Homebuilding 101

10 Steps To Building a New Home
Building a new home can be one of life’s most exciting and complicated adventures. Planning, research, and awareness of common mistakes will all help to minimize stress and difficulty. A few more things you might consider to aid in making your home building experience a pleasant one.
1. Start with a Plan
Don’t jump into it blindly. Review your current home situation, create some goals to accomplish, and make a list of important features you want your home to have. Organizing your thoughts will better prepare you for decision making.
2. Understand the Financial Portion
You can expect three basic areas to make up the bulk of your new home investment; the cost of the land, the cost of the home, and the cost of site improvements such as clearing the land and building your home’s foundation. Don’t forget to include the costs that come into play after your home is built, such as sod and landscaping, window treatments, appliances, and additions like patios or decks. If they’re not included into the price of the home, you’ll want to make sure you have enough left in the budget to cover them.
3. Get Pre-Approved
Unless you’re planning to pay with cash, you’ll want to get pre-approved with a lender early on so you’ll know exactly how much you can afford to spend. When it comes to financing, it pays to do your research and compare all of the financing options that are available. Some of the best loan programs will finance your land purchase and construction costs, and then convert into your mortgage loan once construction has been completed.
4. Decide Which Style of House is Right for You
Now that you’ve identified your needs, and have an idea of what to expect on the financial end, it’s important to know which home style will work best for you. There are literally thousands of house plans available, and the many choices can be overwhelming. Before starting to look at floor plans, it’s often helpful to reduce your options by deciding on the type of home you like best: Ranch, Cape Cod, or Two-Story.  Traditional, contemporary, or somewhere in between. Narrow down your preferences upfront to simplify the daunting process of choosing a home plan.
5. Think about Location
You don’t necessarily need to own your lot before you start looking at house plans or meeting with home builders, but it does help to have an idea of where you’d like to build. Do you prefer a country setting with acreage, or a traditional neighborhood that’s close to shopping and major highways? What locale is most appealing to you? What do you like about your current location? What would you like to change? The answers to these questions will have significant influence on where you decide to build.
6. Select the Right Lot
Once you’ve selected an area where you’d like to live, it’s time to find the perfect lot. An available lot doesn’t necessarily mean it is suitable for your building needs. Don’t rush to purchase the first piece of land you find. Take time to ask the right questions. Such as, how large of a lot will you need for the home style you prefer? Should the lot be narrow or wide? What about the direction the lot faces? Will you have morning or afternoon sun? Do you want a special view? Most importantly, do a reality check. Is the land worth the price you are willing to pay? If it’s not, keep looking.
7. Find Your Perfect Home Design
Once you’ve determined your wants and needs, prepared a budget, and settled on a style, you’re ready for the best part – selecting a house plan. Although many builders will have a selection of completed homes (occupied or available for purchase), looking at a set of house plans will provide details that will guide you in your decision.  House plans will provide you with a simple overview of the home, the number and arrangement of rooms, estimated size, and exterior elevations. While reviewing house plans, frequently refer to your wish list of desired features. Not only is it important that your new home meets your needs, it should also match your lifestyle.
8. Choose the Right Builder
Selecting the right builder is by far the most important step of the entire home building process. After all, you’re placing your confidence in someone who will be responsible for making sure your home is built exactly the way you want it, at the price you expect, in the time-frame you desire – all while coordinating with the local building department and an army of contractors responsible for bringing it all together. Choose a knowledgeable builder with a helpful attitude that has your best interest at heart. Do your research! Ask for a list of completed homes they have built. Get names and phone numbers of their past clients. A good builder will be happy to provide as many references as you want.
9. Choose the Right Contractors
Even if your builder says they handle everything from start to finish, it doesn’t hurt to do some research on the contractors that will be involved in the construction of your home. How long has your builder worked with these contractors? Can you see examples of work they have done before? Don’t be afraid to ask to speak with the contractors directly. If they ignore your request, that’s a pretty good indication of how responsive they’ll be if problems arise. Ask for a detailed listing of all the costs involved with the building of your home. As a general rule, the cost of site improvements should be no more than 20 percent of the home and land cost combined. If something seems out of line, get an independent estimate or ask your builder to explain the additional cost. Don’t get rushed into making a decision, no matter how much in demand their services may be. And never, ever pay a deposit on the first meeting.
10. Keep Your Sense of Humor!
Even the best-laid plans often go astray. Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate. Contractors get delayed. Mistakes happen. Unforeseen problems creep up. Patience and understanding are vital if you are to make it to completion in good spirits. If something can go wrong, it usually will. Keep things in perspective. And no matter what happens, always keep your sense of humor!