When you consider building a custom home, it’s important to understand the process and have reasonable expectations. The steps involved in building a custom home can be complex, so selecting a reputable builder is key. In this article, we outline the 7 steps to building a custom home that we have incorporated into over business over the past 30 years. In addition, we highlight some of the most important elements associated with each of these steps.
Phase 1 – Financing
Before you begin designing a custom home, you’ve got to know how much home you can afford. If you have unlimited financial resources, you can skip this step, but if not, make sure you consider your financial situation before you begin anything. Don’t look for or buy land, meet with an architect, or start interviewing builders until you’ve determined your overall budget. There is no point designing a $5 Million home if you can only afford a $2 Million home. We have an entire chapter dedicated to this topic in our ebook, so be sure to read that material and meet with your lender before you begin the process. This will save you time and money, in the long run, and help you plan accordingly.
Phase 2 – Selecting Your Builder
The selection of your builder is an important long-term relationship. You’ll want to be sure your builder is competent, reputable, uses a solid construction process, and knows how to run their business. More importantly, they should be involved during the design process for the most collaboration. Use our checklist for a list of questions and considerations you can use to select the best builder for your needs. For a custom luxury home, the collaboration between the architect and the builder, at the earliest stage possible (preferably the design phase) will enhance your overall experience.
Phase 3 – Design
Many homeowners are eager to get their designs on paper and see their dreams come to life. Some homeowners select an architect before they meet with a builder, while others select a builder they want to work with, and then have the builder assist them in selecting an architect. We recommend that the builder and architect be introduced early on and collaborate throughout the design process. The architect is generally responsible for the design and structural elements of the home while the builder is primarily responsible for ensuring that the concept can be built within the budget desired. We believe this kind of collaboration is the key to a successful building experience. We highly recommend having either the builder or architect complete detailed designed specifications before the project begins. The devil is truly in the details. This phase has a big impact on Phase 4 below – and your ability to compare apples to apples.
Phase 4 – Pricing
It’s important to understand the intricacies associated with pricing a custom home. We explore this topic in detail in our ebook and specifically explore hidden costs, vague specifications, and more. We believe, at the end of the day, one builder’s pricing should not be more than 5-8% from another’s, if all things are equal. The ‘equal’ part of that is largely based on the way that design specifications are outlined and detailed for your project. If you find a builder that says they can build a home for dramatically less than another – beware!
Phase 5 – Permitting
Each jurisdiction has specific criteria that must be met for the permitting process. Some areas have more fees, some areas have more restrictions, and some areas must comply with critical area or forest regulations. Your builder should be well versed in these requirements and be able to give you information and estimates for the home and Lot. We also discuss the importance of a feasibility study before you purchase a lot in several recent articles.
Phase 6 – Construction Process Begins
If you’ve done your homework and selected a reputable and experienced builder, the construction process should be smooth sailing but it certainly helps if your expectations are also managed along the way. A reputable builder will have a methodical process that anticipates weather, supply, or complex issues that impact the construction schedule. Your ability to make your selections in a timely manner can also have a big impact on the overall construction process and keeping the project on budget and on-time.
Phase 7 – End of Construction & Move-In
We believe that the luxury custom home building experience should be a rewarding, memorable experience. When it’s time to move in, the end of the construction process may look a little like organized chaos, but it’s where all of the finishing touches are done. So, don’t rush the completion process. Allow your builder time to finish the construction project and deliver a beautiful home you’ll enjoy for years to come.
When you are ready to begin the luxury custom home building process, start off on the right foot with the right builder! Carefully consider the steps to building a custom home that will provide you the best experience. We invite you to consider Mueller Homes as part of your research process or contact us to set up a Discovery meeting.