Tips for Building a Custom Home

Building a home can be a daunting task, one that most people will only undertake once in their lifetime. Building a custom home can be a significant investment of both time and money, and is a project that has the potential to dramatically affect your lifestyle for years to come. If you are considering building a custom home, it is important that you invest the time and effort required into the planning and preparation. While some projects can be done on the fly, building a home is NOT one of them. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you begin the custom home building process.

  1. Know Your Numbers. Before dealing with any specifics of the home building process, it is important that you run the numbers, and calculate what you can afford to invest in a new home. Obviously, you need to calculate how much you can put into a down payment, and what type of loans you will need in order to afford the construction costs. It is also important, however, to ensure that your interest rates are set in such a fashion that you can afford your mortgage payments. You should look into local property taxes to ensure that the tax burden your new home poses will be an affordable one. You should also look into maintenance and upkeep costs for your property. It may prove financially viable to invest in materials that will require less upkeep if short term financial conditions allow it, or if you financial future is uncertain (note: if your financial future is uncertain, you should reconsider building a custom home).
  2. Check out Builders. It is important that you do research into local builders to check out not only their reputation and cost estimates, but also some other projects they have done. Will this be the builder’s first large home? Or first in the area? You may want to reconsider your choice. If you are looking for a more modern architectural feel, and your builder has only built colonial models, you may also want to consider other options.Be sure to check out each website, to get a feel for the company. A good example of one such website would
  3. Build for Utility. When building a custom home, you have the opportunity to create a home that has everything you are looking for, price permitting. You will be able the pick and choose the features and design principles that appeal to you. Make sure that the home you design is built for your lifestyle. If you are looking to entertain, you might want to consider an open floor plan on the first floor. An avid reader might desire a small library, and a car aficionado might want extra space in the garage. Make this a home that can grow with you, as your children grow and eventually leave the home, and as you transition into retirement.
  4. Build with Resale Value in Mind. While the home should first and foremost reflect you as the homeowner, it is also important to remember that one day this home will be sold. That day could be when you and your spouse retire, or it could be after you are gone. While custom features are convenient, some of them could make the home more difficult to sell in the future. Even the most avid car enthusiast should think twice about putting a 5 car garage on a small ranch. Perhaps consider and outbuilding that can be used as automobile storage, and that a future buyer can easily convert to suit their needs. Also consider designs in which specialty rooms can be utilized as bedrooms (for a potential buyer that would prefer, say, a 3rd bedroom to an upstairs office). Making sure that your home is designed to retain resale value will enable you to treat your home as an investment, and one that is relatively safe as well.
  5. Carefully Consider your Location. While homes can be remodeled, the one thing that cannot be changed is the location. Be sure to put in your due diligence to make sure that the location on which you choose to build will suit you not just in the present, but also for years to come. If you are looking for a quiet, sleepy home in which to relax, be sure that the area in which you are building is not one that is expected to undergo significant growth in the next 15 years. Take a careful look at area schools if you have or expect to have children, to ensure that you are happy with the education and experience your child will receive. Take a close look at crime rates and pollution, and also at other homes in the area, to make sure that your intended design will fit in nicely with the neighborhood. If the plot you are looking at is surrounded by modest one story models, it may not go over well if you build a 5500 square foot, 3 story home. Be sure that the location you choose is one you want to call home for the next few decades.
  6. Go Green. There are many tremendous technologies that can be taken advantage of in order to save resources, and also money, by going green. While some of these features can be difficult to install on preexisting homes, a custom home build is the perfect opportunity to put some of these technologies to use. Energy efficient windows, insulation, and appliances can help save you hundreds, even thousands per year on electricity and utility bills. Rainwater can be collected for use in irrigation and landscaping, and alternative energy sources, like solar or wind, can be added to your home. Some homes today can even be built to produce an “energy surplus,” which can in turn be sold to your local energy provider. Imagine receiving a utility check each month, instead of a utility bill!

While this list provides some things to keep in mind, this list is by no means complete or conclusive. Be sure to do your research, and read up on other tips for purchasing a home. This is one decision you don’t want to make uninformed!

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