Building a home

10 Steps to Buying a Home

So, you are thinking of building a home.  But where do you start?  It is certainly an overwhelming process, but one that can be managed by simply understanding what to expect.  By educating yourself upfront, you will know what questions to ask and will be more satisfied with your completed home.  You want to minimize how many times you think “I wish I knew that” or “If I had known, I would have…”

My goal is to help educate people who are new to home building so they can begin the process with confidence.  It is a process I believe should be enjoyable, so I will do my best to make this blog informative and entertaining.  And whenever it will be helpful and is possible, a video or photograph post will be included.

We are going to start with selecting our lot to build, then walking you through the process of deciding a builder, followed by explaining the selections you will be expected to make for your home, and will be giving you tips throughout to help you get the most out of your investment.

Home Building Guide - ebook

Choosing a Homesite

Before you can build a home, you will need a piece of land. Usually land will fall into one of two categories – a piece of land that is for sale independent of a builder or development or a homesite within a development with a predetermined builder or selection of builders.

Choosing a Builder

When hiring a builder think about how involved you want to be in the process. Typically a person who is building a home will fall into one of three categories:

1) Not too interested in design choices, but would like a nicely built home. – Many of the larger builders offer limited selections and don’t allow for changes. This is a good choice for a person who isn’t interested in the details.

2) Desires a completely custom home. – The very high end custom builders say “yes” to almost all requests and their clients pay a premium for this flexibility.

3) Interested in being involved in the process and would like flexibility in the building and finishings. – Many small and medium sized builders have a selection of floor plans and options, but allow for changes to those plans and flexibility on the finishings and details of the home. This home building series can benefit all three categories of people but is most inline with the the person who is wanting to be involved and make choices, but doesn’t have an endless bank account.

Site Prep

Some homesites will requires days or weeks of site prep. This post is designed to help you think through the potential tasks needed to prepare your land – tree clearing, fill dirt, retaining wall, and drainage.

Creating a Backyard

We have said from the beginning that we like a challenge. This particular piece of land presents challenges because of this steep drop, but it is a challenge that can be overcome with some engineering. It would have been easier to say this home would not have a backyard, but that wasn’t going to work for me.

Cement, Rebar, and Engineer Plans, Oh My!

The average home sits on top of a 12 inch footer with metal rebar every 3 to 4 feet. If you have been following our blog, you know this is not your average home. After the lot was cleared and dirt was moved around, the engineer came out to re-assess. This was the plan all along – start clearing and moving dirt then re-assess our building plan. Even if you know a home can be built, but it is important to take a step back and make sure it is being done the best way.

Window Selections

It may seem early in the process to start thinking about “selections”, but these decisions are often made before the framing is done to ensure all materials are delivered in a timely manner and the contractors have what they need when they are ready to start installing.

Color Selection

I love color. However, picking the right paint color always leaves me stumped. I am the queen of paint samples, samples, and more samples. I have quickly learned that the tiny little color swatch is very different than a 9 foot wall (multiplied by 4 walls). But repainting a powder room a few times isn’t the end of the world. Although my husband may disagree.

Framing Tips

While the builder has the framing crew at your home site, you will be spending your time making all your selections.  But there are some important things to be thinking about during the framing process.  If you haven’t already, ask about the width of the wood being used.  2×4’s are appropriate and used in most homes.  But if you are worried about the cost to heat and cool your home, you may want to ask for your exterior walls to be framed with 2×6’s. It should not be too expensive for this upgrade and you will be gaining 2 inches of insulation (6 inches instead of 4 inches).  And since we are on the topic of insulation, discuss to differences between spray foam and batting with your builder and ask what they intend to use to insulate your home.   Foam’s R-Value, or thermal performance, is twice that of the traditional batting.  Don’t forget about extra insulation in the attic, basement, and over the garage.

Flooring, Cabinetry and Countertop Selections

While the walls and stairs are being built inside your home, it is time to start thinking about the finishing touches. The more custom your builder is, the more options you will have available to you. The three areas we will focus on are: Flooring, Cabinetry, Countertops