Building Your Own Home—Where to Start
Custom building your own home can be a good way to get the house you’re dreaming of in just the location you want. A newly built home generally requires far less maintenance and fewer repairs than an older structure, so for the first few years, you’ll save on those costs. It’s a huge project, and although it can be very rewarding, it involves many different stages and different types of workers, so it’s good to learn about it before you jump in.
Professionals you will need
You’ll need a reliable, experienced builder, sometimes also referred to as a contractor. This person can help you find qualified people to do the design, landscaping, and craft work, such as carpentry or tiling. A good contractor will also have connections with reliable electricians, plumbing experts, and painters. The contractor can also help guide you in establishing your wish list by telling you which features will work for the lot you’ll be building on and which ones will not. The contractor may even be willing to advise on land selection. This individual is the most important of all those who will be assisting in the project, so ask friends for referrals, and you might also look at online reviews from other customers. When you’re ready to pick a builder, the NAHB (National Association of Homebuilders) has an online directory of certified builders.
Establishing a budget
Creating a budget should be the first thing you do, before shopping for land, before hiring an architect, and before any of the rest of it. Decide how many bedrooms, baths, and square feet you want. If there are other must-haves on your list, such as a big front porch, a south-facing kitchen, a home office, or a finished basement, add those to the list also. Consider the average cost per square foot as well as materials costs, which can fluctuate. Be sure to factor in the per-acre cost of the land in your area if you plan to purchase a plot. If you’ve settled on a contractor, be sure that they see the land you want and agree that it’s suitable for building the type of structure you want. Your contractor may also be able to offer some guidance on which features will be costly and which are more within the scope of your finances.
How your contractor pulls it together
Your contractor will likely be using some type of “takeoff” software for creating a bid or estimate, planning, and building your home. This type of software allows the contractor to add the costs of materials as the work progresses, as well as labor costs, and some types even accept online payments. Although you personally won’t need to use the software, you may receive quotes, estimates, and ongoing reports from it. And if the house plan needs to be changed after construction begins, you can see the different choices reflected in materials and labor on printouts you’ll get. Click for more information on this type of product.
Where will you stay?
You may need to find temporary lodging while your house is being built, which can take from 7-30 months, depending on the size of the home. If you decide to rent a place, you can save time by looking at online listings for rentals before you show up in person to inspect them. Many websites offer virtual tours, so you can actually see the interior and exterior of the house before visiting in person. You can also narrow your options online by specifying the number of bedrooms and baths you need, as well as acceptable locations. You might decide to put some of your furniture and belongings in storage while the new home is under construction.
While building your own home is sure to be an adventure with surprises, both good and bad, it might be the best path to getting a home you truly love. Custom building not only allows you to specify what you want but to leave out the things you don’t care about, such as skylights, basketball courts, or large bonus rooms. While you’re tucked away in a rental, the professionals will be busy doing their best to create the home of your dreams.
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