Building a custom home doesn’t have to be hectic, frustrating, or stressful. When your dream home is about to become a reality and the season to build it draws near, the more knowledge you have, the smoother things will go. Here are some first-time home building items to arm yourself with in order to end up with the home you’ve dreamed of, and enjoy the journey.
Preparations for building your first home
- Keep your credit in great shape.
- Check your credit score.
- Save for your down payment.
- Interview several financial institutions and discuss their best products for your situation.
- Learn about the various material choices: kitchen counter tops, cabinets, and flooring options throughout the home.
- Discover environmentally-friendly material choices.
- Realize the difference in various types of front doors.
- Explore siding choices: brick, stucco, James Hardie® siding.
- Understand window options.
3. Home design
- Keep a journal of your home design preferences, including pictures of your preferred style.
- Prioritize what you must have with what you desire but could do without.
- Save money by discovering if there is a basic design that already exists that you love, then making modifications on the design to personalize it to meet your family’s unique needs.
- Ask your realtor, lender, and subcontractors who the best contractors are in your area, then research what you learn.
- Visit the homes various contractors have built recently.
- Interview the top 3-6 choices of contractors. Ask each for a bid on the home you plan to build with the specific materials you desire to use.
- Ask potential building contractors for references—past clients you can contact, and homes they built that you can visit.
Understand that you not only want a contractor you can trust and who builds amazing homes, but you also want one who communicates well with you and understands your preferences. There will be a great deal of communication between you and your contractor from the home’s start to its finish, so make sure he is easily accessible, answers your concerns, and clearly understands your desires in a home.
- Understand it typically takes about 6 months to build a home.
- Decide what time of year your part of the country will have the least amount of rain and snow to avoid construction delays.
- Decide when you would like the home to be completed, then allow at least 6 months to complete it (and longer if there are a lot of custom features or if the home is quite large).
- Discuss your timeline with your contractor, and ask if it is realistic.
- Discuss what benchmarks must be met and when in order to stay on the timeline you’ve agreed on.
- Understand that as the homeowner, you have lots of decisions to make, and most of them come down to your vision, priorities, and budget.
- Always respond promptly to any communication from the building contractor.
- Meet the deadlines your builder sets for decision-making in order to keep the timeline from being interrupted.
- Communicate what matters most to you and what doesn’t. Don’t assume your builder knows what you want just because you know what your want.
- Communicate your specific preferences and priorities to your builder down to the details in each room.
- Visit the building site a few times a week to check on progress.
- If you have any questions, address the building contractor with specific concerns.
- When looking for land, check with your builder on any extra expenses that could occur with the land you are considering: phone or cable hookups, septic tank, etc.
- Get to know the neighbors and neighborhood. Walk in the neighborhood of the lot you are considering. Talk with the neighbors and get a good feel for the vibe of the area.
- Consider driving your morning commute from the lot to see how the location will impact your travel.
- Consider recreational needs. When looking for the right land for your new home, consider not only the home, but also your recreational needs: your need for outdoor space to entertain, your desire for extra features like a pool or outdoor spa, your needed space for a pet, or a garden. Also, consider your proximity to other recreational venues you desire to frequent.
8. Building permits and insurance
- When your lot is chosen and its financing is secure, building permits must be obtained before any building begins on your land.
- General liability insurance and workman’s comprehensive insurance should be in place to cover any potential injuries during construction. Fully insured builders are careful to cover these important areas with you when discussing your new home build.
- Building materials—from roofing and siding to flooring, customize your home with durable materials to add value you will love for years to come.
- Outlets—small in size, but big in impact, choose your outlet locations according to your family’s present and future needs.
- Laundry—consider the convenience of an upstairs laundry room to save you time on chore day year-round.
- Flooring—choose from hardwood, concrete, laminate, tile, or carpet for each specific room in your new home.
- Master bath features—do you desire the luxury items many enjoy such as a sauna, soaking tub, or heated floor? Or do you prefer practical basics like distinguished fixtures, cabinetry, and color selections to simplify your space?
- Kitchen details—appliances, counter tops, fixtures, cabinets, sinks, an island, eating space, and flooring combine to express your style preferences.
- Colors—choose paint colors for your home’s interior and exterior to express your style.
- Lighting—choose indoor and outdoor lighting to meet your needs.
- Safety features—have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors installed.