Congratulations! You have made the decision to build a new house. Now you must decide where you want to live and purchase the perfect building lot. It has to be in a great neighborhood, close to where you work and where you want your children to attend school. Is the property served by public utilities or will you need to have a perc test performed and a well drilled? Is their an architectural review committee that will need to approve your house plans? What are the zoning restrictions, building set-backs, future development plans for the area? Will access be a problem during construction or bad weather? Have you seen the property during a heavy rain? Be sure that you take the time to consider all of the related aspects of the property you are considering.
Next, you will need to determine exactly what you need and want in your new home. Do you want a rancher, split level, or 2 story house? How many bedrooms and baths do you need? Will it have an island in the kitchen, a home office, or a large family room? Homebuilding books and magazines are a great source of design ideas – not only things that you will want to incorporate, but also those that you will definitely not want to include. You can also get ideas by perusing online house plan collections, specialized plan books, and homebuilding software, which often contains hundreds of sample floor plans and elevations.
You may also want to seriously consider meeting with one or more architects or designers at this stage. While their fees will typically represent about 8 to 15% of the cost of your home, a good architect may very well be able to help you save more money than they charge for their services. After all, designing and overseeing the construction of buildings is their job. Depending upon your personal abilities and characteristics, your available time, your wants and needs, and your current circumstances, designing and building the home that you really want may very well require the knowledge and experience of a professional.
After you finally settle on a suitable design, you will need to identify all of the materials and finishes that you want to go along with it. There are literally thousands of items that go into the construction of a new home and every single one of them must be specified by someone. Those that you specify clearly enough for others to understand may actually end up the way you want them. However, those that are not specifically mentioned or clearly defined will almost certainly wind up being something other than you thought they would be. So, in order to get the things that you want the way you really want them, be sure that you put everything – and I do mean EVERYTHING – in writing and in as much detail as necessary, to create clear, complete, and accurate construction plans and specifications. Besides their importance in building your new house, these documents will be needed in order to create an accurate budget. You cannot realistically expect to know how much your house will cost to build, until you know exactly what you are trying to construct.
Finally, you will need to interview contractors, search for a lender, obtain the required financing, sign contracts with the people that will help you build your dream, and apply for the permits, licenses, bonds, and zoning variances that are required in order to build in your new local jurisdiction.
During the pre-construction phase you will be making some of your most important decisions. Decisions that you may have to live with for the rest of your life, or at least the life of your mortgage.