Beginning Custom Home Construction- What Do I Need To Know?

There are few events in your life that will be more difficult, more expensive, and more rewarding than embarking on a custom home construction project. It is a challenging endeavor that requires meticulous planning and careful budgeting. From inception to completion, when done properly the entire project will not be quick and could possibly take years.

What are the vital prerequisites that you need to have under your belt before commencing your custom home project? Beginning at the decision and planning stage, you have to settle on what your desired outcome will look like and how it will function as a home. Does it have all the features you have always wanted, or will you have to compromise along the way to make sure you meet your budget? This is where an experienced home design firm or architect can make a difference.

Due Diligence is Critical for Custom Home Construction

Do your research and once you have selected who will be designing and documenting your house plans for the design phase, you should become partners. Ideally, you and your designer will work together as a team in order to achieve the result you have been planning on for so long. If you have not already purchased your land, your designer should be able to give you some expert guidance, as site conditions can strongly dictate a great deal about the type and orientation of the house you want to build. Of course, an entirely level, rectangular or square suburban building block gives you more choice in the type of house you can build, compared with a sloping block or difficult, sandy or rocky terrain. However, even on a level block of land, the question of positioning on the lot may still be an issue. For example, if you want to build a passive home, the building’s orientation is a primary consideration. Ensure that the lot you are interested in doesn’t have boundaries so tight that your choice of positioning is lost, and you are forced into a regimented orientation that may not suit.

 It is vital that you do your due diligence and consult the local authority’s planning and zoning overlays for any lot you are interested in purchasing. To ensure that a lot is ideal for your planned custom home project, check issues like recorded flood levels, zone restrictions, municipal easements, and any future rezoning slated for the area. For example, is the area being targeted for a new highway or airport? Is it about to be rezoned for high-rise buildings or new commercial and industrial? Is it a high wildfire risk area? This zoning will dictate compliance with some strenuous building codes for risk mitigation that may eat into your budget for other features that you wanted in your custom home. There can be many pitfalls for the unwary and the unprepared. Your designer or solicitor can help advise on searches you should perform with the help of your local authority.

Take your Designer on a Site Visit

If you have already purchased a building lot, bring your designer out for a site visit so they can understand what factors will have a bearing on the home’s design. You will also need a surveyor to record your block’s levels and boundaries so the designer can draw the Site Plan. The designer should be able to recommend some suitable surveyors, or you could research some yourself.

Work with your designer or architect over your house plans until you are happy with all the inclusions and finishes you envisaged. You may need to compromise sometimes over elements that are beyond your budget, but your designer should offer alternatives that are more economical but deliver a similar effect or aesthetic to what you had your heart set on.

Building Industry Trade Shows are a Place to Start

Go to home trade shows and speak to as many experts as possible. Learn about cladding choices and different insulation systems. Compare different finishes and specifications that you are interested in incorporating into your custom home. Trade shows are a wonderful place to discover the latest new finishes and better build systems. You can start selecting the inclusions you want by gathering brochures, swatches and catalogs to show to your designer and your builder.

Don't be afraid to leave your name with stallholders at home shows. They will want to contact you after the show is finished to further discuss what they can offer. Let them demonstrate their products or services. Quotes are free and you are under no obligation to buy from any particular supplier or trade unless it is exactly what you want. Advise them that you will discuss their specialty with your builder, and he may get back to them if you wish to proceed with their services.

Choose the Best Builder for your Custom Home Project

You will need to discuss your preferred specifications for finishes and inclusions with your designer, so he can incorporate your choices in the design. When you are happy with your working drawings, you need to choose a suitable builder with a good reputation for your style of custom home project. This is another important aspect of your due diligence. Don’t scrimp on checking and researching suitable builders to make sure you find the most professional and reliable contractor.

Again, your designer may be able to provide valuable guidance here. Do not be afraid to take your plans to several builders that fit your criteria, get their feedback and take on the project, and have each of them quote costs and timeframes. You will begin to get a good feel for which builder you can comfortably work with and who will deliver the best value for money in service and the finished product within your budget and timeframe.

Whichever building contractor you finally choose, you need to insist upfront on receiving regular and transparent communication throughout the construction process. It is important that you can develop a personal rapport with your project supervisor, who will work with you and your designer as part of your team during the construction phase of your custom home project.