Are you preparing for new home construction? While the process can be fun, exciting and even life-changing, there are probably a ton of questions and concerns rolling around your mind right now. Building a new home from scratch can be stressful, however with the right knowledge, anyone can have a good experience.
From understanding the terms of your contract to choosing the right materials to ensure work is complete on the final walkthrough and more, here are the things you need to know when building a house. Let’s get started!
First Thing’s First
The initial step to building a house is to make some realistic calculations on the costs of not just the construction, but the future payments as well.
Running these numbers is a crucial step to determine whether or not you can build the home of your dreams. Most house plans provide a cost-to-build tool for a nominal fee. This will give you an accurate forecast of building costs based on the location in which you’re building. These numbers can involve anything from lumber costs and contractor fees to mortgage payments and property taxes.
When you’ve calculated your budget, you can purchase your house plan and take a trip to the bank to get authorized for a loan. Remember that home construction lending is slightly different from getting a mortgage. To start break ground, you’ll need to get a construction line of credit that’s used to pay subcontractors and suppliers who conduct work and provide supplies. After the house is complete, you’ll also need to get a residential mortgage to pay off the construction line.
You’ll also have to decide the best approach for your own situation – should you buy land first and then design a house or design a house and then find land? Normally, you’ll choose the land first. This will help you avoid any risks of choosing a design that won’t fit into your recently purchased plot of land.
Three simple tips for those building their first home:
- When searching for the best neighborhood to settle down, consider all of the local services that you need or desire. Anything from entertainment and shopping to education and childcare should be evaluated, as well as the normal demographic of the neighborhood. Are there a lot of families around, or are there more single residents in the community? This can determine the amenities available and how well you will fit in with the neighbors.
- Conduct as much research as you can to find a high-quality builder that will work with your budget, timeline and proposed design. Choose a home builder who puts clients first, has open communication and provides strong references. Ask friends or relatives who have recently built a house for their advice and recommendation. There are plenty of things to consider when choosing the right construction team for your project, read our guide 5 Things to Know when Hiring a Custom Home Builder.
- When choosing a plot of land, ensure the size and price fit within your design and budget parameters. Also, check for height or setback restrictions and consider energy systems that can be implemented to save money in the long term. The regulations vary state-by-state in regards to which home designs and features can be built on a particular land plot. Plus, some builders may not want to build on certain lots for various reasons like zoning restrictions or sloping issues.
Hiring an Architect
An architect is a crucial part of the new home building process, and it’s not something you should take lightly. This person will drive the entire project and help ensure your budget stays on track. If you’re searching for the best architect for your upcoming project, ask these questions before making a decision:
1. How do you charge payments?
Architects will usually bill you for a percentage of the total project cost, which can range from 5 percent to 20 percent. Ask when and how payments will be due, which will be based on the complexity of the work and the services being offered.
2. Which contractors do you prefer to work with?
A good architect will be more than happy to recommend contractors in your area that they’ve developed strong relationships with. That’s a big benefit to you as a homeowner, since now you won’t have to spend more excess time trying to find another trustworthy partner. Even if you have found someone that you prefer, it’s never bad to have a few backups on hand in case something goes awry.
3. Do you provide 3D renderings?
Standard blueprints aren’t easy to read, and they’re even harder to envision as a real structure. Architects that provide 3D renderings can put you at ease, allowing you to see your true vision come to life before your eyes.
4. Who will design my house?
When you hire an architect firm, the person you meet with initially most likely won’t be the one designing your home. As long as that’s made clear upfront, it shouldn’t be a problem. Simply ask to meet the lead architect for your job before you hire the firm. Since you’ll be spending so much time interacting with this person, it’s important that your personalities mesh.
5. What are the biggest challenges of this job?
While the architect that you ultimately choose will have a great portfolio and solid references, that won’t shed light on how they will work with you. While there are countless architects out there who can provide you with a beautiful home, there is only a handful who will be truly compatible with you.
Drafting Construction Plans
After you hire an architect and home builder, they’ll draw up a construction plan and blueprint for your new home. This will guide every decision that’s made in the construction process. Everyone from the foreman to the plumber will refer to these plans as they conduct their work. When you receive your copy, spend time with your account manager asking any questions you have, from what symbols mean to sizing and dimensions. Dive into the layout and floor plan and consider what modifications you may like to see during construction. This can save you big on time and money should something change on the fly.
You can also ask the account manager about the most common selections or modifications that past homebuyers have made. If the account manager has been in the industry for a length of time, they most likely have assisted countless clients through the process and know about all the pitfalls and common problems. Chances are, they have even helped someone in a similar situation to yours, whether it’s a common floor plan or popular location. Let them recommend some things to consider before you finalize your options and start construction.
Be Conscious of Resale
Although you may be building the house of your dreams, it’s highly unlikely that it will be the last home you own. With that in mind, be conscious of your new home’s resale value when that time comes. It is possible to add too many luxury upgrades that you out-price your home for the area. To avoid unwanted risks to your bank account, make sure you’re installing features that are likely to appeal to potential buyers.
Consider Energy Efficiency
Do your research on energy systems so you can lower your bills and add value to your home. With the help of your home builder, you can do several things to ensure your new home is energy-efficient.
- Get more sunlight that provides added heat and light by installing south-facing windows
- Place bathrooms, laundry rooms and the garage on the south side with small windows to minimize heat loss of your home.
- Choose high-quality insulation and modern HVAC system to ensure you’re comfortable without wasting money.
- Install energy-efficient appliances, and water-saving faucets and toilets.
- Consider solar panels to provide electricity to your home.
Build a Punch List
One of the final phases of constructing a home is to develop a “punch list”. This list is a simple document created at the end of your project that records what tasks still need to be done, modified or repaired. You’ll work with your architect and home builder to create a punch list a few days before the final walk through. Remember to take notes and write down anything that seems askew. Your contractor should be open and honest about the work that wasn’t completed and be there for you until you’re completely satisfied.
Beyond the architect, another good resource to have on hand during the walkthrough is a real estate agent. Because they can offer an unbiased opinion of the work completed and provide insight into the market value, they can help identify potential flaws or opportunities.
Your punch list will have problems that fit into two separate categories, (1) reasonable flaws and (2) unreasonable flaws. The first category refers to those issues that won’t affect the overall quality of the newly constructed home. Unreasonable flaws in comparison are those that are absolutely essential to fix before it’s occupiable. With the final walk through, you can verify that all of the items on your punch list were corrected to your liking. As long as your project has reached a substantial turning point, closing should go through even though tasks still need to be checked off.
This is one of the most exciting parts of the process, as it’s when your home is almost ready to live in. During this phase, ensure your punch list money is in escrow. This will give you the chance to move into your new home while still giving incentive for the builder to correct the flaws. Take your time throughout the walkthrough – you may be excited, but you don’t want to overlook anything!
Contact Treasured Spaces for All Your Home Building Needs!
Now that you know these essential components for building a house, reach out to Treasured Spaces today to get started with your new construction project. We’re the premier provider of home contracting services for all types of residential and commercial clients. If you’re ready to get started with building the home of your dreams, get in touch with one of our dedicated account managers today!