Building a house

Congrats, you have made it to this page because you have chosen to embark on one of the most exciting journeys you will ever undertake. This is one of those journeys that separate the men from the sheep, where you will really end up testing yourself, and you will likely find out that you end up making certain mistakes along the way, and that is totally fine. However, that does not mean that you can’t do anything to avoid making mistakes when you’re building the home of you dreams, and the fact that you have made it to this page already shows a certain commitment to preparing yourself for the journey.

It isn’t a small decision. In fact it is one that you will need to convince your entire family is in fact a good one, because if they’re not on the same page as you when it comes to the process, it will only make it significantly harder on your relationship with your spouse but likely also create a lot of tensions in the family that you would probably rather want to be without. You naturally can’t start the process if you don’t have a spouse who is on the same side as you given the size of the project.

There’s no denying that it is a lot easier to simply go out and find a house that is already readily available on the market and has most of the features that you are interested in. There’s also no denying that it is a lot more exciting if you choose to start the process from scratch, ensuring that you are actually getting the house that you want. When you’re building it yourself, you can be a lot more picky when it comes to making sure that the home has all the features you desire, whereas when you are buying an existing one, you may likely end up having to settle for one that has most of the features that you are interested in.

designer working on blueprints

If you choose to buy instead, you might not be able to get that big dream kitchen you always wanted, because you have now gotten to a point where you have been actively going to open houses for a couple of months, and you are now feeling like something needs to start happening, and soon! If you have already been looking for a couple of months, you probably already know that chances are you are getting tired of looking at different listings. It may even be that you have put in a couple of offers already that you didn’t end winning, which can be very demotivating. There’s nothing more demotivating than spending a lot of hours viewing a wide variety of listings and putting offers in on some of them just to find out that you are constantly being outbid by a relatively small amount of money. Often so, when you look back at it, you might in fact even have been willing to increase your bid in order to get it, if you had actually known the difference in the offers between the offer that you put in and the offer that the buyer ended up placing.

This could end up being that blessing in disguise, where you are not just realizing that you shouldn’t be settling for one of those that you started looking at, but it could be the time that you come to the decision that getting everything you want is in fact the right decision. And that may involve building your own!

Check out some of our most popular categories: H shapes, U shapes, L shapes, narrow lots, 2,200 square foot or angled homes, along with some of the features that you should consider when building.

Features to consider
Small, 2 bedroom 2 baths Open floor
Simple 3-story Log cabin
carriage Tiny Tiny, with loft

Should you build your own or is it better to just buy?

While there are certain situations where it would be very appealing to build your own, we are not going to pretend like it’s also the right decision for everyone. We want to take you through some of the necessary considerations in order to figure out if you are making the right decision, or whether you might end up risking that your home building dreams put too much strain on your marriage.

contracator looking at house plan

Have you ever heard stories of some of those incredibly wealthy property developers? You’ve probably realized that they’re not just doing it because they have a passion for building homes, but also because there can be a significant financial gain in building your own rather than simply buying one. There’s a reason why you will end up paying top dollar if you go out now and you start looking at some of the new construction in the up and coming areas. While real estate developers may appreciate their profession, there’s no denying that there’s also a financial consideration to it. Yes, when you take some of the stress upon yourself and you choose to actually go through the entire process yourself, there’s a good chance that you can stand to make a significant financial gain, if you make sure that there are certain principles you follow along the way.

However, you should also know that it’s likely to be a stressful process. Building materials that end up not showing up can set you back significantly and can eventually end up meaning that you will only be able to move into your new home months later than you were previously anticipating and planning for, why it’s always our recommendation that you at least make sure that you’re not being thrown out on the streets if the process takes 3 months longer than you thought it would. If you’re currently renting a place that you are planning on moving out of, it’s at least extremely important that you make sure you have enough of a buffer so that your lease doesn’t end up forcing you out too early. If you own the current home that you live in, you definitely have some more liberty when it comes to building a new home, and while it may not be convenient to stay there longer, at least it’s more doable than having to move several times, or instead live in a place that is still missing essential components.

One of the ways that many people end up making a large chunk of money when they’re building things themselves is by being handy with their hands and doing some of the parts of the project that they’re capable of doing, rather than hiring contractors. While you may be able to help speed things along by assisting as well, you will want to be especially careful about being dependent on doing a lot of the work yourself when you have a set deadline that you are working with. In those cases, it becomes especially important that you work with the right general contractor for the job; one who ensures that there are a set of milestones, and that all of them are being met, as per the plan. We have all heard the various stories of families trying to save a little bit of money and rather than working with the right general contractor, they work with the one who seems a little bit cheaper. While it may work in certain cases, there may also be a reason why they are able to offer the rates that you are getting the contractor from. As is the case with any profession, you often end up getting what you pay for, so if you save a bunch of money by hiring someone cheaper, you could also see that they aren’t quite as good at managing the various milestones as you were hoping, and you end up in a very difficult situation as a consequence. You need to sit down and make sure you have your building priorities straight and that you know what you can and cannot do.’

woman choosing colors

Someone who initially looks cheap to hire could also end up being expensive because they make so many mistakes that need to be corrected. The flooring ends up being installed poorly and needs to be redone. Perhaps they hire an electrician who does not have the licenses that they need to, meaning you might run into a lot of trouble when the inspection team comes around. When things aren’t done with the necessary licenses, you can also rest assured that this aspect will be highlighted when you try to sell it at a later stage, and suddenly you will run into a lot of issues getting things repaired. When the rules aren’t being followed, people will subsequently be unwilling to make offers on a home without strict contingencies. When there are such contingencies, you can also be sure that your home will eventually sell for less than you were hoping, and it is likely to also take longer than you were imagining.

Although these are all considerations that are very likely to only become an issue many years from now, we’re simply trying to make you understand that working with the right contractors is an important aspect of the home building experience. While you may be tempted to save a little bit of money in the home building process, it’s important that you also consider the time horizon that you are working with. Are you planning on living in the home for 5 or 10 years at which point you want to sell it, or is it rather a house that you are planning on retiring in when that time comes around? They’re some very important decisions, and especially when you already know that you will eventually be selling the home, is it important to ensure that you’re considering certain aspects when you are building it.

It may seem premature to think about already selling it when you haven’t even applied for the building permits, but you’re setting yourself up better financially by doing so.

There’s also no denying that it’s a big question of whether you value convenience or customization more. If you feel that you are more drawn towards convenience, building your own home may not be the right choice. If customization is important to you, it may be something for you to explore. When you buy a home, you already know which mistakes were made in the building process, and you factor that into the offer that you are placing. When you are building the home, and especially if it’s the first time you’ll be doing this, you are bound to make mistakes. If you have built 2 or 3 homes before, you won’t make a lot of the same mistakes that you made the first time around, but then you might also not have an interest in reading this article.

When you are relocating and need to deal with your living situation, you won’t have the luxury of building that dream mansion that you always wanted as there’s a strict timeline that you’re operating under, but may perhaps be better suited with the conventional way of changing your living situation by going on a real estate platform. And yes, there are a lot of great ones that will offer you a bunch of filters such as allowing you to choose modern homes with 4 bedrooms only, assuming that is what you are in the market for.

architect working on blueprints

Building your own home also gives you the opportunity to add all the tech into the home that you always wanted, and ensure that it is built to the standard you need with double or triple pane windows, a feature that might save a lot of money on heating or cooling, especially when you live in an area with extreme weather conditions. Green appliances are popular, and there’s no denying that if you can get these features installed when you’re building a new home, they’ll also end up paying for themselves from energy cost savings. With newer  homes you will additionally not have to deal with some of the issues associated with older homes, such as asbestos or lead paint, as building materials that involve these particles have been banned in most countries.

A thing like lead paint can be especially devastating if you have a family that has small kids, as exposure to damaged lead paint can lead to all sorts of undesired consequences like developmental delay.

Needless to say, deciding to build your own home is a significant decision that can have a lot of benefits, but it can surely also have a lot of drawbacks if you aren’t careful.  

Have we scared you away yet or has this article which has so far turned out to be more lengthy than we had imagined, only given you an additional desire to keep pursuing this goal? If so, great! We will make sure that you end up with the house that you have always dreamed of.

We’d also like to point out, that we have a bunch of other articles that you may be interest in. While our most common articles are those that focus on home building, we have also written other articles focused on various home improvement topics that might of interest to you.

If you need a break from reading about the building experience, perhaps now is a great time to take that. One distraction could be that you check out some of the many designs that we have available on the platform to start seeing if there is anything that catches your attention.

Start your search for the right designs to help your dream come true

There is no denying that one of the biggest aspects of the building process is making sure that you end up with the design that best suits your family’s needs. This is not a straight forward process, and the house that might be perfect for one family is not necessarily the one that you also believe is the right one for you.

While you can get professional help from architects in order to figure out what your family’s needs are, it’s ultimately a decision that rests on your shoulders. You are the one who will have to sit down with the rest of your family and figure out which things are important to you.

house blueprints

Besides the possibility to buy a design that has already been made, you also have the possibility to work straight with an architect and have them draw you something from scratch. Again, here’s a consideration as to whether you have very specific needs, or whether you have needs that may generally be relatively close to what the typical family is interested in. If your needs are very unique, you might not just be in a situation of wanting to work with an architect, but more so you might be on a mission to make sure that you work with the right one. There are definitely a lot of award-winning architects to choose from, but if you are trying to create a truly unique experience, you might have to spend a significant amount of time looking at the portfolios of the various architects to find the one who you believe can make your dream come true.

If, however, you have needs that are fairly similar to those of other families, chances are you will be able to save a bunch of money by going with a fairly house plan. If needed, you can have smaller alterations made to them which will often not end up costing you significant amounts of money. If you choose to go down this route, you can easily end up saving $10,000 by not having an architect having to draw something from scratch. What most people might not realize is that there is a reason why it costs as much as it does when you start from the very beginning. It’s not juts a matter of drawing a house, but it’s also a matter of drawing the electrical plans and the various components that are needed in order to get the building licenses approved. On top of that, you have a professional service provider who has spent a good part of their life actually acquiring the skills needed in order to create the building plans for your home. With the many hours that it takes to draw up the plans, as well as the time that you will be spending with the architect in order to actually figure out how everything needs to be drawn and structured, it will end up costing you a significant amount of money.

One of the big disadvantages to working with an architect is also that you won’t actually get the renderings of the house before building it, unless you pay for it. The cost of having plans rendered so that you can see a 3D model of your future home can easily end up costing $1,000 to $2,000 in itself, and probably more when you are simply having it done on a one time basis for your project. In contrast, if you go to our platform and start browsing the various designs, you will quickly see that there are renderings for a lot of the designs, and we let you see them free of charge so that you can better imagine yourself living in a house, even before you end up spending any money on the project. It’s just a better way to actually make sure that you don’t end up building a house that has some major drawbacks that you didn’t anticipate when you were talking with an architect.

Sure, there’s no denying that working with an architect may be better if you have very specific requirements, but there are also a lot of advantages to go off of an already designed home.

architect looking at drawings

Assuming you choose to actually go about hiring an architect, we want to at least make sure that you find the right one for your project. If not, you might end up with some of the same difficulties that you could end up with if you choose the wrong contractor.

Confused when it comes to choosing the right design? We’ve got you! There are so many things to consider, including the factors below, like whether or not you want your future home to have a guest house.

Special factors to consider
Customization Pool Lakefront
Guest house Mountain views Narrow lot

Choosing the right contractor when you want to build your dream

What would naturally be the first step that you would take if you were to research an architect, or try and figure out who you should work with? Perhaps you might have someone in the family who has a lot of experience designing houses, but that doesn’t necessarily that they’re the right person in your situation.

The process of choosing an architect isn’t different from choosing another type of professional service provider like a contractor. With a contractor, you are also trying to make sure that they are the right person for the job, and that entails that you know the quality of the work that they are able to produce. The easiest way to start finding out which projects they have previously worked on includes finding out what information is available about them on the internet.

If you don’t already know which architect would be the right one for the project, the first natural step would be to do what you would do with any service professional: Start your search on Google. You might start out by doing very broad searches that are focused on architects in your area and the houses they have helped build. When you have a big enough list of different architects, you can start narrowing down your search by starting your due diligence process. What are some of the things that are important to you that they have previously worked on? If you want a place that has a very specific style, it is important that you find architects that have experience with those types of homes. However, if you want a mor typical 2-story home, you might not necessarily have to be very picky when you create your initial list of prospects.

A common single-story home would also not be too hard for your average architect to draw up, but if that is really what you are looking for, you would be better off at least starting out your search among the many different designs we already have available before you go out deciding to spend thousands of dollars on a professional. The edge cases where you want a home that really stands out is  the best reason why you might want to hire an architect, and even when that is the case, we also do have some very unique options on this website that you might want to check out. Yes, there is a specific page that is fully devoted to only showing the types that we believe are truly unique. Are those homes for your average family who also wants to ensure that the place that they are building is a good investment when it comes to selling? Probably not. However, if your main concern isn’t so much how much money you will be able to get from the home in the future, you can definitely end up building something that will attract a lot of attention when people drive past it.  

engineer inside a building being built

The reason why you are choosing an architect in the first place is to make sure that you find someone that will really understand what it is you are trying to build. If they don’t understand that, what would be the purpose of spending thousands of dollars working with them in the first place?

The architect only brings value to the table by being able to understand the needs of your family and working with you in order to bring them to life. You should also remember that these house plans are only the frame of the house, and that you will still have to go through the entire process of figuring out what sorts of finishes you want inside your home. The good thing is that you are not typically applying for building permits that necessarily specify the interior, but you could have an architect help you out along the way in order to also ensure that the interior ends up the way that you desire. That is one of the other things that an architect can help bring to the table in this entire process.

If you are hiring someone online, it is especially important that you find an architect who is connected to a reputable company so that you don’t simply end up hiring someone who disappears the following day. While you are able to hire someone who is not in the same country as yourself, do make sure that they are familiar with the local building codes in the area that you live in, or they might simply end up doing a bunch of work that your building department wouldn’t be able to approve anyway. If you hire a local architect instead, you have the advantage of being able to visit some of the homes or buildings that they have previously helped design. As part of that process, you’re also able to ask them questions regarding the sort of work they did. Did the architect only help draw the house or were they also active throughout the building process, and what would they recommend for someone like you?

woman studying a model of a house being built

When you choose to work directly with an architect, it is important that you get an understanding of what their various processes look like and whether you believe they will be able to work with you. Do you seem to have a similar understanding of what the process will look like, or are they working with a timeline that is vastly different from yours? A good idea is always o ask what sort of experience they have with projects in the area that you live in, or that you choose to build your home in, as well as how they charge for the projects that they are working on. You should also be sure to ask them when payment is due and what is included in the design package. How do you know that the architect won’t suddenly end up charging you a significantly larger amount of money than what you were originally counting on? If you are wanting the architect to also be part of the building process, it is a good idea to ask them what sort of thoughts they have on that.

Is that something they commonly do, or are they more used to just drawing the house and then passing the project on to the customer at that point? If you want the architect to be more involved throughout the entire process, it’s a good idea that you start out by figuring the extent to which you want that to happen. There’s also a very big chance that the architect will start charging on an hourly basis if they are involved in the entire building process also, and that means the bill that you will end up could end up being rather significant. If the architect is used to being an active part of the building process, it’s very likely that they might be able to recommend a contractor for you to use whom they have had a lot of good experience with in the past.

When you are choosing an architect, it’s not just important that you ask a lot of questions to help ensure that they are in fact on the same page as you, but there are a lot of qualities that a good architect will have. First of all, they should have the necessary design skills and knowledge that match the needs that you have to be able to understand how to turn your vision into a reality.

Secondly, it’s important that they come off showing you their clear knowledge related to the building and construction industry and that they can be the trusted advisor who can guide you through this entire process. They are the professional whom you are paying handsomely in order to make sure you are avoiding some of the mistakes that would be typical to make as a first-time builder.  It’s additionally important that the architect has great attention to detail and that he will sit down with you in order to properly understand what it is that you want to build. If the architect starts drawing the house without the two of you clearly determining what it is that you want, you are bound to go through several rounds of edits and changes that will further prolong the process. Needless to say, excel communication skills are crucial, and it has to be a person who is comfortable asking you questions to ensure that he has properly understood what it is you’re trying to achieve.

Besides finding the right architect, assuming that is what you still desire doing, another important step is to make sure that you get the building permits that are necessary to proceed with your project. There are a great number of reasons why you might want an architect, assuming you are willing to pay what it costs to hire one, but finding the right one is equally important.

Building a home is an exciting time, and one of the things you will have to figure out is what style to use. Here are some options that can hopefully help foster some creativity, whether you want a barn-style or a split level.

Styles to consider
Usonian Split-level
Small cottage L-shaped
Cottage Barn-style

Obtaining the necessary building permits

If you have ever undertaken a home improvement project before, you might already be familiar with the process of getting a building permit. If you haven’t, this might be the first time you’re concerning yourself with such a matter. If you are new to the whole idea of building and home improvement, we encourage you to read through this section very carefully.

The same way that there are a bunch of home improvement projects that require permits from your local building department, so will the building of a home. Naturally these are required for various reasons, and some communities or regions have much stricter building departments than other. Just because you currently live in a part of the country that doesn’t require building permits for a range of things does not mean that the other city where you are hoping to build your new home doesn’t have more strict rules.

woman looking at house plans

Sure, there may be certain expenses tied to getting the necessary permits but that doesn’t mean it’s a good place to save some money. Rest assured that there will be bigger consequences if you don’t get the necessary permits. The same way that some contractors don’t get the necessary certifications in order to do the type of work that they want to do, there are owners who choose not to get a building permit when they are working on the plumbing of the house. When it comes to things such as the electrical and plumbing systems, chances are you will probably need to obtain a permit to do the work.

One of the reasons why these permits are required is in order to ensure the quality of the work that has been done, which in turn also helps limit the risk of things such as flooding. While there are certain types of home improvement that will not need a building permit, building 0ne will likely require one.

If you are taking it upon yourself to do a lot of the work involved with building the house, it is especially important that you spend a lot of time figuring out which parts of the process you will need a permit for, and when you will need to get the various things inspected. While it may seem like a nuisance, the building department is effectively there to help ensure the structural integrity to avoid potential issues arising in the future. An improperly installed plumbing system may end up causing damages worth thousands of dollars, why these are also the most common professions that require that the work is performed by a professional.

woman choosing design options

It’s always a good idea figuring out which parts of the process that require permits as well as inspections, and what their timeline typically looks like. How long does it take for your local building department to be able to issue the necessary permits? And how do you schedule that an inspector comes out and inspects everything when the work has been done?  When you work with a good general contractor, they will also be able to help answer a lot of these questions simply because they have gone through the process a bunch of times before. They will know when to schedule the inspections, and they will also usually be the ones responsible for dealing with an inspector to provide answers to all the questions that they may have. Even if you don’t choose to work with an architect, it is a good idea to work with a quality general contractor when you are building or the first time.

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