Building a home from scratch is a unique experience for most people. If we’re lucky, we might build a home once or twice in our lives. Because this is such an infrequent experience, it’s normal to seek advice about how to handle the process. After all, we don’t usually have many opportunities to learn from our previous home building experiences, especially if we’ve never done it before.
This article will explore six of the key factors that you should consider before building a home from scratch. While this isn’t a comprehensive list, these are the most pressing issues to address while you’re thinking about building your own home from scratch.
- Hire the right professionals.
The very first step toward building your own home is to hire the right people to help you complete your project. Talk to your family, co-workers, friends, and anyone else you know who has recently built a home, especially if they built a home in the same area where you will be building. They may have valuable insights about who to hire for various stages of the project.
It goes without saying that you should find a reputable contractor, but finding one that is best for your home construction project may take some significant research. At a minimum, your contractor should be licensed and insured, but you should also make sure they are specifically licensed by the state where you are building. Also, ask for references and examples of other homes they’ve built in the area.
Beyond checking credentials, licensing, and references, you will want to make sure you feel comfortable communicating with your contractor. Construction comes with inevitable problems, so you need to be able to voice your observations and concerns freely with your contractor. When you’re planning interviews with contractors, make sure to talk to several of them. When you ask questions, you can include inquiries into how they normally communicate with clients about issues. The interview is also a good indicator of how they will communicate during construction. If you don’t feel comfortable communicating with them during an interview, they may not be the right contractor for you — even if their credentials and references are good.
In addition to hiring the right contractor, it’s also important to hire the right lender and closing agent for your particular needs. Your builder may want you to use a particular lender or closing agent because they’ve worked with them before, or they’ve developed a relationship in which they send one another business. Just as you should choose the right contractor for your needs, you should also get bids from lenders and closing agents in order to find the right professionals at the best price for you.
- Choose your location wisely.
Before you make a decision about whether or not to build a home, you need to determine the location where you would like to build. Location is a very important factor in real estate, and the future worth of your home is tied to its location.
Many people spend a lot of time thinking about the city or town where they want to build a home, but it’s also important to consider the exact location in the city where you will be building. For example, is the area currently remote but experiencing booming growth, or is additional growth unlikely after you build? Unfortunately, some people build their dream home with the expectation that the area where they’ve built will remain the same for an extended time only to experience exploding growth and increased property taxes a few years after building.
Plan on visiting the location where you want to build at different times of the day and week so that you can see what the location is like during different times of the day. Sometimes a normally quiet street can turn into a noisy traffic jam during rush hour.
- Give special consideration to the land where you’ll be building.
The precise lot where you build is particularly important because it can affect your overall satisfaction with your home as well as your home’s value down the line. As an example, a lot that’s located on a cul-de-sac with a lawn that backs up onto a park, golf course, woods, or another green space will probably be worth more than land in the same neighborhood that is located next to a business or busy street.
It’s also advisable to find out if your lot is close to public amenities like parks, public transportation, schools, or religious institutions. These amenities may make your life more comfortable, but even if you don’t need any of these amenities, they may also make your land and home more valuable in the long-run.
Find out a little bit about the soil and plants that grow best on your lot, too. This will give you an idea of the landscaping and lawn maintenance you will need to perform for your new home.
- Always opt for more square footage instead of upgrades.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, you’re likely to be working with a limited budget that can only stretch so far. While it’s easy to make upgrades to your home after it’s built, it’s much harder to add square footage.
So, if you’re debating between adding floor space or installing granite countertops throughout your home, it’s probably best to choose the extra floor space. This will add value to your home that is hard to replicate once home construction has stopped, and it allows you to focus on optimizing the structure or the “bones” of your home before focusing on upgrades that can be completed more easily at a later time.
- Build to resell.
It’s tough to think about selling your home while you’re still planning construction — especially if you’re building your dream home — but considering the likely resale value of your custom home will help to save you from a host of future complications should you decide to move in the future.
Don’t upgrade your home so much that it’s in a price bracket that’s far above the prices of other homes in your neighborhood. This means it will be much harder to sell your home to the right buyer, and you might even end up selling your home for far, far less than what you spent building and upgrading it.
- Protect yourself.
Even though you’re building your own home rather than buying one from a previous owner, it’s still extremely important to take the same precautions you would take if you were purchasing your home from someone else.
First, you’ll want to hire a lawyer to help you with the contracts and any other unexpected legal issues that may arise while you’re constructing your home. It doesn’t hurt to have the lawyer review all of your contracts — including the complicated construction contracts from your builder or contractor.
Second, you will need to hire an independent home inspector to assess your newly-built home prior to closing. Even though your home is new, it can still have just as many problems as older homes. A good inspector can also help you find issues before the builder’s warranty has expired.
While building a home may seem hard to navigate, following the aforementioned tips will save you a lot of time, money, and frustration. Just remember to prepare as much as possible and expect the unexpected!
Kurt Darrell is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA. He spent 25 years in the construction industry, working roofing, plumbing, electrical, and certified steel fabrication before retiring. In his free time, he likes to work on home repair projects. On his free time, he contributes to Bright Horizon Web by doing guest posts.