It is possible to design a house from scratch. There are so many possibilities and opportunities. You’re trying to fit your entire life into a design of someone else’s home. A custom home allows you to design a space that is just right for you.
We shouldn’t let our imaginations get carried away with fairytales. Custom builds aren’t always rainbows and unicorns. It can be difficult, even for those who are experienced in the process.
Here’s some Mayker insider information to help you find great people and avoid costly landmines if you are thinking of breaking ground or building from scratch.
Important Considerations Before Building A Custom Home
1. DATE AROUND.
The most important decision is who you hire. Not only is quality of work important, but so is character. Building journeys can be bumpy because of a lack in trust and understanding between client and builder. Make sure you are comfortable with the person and the process.
Talk about the goals: budget, schedule, and outcome. Also, talk about how to resolve problems if they occur. These include budget overages, severe delays, and quality work. It is best to be on the same page about the worst-case scenarios in order to avoid frustration and falling out.
Remind yourself that if they aren’t interested in your due diligence now, it will not be later.
2. HIRE THE TRIO: ARCHITECT BUILDER AND DESIGNER.
There are many roles that different professionals can play in the new home construction. A high-level view:
Architects design the exterior and layout of a home. They are functional creatives who solve logistical problems.
Builders are more objective. They take an architect’s plans and make it a recipe by putting the ingredients together. They want to build your home as efficiently as possible so they are focused on streamlining execution.
Designers care about the small details. Designers oversee the interior design of your home. They prioritize finishes and details to create beautiful spaces that are both functional and beautiful. It’s not just about furniture placement or lighting choices. Everything comes down to the hardwood stain, lighting placement, and tile grout thickness.
All these roles are crucial. Many people believe that only architects and builders are necessary to hire. However, the finer details are often neglected if you do not seek the help of an architect from the beginning.
Not to be overlooked: There are design-build companies that can both take on the role of a custom home builder and architect. These are all great solutions. However, you need to ensure that all three roles are properly addressed.
3. HAVE AN ATTORNEY REVIEW YOUR CONTRACTS.
Always, always, always. You are excited to start and you might struggle to make it through this step because you have hired someone who is good. Your experience will be different.
However, most builder contracts favor the builder. This is smart business. An experienced attorney will know the best places to place protective clauses. This will help you balance the ground and protect you in case of an emergency.
It doesn’t matter if you have heard good things about the builder or feel that you can trust them. It’s perfectly reasonable and smart to put a foundation that protects your interests.
4. REMEMBER YOUR OWN LIMITATIONS.
It might surprise you, but Google and Pinterest don’t necessarily mean that you have all the knowledge and tools you need to build a house.
Experience is one of the greatest assets a professional designer or builder has. They have learned from the mistakes of others. They have a large library of information, thoughts, and sources that makes homes more beautiful, livable, and useful.
You can challenge your contractors. Ask tough questions and bring your ideas to the table. Then, make sure they back up their decisions. Choose experts and tap into their knowledge. They were hired for a reason.
5. TAKE TIME TO VIEW YOUR FLOOR PLAN FROM A FUNCTIONALITY PERSPECTIVE.
It’s easy to mistakenly feel that your home building experience is the honeymoon phase. It’s exciting but it’s important to be careful and thoughtful during this process. While you want your space to be beautiful, it should also be functional and practical for daily living.
Think about how you would like to live in your home. What is the best place to enter your home? You need to know where your keys are kept. Are you blessed with a coat closet?
What are your storage options for the ironing board or laundry baskets? Think about your daily activities and imagine where and how they will take place. Are you ready to plan for them?
Scale is important, not only for functionality. What size is each closet and room? It might appear proportional and large on paper, but it may feel quite different in real life.
These details will save you a lot of headaches and money in the long-term.
6. PLAN FOR STORAGE.
We get that storage isn’t very sexy. It’s much more enjoyable to design a larger living space and a more spacious kitchen. What’s not sexy about a larger living room and a more spacious kitchen? You don’t have anywhere to store winter clothes, linens, or cleaning supplies.
When you review your floor plans, consider converting any areas into storage. A good architect can maximize your square footage to make it more practical for everyday living.
7. DESIGN FOR YOUR FUTURE.
Do not be too shortsighted. You can have what you want right now and what you will need later. Consider what you might need in the future if you are building a home that you will want to live in. Your family grows, so do your needs.
8. BEFORE YOU START, MAKE SELECTIONS.
It’s not about making sure your home builds go according to plan. It’s about being ready for a thousand decisions. It can be difficult to predict what these decisions will be and, equally important, how they will be made.
You will need to know everything about the project, from exterior material selections to tile transitions.
Ask your designer or builder for a list with the selections that they will require throughout the project and the times they’ll be required.
It can be overwhelming to make so many decisions during the build process. Knowing how these decisions affect your timeline is very helpful.
One example is the plumbing decision. Although your kitchen faucet may seem like an easy decision that you can make later on, the plumber will have to rough in the internal valves after framing.
These selections must be made, ordered and received before insulation and drywall can be installed.
We recommend that you make all decisions at the beginning for peace of mind. This will allow you to budget more effectively and ensure that you are doing your part in completing the project on schedule.
9. DELIGHT IN UNFORESEEN MOMENTS.
Unexpected decisions make a home more personal and less like a cookie cutter. Everyday details like stair rails and doorway arches or windows offer opportunities for subtle and unexpected changes.
10. INVEST IN WHAT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.
If your budget is important, you should invest now in items that can’t be changed later, such as heated flooring, prewiring, soundproofing, and good insulation. These items may not be where you feel comfortable spending your money, but they can be much more expensive to add or modify later.
It’s easy to see it as this: You can update your lights but you don’t want the hassle of taking down a wall to add soundproofing.
11. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO QUESTION FOR ADDITIONAL ESTIMATES AND OPTIONS.
Many builders have sub-contractors that they prefer to use for every project. This is often a smart thing. They are able to identify the most qualified subcontractors and help you make the right choices. In some cases, the same subcontractors can be used on every project. Their profit margins will be higher because they don’t need to spend as much time finding the best provider or cost-effective solution.
Your builder has been hired (hopefully! Because you trust them, and have vetted their work. You can trust them if their estimates match their bid. It will improve your working relationship.
Do not hesitate to ask for more estimates if the bids are too high or you are disappointed with some of your work. Although it might not be what the builder is looking for, that doesn’t mean they should.
12. UNDERSTAND IT WILL (LIKELY), COST MORE THAN WHAT YOU EXPECT.
It will cost you more than what you expected. This is the most important rule in custom home building. Your builder may not be trying to cheat you or take advantage. But it is possible to go over budget.
It’s so common and seemingly unpredicable. There are usually three reasons to eat more than you can afford.
First, unexpected site problems. You won’t know what you don’t see until you try. Foundation issues are one example.
There might be additional work required to excavate. Although no one wants to spend more on ground work, it is not something that can be avoided. It is best to accept the extra expense and find a way to make up the difference elsewhere.
Second: Personal selections have a huge impact on everything. Many builders base their initial estimates on the builder-grade selections.
These choices are not always the best quality or most pleasing to the eye, so it’s common to choose to upgrade.
You might want a wider plank, for example. This could mean that you spend 10% more on your flooring budget. This is a manageable and minor selection. But decisions add up. A thousand decisions can lead to an overage.
Review the builder’s initial bid and adjust if necessary. It might not be possible to review each line item in detail, but it is important to pay attention to major aesthetic items such as roofing, flooring and countertops, cabinets, and exterior materials like brick.
Knowing what your builder based their estimate will allow you to determine if the project was priced realistically.
Third: Modify orders. You’ll find modifications that you like as you go through the building process. It feels too small in a closet. You would like to increase the windows. You would like to install sconces in your hallway.
Although changes are common, each adjustment can have a significant impact on the project’s scope and timeline. Understanding how the deviation will impact these key items is important before you accept it.
This will ensure that you don’t get surprised when you receive a bill for additional framing.
13. BE CONSCIOUS THAT IT WILL (LIKELY), TAKE LONGER THAN WHAT YOU EXPECT.
You can’t build on a razor’s edge. Setbacks can happen to even the most meticulously planned plans. There are many moving parts that could delay completion, including permits, contractor availability and inspections.
While it is possible to increase efficiency in most aspects of life by reducing the number “cooks” in the kitchen, this is not feasible in custom builds where many people perform the necessary functions.
What should you do?
You should make sure you meet regularly with your builder to discuss progress, deadlines and any other issues. You will both be able to keep up with the project’s progress by having regular meetings.
Next, add padding. Consider that the build may take 20% more time than expected. Perfect if your project is completed by the deadline. You can breathe deep and realize that delays may occur, which is almost certain.
14. CONSIDER POST-BUILD EXPENSES.
Last, but not least: take into account post-build costs. Budget does not include the build. After you’ve built your home, it’s time to fill it.
Window treatments, which are essential for privacy, warmth and aesthetics, can be quite expensive, especially if you go custom.
As you work out your project budget, consider what you will spend on other large-ticket items that will “finish off” your space. This will allow you to feel more comfortable with your true budget. You don’t want the fine print to overlook furniture, art, or window treatments.