their experience and if they would work with that builder again.
- Go With Your Gut. Were you confident in the builder’s ability to construct your dream house? How about their ability to communicate and work with you as a partner?
You may be flexible on location or you may know exactly where you want to live. Either way, you will need to identify a property.
- Think about whether you want the convenience of developed property or the flexibility (and added expense) of an undeveloped lot.
- Consider how much space you will need for your house and yard.
- Factor in proximity to work, schools, shops, services, recreational opportunities, etc.
- Walk the neighborhood: is this somewhere you can imagine yourself living?
- Talk to the locals. Are they friendly and welcoming? Do they keep to themselves? There’s no right answer in general – but there is a right answer for you.
Get the Right Permits and Insurance
When you dream of building your own home, permits, and insurance aren’t the most glamorous aspects of the vision! But they’re essential!
- Your builder can coordinate with municipal authorities and others to obtain the right permits. Make sure this happens. You are trusting them with this process, but it never hurts to follow up to ensure everything that should be done is.
- Make sure your builder is fully insured. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you are liable if there is an injury during your project. They should also have workers’ compensation policies in place.
- Think about your homeowners’ insurance. This protects you financially and offers tremendous peace of mind.
Enjoy your new home
Take some time to get to know your new space and add the finishing details. Invite friends and family over for a housewarming party. You will be beaming with pride and happiness as you take people on tours and show off the stunning new home you have built.