The thought of building your own home can be quite exciting. The chance to “have it your way” is pretty darn tempting. After all, it’s impossible to find an existing home that is 100% what you want within your budget…it just can’t be done. If you’re lucky, all you’ll need to do is paint but more often than not, a lot more work is needed than can be fixed with a can of paint and a brush.
However, home building isn’t for the faint of heart. Take it from someone who has built a house, it is a demanding and stressful process full of ups and downs. The challenges you’ll face are, in my humble opinion, more than worth the reward you stand to gain but it is all too easy to not even consider those challenges before entering into the home building process. To prepare you, here are 10 home building tips to take to heart.
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Home Building Tip 1: Know Your Budget
When building a home, it is all too common to experience unexpected expenses. It is important to hold some of your budget back to take care of those costs or you may find yourself in a bad situation. For example, we purchased a lot with three large trees on it and budgeted $1,500 to have them removed; unfortunately, when it was all said and done, we paid nearly $3,000 to have the trees taken out.
Some unexpected costs may be your own fault. For example, your contract with the builder may include laminate or solid surface kitchen countertops but you fall in love with granite countertops and thus incur an overage. To help avoid these kinds of expenses, come up with a realistic budget and put everything you can in to the contract you establish with the builder.
Home Building Tip 2: Be Patient
If you have a hard deadline of when you need your house to be done then building may not be the best way to go. The home building process is rife with delays; in fact, rarely is anything completed on time. Plan for delays and setbacks. Come up with contingency plans in case things get off track (ex. you need to vacate your apartment because your lease is up).
Home Building Tip 3: Check the Time
As mentioned above, home building is stressful and time consuming. If you have a demanding career or personal obligations such as school or caring for ailing parents, you simply may not have the time and attention necessary to take on this project. Home building isn’t something you can set to the side and only think about in your spare time. It involves nearly constant attention and will, without a doubt, consume a good chunk of your time.
Home Building Tip 4: Think on Your Feet
Home building requires you to make many decisions at a fairly quick pace. If you’re someone that is super picky or unable to make a decision, home building may not be for you. You will need to be able to think on your feet, prioritize tasks, and stick to your decision (and learn to be happy with it). Not being able to make or stick with a decision will cost you time and money.
The questions you have to answer will start before you even being building your house. For example, you’ll need to decide if you want a ranch or a two story home. What kind of style do you like? If you really don’t know what your “dream” home looks like then spend some time looking at magazines, books, and the Internet to try to get some of these questions answered ahead of time. Doing your homework upfront will save you time and money as changing your mind down the road can be quite difficult and expensive.
Home Building Tip 5: Find Mr. (or Mrs.) Right
Don’t underestimate the importance of finding the right contractor. During the home building process (including early parts like the design phase), the contractor is essentially your spouse, so don’t be afraid to be choosy. Do Internet research paying close attention to reviews and ratings (like from the Better Business Bureau). Ask for references and check out his past work. Talk to your potential contractor at length and ask plenty of questions. Don’t be afraid to say “no” and move on to the next guy (or girl). This is probably the most important of the home building tips because there are a lot of dishonest people out there. For example, the contractor that built my home is currently in jail for actions relating to his home building.
Home Building Tip 6: Do Your Homework and Get a Tutor
If you aren’t the most handy person in the world, it’s a good idea to do some homework before beginning the building process. The Internet can be a great resource (although be cautious about the sites you choose) as well as DIY inclined friends and family members. If you do know someone who can kind of “hand-hold” you through your home buying process, that’s even better. While it’s great to educate yourself and I encourage you to learn as much as possible, it’s just not feasible for you to know everything about building a home from the ground up. Having a person you trust that you can ask questions or that can provide home building tips is imperative.
Home Building Tip 7: Brace Yourself and Your Relationship
If you’ll be entering into the home building process with someone else (ex. spouse), make sure your relationship is in decent health to begin with. Home building is stressful, costly, and lengthy…none of which are known to bring out the best in people. Before finally deciding to build a home, talk to your spouse (or whomever you’re in a relationship with) about potential stressors or problems. Try to foresee obstacles and work out solutions ahead of time.
Home Building Tip 8: Join a Support Group
Okay, there might not be home building support groups (although maybe there should be) but it is a good idea to talk to others who have gone through the home building process before you jump in. Check with friends, family members, coworkers, and others to see if they’ve ever built a house. Find out what their experience was like. What were the most challenging aspects? How long was the process delayed? How bad were the overages? They may also be able to refer you to a great contractor.
Home Building Tip 9: Pinch Yourself, You May be Dreaming
Many people think that when they are building a house it has to be their dream house. Sure, you should try to get as close as you can but it doesn’t have to be spot on. For example, let’s say there’s a very expensive set of custom cabinets you want but your budget simply won’t bear the strain…that’s no reason not to build your house. Understand that your house can be updated, changed, and improved upon down the road. Make a list of must haves or things that can’t be changed later on and get those taken care of first. For example, the location of your house can’t be changed so getting space in your ideal neighborhood is very important.
Home Building Tip 10: Get Excited
If home building feels more like a chore than an adventure to you then you may be in for trouble. The idea of having something that you designed, that is uniquely yours should be appealing…not make you queasy. Sit down and give some serious thought to how the whole process makes you feel before getting started.
Use these 10 home building tips to help you successfully survive the home building process and come out of the whole thing with a fabulous new house. Do you have other home building tips? Did you build your own home? What was it like? Share your home building tips and experiences in the comments.