What do you do when you and your family take a look around and discover no house on the market fits exactly what you’re looking for? You decide to build your own new home. That said, if you’re like most people, you’ve never had a house built for you before, so there are some things to consider…
The Home’s Purpose
First off, is this house going to be your “forever” home or is it a stepping stone to something else a couple years later? Typically, people who build their own home intend to stay there ‘til they die. Circumstances change, of course, but for the most part it’s a couple’s intention to make their dream house somewhere they plan to live for a very long time.
Do you plan on having kids? If so, you’ll need additional bedrooms and a place for them to play with their toys, so plan accordingly. If you’re of a certain age and getting ready to retire, you might want to think about designing a home with aging in mind— wider hallways, less steps, grab bars in the bathroom, etc.
Next, consider your overall use of space. If you have lots of clothes you’ll obviously want to have more closets than the average person, for example. Do you like natural light? Add skylights and don’t be afraid to put windows in every room. Make one room in the new house a multi-purpose room– for a couple years it can be used as an exercise room and later on turned into a sewing room, or used for whatever interest/hobby you or your family is pursuing at the moment. As for laundry, if you can place your washer and dryer relatively close to the bedrooms, that’s ideal. Speaking of bedrooms, logistically you’d want them placed in areas of the home far from noise and traffic– so, away from the garage, kitchen, and/or the street side of the home. Regarding the kitchen, think smartly– you’ll be carrying in groceries, right? Thereforre, you want to make it a quick trip– the kitchen should be close to where you’d come into the house from your car– near the garage or a back/side door, for example. If you decide to have an attached garage, perhaps arrange for a “mudroom” to be built in between it and the kitchen– this will be a place to store stuff like backpacks, sporting equipment, shoes, etc. When you’re working with a builder, they can often guide your plans for the placement of rooms and the overall use of space to maximize benefits.
Finding the Right Builder
Though it’s always a good idea to listen to advice about your new house, just because a professional says something doesn’t make it The Gospel. If, for example, they insist on giving you a fireplace but you do not want nor need one, tell them “No.” Good builders will respect a person’s wishes rather than try to bully or bother them into building stuff they do not truly want or need. Take pools, for example– some people love them, but most end up realizing they’re a lot of work to maintain… if you’re the type of person who knows you’ll hardly use a pool and you do not want the burden of taking care of one, just because a builder suggests the house needs one for “good resale value” doesn’t mean you have to take him or her up on it. This is your house for your needs and you have every right to determine what’s in, on or near your new castle!
When working with contractors, it’s a smart idea to have a written agreement detailing specifics before a shovel goes in the ground. Contracts should include specifics such as deliverable dates and costs. Have your contract(s) reviewed by a lawyer, too, “just in case.” Having your own house built is a big deal– one of the biggest projects you’ll take on during your lifetime– so it only makes sense to have wise legal counsel looking over details of any agreements you sign. Rather than just rely on a handshake, savvy future homeowners will want to have everything “in writing” such that they’ll know exactly what happens should something go wrong. You can’t be too careful these days.
Consider a Home Inspection
Once the house is built, it behooves you to pay for a professional home inspection. Now you’re probably thinking, “Why should I spend more money for something like that?” Well, just like you’d have a proofreader check an article before it was published, you should have a home inspector look over the work that was done on your new house. Sometimes they’ll find mistakes that need correction– better to discover them when they’re new and small, right? Inspectors look at things you, a lay person, might not look for– missing insulation, electrical not to code, vents not properly sealed, etc. Builders aren’t always perfect, but if you have a home inspection done and find some faults, they’re usually happy to fix them for you before you officially move in.
By the way, just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, homes aren’t either, and sometimes there will be delays. Everything from workers calling in sick to hurricanes coming through town can cause construction delays. Therefore, be somewhat “loose” with estimations. Sure, you can ask that everything is finished by a certain date, but realize that it might not realistically happen as you want it to; add “extra time” to your estimations to give builders “wiggle room” to get work done. Ideally, you’ll want to give them more time than they need so they can surprise you with being done on-time or sooner. Oh, and one note: if you end up changing things on builders, expect delays. “I’ve decided I want to go with marble floors in the hallways instead of wood,” can mean waiting another week or more just to get that “change” done for you.
Making it Work Financially
Financially, when deciding to build your own home keep your mortgage within reason. A lot of people make the mistake of building something too big and too expensive– more than they can handle. Then the house ends up in foreclosure, and they’re left disappointed to say the least. Though you might have grandiose dreams, it’s best to think realistically– building a home you can currently afford is the best decision. You’ll also need to keep in mind maintenance costs– once you build the house, it’ll cost a certain amount to maintain every year, so factor those costs in when considering your overall plan to pay for the new build.
Reynolds Home Builders can help you design (and then build) your dream house in Florida. Please call 850-508-5076 to arrange an in-person meeting to discuss your ideas and plans.