The process for building a custom home begins with an idea. Once you have sketched out your idea, and have a sufficient way to explain it to a home builder, an architect or home designer puts the design on paper. Then the home builder creates the home. These are the three steps to any work of art: concept, planning, and finally execution.
Process for Building a Custom Home: Concept
Take time to really decide what you want from a home. Ask yourself a few questions. How many years will you live in the home? Will you raise children in the home? What is your lifestyle, how will it change over the years, and how can you build a home to facilitate that way of life through these changes?
Start a journal of home building ideas. Include words, diagrams and pictures. Use the journal to visualize your new home, and imagine living in your layouts and designs. Use home design software or even a Sims game to create and test your designs.
Explore all the possibilities, and include a lot of ideas before narrowing your choices. Consider alternative green building materials. Study traditional construction as well, and learn all you can about building materials. Download our 98 page booklet on home design, to help you research home building and design. Decide which materials best suit your needs, based on energy efficiency, durability and appearance as well as price.
Unless you are planning to build a luxury home, and have a large budget, you may want to see your home builder before contacting an architect. Many homebuilders have resources which may save you money on the services of an architect. However if you do not have any budget constraints and do plan to build a luxury home, you should contact an architect first. Architects fees can be very expensive, but are well worth it if you plan for your home to be a unique structure of architectural value. For luxury homes, a great architect is a valuable asset.
In addition make sure that the home builder is aware of your preferences on various types and quality of materials. You should be more concerned about the quality of structural materials, than with floor coverings and countertops. Be certain that you are on the same page with your builder about 2-by-6 wall studs and three-quarter inch plywood for example. There should be a signed paper with all of these types of specifications, and you should know which materials are preferable. You should specify each type of material, based on your research and on conversations with your home builder.
Your home builder or contractor will be responsible for overseeing the construction of your home, but this should not prevent you from checking on your home frequently. Make sure that the types of building materials specified are being used in ways that are up to building codes, and your standards.
Be aware that the early steps of building, including site preparation, foundation, framing, roofing and insulation are processes you should observe carefully. Visit your building site frequently during these stages to insure quality.
It is important to research every aspect of building and selecting materials for your home. Make sure that you understand the materials used, and agree that they are best for each application. Supervise to make sure these materials are used adequately to provide a strong structure. There are many resources on this site to help you further understand the process of building a custom home.