CUSTOM HOME EDUCATION 2018-05-03T13:37:19+00:00

Using Custom Home Builders On Your Land To Create Your Dream Home: Step – By – Step Guide

Building A Custom Home On Your Land

How to Use Custom Home Builders On Your Land?

Building a custom home on your land is a very different process than either buying an existing house or having a new house built in a neighborhood.

First, if a custom home builders are building on your land, you must be on top of things from the beginning. Second, since you own the land, you—not the builder—provide the financing. Those two differences mean that building on your land is a much more emotional process than simply buying a home or having a new house built in a neighborhood. Whether it’s a good or bad emotional process depends on how accurate your expectations are and how those expectations are met.

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Introduction: Everything you wanted to know about working with custom home builders on your land.

This guide is to give you the knowledge you need to achieve your dream of having a one-of-a-kind custom home on your own land. We want to empower you to confidently go out and get all the necessary pieces together to make this dream come to life.

Some people think it looks easy to navigate the building process without a custom home builders help. Yes, anyone can get a house plan, hire each subcontractor, make a few phone calls, schedule the work, and avoid paying a professional to build the house for you, right?

After helping hundreds of people through the custom home builders process, and learning lessons every week. The cost of those lessons can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can’t afford to make those mistakes on your own house. You risk going so far over budget you’ll either go broke or you’ll have to sell the brand new home you’ve built because you can’t afford it. At the very least, you’ll have invested much more than if you had hired a competent builder, plus you’ll have a lot of frustration and regret as well.

To create a one-of-a-kind, custom home builders house built on your land. There are four basic things you’ll need:

  1. A competent, professional home builder;

  2. Money (either cash or a construction loan);

  3. Land that is appropriate for building a house;

  4. A house plan that fits your needs, wants, and budge

FOUR THINGS YOULL NEED - ELEMENTS

We will cover each item in detail in the paragraphs below. There’s a lot to this, but don’t get discouraged. We’ll walk you through each step, introduce you to some unfamiliar concepts, and make sure you know enough to make your dream happen much sooner than you think without risking your financial future.

This guide follows the most common path that most people who are building a custom home take as they navigate the process. But, of course, everyone’s path is a little different. Click on the step you want to explore first, then come back and click on the next one that makes sense to you.

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Where To Start Working With Custom Home Builders On Your Land?

Some of the best things in life, especially complicated projects, getting started is the hardest part. That’s definitely true for building a home on your land. There are lots of variables, moving parts, and people that need to be involved. And there’s no real structure in place to help you get it done.

“No Structure” what is meant by this. Other big purchases like, When you buy a new car, for example, you can compare different makes and models and test drive each car to figure out whether or not you like it. Once you pick a car, you can get the financing done right there at the dealership. A car dealer can walk you through the whole process if you want to go that route. It’s not always a pleasant process, but it’s a pretty clear process to follow at least.

The process in which you are buying an existing house can be similar. There’s an entire industry built around making loans for people to buy houses, and there’s even at program that backs it up (Freddie and Fannie). There’s a state-licensed industry of real estate agents ready to help you find the house you want with an entire set of documents (contracts, inspection forms, disclosures, etc.) that walk you through the real estate transaction. The existing process helps you navigate the legalese and avoid the biggest pitfalls. It might not be a perfect process, but it’s surely better than if you had to figure it all out on your own for the first time.

But somehow, building a house on your land can be a much more daunting process. It can seem like there are no rules, nobody is in charge, and there’s no written guide to walk you through all the steps. To make matters worse, there are huge financial risks involved. You could buy the wrong piece of land and find out it’s not suitable for building, hire the wrong builder and get a poorly built house, or go way over budget because of unforeseen costs.

Seems kind of discouraging, but don’t lose hope.

Because of creating hundreds of homes for different families and individuals. We’ve seen overall which methods work best for people and which don’t. The big lesson is this: You need someone to act as your guide, just like an expert mountain climber will. That guide is someone who has done this before, who has made the journey and has helped many others make it. He or she knows all the pitfalls and dead ends and can help you navigate through them successfully. These people are the custom home builders.

The first official step you’ll need to take in this journey is to find your builder. Your custom home builder becomes your guide and your concierge along the way to help you navigate the process. But it’s not just a matter of finding any home builder—you need to find the right one. And that in itself is a process.

FIND YOUR CUSTOM HOME BUILDERS - ELEMENTS

Before talking about the right custom home builders, we’re going to talk about figuring out exactly which journey you’ll be taking. You don’t want to hire an Alaskan fishing guide if you’re going to be rafting the Colorado River, and you don’t want to hire a mountaineering guide for your ascent of Everest if that guide has never been outside the state of Utah. Figure out where you’re going first, then hire the right guide to get you there.

What will life in your new home look like

Define your dream

You’ve probably a burning desire or just an itch for something different. And you’ve at least thought that building a house on your land is one possible solution. Or, maybe you’re all in and you’re going to build with that custom home builders come hell or high water. Either way, now that you’ve identified the need, it’s time to paint the picture of what the ideal solution looks like. Let’s start there.

While dreaming about that new house, think about the activity going on in and around it.

  • What does life look like?

  • What do you and your family do there?

  • Are you outdoor people?

  • Do you have lots of guests over?

  • Do you enjoy quiet evenings on the porch?

These visions of life in the home are what’s going to drive the design, features, and location.

Define your custom home terms

Deciding on what those must-haves are for your custom home? Above you probably envisioned the custom home lifestyle that is most important to you. Which things, if dropped from your custom home plan, would no longer give you the lifestyle you are looking for in your custom home? These items are your non-negotiables. In other words, if you can’t get those things, you’ll just stay where you are.

Thinking further, what are the absolute most important things you want? The things that you would sacrifice any other part of the dream to make come true? Maybe it’s getting the kids into a particular school or being able to live in a place that is a positive influence on them. Whatever these things are, that’s your bottom line, the heart of the matter. These are the things you’ll find a way to make happen, even if it means buying a fixer-upper and putting in lots of sweat equity rather than building a custom home.

Defining your must-have features and your bottom line up front is tremendously helpful. Talk about it as a family and write it down. All of it. Later in the process when the emotions kick in and you have to make tough decisions about what to leave in or take out based on your budget, you can go back and refer to the written list.

Want additional resources on defining your priorities when deciding on the perfect house plan? Download our 3 Steps to the Perfect Floor Plan ebook.

Define your budget comfort zone

Ok now for that dirty word, “Budget”. Everyone has a budget. Even the wealthiest people in the world have to eventually make decisions about budget and priorities.

At this stage, you may or may not know what you qualify for in terms of a loan to build a custom house, but you probably have a comfort zone of what you want to spend, either in monthly payments or overall purchase price. Some people base it on a detailed monthly budget, some people on a gut feel of an overall number they’re comfortable with, and some people start by figuring out when they want to be debt free and backing into an amount that way.

However you mentally (or emotionally)  define your budget, be realistic about it and be honest with yourself. It isn’t a negotiating tool. Don’t let it blind you to reality and force you to give up your dream unnecessarily. Ask yourself this question: At what dollar amount would I simply say to myself, “No, I won’t do it at all. I’ll stay where I am.”

Define your budget comfort zone

Ok now for that dirty word, “Budget”. Everyone has a budget. Even the wealthiest people in the world have to eventually make decisions about budget and priorities.

At this stage, you may or may not know what you qualify for in terms of a loan to build a custom house, but you probably have a comfort zone of what you want to spend, either in monthly payments or overall purchase price. Some people base it on a detailed monthly budget, some people on a gut feel of an overall number they’re comfortable with, and some people start by figuring out when they want to be debt free and backing into an amount that way.

However you mentally (or emotionally)  define your budget, be realistic about it and be honest with yourself. It isn’t a negotiating tool. Don’t let it blind you to reality and force you to give up your dream unnecessarily. Ask yourself this question: At what dollar amount would I simply say to myself, “No, I won’t do it at all. I’ll stay where I am.”

3 Steps to the Perfect FLOOR PLAN SIDE

The builder as your professional guide

It might seem counterintuitive to hire the builder first. After all, you don’t have a house plan, you don’t know exactly what the house will look like or cost, and you don’t really even know whether what you have in mind is feasible given your budget comfort zone. You also don’t know whether your budget comfort zone aligns with the construction and permanent loans you can qualify for. How will you hire a builder at this point?

It’s a little bit of a chicken-and-egg dilemma. You can’t agree with a builder on a price for a particular house because you haven’t defined the house yet. You can’t define the house without a house plan, and if you design or choose a plan, you have no way of knowing whether the plan will fit your budget. Without talking to a lender, you don’t know how much you are qualified to borrow, and you might be worried that someone could take advantage of your lack of experience building a custom home.

The thing is, the builder is the one person who deals with all of these areas on a regular basis. He knows the cost to build, and he can guide you through the processing of selecting and customizing a house plan to make sure you’re getting the right plan. He can also help you avoid the hidden design elements that add cost without adding value. The builder deals with construction loans, land titles, land preparation issues, contractor problems, and everything else that goes along, even peripherally, with building a custom house on your land. The builder is the center of the hub.

The builder is also the one make-or-break element in the whole process. A bad relationship with a builder risks your whole dream. A good relationship will make the dream become a reality.

So, how do you find the builder that’s going to be the right builder for your dream? And once you find him or her, how do you hire that builder before you’ve even defined the house plan or the budget?

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Finding Custom Home Builders You Can Trust

When you are looking for a custom home builder you follow a similar process outlined in the previous section. First, you do a little self-reflection and decide what you’re looking for, in concrete terms, before setting out on the journey. Why? If you don’t determine your own standards for what you’re looking for, you’ll fall into the trap of letting the builders you talk to define terms for you.

Most Custom Home Builders have what he or she thinks is his or her competitive advantage. That’s what each one will emphasize as the most important thing to evaluate. Let’s say the first builder you talk to advertises a low price per square foot, which seems very attractive because that’s a simple way to compare houses. The problem is there is no plan or budget to compare so they are just throughout something to draw you in.

Create your own buying criteria

You probably don’t need a reminder that this is an important, and risky, process. Your dreams are at stake, and this custom home can have a huge impact on your family’s financial safety. You need to find a guide (builder) you can work with. You’re buying your dream, and that happens to include buying a building process, a warranty process, the work of many subcontractors, a builder’s reputation, and finally, a custom home finished the way you and your family want it finished. The builder you choose needs to be someone you want as a partner in the entire process, not just someone who completes a transaction.

The builder behind the curtain

Before we talk about finding a quality builder, let me give you a little peek behind the curtain of the homebuilding industry. Here are a few things to watch out for:

CHUCK IN THE TRUCK - ELEMENTS

Chuck in the truck with the taillight guarantee. That’s the mom-and-pop builder who builds five or ten homes a year, works out of his pickup. He was probably a really good trim carpenter who built a house on the side and sold it, and now the bank gives him a credit line to build a few houses at a time. The problem is, he has neither the financial capacity nor the time in his day to come back and fix any warranty issues. Once he’s done and you’ve paid him, you’ll see his taillights as he’s off to the next job and probably won’t ever return another phone call.

LOW PRICE PER SQ FT

Low price per square foot. Ask yourself this question: How can a builder tell you what the price per square foot will be of a house that isn’t even designed yet? A custom home that is created specifically for you, by definition, has never been built. How could anyone possibly tell you how many dollars per square foot an imaginary house will cost? They can’t, unless they’re trying to rope you into a commitment so they can change the price later.

THE STANDARDS LIST

The “standard” list of specifications. There’s nothing “standard” about a custom home. The two words mean opposite things. If a builder hands you a list of “standard features,” he’s telling you this is how he wants to build the house. Shouldn’t you be the one telling him? Watch out for items like “3500 psi concrete” or “anchor bolts.” These items are on the list to make you think they’re special. They aren’t… they’re required.

The typical builder’s process

Unfortunately, there’s a very low barrier to entry into the home building profession. That’s why most of the stories you hear from people about having a new home built are horror stories. Here’s how the typical custom homebuilder’s process works.

TYPICAL CUSTOM HOME BUILDERS PROCESS
  1. Get a customer, usually someone who has seen a home he’s built and liked that floor plan.

  2. Get a commitment from the customer in the form of a cost-plus building contract using a cost estimate that is wildly optimistic.

  3. Get a house plan the customer likes and start building ASAP. Have the subcontractors estimate material quantities and types and buy whatever they tell him.

  4. Send invoices to the customer to pay weekly. The invoices will look like Greek to the customer, who has never built a house, so the customer will probably just pay them.

  5. When the house starts going over budget and it becomes evident the estimate was wildly optimistic, the builder will explain it by saying the cost of materials has gone up (inflation, right?), or that the customer made some changes or some other excuse.

  6. When the customer makes selections or changes, the builder never writes anything down. If he does, it’s on a legal pad that has about a thousand pages flipped over on it with notes from eons ago.

  7. At closing, the builder does a cursory walk-through with the customer and fixes about 20% of what’s on the list and promises to do the other 80% after the customer moves in.

  8. At closing, the builder asks for payment for about $30,000 worth of undocumented change orders.

  9. The banker frowns and grudgingly increases the amount of the construction loan because he doesn’t really need or want a house in his inventory.

  10. The customer grudgingly pays the builder because what else are they going to do?

That all sounds very jaded, I know. The good news is that’s not how every builder works. I know of a select few in Greenville who I would hire in a minute to build a home for my family.

IDENTIFY CUSTOM HOME BUILDERS

Here’s how to identify the world-class custom home builder.

  1. There’s a clearly defined process for everything up front—from designing your custom house plan to selecting every feature.

  2. Everything gets written down.

  3. When you make a change during construction, the builder writes a change order and gets the customer to sign it and pay for it at that time. There will be absolutely no surprises at closing.

  4. The building contract has a detailed list of every material that’s proposed for the customer’s home all the way down to the color of the door hinges.

  5. The building contract has a fixed price, which means the price won’t change unless the customer makes changes. (See number three above.)

  6. The builder has a written warranty document that lists everything that’s covered, along with standards of acceptable and unacceptable work.

  7. The owner of the building company doesn’t have to babysit the jobs under construction because he employs a team of experts to handle those details better than he can. In other words, he has attracted talented and skilled individuals who specialize in their particular areas rather than him trying to be a Jack of all trades and a master of none.

Now that you know a little bit about the inner workings of the homebuilding industry, let’s talk about how to find that builder who is the combination of a capable professional and a good fit for your needs.

Evaluating builders

Two main areas to consider:

  1. Quality of construction, and
  2. The builder’s process.

There are a couple of ways to evaluate quality, both of which are based on history. You could become an expert on residential construction methods and building codes. Then go out and inspect a builder’s homes under construction to assess their standards. Chances are you don’t have this free time.

Second option is to determine the builder’s quality of construction through reputation, which won’t require you to become an expert on residential construction. Let’s take a look at the way you determine the builders reputation.

5 steps to buying land for your dream home
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BUILDER ELEMENTS
  1. Check the builder’s online reputation. This isn’t about glancing at the number of stars on a Google review. Read the comments people have left, both the legitimate complaints and legitimate praises. Look for yourself in the comments, which means note the positive or negative reviews that touch on your personal hot buttons.

  2. Ask some of their previous customers. Request a list of past customers from the builder. If they’re smart, they’ll only give you a list of happy customers, so keep that in mind. Ask those customers about the details of the builder’s process, how well they communicated during the process, how responsive they were to concerns or mistakes, and how they responded to repair requests after closing.

  3. Ask local bankers that provide construction loans. This might require a little extra research to identify the banks, but when you do, ask them which builders have the best reputation for staying on budget. Bankers who do lots of construction loans will know.

A word of caution: Don’t be tempted to skip all of this research because you know a guy from church who builds houses. See the above “Chuck in the truck…” example. You and your family deserve better.

To recap, when you’re checking reputation, remember there are two major aspects of building that you’re evaluating: the process and the quality of the final product. An awesome final product doesn’t matter if the building process makes you crazy.

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What I Can Afford In A New House? Where To Get The Money?

Obtaining Financing To Build Your Dream Home

On the surface getting financing before you have plans or a builder sounds counter intuitive. However, we have worked with a few homeowners that wait to get financing after they have fallen in love and are mentally living in their new home. Only to find out that they cannot obtain financing for enough to get the home of their dreams. Sometime this is just since construction financing is much different than a permanent mortgage. Let’s look at some definitions below.

 

PERMANENT VS CONSTRUCTION LOAN
  • Permanent loan – Typically called a mortgage, the type of loan when you buy a house (either new or used) and make payments for 15, 20, or 30 years. You can’t use this kind of loan to build a house, but you will use this loan once your house is finished. You get a permanent loan from a mortgage company, not a bank. Yes, some banks have mortgage companies, but they’re different entities. Permanent loans include principal and interest payments, and the loan payment may also include home insurance and real estate taxes.

  • Construction loan – Temporary loan, sometimes called interim loan that comes from a bank. It has a very short term, usually nine to twelve months, at which time it must be repaid in full. When your new house is finished, you close on a permanent loan that pays off the construction loan. Once that’s done, you start making monthly payments just like if you had bought the house and lot together from a builder.

How a Construction Loan Works

This is the part where you gather all those documents that describe your financial situation in great detail: W-2s, tax returns, bank statements, etc. Once you’ve provided all your info to the loan officer (the bank term for “salesperson”), the loan officer will turn it all over to an underwriter. No matter what the loan officer has told you, whatever bright promises he or she has made, the underwriter is the one who will put all your financial documents under scrutiny to determine whether or not you are qualified to borrow the money.

3 FACTORS BANKS USE

Your income. If you’re applying as a married couple, it will be your combined incomes.

Your debt-to-income ratio, which is simply your monthly debt payments divided by your monthly gross income. In general, your debt-to-income ratio must be 43% or less.

Your credit report. Note that we didn’t write credit score, but credit report. Your report affects your score, but the lender wants to see the information that underlies your score.

As part of the approval process, the banker will tell you how much money they’ll lend you, which is subject to the appraised value of the house you’re going to build. Your permanent loan also factors into the construction loan approval, as the bank wants to make sure they will get paid back when you get your permanent loan. To do that, they’ll likely make sure you qualify for the construction loan now and check that you’ll be able to qualify six to nine months from now for a permanent loan. Now you’re approved (doesn’t it feel good to have a bank “approve” of you?), the next step of the process includes two things:

  1. The house you’ll be building, and

  2. The land you’ll be building on.

At this point, you probably don’t know exactly what house you’ll be building. Which is good because you just found out from the bank the maximum amount of money you can borrow, which might end up being different than the actual amount you borrow.

row.

Loan to Value (LTV)

The next step to take is to define the house you’ll be building. My experience building a few hundred homes has proven that the most cost-effective, most time-efficient, and least frustrating way to do this is find a design builder. Find one you trust and get along well with and commit to their process of designing (or selecting) a house plan that fits your needs. Your budget will determine how many of your needs and wants fit in the plan.

 

Once you’ve defined the house plan that fulfills your dream and fits your budget, you’ll submit the plans, specifications, and building contract to your banker. The banker will hire an appraiser who will complete an appraisal report, which is basically an expert opinion of the market value of your to-be-completed house.

From bare land to DREAM HOME SIDE

Construction loan closing

Three things need to come together so you can close on your construction loan, which means you sign papers and start getting money to build.

  1. Clean title on your land;

  2. Appraisal report; and

  3. Final underwriting.

We discuss more about land title in our “From bare land to dream home” article. At closing, you will sign a mind-numbing stack of documents for the bank and a few for the title company. Essentially it all boils down to that you’re going to borrow a certain amount of money from the bank, they’re going to charge you interest, and you’re going to pay it all back on a certain schedule.

PAYMENTS TO BUILDER

Now that you’ve closed on the construction loan, you’ll probably make a deposit to the builder, which serves two purposes.

  • It demonstrates good faith, which means you’re serious and will pay the builder as promised.

  • It gives the builder a little money to start committing subcontractors to begin work.

As work progresses, you’ll pay the builder according to a payment schedule defined in the construction contract. Here’s an example of what that might look like:

  • Pay 5% at closing, of the construction loan;

  • 20% at the completion of pouring the slab and foundation;

  • 15% at the completion of framing

  • Then, 20% at the completion of drying-in, which includes framing, installation of windows and exterior doors, and roofing;

  • And so forth until all payments are made.

Basically, at predefined phases of construction, you’ll pay the builder predefined amounts of money until 100% of the work is complete and 100% of the contract amount is paid to the builder. Once that’s done, you’ll set up a closing for your permanent loan, more commonly known as a mortgage. The permanent loan pays off the construction loan, and then you start making your monthly payments.

Paying with Cash

If you are paying to build your custom home with cash, you’ll need to take some precautions. Be sure to protect your budget and time the outflows of cash properly. You’ll also need a safe method to prove to your builder that you have the cash available, and you’ll want to keep your cash in a place that’s comfortable for both you and the builder so that you’re both confident it will be there when it’s time to pay the construction bills.

 

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How to find land that is good to build on and buy with confidence?

If you already own the land you’re planning to build on, skip ahead to the next section. But if you’re starting at the very beginning of a dream and have not yet purchased land, keep reading.hen it’s time to pay the construction bills.

 

Finding and buying land can seem like a stressful and painful process. There’s no instruction manual on how to do it or even a clear place to start. We’ve helped many families work through the struggle of finding, evaluating, negotiating, and closing on their dream piece of land. In the years of doing this, we’ve seen patterns emerge and have helped many different people solve similar problems.

 

In this section, we’ll cover the basics of finding and buying your own land. If you want a more detailed guide to work through the process, download our ebook 5 Steps to Buying Land for Your Dream Home.

 

 

5 BASIC STEPS TO YOUR DREAM HOMES

There are five basic steps to finding and buying a piece of land for your forever home.

  1. Financing. How you’re going to pay for your land comes first. Without a source of funds, you’re just daydreaming.

  2. Finding. This one seems simple, but finding the right piece of land can be the most difficult and frustrating step. After all, nobody is making any new real estate.

  3. Evaluating. This is the step where you have to figure out whether the land you’ve found is even suitable for building.

  4. Negotiating. Sometimes, land that’s for sale is overpriced (or perhaps underpriced). Or you may find land that isn’t on the market but could be bought for the right price. In either situation, you have to find the market value and negotiate reasonable terms with the seller.

  5. Closing. This is when the land and money change hands. It’s critical that you know the steps, how long each step will take, and whether you’re actually buying what you think you’re buying.

For Additional Information On These Five Steps Please Visit Our “5 Steps To Buying Land For Your Dream Homes” Article

5 Steps To Buying land For Your Dream homes

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How do I get the house plans that meet my needs?

Some people are able to look at home plans online and find one they think is a great fit for their family and take that plan to their selected builder. Others may find themselves frustrated by the process. Maybe the plans all seem the same, none of them fit your family’s unique needs, or you feel like you’re wasting time looking at endless pages of plans.

If that sounds familiar, then a truly custom home plan might be right for you. You really can get the house of your dreams, provided you’re willing to put in the work up front and really think through your wants and needs.
 
The key to the whole thing is following a process that will keep you focused on your family’s needs and wants and keep you from designing a house plan you can’t afford. But you also have to find the right person to work with you to build it. You need a custom home builder who will truly listen to your needs and wants and create the house plan that reflects your dream.

As we’ve said before, we strongly recommend finding a builder as the first step in the process. In our “3 steps to the perfect house plan we discuss all the steps to get you to the home of your dreams.

3 Steps to the perfect Floor Plan

For Additional Information On These Three Steps Please Visit Our “3 Steps To The Perfect Floor Plan” Article

7

How do I avoid the horror stories of building a custom home?

AVOID HORROR STORIES

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already made serious progress toward making the home-building experience much less painful. The more you plan and think things through, the better the experience will be. I truly believe there are many builders out there who can, and will, deliver a truly high-quality custom home, but there are very few builders who can do it without making you crazy in the process. Or even worse, blowing your budget (or both).

We’ve talked about planning, defining your budget, finding a builder, getting a loan, and designing the right house plan, so now what? Now it’s time to let your builder do his thing and follow his process. After all, he does this for a living. Since you’ve chosen a builder you can trust, it’s time to act on that trust.

What to expect from the home building process, and what NOT to expect

We live in an age of consumer products. They’re designed on computer systems, made in high-tech factories, and displayed in stores under tightly controlled conditions and wrapped in shiny, new, artistic packages.

Forget all that!

Your house is built outside in the rain, snow, wind, cold, and heat. It’s exposed for weeks or months. It’s built from natural materials, not manufactured ones. It is built by hand, not by computer-guided precision robotic machines.

It is a prototype. It’s the only one being built. Do you think Boeing draws plans for a new passenger jet, builds a scale model, loads it full of paying passengers and says, “Good luck, we’re pretty sure it will fly” to their customer? Of course not. Boeing builds prototype after prototype to solve all kinds of little issues they couldn’t predict in their cutting-edge computer-aided design software. If Boeing needs to build actual prototypes to solve little problems like where to run the wires that control the light in the airplane bathroom, do you think a builder will foresee every little detail in your one-of-a-kind custom home?

If you can’t live with that idea and will be extremely upset by the first big mistake a subcontractor makes while building your new home, then don’t build a new home. Go buy an existing one and save your sanity. If you understand and have made peace with the fact that the world is a wildly imperfect place and you trust your builder to correct inevitable mistakes, read on.

 

You’re Buying the Builder’s Process

Because you’re not just buying a house, you’re buying into your builder’s building process. The only way you’ll get the finished product your builder promised is to let him do what he does. Again, if you don’t want to let the builder do it the way he’s done it hundreds of times, and rely on the wisdom of the lessons he has learned, then don’t expect the process to go well. Asking, or expecting, the builder to go outside the process he has built over years of building and correcting mistakes, is just like putting those paying passengers on the prototype Boeing jet and just wishing for the best. You’ll crash and burn. I’ve seen it happen more times than I’d like to admit. For more on the home building process see our “From Bare Land To Dream Home” book.

The Emotional Roller Coaster that is Building a Custom Home

You’ve found your builder, bought the land, have a house plan, and you just closed on your construction loan. Your builder is sending out the dozer tomorrow to begin work. Oh, the joy of beginning work on the dream you’ve had is real!

Now the roller coaster tops the hill and starts to gain speed as it drops. The slab gets poured…. The framing begins… and the problems begin. Oh, the agony, the fear, the pain sets in. You begin to think, “how could this happen? The builder doesn’t even care!

The emotional roller coaster ride has begun. The house starts to take shape, you invite your friends over to see the progress, and you’re riding that emotional high. The framer misinterprets a detail on the plans and frames a opening the wrong width. Better yet they leave out a window. Your emotional high turns into borderline depression.

Yep, that’s really what it’s like.

Just because you’ve accepted the custom home builders process, and you’re committed to moving forward, doesn’t mean there aren’t stressful times ahead. You are emotionally tied to the outcome. This is your family’s dream, their financial future, and your future lifestyle, and those things are critically important.

That means every mistake, every warped board, every dirty handprint on a newly-painted wall is going to get under your skin. Just know that going in. Also know that every beautiful new home you’ve ever toured while dreaming about having one just like it for your own went through this exact same process. The difference is that you didn’t have the emotional attachment to those houses. If the builder of that beautiful model home told you all the things that went wrong during construction, you’d look around, seeing that everything got fixed, and your rational mind would make sense of it. Somehow, though, when it’s YOUR home that gets a broken window or a muddy footprint on the carpet, your emotions kick in and you simply can’t BELIEVE that a contractor could do anything that stupid.

So, just relax, breathe deeply, and be really, really glad your builder has your back and is going to do what he does, and the end result will be what you expected. The process is ugly. That’s a fact, plain and simple. Once it’s over, though, and you’re living the dream of that new home, it will all have been worth it.

8

Conclusion: Bringing it all together

Building a custom home is a long and sometimes stressful process. But if you start out with a trusted builder to guide you through a structured process, it’s a lot less stressful. Think of the relationship with your builder as a partnership and not simply a transaction, and be sure to invest the necessary time up front to decide if it’s the right partnership for you.

Do your homework at each step of the process to educate yourself, because realistic expectations are important. Expect some delays and mistakes along the way, because it’s going to happen with any one-of-a-kind home. In the end, when you’re living in the home of your dreams, it will all be worth it. We promise.

 

Resources:

5 steps to buying land for your Dream Home
From bare land to DREAM HOME SIDE
3 Steps to the Perfect FLOOR PLAN SIDE
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