Tips for Building a Custom Home

For most, building a home to your exact specifications is equal parts exciting and daunting. You may think you know what to expect. But, unless you’ve ever built a custom home, trust me when I say there is a lot to take into consideration.

There’s A Lot To Decide And Little Resources To Help

For us, building our first custom home went fairly smoothly, but we learned a great deal through the process. The main advantage to building a custom home is that you’re able to tailor every single facet to your liking. With that benefit, however, comes the heavy burden of decision making. Also, there is much need for due diligence to avoid custom home pitfalls.

In the beginning, I was fraught with a plethora of uncertainty and questions on my customized home. Sadly, I found few answers that didn’t take a costly trial by fire process. So, I realized how important it is to share what I’ve learned so that others can make informed decisions without incurring undue expenses.

Tips To Home Customization Without The Trial By Fire

1. Always Consider Resale Value

Resale value is king in all property situations. Why? The future is uncertain, and overbuilding/ overspending can leave you upside down on your customized property. This creates a situation where real estate market value is uncertain. Making your customized home too grandiose in comparison to its comparables.

By the way, the same situation exists if you skimp in making your home inclusive and up to par with neighborhood standards.

Ideally, you may plan for your customized home to be your first and last biggest investment. Meaning you can do what you want without regard to resale market value. But the reality is that the future isn’t set for anyone.

You never know when work changes, family obligations, cost of living, downsizing or upsizing needs may leave you needing to sell your dream home fast.

So, always keep resale in your mind as you design and build any home.

Just because you love an area or home feature doesn’t mean that it automatically equates to a good ROI. If you overbuild and overspend or under-build and underspend, you’ll likely never recoup your investment.

Select location wisely for your customizations. You can change a lot about your property, but location isn’t one of those facets. Upgrades can always be made at a later time if wanted or needed.

ROI in home customization is all about balance, or rather neither being the cheapest nor most expensive property in an area.

2. Take Professional Help

A professional, experienced, and reputable architect is a must in custom home building. Why?

You’ve purchased a location. Now it’s time to ensure that the location accommodates your customized home plans. That’s not a simple process.

Your experienced architect ensures your home will fit the parameters and specs of the lot you’ve bought and your own desirables. They also ensure that the finished product is aligned with HOA requirements and other local regulations.

From building plans and permits to the types of subs and structural specifications that go into completing the work, your architectural plans set the standard for every element that goes into your finished customized home project. An architect is instrumental in all this flowing effectively and efficiently.

3. Budgeting

One of the biggest pain points of building your dream home is going over budget.

When it comes to a customized home, let’s be real – you’re likely to surpass your budget in unexpected expenses, delays, or potential overages.

This is why it’s imperative to set a realistic budget from the beginning. Begin with a median figure, that leaves room to accommodate out of pocket expenses for the inevitable extra costs. Plan for it to take longer than agreed upon. Plan for the unexpected to occur.

With homeownership, it’s always better to have too much in the reserves than not enough. After all, there’s no penalty for coming in under budget, but setbacks can occur if you aren’t properly prepared with your finances.

4. Obtain The Right Contractor

Your architect may be the mastermind behind your customized dream home, but your contractor is the person that actually implements that idea into action.

Keep in mind that you’ll be working with your contractor for anywhere from a few months to years to complete your project. So, it’s important that you can maintain a good working relationship with your contractor and that their price point is within your budget.

You’ll want a qualified, experienced contractor with a solid reputation in regard to your area, home style, and timeline for completion.

In a highly competitive market, it’s essential to take several bids before selecting a contractor.

Before signing on the dotted line, check out the portfolios of prospective contractors. Make sure to check references, and schedule face-to-face consultations. This is the best way to ensure their work, ethics, dependability, and personality aligns with your standards and expectations.

You’ll also want to inquire how the contractor hires out subcontractors since this can greatly influence cost and quality of workmanship.

5. Shop For The Right Lender

You’ll want a good lender and title company to ensure your customized home project is favorable and affordable. This lender will have a solid, trustworthy reputation, experience with construction loans, and be able to offer you the best rates and fees.

The absolute last obstacle you want is to navigate complicated and tedious loan disbursement as you supervise the building process.

Perform the same due diligence in selecting a title company. What’s the disbursement process, draw process, and associated fees? Will they work well with your lender?

6. What Finishes Are Worthwhile?

You should always consult with your contractor about the most important features and finishes for your customized home. This will go a long way in staying on a targeted budget. Plus, any experienced contractor is likely to know what finishes are a worthwhile investment for the area.

In closing, the above six steps may seem like a lot of work, but they all boil down to being properly prepared to build your dream home. Do your due diligence beforehand and the process will be a lot smoother and certainly more fun.


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