What You Need To Know…
You have dreamt for years of building your own home. Where do you start? How long will the process take to complete? What is the first step?
Building can be a confusing process, so we are here to help answer some of those questions. Go to the kitchen and grab a beverage and a snack while we guide you through the amazing, fun, frustrating and exciting game of Construction.
Before you jump right in, here is something important to think about. How accessible are you and your builder? Be up front about your time during the day. Sometimes, questions need to be answered quickly.
Can your builder get in touch with you in a moment’s notice This isn’t usually difficult if you are building with a spouse or significant other, but if this isn’t a joint venture you will need to find an alternate contact person that you trust.
I know you are thinking that you wouldn’t want someone else making decisions for you, I understand.
The point I am trying to make is that Contractors can be terribly busy and usually must multitask constantly. Attempting to make contact with you repeatedly slows down production. Choose a contact person that can reach you on behalf of your builder.
If it is a joint venture, choose a point person. Decide who is contacted first. This will save precious time during your build. Now, let’s dive into the building process.
Let’s Talk Credit!
The first step in any financial venture is, well financing. Have you checked your credit score lately? Easy access to online information is at an all-time high.
I would highly recommend that you check your credit score and apply for pre-qualification at a financial institution to know what you can afford. If you don’t know where to start, your builder can usually make a recommendation.
We work with multiple institutions, which can also relieve some of the building pressures down the line. Construction works on draw payments at different times during a build.
Having a good relationship between your bank and builder is key.
How Do You Choose The Right Lot Or Acreage To Build Upon?
Most people ready to build, already know in which primary “area” they want to live based on school districts, family contacts, use of land, etc.… But, let’s look at that a little closer. If you have a preconceived notion of what type of house you want, then pick a site accordingly.
Do you want a single story or walkout basement? Do you have your mind made up about building on a crawl space or on a slab? What will be the primary use of your build.?
Zoning plays a huge part in choosing a site. Are you going to build a single-family dwelling or possibly a duplex for rental property? Are you planning on a farm to start an agricultural business?
Cities and counties have extremely strict regulations about where and what you can build according to zoning regulations. Will you have a Homeowners Association that specifies what type/size home you can build? Choose a Contractor that will help you sort through all the red tape. Some construction companies have professionals on staff to research zoning regulations.
Take advantage of this “perk”, it will prove to be greatly beneficial.
Let’s Choose A House Plan!
This can be an incredibly fun project. It can also get a little out of hand. Before you start, keep in mind the “Cost of Construction”.
So many clients start choosing their design before doing their homework on how much it costs to build a custom home, this can be very costly. You do not want to pay for plans just to find out that it’s out of your budget. Custom construction is a more expensive venture than buying a home in a cookie cutter neighborhood.
Why, you ask?
Well, tract-built neighborhoods are on “production” mode. Very much like an assembly line. Each house is basically the same making the build process much faster and less expensive. A custom home will be unique to YOU and your family.
The builder is cutting each board to your plan’s specifications. This takes more time and much more planning. We recommend that you talk with multiple Custom Builders to get an idea of what it costs per square foot to build the home you are thinking about.
Now, a builder can only give you an estimate based on what type of house you want and what type of finishes you want to include. An actual estimate will come later in the process, but this will give you information to get started.
It’s time to decide if you want a completely custom home design or stock plan. There are many sites where you can buy house plans or you can hire an architect to design you very own, unique to you plan.
Both choices have their own pros and cons. If you buy a stock plan, most of them are tried and true. Sometimes, design can have challenges and more cases than not, stock plans have been built repeatedly and the “kinks” in design have been worked out.
On the other hand, designing a “unique” to you home can be an extremely rewarding venture. Keep in mind that designing your own home can take weeks if not months to get your design, just as you want.
It is important to take time and think about each change you make to ensure its just how you want it. Neither choice is wrong, it is all a matter of what YOU want as a homeowner.
If you are choosing your own design, it is important to find a builder that can work closely with your architect so that any design obstacles can worked out smoothly and swiftly.
How Do You Choose A Builder?
One question to ask yourself is how do you choose your friends? The answer is “wisely” as our Mother’s always warned us. You will spend a lot of time with your builder during construction. Compatibility and Trust are two main aspects of choosing your building partner.
And this is how you must view your builder, as a partner in this venture. It is particularly important to not only take price into consideration, but how you communicate with your builder. Does he/she put you at ease when answering questions or raising concerns?
Does he/she give you options about your build? Rest assured, things can and will go wrong. Life is full of obstacles, but things can be fixed. The way you and your builder communicate and the trust you have formed will dictate the ease of rectifying these unknowns and will make your build run smoothly.
Always get multiple prices from different builders. There are also different ways of pricing new construction. One is a Guaranteed price. This is a firm price that a builder will give you to build your home. Some builders like to build on a “Cost+” plan.
This is the actual cost of your construction plus a fee for your builder to manage and oversee your build. Make sure that if you choose this path that the builder is completely “open book” about sharing actual invoices with you.
Both Cost+ and Guaranteed Price will offer “allowances” within the contract. These allowances will be for items such as flooring, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc… Examine these numbers closely. Before signing a contract, shop around to see that you can purchase these items within the budget.
These numbers can be negotiated ahead of time so there are fewer “surprise” expenses down the road. Do not forget to discuss what happens when you decide to make changes that affect cost along the way. There will always be change orders, but how they are handled, and the cost involved is especially important to know up front.
Time frame is another aspect of building. Everyone wants their new home built yesterday. But, keep in mind that quality takes time. Quality home construction, in most cases takes 9-12 months, on average.
If someone gives you a timeframe that seems much too short, then you must ask yourself if he/she is giving me an unrealistic time frame? If you choose your building partner based on time until completion, that would be another, possibly costly mistake.
If you are building, in most cases, that means you are renting while you build. If you go into this process with a budget for your rental and it takes twice the time to build, your budget has been wrecked from the beginning.
Things such as weather play a huge factor in construction and no one can control weather. Unfortunately, add unrealistic build time to inclement weather days and you will feel your construction is eternal! Go in this with your eyes open and it will make building much less stressful and easier on your budget!
It would be unrealistic to go into the building process thinking everything will run smoothly. Truth is, there will always be a bump in the road. Trust me, when I tell you that this will not only be an aggravation to the homeowner, it directly affects the builder as well.
Builders are trained to “roll with the punches”. It is his/her job to remain calm and move forward. What may seem like a small snag can, possibly affect consecutive time frames throughout the construction.
How well you and your builder handle these problems will dictate how fun and exciting building your dream home will be.
Stay On Target!
It is important that you stay on task with picking out your allowable items. Ask your builder for a timeline for you to make decisions. In some cases, the builder will have a dedicated assistant to remind you of your obligations throughout construction.
It is always helpful to have someone that makes it their job to keep you on track! Things can always happen, but no one wants to get a call saying they need an important decision made in a day. It’s always a good idea to start a catalog system to keep track of your choices along the way. Start making selections early in the process.
Decide at the beginning of your construction if you plan on using a decorator or designer to help you with decisions. This can be an added expense but, may be well worth the price! Some builders have decorators and designers that work in conjunction with them. These professionals are not new to the trials and tribulations of construction and can, not only, help you with design options from designing a floor plan to window treatments, but help you remain calm when unknowns arise. Talk with your builder about this possibility up front.
Ready, Set, GO!
I hope this blog has answered some questions that you have been wondering about, or maybe those you have not even considered as possibility. The biggest piece of advice that I can give you is… by all means, have fun with your project! If you plan on this being your forever home or rental property, go into it with your eyes wide open. The more you understand construction, the more enjoyable this will be. If you still have questions that we can help you with, Cox Builders Group is only a phone call away and we are happy to assist!
Sales and Marketing Director
Cox Builders Group