How exciting! You’ve arrived. We’re thrilled you’re here. If you’re reading this page, you’re likely thinking about building a custom home. Building a new home is a serious investment. To make sure you’re prepared for this hearty journey, we combed through our resources, interviewed our team, and consulted countless articles. The result? Our penultimate guide of 10 essential tips to help you build your new custom home. Let’s dive in.
Apples and oranges. Black versus white. Building a custom versus a pre-built home requires two completely different mindsets.
If you’re considering building a custom home, you’ll want to make sure you have all your ducks in a row. Think about why you want to build your custom home: is it for space, added value, or to try a new place to live?
To financially prepare yourself for one of the largest investments you’ll likely make during your life, ask yourself: are you willing to commit to a more expensive, riskier loan? Have you thought about where you might want to build?
So many questions, and so little time.
Thank goodness you’re here: it’s crucial to think about each of these essential questions before building your custom home. Neglecting any one of them could set you — and your wallet — back.
But if you feel confident you’ve made the right decision, you’ve already mastered the first step and tip of our penultimate guide: know what you’re getting yourself into. Know the difference between apples and oranges, that is, a custom home and a pre-built home.
Be detailed. Be open-minded. And most importantly, never be afraid to ask questions or seek out help.
As you think about building your house, the general rule of thumb and most valuable general tip we can give is to go into the process with eyes wide open. Keep a pulse on what’s of value to you and your loved ones.
The following 10 essential custom home-building tips will also help when building a house, custom home, or semi-custom home. Keeping these general tips in mind will help you better enjoy the process.
With the right priorities in mind, let’s take a look at the ten most essential custom home-building tips. While not an exhaustive list, these tips are guaranteed to help most homeowners enjoy the design-and-build process and enjoy their new custom home-building experience.
Every great custom home-building project starts with a winning team. Whether your team’s roster includes a general contractor, local designer, or architect, you’ll want to make sure your team is full of all-star, loyal, dependable, and trustworthy professionals.
First, find a dependable contractor who will be honest and upfront with costs, timetables, materials, and selections available and needed for your new custom-built home.
Next, seek out builders, designers, and a lawyer (or two) to help you comb through contracts, make sure you’re ready for any unexpected challenges that might come your way, and to help avoid mistakes when it comes to building a house that adheres to building code, zoning laws, and other legal requirements.
Finally, having an all-in-one team will make building on-site a breeze, as you’ll never miss a beat. If nothing else, everyone will be easy to reach and all in one convenient location.
Speaking of location, this brings us to our second essential tip.
It sounds cliché, right? Not necessarily.
When it comes to building a house, selecting your preferred lot or location for your needs for your builder will save you all time and energy when it comes to building your new custom forever home.
While it may be easier to find the location before hiring your all-star team, consult your all-star team as you make your selection. Your local designer and general contractor likely know more about which lot will be most cost-effective to build on, as well as what type of laws and homeowners associations exist in the neighborhood in which you’re building your house.
While you wait to hear back from your all-star team, there are still some tasks you can catch up on yourself. Research the area.
Consider having a meal at a local restaurant or walking around the town to feel out the vibe of the city or town of your potential new custom build.
Since you’ll be living here, running around — for example for groceries, errands, and appointments — you’ll want to make sure the lot is in a location where you feel comfortable.
Now that you’ve found where you want to build your new dream home, it’s time to talk it over with the team. One of our most important tips for building a home is to discuss your floor plan with your team.
Will the furniture fit in the space? Have you made difficult selections about the more boring and mundane specs of your home — like plumbing, utilities, and storage space — before creating your new home?
Discussing these specs — and more — with your team will help you, your architect, and your design team better understand your wishes for your new dream home. The more information you can provide about aesthetics, your must-have customizable options — like lighting, color schemes, and your non-negotiables — the easier it will be for your team to craft the home of your wildest dreams.
Coming up with your wish list before building a house will help you budget for your new dream home and help you budget accordingly. That’s why we recommend the following fourth tip.
LED lighting, heated floors, soundproof rooms, eco-friendly technologies, and smart appliances: perhaps you’re thinking about tearing down the walls and adding these (and more) to your future home.
Whether you’re considering these custom additions to your kitchen and living room, laundry room, family room, or other space in your house, taking the time to invest in these larger-scale home construction project ideas will save you time later down the road.
It’s always easier to build a sauna or a soundproof room at the beginning of a construction project versus tearing out the studs and walls after a construction project is complete. Invest now, and save time and energy later.
When you’re done, why not celebrate? Clink a glass of your favorite bubbly beverage and toast to you and your construction team’s success.
After you’ve determined the must-haves that fit your budget, consider more-detailed built-ins and design choices. You might choose to paint a mural in one panel of your home, add a backsplash to the kitchen, or opt for a chandelier or luxurious light fixture.
Go crazy with the aesthetics — but to a point. It’s easy to become fixated on the details and lose sight of your budget.
Not to mention, if you ever decide to upgrade to a new home and sell the property, having an overly custom-built home can make selling your home a challenge. Consider customizing aesthetics to a point.
The walk-in closet, final paint colors, windows, décor, and all the things that make a house feel like a home are worth the investment and energy.
Of all the things in your home, you’ll also want to make sure it’s near local amenities outside the home. If you’re someone that loves to cook, consider building a complete kitchen on a lot close to a local farmer’s market or grocery store.
If you’re an artist, a second-floor or attic renovation can be a wonderful way to add value to and spice up your home’s space. Just make sure to mention your ideas at the beginning of the building process, as once the construction process begins, it can be more challenging to factor these ideas into the floor plan for the builder and during the building process.
Sometimes, your contractor will say no to an idea simply because their team doesn’t have the connections with a builder to make your idea a reality. That doesn’t mean your requests shouldn’t be listened to.
When a contractor isn’t willing to listen to a homeowner’s idea, we get it. It’s frustrating. So, trust your gut.
Seek out a second — or even third — opinion if ever you feel your all-star team is acting — well — less than all-star. Oftentimes, if you share with your team what you learned from your second and third opinion, your team will more likely consider building your idea, because they care about keeping your contract with you.
Empower yourself. Do your research.
Seek out as many opinions as you think necessary to build the new home of your dreams. Spending the extra time doing so will pay off.
And decision fatigue is real. At some point, you and your family will no doubt become tired during the design phase and building process. It’s only natural, especially since your team will need several months to complete the finished product.
Before embarking on a new custom home, it’s crucial to go in with an almost Zen-like mindset.
From personal experience, we’ve found that having a firm but flexible mindset and timeline for completion helps everyone feel better.
You’ll want to be ready for changes that occur — for example — due to shipping and logistics concerns, unpredictable weather conditions, and planning needed to build the entire house.
Going in with a Zen-like mindset will also help your all-star team. They won’t feel pressure, given that you’re taken into account last-minute changes.
When you come to the building process with a firm mindset, you also help hold your team accountable. Your team will be motivated and focused on finishing by your desired target date.
Other benefits to having a firm and flexible mindset include — for example — feeling better about your budget and wallet. We’ll discuss budget concerns in our next essential tip.
Take some of the financial stress off your shoulders by budgeting for your all-star team’s time, resources, and energy.
When house hunting or breaking ground on a new home, homeowners can expect to shell out more money for construction loans. Construction loans often require higher down payment costs (sometimes 20-25% more than a pre-built home) and interest rates.
Lenders often think that construction projects are riskier because if for some reason someone decides to halt construction mid-build, the home will be of little value to the lender. The land on which the home is built will depreciate and lose value, thus making lending a loan for a custom home more risky than that of a semi-custom or pre-built home.
You can set yourself up for financial success by leaving a healthy amount of room in your budget for a home-building loan and other financial concerns. When changes do arise in the home-building process, you and your family will be ready to face them head-on and with as little drama and stress as possible.
So long as you are speaking with your all-star team every step of the way, there should be no reason why your construction process should not follow a smooth and seamless timeline, free from financial stress and headaches.
Communication: it works with your partner, the kiddos, and now, your building team. One of our last tips for building a house is one of the most basic (yet challenging) to follow: keep open lines of communication at all times with your team.
You might think that your team should be experts on custom building, and they might be thinking you’re the expert and should therefore tell them exactly what you want for your new home build. Who’s right, and who should tell who what to do?
Communication is a two-way street. Building a home requires a healthy exchange of ideas — both between the homeowner and the construction team — so that everyone knows what everyone is thinking and feeling during the building process, and so everyone can accomplish more.
Before you spend your money on a quality home, make sure to interview several teams. And communicate with them often. Make sure you know exactly what type of services you’ll be receiving from your design team — from beginning to final inspection.
At WA Construct, we use an online portal — BuilderTrend — to update our clients every step of the way. Using online software helps make speaking with clients seamless and smooth for all parties involved.
We thought we would throw in one last bonus tip: do your best to expect the unexpected and enjoy the ride.
Yes, enjoy the ride as you add square footage to your existing home, as you calculate how many square feet you want for your new home, as you pick out your interior designer, contemplate hues and options for wood flooring, break ground on a new master bedroom and bath, consider whether your construction loan will cover added square feet to your existing home, and much more (Whew! It’s a lot, right?).
Though the process may be time-consuming, and you may be tempted to cut corners, you’ll have this home for many years to come. Going all in is worth the investment.
So, give it your all. Expect the unexpected, and enjoy the ride. You won’t regret it.
Build an all-star team: of architects, builders, designers, and even a real estate agent or two
Plan ahead: save money by speaking with a financial planner (WA Construct can help with financing a new home build), factoring into account must-haves (should we increase square footage?) and aesthetic and design needs (do we want more light fixtures or natural light?) before breaking ground on your new house
Communicate often: with your entire team. These 10 tips are such great tips, but they won’t work unless you, your family, and your team mull them over together.
Expect the unexpected, and enjoy: Any large project worth doing is worth doing right. Whatever the process may bring, do your best to have a Zen-like attitude and enjoy the ride.
We hope you enjoyed these tips for breaking ground on your new house. To learn other great tips for building, we invite you to skim through our eBook collection and some of our other helpful resources.
At WA Construct, our award-winning design-and-build team of architects, designers, and homebuilders have over twenty years of experience crafting artisan luxury homes.
Whether you’re looking to build a new house, update your master bath with new light fixtures, or spend money on a completely new design, we’ll be here to support you every step of the way.
We serve more than 50 counties across New Jersey. Not sure if we build in your area? Have a look at our beautiful neighborhoods where we design and build.