Building your own home is a wonderful opportunity to express your family’s lifestyle. In architecture, form should follow function as closely as possible. We are all different, with different interests and different styles. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Your family is not generic, so don’t simply paying a contractor to build a generic home.
It seems that whether starting a business, going on vacation or building a home, the universal solution of the 20th Century was to just spend a lot of money and somehow everything would turn out OK. This logic failed over and over in the latter part of our previous century. Future home owners must be savvy, educated and aware of their choices when building a home. It isn’t all about upgrades. It is about really thinking about what you want. It is about deciding for yourself, whether you wish to do any of the work of building your home, and then finding a builder who meets your individual needs.
Consider not only your immediate needs, but also your future needs. Consider not only how the world is now, but also how things might change in the future. Your vision of the future is a large part of planning your home. Therefore your first step will be to take an honest look at where your family is headed, and what you see in your personal future, as well as considering how economic and technological trends will progress.
The field of construction has changed drastically in the last 20 years. It is vital to be abreast of changes. Fiberglass is no longer the insulation of choice. Instead consider closed cell insulation and polyurethane foam panels. Learn about the benefits of insulated concrete, and the possibilities of modular homes, as well as traditional stick built homes. Read the other articles on this site and download our 98 page book for more information on the topic.
The first step is to start a home building journal. This is a sort of diary for your new home. All your family should have input in this journal, first by outlining what they want from the house, the spaces that will be most important to them, and how they feel about each room. Next everyone in the family will find or create pictures that illustrate their ideas. Children often have wonderful design ideas and they should be allowed input. You and your spouse will keep an open mind and sift through the ideas, insuring that everyone has their major needs met and at least one idea from each person is incorporated in the final design.
Once you have a general idea of what you want, search online for a home plan that fits what you really want. There are hundreds of thousands of home plans to choose from, so it is likely that you will find just the right plan. If your budget is large, you might consider hiring an architect but know that you will invest tens of thousands of dollars for this service, so it may be a good idea to look for plans first. Some homebuilders only build a few different models of homes, so if you are considering one of these builders, you should weigh your desire for creativity against the benefits of using this builder.
Carefully think through your options and shop creatively for just the right builder. Investigate local builders with a critical eye and be sure to look at examples of their previous work. It’s a good idea to attend open houses of older homes being re-sold. This is far more revealing than touring a model home. In this way you can see how well the home has held up. Look online and ask people in your community as well, to discover which builders seem to provoke complaints. Another idea is to poll local realtors, loan officers and other professionals in fields related to building which builders they recommend. Keep a record of your research in your home building journal.
Narrow your choices and consider those who build shells as well as completed homes, if you want the privilege of hanging sheet rock, painting walls and installing your own cabinetry. Consider small builders and local builders as well as larger home building companies. Visit at least three to six homebuilders to determine which builders might share your vision and goals for your new home.
Once the process has started, stay on top of your construction. Be sure to visit your new home frequently, while it is under construction, to insure that everything is happening according to your instructions. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Tell your home builder if you have concerns or objections to anything you see on the site. Almost all serious home building complaints could have been avoided, if home buyers had visited their construction sites during framing and voiced objections to what was obviously wrong. It is a good idea to photograph your home as it is built. Keep these photos in your home building journal, along with a copy of your selections and any other data you collect.
Always make informed decisions on each step of your home building projects. Be aware of the procedure for framing your home, insulating your home, plumbing your home and wiring your home. You may not be qualified to do all the work, but at least understand the principles involved. Building your own home, will require many workmen, but you as the owner are the one who should be making all the decisions.