So you want to build a house?
Want to start building but unsure of where to start?
Home building is an exciting idea; however, it can be challenging for those without experience. Many people simply don't know how to get started and have reached out asking me to discuss the general process. Although building can be complex, there are generally some initial steps to take when deciding to build.
Determine Your Budget
Calculating how much you can afford for a home is crucial. This should take place at the very beginning because all other building decisions are affected by the amount of money you have to spend. This covers what size of home, type of materials, location and quality of the builder. It may also be helpful to sit down with an experienced lender who deals frequently with new construction home loans. This is also the time to start cleaning up your credit if you will be financing the build. Because construction loans are considered higher risk with no home to use as collateral and thus harder to qualify for, you will need strong credit and a down payment of 20% to 25%.
Find a Location
You'll need to decide where you want to build. Would you prefer living in a subdivision or in a rural area? Most areas within city limits have tighter covenants and restrictions, and neighborhood rules may interfere with your intended use of the property and lifestyle. Always check to see if Home Owners Associations or CC&Rs are in place prior to making your decision. Usually building in a subdivision means you’ll have access to city water, sewer and electricity which uncomplicates matters. The absence of readily available amenities like water, electricity or sewer systems in rural areas could affect your decision and budget. Having to drill a well, install a septic system and/or bring electricity closer to your property may come with hefty price tags. If you find raw land, my first piece of advice is to pull a free well report for the area to see how accessible and deep other wells are around the property. Contacting the electric company should be priority as well to see how much it’ll be to bring electricity to the property line. We were very lucky to find our property with a well already on it and electricity to the property line. Lastly, don’t be afraid to work with a qualified real-estate agent (not all have experience or knowledge with buying and selling land) who can help you find the ideal plot of land (in or out of a subdivision). They also have tools at their fingertips to assist with the above mentioned steps.
Choose a Builder
If you are not in the position to self build like us, finding a reputable builder is crucial to making your dream a reality. I highly recommend interviewing several. Remember, you'll be dealing with this person or company for several months during the construction process. It's important to check references, review their portfolio, ask about any warranties offered, standard features included or charges for upgrades or changes once construction starts. Additionally, it may be a good idea to get a rough estimate of price per square foot so you can begin to select a house plan. At this point, you’ll know what you can afford since establishing your budget is the first thing you need to do.
Pick a House Plan
Your builder may have a selection of plans available for you to review with a price list and description of features or you may have the option of designing your own plan or giving the builder a pre designed floor plan that can be purchased online. Whichever route you take, it's important to remember that a house plan needs to be functional for your family. Key items to study should include the general layout, room dimensions, width of hallways, amount of storage space, etc. If you decide to go the custom route; working with an architect if your builder does not have one in house, to draw and sign off on your plan is imperative and often times required in the county you build.
There are of course many different scenarios not discussed in this blog post but I hope this gives you a general idea of the initial steps to building a home. For those of you following along with our build on Instagram, thank you! We hope you enjoy watching our progress. Our first framing package delivery is tomorrow so pretty soon, this will start looking like an actual house.