Building your own home can be fun, exciting, definitely anxiety-producing, but an incredibly rewarding experience. You decide on what you want in a living space, create floorplans suited to your needs and turn it into reality.
For a first-time home builder, building a home can be complicated. Here are eight tips for new home builders to keep in mind when starting out:
1. Plan as much as possible.
Your home is a big investment. You want your home to be the best it can possibly be. Existing building plans might save you some money in architectural fees, but make sure it’s the house you want, not the house you settle for. Original plans will be more expensive, but more tailored to you.
One of the perks of building your own house is you call the design shots, so make the calls you want by planning, and planning, and planning. Read up on home design issues, both online and in print. A great idea is to create your own first-time home building guide and make notes as you go along.
2. Hire quality professionals.
The home construction industry is filled with jobs that require education and licensing. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. True professionals won’t mind and even expect it. Make sure the people you hire are licensed to do their jobs in your area, have the right training, offer the proper insurances and warranties and have experience.
Ask for references and, whenever possible, stop by to see their work by visiting homes in person. The definition of quality varies from person to person, so make sure you and your builders have similar understandings.
3. Pick your materials thoughtfully.
From the framework to the finishes, you will need to decide on everything. Finding the perfect match between your needs, your wants and your budget can be challenging—but it can be done. Installing inexpensive flooring may mean replacing it someday, but if you want those higher-efficiency windows now, it might be a good trade-off knowing you’ll have more cash later to upgrade the floors.
Ask your builder for input on things to consider for the short and long term. You are hiring professionals to work for you—so pick their brains!
4. Explore energy-efficient solutions.
Houses function like machines. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), insulation, windows and doors, air quality and noise all play a role in comfort and cost. Reviewing your choices for quality and energy-efficiency can save money on routine monthly expenses. Check for warranties, the life-cycle of appliances and utilities, and make comparisons between efficiency ratings to get the most bang for your buck. Don’t forget to review active and passive solar options.
5. Think about how you will use your home.
Consider how you will live in it. Do you want the laundry room near the bedroom, kitchen or basement? How far is the kitchen from the entrance? Will a noisy teenager be living next to your bedroom or down the hall? Make notes about what you like and don’t like about your daily routines, and figure out how the home layout will impact your family life.
6. Site your home to your advantage.
You can choose where on your property your house will be. Consider which rooms you might want to have morning or afternoon light. If you want to be able to watch children in the yard, decide which room you will spend the most time in and make sure windows face the right direction.
Rather than site the house parallel to the street, perhaps set it back from traffic noise, or find the best location to minimize slopes and steps to the entrance.
7. Remember all types of storage are important.
With building your own home, you have the chance to meet all your storage needs. Bedrooms should have adequate closet space, linens need a convenient location, and outdoor wear should have a place near the entrances. Working with a kitchen designer can produce wonders for efficient cabinetry.
Stretch your creativity with clever drawers or cupboards under stairs or window seats or slide out shelves to make deep spaces accessible. Don’t forget your basement or garage can also be designed with free-standing shelves for off-season clothing storage or dedicated sports-equipment space.
8. Remember—it’s your new home.
Make decisions based on your wants and needs. Allowing a contractor to have too much say can lead to disappointment. Listen to advice from friends, family and professionals, but don’t be afraid to reject it. Avoid worrying what you are doing might compete with someone. Make your new home work for you.
It’s your budget, your ideas and your home. Make it yours!
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By Malka Abrahams