So, you want to build a home but aren't sure where to start?
I’ve received a plethora of messages over the past year with questions covering all aspects of building a home. While building a home can be a lifelong dream, it can also be extremely intimidating if you aren’t sure where to even start in the process. I’ve compiled the most frequent and common questions received into my top seven most important considerations when building a home.
The obvious place to start when building a home is figuring out your budget. If you’re financing the project, your lender can tell you what your limit is.
2. Land In order to build a home, you’ll first need to decide where you’re building. Consider whether you want to be in town or in the country as well as how much land you’d like to have, then start researching available lots for sale. There are pros and cons to both city and rural properties. City locations will have readily available access to utilities, whereas rural locations may need to have utilities brought to the land at an additional fee. When we decided to build our home, we personally preferred a rural location for the benefit of privacy, open views, a much larger piece of land than we would have been able to obtain in city limits, and lower property taxes. We purchased our land through a private sale as rural land in our area can be somewhat difficult to come by. If you have children or plan to someday, an important factor to consider when choosing your land is the school district that it resides in. Our rural home rests in a preferred school district with convenient access to the larger cities in our area, which was a huge plus for us.
3. Builder Who will be building your home? Whether you’re hiring a general contractor, a building company, or planning a DIY build, there are a lot of factors to consider. Due to the nature of my husband’s background in construction design and management, we took on the massive project of building our own home. Still, there were a few items that we knew we would need to hire out, whether for timing or logistical purposes, and we had to consider that in our planning process. If you’re hiring a builder, ask to see examples of their work, read their reviews online, and speak to people who have used them whenever possible. Your builder should work within your predetermined budget to give you options and meet your specifications. 4. Timeframe When do you want or need to be in your new home? Do you have to be in the home within a certain time period - for a new job, or children starting school? If you’re hiring a builder, you will need to be specific and realistic about your expectations from the time that you purchase the land to the move-in date. If you’re going the route of a DIY build, you’re likely going to need to be a little more flexible with timelines. (Ahem, I know this all too well from experience!) My husband and I have jobs and a four year old, so our timeframe from dig to move-in day was somewhat lengthier at nine months, and we still had plenty of items to continue working on once we moved in. We began the process in the fall so that our former home would be ready to list in the springtime when the real estate market was at peak.
5. Floor Plan
When you’re thinking about the design of your floor plan, the two most common options are purchasing a pre-drawn plan or hiring an architect. An architect will require a much larger fee than a pre-drawn plan, but they can create a completely custom plan from scratch based off of your requests. If you choose the less expensive route of purchasing a pre-drawn plan, there are usually options to customize the plan further to meet your more specific needs for an additional fee. Regardless of which route you choose, spend thorough time thinking about what your needs are and how you will use each space in the home. If you’re building a home that you plan to stay in “forever” or long term, think about how you will grow with the home and utilize the spaces over time. If possible, walk through open houses or take virtual tours of homes and make notes of what you like and don’t like about each of them.
6. Design Style Do the research to figure out your style and try to find a cohesive concept to follow in your home. Joanna Gaines' Homebody book has great advice for determining design styles as well as creative tips for each and every space of the home. Pinterest, HGTV shows, and Instagram accounts featuring home design are also great places to start. Be prepared to spend many, many hours in home improvement stores!
7. Décor The way that your home is decorated on the inside is the most important factor in making a house feel like a home. Thoughtfully observe the details of your home once it’s built (flooring, fixtures, wall coverings/colors, structural shapes) and tie in elements that are already existing in the home within your décor. There are a lot of different styles when it comes to home decor, but just because it’s popular or pretty doesn’t necessarily mean it’s “you,” and it's important to feel like everything surrounding you in your home fits your family’s style and personality.
Ultimately, whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring someone for your new build, be prepared to practice extreme patience in the process. Things don’t always go exactly as planned, and setbacks and changes happen on the fly. Be firm in what you want, but also flexible with the process.
Over-communicate with your partner constantly so that you’re on the same page. My husband is the “how” and I am the “wow” in our relationship: I dream it up, he figures out how to get it done, and I make it pretty. We compromise often in order to meet our desires, stay within our budget, and ensure functionality.
A question we receive frequently is, “Is there anything you would do differently now?” My answer to that at this point in time is that there really isn’t anything in hindsight that we would do differently. We took our time to make sure we got everything we wanted and have been thinking about our forever home for quite some time. We have looked at existing homes for sale for many years and thoroughly researched floor plans, so once we made the decision to build, we knew very specifically what we did and didn’t want in our forever home.
Do plenty of research and prepare for every stage of the build as much as possible so that you can enjoy the process and love the final outcome of your brand-new home for years to come!