Building your own home gives you full control over the place you’ll live. Better still, it’s a great way to demonstrate a little initiative and self-sufficiency.
What if I told you that a little planning goes a long way?
I’ve put together 17 tips that must be considered when making the decision to build your own home.
Knowledge is power, right?
I am going to share with you tips that contractors do not usually share with their prospective customers.
First things first: should you be building your own home at all? It isn’t for everyone.
If you’re on the fence about whether to build a home or just buy one, make a pro/con list. List the benefits and drawbacks of both options. Getting your thoughts out on paper is an excellent way to get a clear picture of what might lie ahead.
Hopefully, you’ll see whether building your own home is right for you.
If it isn’t, no problem. There’s nothing wrong with buying a house.
But if you feel good about it, great!
I’ve even put together a handy pre-filled pro/con template for you to use! Just click the button to access on Google Sheets.
Building a house isn’t ever going to be cheap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to minimize costs.
You can and you should.
One way to do that is by drawing up a budget. Not only will this show you what’s realistic, but it’ll also give you an idea of how to trim expenses. Give yourself an extra 10% wiggle room on each step of the project to set realistic expectations.
Don’t leave your funding up in the air, and don’t trust all the planning to your imagination. Put it down on paper. Use this sample template (from smartsheet.com) to get you started.
Hope for the best, expect the worst. Expect the unexpected. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.
There are ample cliches that deal with this sort of thing for a reason: it’s sound advice.
When it comes to a building project, it’s never wise to leave anything up to chance. Nor is it wise to count on everything going smoothly.
Trust me, something will go wrong. Most likely, plenty of things will. When they do, you want to be ready, and that means a contingency fund.
Leave ample space for emergencies and unforeseen problems in your budget. Consider this contingency budget structure:
Location, location, location. Not only will it affect the scenery, but also the design of your home. When picking a spot, you’ll need to factor the land itself into your plans.
Is it suitable for what you want? Will you have enough space with the right type of ground to build a home on? How will the geography impact the finished project?
These questions and more will help determine the right land for your dream house. Want to see what is available? Search by country, state & county on landwatch.com.
Once again, leave nothing to chance. Long before the first cornerstone is laid, your house has to be built on solid preparation.
Plan it all, from the significant parts down to the tiniest. The things that trip a project up are usually the things you never considered ahead of time.
Remember: if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.
Smartsheets.com has a great selection of construction management templates that will benefit you, including estimators, payment progress templates, punch lists and more.
The design of your home is essential.
When crafting your home, you should plan as if you’ll live there forever. You should also plan it as if you’re going to sell it right away.
Those may seem like contradictions, but they’re not.
You don’t know the future. You could always change your mind or face unforeseen limitations in one direction or the other. No matter which way you end up going in the years to come, you want to be ready for both.
If you want to visualize what your new home could look like, Houzz.com is a great place to start. If you want to look at house plans (and even purchase them!) you can browse a wide variety of options at houseplans.net
Want to make sure you’re on the right track? Talk to people who’ve been down it before.
If any friends and acquaintances have experience building their own homes, ask them what upgrades they felt were worthwhile. Ask them what they regret doing or not doing.
If you don’t know anyone that fits the bill, do some research. Find out what other people wish they had and hadn’t done.
Here are just a few questions you can ask:
Anytime you’re starting a major project, you should have goals. These goals need to be clear and concrete. Vague, nebulous goals won’t be of much use to anyone.
Your goals also need to be reasonable. Setting impossible targets is the quickest way to discourage yourself when you inevitably fall short of the mark.
The devil is in the details. The good news is, your guardian angel can be, too.
It’s the little things that make the difference. Paying attention to the small stuff can mean triumph, and ignoring them can spell disaster.
Everything is bound to go a whole lot smoother if you take even the smallest details into account.
Rank these goals according to your priorities:
Being flexible doesn’t mean being a pushover. Some things should be carved in stone. That being said, you may not get everything you want.
Make a list in advance of what you insist on and what’s open to some compromise. You’ll probably have to make concessions, and it’s best to decide ahead of time what’s up for debate and what isn’t.
Know what you want, but be prepared get flexible. Find the sweet spot between the two.
Building a house isn’t the sort of thing you want to put in the wrong hands. You need to be confident you have experts you can trust. That doesn’t mean you have to go for the most expensive option, though. Bigger price tags don’t always translate to better results.
Do some research to find the most reputable professionals for every level of your project. Check reviews and speak with referrals if you can.
This isn’t being overly picky–it’s treating a life-changing project with the caution and diligence it deserves.
Experienced professionals usually know what they’re talking about. With their knowledge and insight, it’s often smart to heed their advice.
That being said, they don’t know everything. They’re still just human, and they may be limited by personal biases.
There are times when it’s okay to follow your instinct and make an executive decision. It’s your home, after all. You have the final say.
Assumptions are the bane of all collaborations. Building projects are no exception.
Maintain a line of clear communication with everyone involved, and make it easy for them to do the same. The last thing you want is a sudden nasty surprise because someone misunderstood something.
Make sure everyone’s on the same page from the get-go to the tail end. Clarify, clarify, and clarify again.
Building your own house doesn’t have to be rough, but it probably isn’t going to be a pleasure cruise, either. You aren’t doing yourself any favors by over-romanticizing the work ahead.
Try to form a realistic picture of what you’re getting into. Prepare for the tough decisions, hard work, and potential stress you can expect.
That doesn’t mean you should embrace pessimism and get discouraged. It just says that going in with too rosy an impression can often lead to disappointment.
Talk with other people who’ve been through this before. Talk with your contractor and other professionals involved. They can help give you a reasonable idea of what’s coming.
Everyone makes mistakes. You’ll make mistakes during the project, and the people you hire may, too.
Accept this going in, and you’ll probably react better when it happens. Don’t fly off the handle. Don’t blame yourself or someone else unfairly.
Understand that these things happen. Keep your cool, and move on as best you can.
When it rains, it pours.
Don’t let yourself be dragged down if things seem to be turning out wrong. Most likely, you’ll face some discouragement, disappointment, and severe concerns before the end of the journey.
Take comfort in the fact that things usually appear worse than they are. What’s more, they generally seem worse before they get better.
It’ll all work out in time. Trust me.
Patience is a virtue–and a necessary one for an undertaking like this. Building a house is a significant task. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Think of this as an excellent opportunity to practice your patience and graciousness. They may well be put to the test before the end.
Do your best to relax, keep your hopes reasonable, and even enjoy the process. It can be more fun than you think if you let it.
After all, building your own home isn’t something you do every day.
Don’t be dissuaded if you feel like building a home is the right decision for you! You aren’t the first person to go through this, and you won’t be the last. Plenty of folks have managed it just fine before you.
You will too.
With these 17 tips close at hand, you’re already well on your way to designing your own home with confidence.