Building the perfect custom home can be a dream come true or a nightmare. It’s important that you begin the process with a clear understanding of the essential elements so that you make good choices and decisions along the way. From beginning to end the process of building your custom dream home can take from 8 months to 2 years, depending on the time it takes for design, site preparation, changes and weather challenges. Additionally, during the process of building you will be asked constantly to make decisions and choices, so if you find decision making a challenge the process may take even longer.
Before you take the plunge, do your homework and make sure you consider these 20 items to ensure the best possible outcome.
20 Things to Do Before You Build
- Check the builder’s references. Ask for references from clients that are currently working with the builder and for clients that have been in their home for 5+ years.
- Hire an Attorney to review the builder contract. Ask questions up front, don’t assume anything.
- Review the Home Builders Warranty before you begin.
- Choose your home site carefully.
- Shop financing. Don’t assume that the rate is all that matters. Understand how funds will be distributed, what lender inspections entail and above all, make sure you have a comfortable relationship with your lender, they will be your partners in the process.
- Know the neighborhood. Talk to homeowners in the community.
- Differentiate between needs and wants.
- Know your budget and plan for additional costs, they are inevitable.
- Understand the builders pricing.
- What’s included in the base price?
- What does the builder charge extra for?
- What does the builder charge for his services?
- What about change orders? How are they paid?
- Review the cost line item by line item. Is everything you need included?
- Use a Certified Architect. Before hiring the architect understand how they are paid. How many changes can you make to the plans without additional charges? How many sets of plans are included?
- Before approving your house plans study them over and over. Consider how you live in each room, where you will place furniture, walk through each room in your mind. It is in your best interest to include everything in the first set of plans. It will save money and aggravation.
- Consider natural light in your plan and how the orientation of the house will impact room lighting at different times of the day.
- Can the trees be saved? Often time’s building sites are chosen because of the natural beauty. Be sure that your builder understands the character of the lot that you want to preserve and be prepared for additional costs that may be incurred to do so.
- Know the cost of living your dream before you sign.
- Homeowners Dues if applicable
- Energy costs
- Drive time to work & recreation
- Include Outdoor living spaces, landscaping, irrigation and fencing in your plans
- Don’t forget about ample kitchen and closet storage.
- Include a great closet storage system.
- Don’t forget technology! Smart homes are here to stay.
- Get organized. Keep your paperwork in order and track your expenses.
- Finally, here are a few items that are often forgotten that you should consider in the design phase, not as a change order
- Lighting – dimmer switches, wall sconces, outside outlets for holiday lighting and entertaining
- Porch depth – consider your furniture and how it will be configured.
- Hobby space – now is the time to add space for garden storage, a workshop in the garage or a craft room.
- Ceiling Height – at least 9 feet
- Electrical outlets – think through the details, where will you coffee maker, hairdryer and computer(s) be plugged in? When it comes to outlets more is better.
Have fun and enjoy the process!
Terry Roberts, Broker/Owner