Building your own home can be one of the most exciting or stressful times of your life. It just depends on how prepared you are! We are currently building a house and there are some things I’ve learned along the way that I thought would be helpful to others. If you have experience with building homes, feel free to add your suggestions to the comment section.
1. Pick your builder wisely. Shop around for builders in your area. Meet with them and make sure your personalities will compliment each other. It’s a long process and you’ll be talking to your builder a lot. If you don’t like them from the start, then you shouldn’t use them to build your home. Ask for recommendations from friends and neighbors that have built homes.
2. Find a plan that you LOVE! Too many times I think people assume that they can’t afford to build a custom home, so they just go with the builder’s basic SPEC home and make the best of it. I was surprised to find that it’s more about how many square feet you’re building and how many upgrades you plan on doing that will determine the price of your home.
I found a plan I loved online and brought it to my builder, expecting him to tell me it was going to be out of my price range, and was excited to find that he was willing to help us make the necessary changes to get the house plans perfect and in our budget. You can customize your search on websites like this.
3. Be honest with yourself. How much home can you REALLY afford? Make a budget and stick with it. You’re probably not going to get everything on your Pinterest dream list unless you’re a billionaire, so just prepared to cut some things out.
4. Which way do you want your house to face? If you have the option, and you live in a wintery climate, make sure your driveway faces any direction but North. The snow doesn’t melt as quickly on the North side and your driveway will always be slippery. Plus harsh salts will damage the concrete if you have to use it all the time.
5. Where do you want your outlets? This is something I hadn’t thought about at all. Do you want one in your pantry so you don’t have to bring heavy appliances in and out to use them? Do you want one on the side of your island so you can actually use that space? Are you going to have a sofa table with lamps on it in your front room? etc…
6. Where do you want your water faucets to be? Do you want one hooked up to the hot water so you can wash dogs and cars with warm water outside? How many faucets do you want? Will they all reach every part of your lawn if the sprinkler system breaks?
7. Are you going to put in a water softener? Water softeners prolong the life of your appliances, but some people hate the taste. What about a soft water loop to direct the soft water to selected locations in your home.
8. What kind of interior doors do you like? Another thing I hadn’t considered. Of course the sky is the limit as far as price goes, how important is the look of the doors to you, and how much extra are you willing to spend?
9. Do you want 3 tone paint or 2 tone? Most builders charge extra to paint the ceilings a different color than the walls. What do you really care about? What colors do you want in your home? Test them out somewhere before you make a final decision. We almost made a big mistake by trusting the color swatch, good thing we tested it out in our current home before our new home was painted, or it would have been light baby blue everywhere!
10. Go big on things that can’t be changed in the future. We don’t have an endless budget, but we are upgrading everything we can that absolutely can’t be changed in the future. For example, we opted for 9 foot ceilings in the basement and upstairs.
11. Do you want to insulate and finish your garage? You can save a a little money if you decide that this isn’t that important to you.
12. What kind of flooring do you want? This is an obvious thing to think about, but I would recommend ordering samples so you can see the product under normal lighting. Ask friends for their opinions on durability and maintenance of your favorite looks. You don’t want to regret a big decision like this.
13. Download the Houzz app. This app is great because you can choose the style you’re most interested in and save your favorite inspirational photos to show your builder. It’s a lot like PInterest for homes. Just be prepared to cut back a little unless you have an endless budget.
14. Only listen to the opinions of people you trust. Everyone and their dog will want to tell you something you should have done differently or better… if you let them. In the end, it’s your home and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. You have to enjoy the space you’re in and you shouldn’t allow anyone to take away your excitement will downer comments like, “Oh, I would never have put that in my home!”
15. Take pictures of everything. While your pipes and electrical wires are exposed, take pictures. This will help with any future leaks, electrical, or plumbing problems you might have.
16. What type of case and base do you want? Do you want archways? Are you willing to spend extra money to get the look you’re going for?
17. Don’t get your heart set on the finish date. There are a lot of factors and people that need to meet deadlines in order to get you into your home in time. Find a way to relax and just be as patient as you can. Your sanity is worth it!
18. Consider the neighborhood. What type of neighborhood are you building in? Are there codes and covenants that need to be followed? Do they allow stucco, vinyl siding? What type of fencing is allowed? What type of pets are allowed in the area? What is the surrounding property zoned for? Is there a square foot minimum you have to meet?
Usually the builder will know the answers to these questions if they have built in the area before, but you should ask around and be as informed as possible before purchasing your lot.
19. Will your property need a retaining wall? Fences can be really expensive, and retaining walls can be $10,000 or more. Consider what landscaping and drainage issues your property might have before buying.
20. Are you going to be hanging anything heavy when you move in? If so, make sure you ask your building to place supportive beams in the walls to help. That way, you won’t have to search for studs when hanging.
21. What type of appliances are you going to have? Your builder will need to know the measurements, and whether they are gas or electric. You should also consider putting a gas line to the patio if you have a bbq.