A home building check list is the second thing you need after you decide to build a new home. However, like most of us, you probably have zero knowledge of what to add to this list. While building a new home is a big process, it can be handled easily if it is broken down into smaller parts.
Focusing on each step while keeping an eye on the big picture will make things run smoother. Generally we find that you can break down the home building experience into 4 basic steps. Each step: buying land, getting financing, picking a house plan, and finding a builder are all separate steps but are also interconnected.
Home Building Checklist Step #1 - Buy Land:
This step might seem very basic at first glance but your land, its location and topography will affect all the other steps. Some of the features of your land will put limits on the type or style of home you can build. Not to mention the financial component - land can be the single most expensive part of building a home. After all, you know what they say about land, they aren’t making any more of it.
Land purchased within a community will more than likely have building restrictions. This can affect things like the style of the home, the building height, its overall square footage and even the exterior color. Make sure you get, read and understand all the regulations that may impact building on your land. Usually the community organization will have all the information you need. It is also a good idea to check with the local governmental agency.
Depending on your budget, your home size and features may be limited by the cost of the land. A prime piece of land in a great location might be worth the sacrifice. After all, you can always add on or modify your home in the future, but the location can’t be changed.
Home Building Checklist Step #2 - House Plan:
Some people will say get your financing in order before picking a house plan. But how do you know what the cost of construction will be without knowing what you are going to build? Once you have your land you will know better what features of a house plan you will need. Things like foundation type, drainage, and lot preparation will effect the cost quite a bit.Once you know your general needs, dictated by your land, you have to choose which type of house plan you are going to buy. Are you going to buy a stock house plan or have a home custom designed? Each have their pros and cons.
Stock House Plans
Buying a stock house plan is the most cost effective. There are lots of plans to choose from. They have the benefit of experience. They have been built before so in a basic sense the kinks have been worked out. With so many to choose from you will most likely be able to find one that suits your needs. And most stock house plans can be modified to meet all your requirements.
Custom Designed House Plans
The main con to a stock plan is the limited ability to make your home uniquely yours. While modifications can go a long way they can not always get you to fall in love with the plan. If your budget allows, a custom home can be life changing. It is a chance to create something that will perfectly fit your location and your lifestyle. The main downside is the cost and time. While a stock house plan can be ready to build within a few days, a custom plan can take 6 months to a year to develop. And be prepared to spend as much for a custom home plan as you did for the land it will be built on.
Home Building Checklist Step #3 - Financing:
Construction financing is probably the most important part of your home building checklist. This subject could take up many blog posts to cover thoroughly. But roughly, lenders will require at least 20% down for a construction loan. And unlike a regular home loan the lender will not give you the whole amount up front.
Usually a construction loan is paid out as different milestones are completed. This may at first seem unreasonable but it is designed to keep things on budget. It also protects the lender. The last thing anyone in this process wants is a home 80% complete and the construction loan exhausted.
Most construction loans are short term loans. They must be refinanced after a year or so. After the home is complete the loan will need to be converted into a conventional home loan. Along with the financing, your insurance will need to be converted. Home owners insurance is different than insurance you get while the home is under construction.
Home Building Checklist Step #4 - The Builder:
I don’t say “find a builder” for this step. Because you will need to have a builder involved when you are picking a house plan. You will need his help with gathering information about the cost of the home when you go looking for financing. A builder can even help with finding or assessing land.
A local builder can be a vital source of information. They will know what areas are difficult to build in and what obstacles you will face. They may also have a resource for home plans. Many builders work with residential designers like us. That can be a huge benefit to you. If the builder has a relationship with the home designer that usually makes the construction go smoother.
Finding a builder you can develop a good relationship with will be key. During construction, a good builder will keep you in the loop and encourage your participation. They will help with unforeseen issues and suggest solutions that you may not be aware of. They may even let you do some work yourself. This can save you some money and make you feel more connected to your new home.
Follow the Check List
A home building checklist is not unlike a battle plan. You need to stay flexible, keep all the parts in mind, and don’t get too focused on one single step. While it may seem daunting, the process is more intricate than it is complicated. Do not be afraid to ask questions, of us or anyone involved. We, as most people do, like talking about what we do for a living. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions or need advice.