The phone rings. Emails show up in our mailboxes. Deadlines, material orders, meetings with subcontractors and buyers – this is business as usual. Homebuilding is more than just building a house. It’s about building relationships, too!
As an experienced builder, it is easy to take certain aspects of the business for granted. Recently, we have had an influx of calls that goes something like this:

“We have decided to build a new home. Now what do we do? How does it work?”

The average home buyer has a general idea of the construction processes, like pouring concrete or installing plumbing fixtures, but sometimes the most daunting task is how to take the first steps in building your dream home.

The following five steps will help you understand what it takes to build your dream home and have a successful relationship with your builder.

Step 1: Identifying Goals and Budget
Outlining the features of your dream home that you MUST have is your first priority in setting goals for your new home. Everyone lives in a home differently. Number of bedrooms, baths and entertaining space are typically some of the features discussed at this stage.
Another key is knowing how much home you can afford. Income levels and general finances vary from person to person. Here are a few action items you may need to consider in this stage:

  • Meet with a banker or lender to prequalify for a loan.
  • If you have a home to sell, find a reputable real estate agent to help you sell it.
  • Have an independent appraisal done on your existing property. Knowing the value of your home in comparison to the marketplace will be useful as you finalize decisions.

Step 2: Choosing Your Location
Most potential buyers have a good idea of the general area that they would like to build their home. Narrowing down subdivisions or lots based on budget and features should happen at this time. Some home buyers prefer to purchase a lot on their own and others find it easier to work within a builder’s lot inventory. Certain subdivisions will have a select group of builders working within it from which you will have to choose. If you need help with your location, talking with a reputable builder and/or real estate agent will help you make decisions about your perfect location.

Step 3: Selecting Your Builder
Choosing the right builder for you is critical to your success. Unfortunately, the horror stories you hear about the building process are told by those who get this step wrong. Here are a few things to look for when choosing your builder:

  • Are you comfortable with the builder? You should have an easy rapport and feel good about interacting with this person/people.
  • Does the builder have a good reputation? Check around with your friends, research online and ask people in the industry like real estate agents, lenders, etc.
  • Does the builder consistently use a core group of craftsmen? Builders who can’t keep good labor working for them usually make the building process difficult. In addition, the quality of their homes can vary depending on their workers if they don’t maintain the same high quality craftsmen.
  • Is the builder a good communicator? Your building process will be a five to 12-month or more journey. Having a builder who communicates well will make that time much more enjoyable and fruitful. You need a builder who will listen to your needs, answer your questions and walk you through the process of building your dream home. Building is multi-step process, like putting together a huge puzzle. You need to be able to comfortably talk through your dream with your builder and tweak it along the way. Above all, know what you are getting into in terms of value, not just price.

Step 4- Planning and Design

At this point, more focus is directed towards what the home will ultimately become, which should be a reflection of you and your family. You have a couple of options in this phase:

  • As the home buyer, you have the option of selecting stock prints from an architect or builder. And, sometimes, as the buyer you can customize these plans to your liking. Customization just depends on your builder.
  • You can choose to use a more custom, hands-on builder that works with the buyer to design a dream home from scratch. This will give you a limitless array of options and possibilities for building your dream home. Often, a custom designed blueprint is more expensive than a stock print, but not usually prohibitively so. Most home buyers enjoy knowing their dream home is one of a kind!

Step 5- Building your Dream

Now for the final step in the process: building your dream home! This is probably the most exciting time for the new home buyer. All the previous steps have been leading up to this point. If they were done correctly, building your home will be a highly satisfying and rewarding experience.

Throughout this five to 12-month process, the buyer will see big changes on a daily basis. Like anything, there may be a few bumps in the road (inclement weather delays, product backorders, etc.) but with the right builder, everything should run efficiently. Before you realize it, your dream home will be completed and you and your family will enjoy it for many years to come.