Should You Buy The Starter Home Now And Add A Second Story Addition Later

Should You Buy The Starter Home Now And Add A Second Story Addition Later?

Should You Buy The Starter Home Now And Add A Second Story Addition Later

photography by Lisa Russman

There are lots of options to consider when you’re adding a second story to your home that makes the process cost-effective and timely. It’s always worth exploring the ways in which you can work with what you have, reuse what’s in great condition, and still get the home of your dreams. Our happy clients have found joy with both a second story addition and when they went for the larger home right away. We can help you make an informed decision, too!

Adding a second story should start with the question, what exactly does my family need? Are you hoping for a new master suite? Do your growing teens need – a lot – of space to themselves? Will you need this space for one use now like more bedrooms and then another use later like crafting rooms or office space? Be sure you’re ready to make use of the long haul. Conversely, if you are considering a bigger home purchase right away, keep in mind that more space doesn’t automatically mean a better layout. The space your family is craving often looks like more open areas, flex space, or additional bedrooms. So a tip for you is if the big house you’re looking at doesn’t have the right number of bedrooms or an open floor plan you might end up doing some major construction anyway. We all know how those “honey-do” projects end up for later, right?

Get it done all at once! Yes, adding a second story is a project but the good news is these additions often go up in a matter of weeks or months depending on the square footage. Once it’s up you can either complete your design with paint, furniture, etc. right away or take your time going room by room. It’s a brand new space with absolutely no issues or problems so once it’s complete you can begin to enjoy it right away! For so many families, it is such a relief knowing there’s nothing else to cross off the to-do list.

Building up is also good news for you because that means you don’t need to deal with the foundation in most cases, which is often a high ticket item. You get the best of both worlds, have the charm of an older home with all the benefits of brand new materials you never have to worry about. Plus, you can make sure the overall look and feel of your home is a match for the design style of your neighborhood. You and all of your neighbors will really appreciate property value increasing in your community!

Buying a larger home right away could mean there are no major construction projects on the horizon. It also means you can thoughtfully plan your spaces in advance including furniture, appliances, and your overall flow of living. When you buy big you get that long-term satisfaction of knowing you’ll never run out of space which can offer peace of mind for a growing and busy family. You get the benefit of shopping around to identify the typical cost per square foot in your desired neighborhood. Buying your forever home at a competitive price is a real possibility in this case!

Though, the chance for higher ceilings, striking architectural features and installing energy-efficient windows that all match is a huge benefit that adding a second story could afford your family. So, once you ask yourself “what exactly does my family need?” You’ll be able to go through this article and establish your priorities helping you make the most informed decision you can feel confident in for a lifetime.


Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown

Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown: Starting With the End in Mind Allows You to Expedite the Process and Get to Building Your Dream Home

Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown

photography by Lisa Russman

Something we like to say when you plan your dream home is “to be clear is to be kind” and while we didn’t make that up it couldn’t be a more true statement for our clients who start with a teardown. The best way to honor your vision is to be as clear and vivid as you can so your team can bring that vision you have in your mind to life. Normally, you’d start at the beginning of a project, but in this case, we’ll show you how to start with the end in mind to save time and money on your build.

After decades of building homes with busy and growing families, the first suggestion we can make is to go with a bigger footprint. I’ve honestly never had a client come back and complain that they had too many square feet. Most families saved money by just executing that big design they originally hoped for instead of planning to add-on later. It’s OK to be honest with yourself that you need the room so your architect can give you a drawing that fits the mold.

Spend one entire day with your team selecting your “finishes”. Schedule phone or in-person meetings with your construction and design team to choose flooring, countertops, cabinets, hardware, appliances, etc. Make up your mind early in the process and do your best to stick with your choices – so be honest with yourself and choose the finishes that your family wants for this dream build. Selecting early means you have time to find loans, or make payments towards the materials, it means no delays in receiving the products which saves you money and time on your overall project. You can also find wholesalers or retailers that may have exactly the products you need on clearance saving you potentially thousands of dollars! Even choosing your furniture in advance means you can obtain major savings by having the time to wait for a sale.

Do your research on tax credits and local permits when you purchase your teardown property. Utilizing energy-efficient windows for example could qualify you for a credit. Just by buying a home, you may qualify for a credit back! Additionally, understanding what permits are required for your teardown and your build means you can make decisions that may allow you to avoid needing certain permits. For example, a specific amount of square footage may require an additional permit, if you stay right under it though, you could avoid paying another hefty permit fee. Being honest with yourself and your team about what you need and what the budget is, will expedite your dream home build!

And of course, taking the time to determine how to execute your teardown before you begin (mechanically or manually) will allow your team to get it done swiftly. You may have found incredible original molding you want to keep, your foundation could be in excellent shape, maybe there’s even furniture you want to restore – all of this should be decided on right away. Your team can procure proper machinery, permitting, and have an appropriate team for the job thanks to early decision making.

The common theme is – be honest and clear with yourself first. It’s OK to want the maple floors and vaulted ceilings. Plan for the finishes, the permits, the budget, and the timeline as much as you can by making decisions you feel excited about right away. Get those plans on paper and only choose a team that you believe can bring your vision to life. We do our best work with families who know what they want and need for their dream home.


Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown

Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown: Starting With the End in Mind Allows You to Expedite the Process and Get to Building Your Dream Home

Reverse Engineering Your Home Teardown

photography by Lisa Russman

Something we like to say when you plan your dream home is “to be clear is to be kind” and while we didn’t make that up it couldn’t be a more true statement for our clients who start with a teardown. The best way to honor your vision is to be as clear and vivid as you can so your team can bring that vision you have in your mind to life. Normally, you’d start at the beginning of a project, but in this case, we’ll show you how to start with the end in mind to save time and money on your build.

After decades of building homes with busy and growing families, the first suggestion we can make is to go with a bigger footprint. I’ve honestly never had a client come back and complain that they had too many square feet. Most families saved money by just executing that big design they originally hoped for instead of planning to add-on later. It’s OK to be honest with yourself that you need the room so your architect can give you a drawing that fits the mold.

Spend one entire day with your team selecting your “finishes”. Schedule phone or in-person meetings with your construction and design team to choose flooring, countertops, cabinets, hardware, appliances, etc. Make up your mind early in the process and do your best to stick with your choices – so be honest with yourself and choose the finishes that your family wants for this dream build. Selecting early means you have time to find loans, or make payments towards the materials, it means no delays in receiving the products which saves you money and time on your overall project. You can also find wholesalers or retailers that may have exactly the products you need on clearance saving you potentially thousands of dollars! Even choosing your furniture in advance means you can obtain major savings by having the time to wait for a sale.

Do your research on tax credits and local permits when you purchase your teardown property. Utilizing energy-efficient windows for example could qualify you for a credit. Just by buying a home, you may qualify for a credit back! Additionally, understanding what permits are required for your teardown and your build means you can make decisions that may allow you to avoid needing certain permits. For example, a specific amount of square footage may require an additional permit, if you stay right under it though, you could avoid paying another hefty permit fee. Being honest with yourself and your team about what you need and what the budget is, will expedite your dream home build!

And of course, taking the time to determine how to execute your teardown before you begin (mechanically or manually) will allow your team to get it done swiftly. You may have found incredible original molding you want to keep, your foundation could be in excellent shape, maybe there’s even furniture you want to restore – all of this should be decided on right away. Your team can procure proper machinery, permitting, and have an appropriate team for the job thanks to early decision making.

The common theme is – be honest and clear with yourself first. It’s OK to want the maple floors and vaulted ceilings. Plan for the finishes, the permits, the budget, and the timeline as much as you can by making decisions you feel excited about right away. Get those plans on paper and only choose a team that you believe can bring your vision to life. We do our best work with families who know what they want and need for their dream home.


Moving into the Suburbs_ Charming Old Homes Beg the Question- Are home addition costs better than teardown costs

Moving into the Suburbs? Charming Old Homes Beg the Question: Are Home Addition Costs Better Than Teardown Costs?

Moving into the Suburbs_ Charming Old Homes Beg the Question- Are home addition costs better than teardown costs

photography by Lisa Russman

Most older homes in historic towns like Montclair and Glenridge, New Jersey can easily be modernized through a home addition. Costs for construction can often outweigh the costs of a teardown. We’ve professionally guided hundreds of local families looking to solve the inquiry for their family: home addition or teardown – and now we can help you, too!

One major factor in deciding between a home addition versus a teardown is the laws and regulations that protect historical properties. You may run into an expensive and time-consuming obstacle convincing the township to approve of your teardown. In this instance, you have a couple of options to consider. First, you can walk through the property to determine if you need a full teardown or if you can keep elements like the framing, foundation, original moldings, etc. By working with your local historical society to keep important parts of the home intact, you may be able to get your permits approved. Second, you can consider adding on to the existing home by meeting the design and material requirements of your town. Home addition costs are largely impacted by what you’re required to preserve by way of the original style and structure of the home. Doing your research here will help you understand what’s expected of you so you can make an informed decision from the beginning.

Next, you want to take a look at the median house price for your desired neighborhood. Towns like Montclair and Glenridge (the 07043 area) generally sit at around a median price of $750k. By understanding the general cost of the home versus the increase in property value you can expect when modernizing a home with an addition, you get the bigger picture of what’s really in it for you – and your neighbors! Certain types of renovation and add-ons bring a higher percentage of value with them than others. For example, by renovating your kitchen for say $80,000 you can expect to add about a 60% increase in your total property value on top of your spending. Whereas if you’re adding on a family room at $80,000 you’d expect to only increase your property by less than half of your total spend. So your home addition costs start to feel like they’re shrinking when you make smart remodeling moves like adding on dormers, building a deck/outdoor living space, an attic bedroom, or an additional bathroom. So, purchasing a home for around $750k but ending up with a new property value of over $1M sounds like an incredible investment in your neighborhood and for the legacy of your family.

Lastly, you want to consider what your investment means for your community. If you’re already considering purchasing your home in the Essex County area, then consider the impact of a teardown. Does tearing down detract from the heritage of the area? Or does your modernization bring more value to the township enhancing the quality of life for future generations? Could an increase in property value attract new business opportunities for your downtown? Whether you purchase a charming old home with the intention of building onto it or tearing it down for something new, you will play an important role in your neighborhood. You’ll be increasing the value of everyone’s home and providing your family with a stable future in a location you absolutely love. 

To make the best decision possible for your family, we invite you to consider the kind of experience you’re hoping for when designing your dream home: do you want to spend your time restoring original elements or designing something brand new from scratch? Both are winning scenarios!


Tips for building a house that maintains

Tips For Building A House That Maintains The Charm And Craftsmanship Of The 1920s: Achieve This Timeless Look

Tips for building a house that maintains

photography by Lisa Russman

We take dreaming seriously. Please remember that the first step, no matter what tips for building a house you’ve received, is to always dream and envision how you want to live in your home. Explore Pinterest, HGTV, Home & Gardens, local designers, etc to get ideas and start making a list of your must-haves. If you plan to celebrate the 1920’s look, you’ll have to dig through the archives to get period-specific inspiration that’s both timeless and accurate. Fun Fact, did you know that Sears Roebuck & Co used to sell build-your-own-home kits? You could literally order your home by mail! Let’s get you close to that experience by walking through time, visiting the 1920’s style, materials, design, and more!

If you’ve got your heart set on the ever-popular Craftsman style home, then be prepared to build a grand, inviting porch with handsome brick columns to greet your guests and welcome you home. Keep your palette full of earth tones, shades, colors, and textures that look naturally worn and loved. As you head inside one of the most important features to highlight will be your built-ins. Another of our favorite tips for building a house that’s period-specific is to work with your architects and designers so they can capture those must-have elements in a really authentic way. 

For families that are growing or are amidst a small herd already bustling about, you may want to explore some of the styles with more square footage built into the design. The many “Colonial” homes are a perfect choice for you. Colonial Revival homes derive influence from across the globe including styles by the Greek, British, French, and several more. It’s important to note the history because it’s where the much larger stature, fancier details, and trim work, as well as a traditionally two-story build, came from. So if when you close your eyes you imagine ornate dentil detailing, cornices, elaborate dormers, and perfect symmetry, then this is likely the home of your dreams! 

A variation, the Dutch Colonial, is particularly popular in New Jersey, just take a stroll through Montclair or Glenridge! You’ll notice the steeper pitch of the roof, brick or stone detailing, often a side or rear “wing” of the home with a more lived-in vibe and less significance on symmetry. The bedrooms are upstairs and offer a light and airy feel under the daylight of the dormers. Both Colonials offer so many charming details it’s just a matter of preference.

Now for a fun surprise! Did you know that most homes of the 20’s boast linoleum flooring? Wait, don’t cringe! We’re not talking olive green and orange ’tile’ pattern, remember that’s the gift of the ‘70s and it comes in the form of vinyl. Linoleum is worth exploring, you’d typically see a simple diamond or square pattern or even a single tone floor stretch across the kitchen. Families now have many of the same needs as a century ago – durability and simplicity! Linoleum means housekeeping made easy; these floors never get scratched or dinged and cleaning it is a cinch with no cracks or grout to catch dirt. 

What do parquet flooring, clinker brick, Batchelder tiles, and oak furniture have in common? Believe it or not, you can find most of these 20’s materials for sale second hand! As homes and buildings are torn down, they’re being sold so homeowners like you can honor your build with authentic elements that are actually 100+ years old. 

So once you’ve dreamt up your must-have list and you can visualize your home, identify the style you’re hoping to emulate with your build. Get creative with your design and construction team to identify and source appropriate components that are replicas of time-specific pieces or are indeed from that era. And remember, have fun!


how expensive is it to build a house

Supply and demand, understand how a pandemic impacts the question “how expensive is it to build a house”?

how expensive is it to build a house

photography by Lisa Russman

Building a house was already an expensive endeavor, so how has the pandemic impacted the costs and timelines? We will cover how expensive it is to build a house, the factors that have made prices rise, and what you can expect for the foreseeable future.

As nation-wide shutdowns began due to the pandemic, many mills and supply manufacturers shut down their factories to protect their employees. Less work, fewer materials. A ripple effect of the shutdown means the number of materials that are available to contractors has dramatically reduced. And as we all know, when supply is down, and demand is up, that means costs also go up. Specifically, the cost of acquiring materials has risen, which directly increases the price to build your house. And as the stock continues to deplete, not only are the prices are driven up, but timelines are also being stretched out. So, if you’re financing the construction costs with a loan that could mean more mortgage payments, interest payments, and property taxes before your structure is complete. 

Concurrently, the demand to build new homes did not decline but rather increased. Hundreds of people living in highly populated cities like New York are making the move to towns like Montclair and Glenridge with an urgency unlike ever before. Families want to build spacious new homes where they can spread out, work remotely, and focus on the family. Construction labor, though, follows the supply and demand theory; supply of materials decreased and demand increased, causing labor prices to increase as well. With such unpredictable circumstances, manpower has been limited and inconsistent in the construction industry. As the pandemic continued, many workers feared for their health and decided that social distancing was the safest option. The ones who did continue to work asked for higher pay, which also impacted the increase in the cost to build a home.

The ever-burning question of “how expensive is it to build a house?” now has become “how much MORE expensive is it to build a house?” Let’s look to see where we may be able to find savings or benefits from the current real estate market.

There is a silver lining to all of these added costs: record low-interest rates on mortgages and home equity lines of credit. Mortgage rates have dropped to below 3%, a rate that has never been seen before. For a $285,000 home, the national median home price, homeowners will save approximately $100 a month and $50,000 over the course of the loan. Similarly, more expensive homes are now more affordable. For example, if a homeowner can afford a $347,750 home with a $2,000 monthly payment at a 5% interest, they could now afford a $414,000 home with $2,000 monthly payments at a 3% interest rate. That means you now have access to over sixty-six thousand dollars of additional home! These savings from the record low-interest rates may balance out the higher upfront prices to build a brand new home.

The pandemic has brought about unprecedented circumstances: both a buyer’s and seller’s market. So, while thousands of families are focused on buying a home from a tremendously limited market, you might have an advantage. Pursuing a new build right now means you’re hiring a construction company at a time when they are most are hopeful to meet the demand. Building professionals are finding creative ways to source materials and continue working safely amidst our “new normal”. Plus, you can lock in some of the lowest mortgage rates we’ve seen in years which equals thousands in the bank for you over time versus what you might be spending if the pandemic hadn’t changed everything.


Let Us Explain Why Families Choose To Add On To A House During A Pandemic

Let Us Explain Why Families Choose To Add On To A House During A Pandemic: Betting On The Future

Let Us Explain Why Families Choose To Add On To A House During A Pandemic

photography by Lisa Russman

There’s one common thread almost everyone can agree this pandemic has brought to light: the need to be near the ones we love and the focus on family and community. It’s those exact reasons why so many families are still choosing to add on to a house, make improvements, and create more space. One other important factor to consider is what the future holds after a major economic crisis: regrowth. We’re spending some cash now knowing that what we need – space to be together – is only going to continue to trend as the many facets of everyday life become more challenging to handle with the expansion of technology, distance learning, and remote working.

First, let’s talk about family, it’s our favorite topic to explore. We’ve worked with hundreds of families over our decades in this industry and we see that despite national and even local circumstances, the need to be connected is why we do what we do as architects. Homes bring families together, virtually or otherwise. Deciding to do an add on to a house is always about what it will provide for the family as a whole first and foremost, and the financial opportunities it brings are always secondary. Aging parents, college students, in-laws, and family members from abroad are coming together with an urgency unlike any other. And as we reluctantly welcome this reality as long-term, there is a need for more space. Basements are being finished, first floor additions are taking spreading out into the side yard, and second – even third story additions are going up. The financial bonus being that one, literally, thousands of people are moving into New Jersey with huge NYC budgets in need of space, and with remote work settling in, that’s a trend we probably won’t get rid of. Two, regardless of people moving out of the city, there will always be growing families or those in need of their forever home who are just like you – they need the room! Betting on the future couldn’t be more sure than right now.

Second, we’ve looked back in time and have noticed a trend, whenever there is an economic crisis or recession, there’s always a bounce back. After the 2008 recession, there were more than 8 million jobs recovered by mid-2014. These times of hardship lead to innovation that wouldn’t have been possible without it. And now, we’ve seen small businesses embrace the need to be virtual, offering online classes, online ordering options, Zoom meetings, and more. We’re moving faster with more tools and technology available than ever before and this impacts the kind of decision-making homeowners consider. 

More technology also means more job stability. As thousands of us gear up to work from home, that means office space – let’s clarify – quiet office space. It’s a must-have. Our behaviors as an economy are shifting so to add on to a house now with soundproofed office space protects our ability to work from home and earn an income. The kids are also at home distance learning in many cases and not everyone has a dining room with enough space for Chromebooks, notebooks, kids, chairs, books, and the list goes on. It’s not always worth the heartache of that kind of chaos when we’re not really sure these circumstances will be lifted any time soon.

With more demand for home improvements and add ons means the cost to supply those materials will also likely increase. So, by creating the space you need now and let’s face it, space you’ll surely need in the future, you’re saving money in the long run and cultivating a lifestyle of family-first living. 


Home tear down costs

Home Tear Down Costs Are Not Limited To Just Money! Know The True Costs So You Can Make The Most Informed Decisions For Your Family

Home tear down costs

photography by Lisa Russman

We know our clients are concerned about how much money a home tear down costs, it’s naturally the first thing we all wonder about, right? But, after decades of working with local families to help them build their dream homes after a teardown, we can tell you what factors amount to the ‘true cost’ so you can make an informed decision. After all, the point of evaluating whether home tear down costs are worthwhile is because you want more time and space to be with your family. So one of the major costs, if you’re not prepared, is how this process can quickly suck up your time and energy.

The first time-saver is doing your due diligence on land use. You likely have your eye on a town with fantastic schools that are walking distance to literally everything. But before you get too excited, talk to the town or hire a real estate professional to research whether the municipality is open to teardowns and new builds. There may be historical considerations on an older home or local restrictions that would thwart you before you even start.

Once you’re sure you’re working with a tear down friendly town, you need to know that you may not need to raze your home completely. If you still have a solid foundation or a functional part of the structure, your town might ease up on those restrictions. This could save you time as well as money not having to take everything down. At this point, working with an architecture team gives you the best overview of how to mitigate costs while getting the home you’ve dreamed of.

Permits. They don’t just cost you money. While each one comes with its own fee, yes, they can also cost you time. Not only can townships take a long time to issue permits based on the volume of paperwork they’re dealing with but the building team you hire can also impact the timeline and costs. There are demolition, electrical, and foundation-related permits, as well as inspections to schedule and likely toxins to check for which is a common practice in older homes. 

Demolition and deconstruction costs are determined by the size of the home as well as the local cost of goods and labor in your area.  If this is something you need to finance, remember there’s a monthly cost to pay back this loan plus interest. Your team will help you understand your financing and repayment options. A bonus saving that many homeowners don’t consider is the value of recycling demolished materials. Check into salvage yards, metal collection, copper recycling, etc to recuperate some funds. If you’re able to use machines to intentionally remove recyclable materials from your home, you may surprise yourself with the total savings.

Insurance and utilities. You must disconnect your water, sewer, gas, and electricity. While your team of professionals knows to handle this with care, we want to remind you this is a necessary cost. Insurance is something you may not have considered or you may not realize what’s actually covered by your policy. Most homeowner’s insurance plans do not cover the cost of a do-it-yourself demo. Save yourself the heartache now and check the details of your policy! That could mean if you hurt yourself or damage the property during demolition you might have some major costs to incur. By bringing in a team you will have a layer of protection because they likely won’t cause any additional damage and your demolition insurance will be effective. 

You can have the home of your dreams in your favorite neighborhood and by understanding the true cost of your home tear down costs, you’ll be ready for anything!


We Know About Every Surprise That Can Come With a Teardown

We Know About Every Surprise That Can Come With a Teardown, Save Yourself the Heartache!

We Know About Every Surprise That Can Come With a Teardown

photography by Lisa Russman

You want to be as prepared as possible before going into a full-on teardown and rebuild, right? If we were you, we’d want to know about all the possible surprises before jumping into a big project, too. After working with hundreds of families, we’ve gathered up lots of goodies to keep you aware and prepared for your new construction home!

Get to know your neighbors

This might seem somewhat arbitrary but we’ve actually seen cases where neighbors can be quite nosey and annoyed by your construction. One great way to manage this is with donuts and coffee! Bring by some Dunkin, say hello, and let them know how excited you are to be their new neighbor. You don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty of your plans but with more people on board and grateful for your presence the better. And, when it comes time for the demo, keep signs posted with clear boundaries so people know to stay off the property for their safety. Yes, they shouldn’t be on your property, to begin with, but just trust us, this will save you a headache!

Read every single word

Yes, we mean it. When it comes to your contract with your architecture firm, with your builders, and every drawing – read them. It’s critical that you participate fully in checking, double, and triple-checking measurements, lists, materials, costs, etc. Oh, and it’s even better if you ask a ton of questions upfront. Your team will not be frustrated with you! You’re about to head into a full teardown and rebuild and you deserve the chance to think it completely through. What you worry is the most obvious question and feel super weird asking – just ask it! You may catch an error right at the beginning of your project vs. waiting until something costs you more time and money by not speaking up.

You and your partner are the most important people

If you take away anything from our advice, take away this one. Go into your teardown knowing who you want to be responsible for what when it comes to your project. No, you’re not project managers but you will be the homeowners so you’ll be quite involved. Who’s better at email? Who’s the best to go word by word through each contract? Does one have more time to visit your property periodically? Schedule times to meet with each other about “business” and also schedule dates, fun, and leisure – especially during this process. If the whole point of your project is to create a space for family, then let’s keep family the top priority!

Know what to get started on early

Gas, water, and power – get moving on this right away. Since you’re tearing down you’re home that means lots of work for the utility companies. They may have to completely remove and replace anything existing or add additional lines based on the size of your new home. We highly suggest you get them as much detail as you can right away so you can fully understand the effect of their work on your budget and your timeline.

Now we know this part might be tough but have all of your finishes selected before the foundation is even poured. Yes, we do mean right down to the cabinet pulls. You would be surprised what the impact could be on your custom home build when you change your mind even on just a hardware decision. 

We’ve talked with happy customers, parents, working professionals and we’ve heard it all. This is meant as a guide to protect you from those surprises you just wouldn’t know about before you engage in a teardown. We know this process can actually be really fun and rewarding and we hope for you to get the most out of it with a lot less of the stress!


If I Want To Build A Custom Home What Kinds Of Professionals Do I Need On My Team

If I Want To Build A Custom Home What Kinds Of Professionals Do I Need On My Team?

If I Want To Build A Custom Home What Kinds Of Professionals Do I Need On My Team

photography by Lisa Russman

Building a custom home is definitely different than buying a house that’s listed on the real estate market, we all know that. But what’s the difference when it comes to the kinds of professionals you need to represent you and get your dream home made into a reality? We’ve got the answer!

First, you still need a real estate agent

Any time you’re purchasing real estate even if it’s land for a custom home, we recommend hiring an agent. At no cost to you, you’ll have a professional working to find you the best property that’s within your budget and hopefully meets your wishlist. Imagine finding out about opportunities before they even hit the market. You’re leveraging their entire professional network which saves you a ton of time and you don’t have to become an overnight expert on finding land. Win!

Some specifics you should know

Investigate if your land is ready for utilities or not. It’s OK either way depending on your budget and your timeline. Hint, it’s expensive to run new water and electrical lines! You can count on your town or city’s planning and zoning departments to get you accurate information on whether or not your lot has water and sewer. Then, you can contact your county’s power provider (just Google for that info) and determine how close the nearest powerlines are to your location and of course the cost to handle that.

If you need to finance your land purchase, you will need the expertise of a mortgage advisor at this point. They can walk you through the various options available.  

Next, you need residential architects

Before you dive in and get started on any custom home project you’ll want the kind of pro’s who can plan, execute, project manage and even help you source the additional kinds of experts you’ll need. That’s the role of an architecture firm. Once you’ve purchased your land and it’s ready for the build, it’s time to start interviewing for this role. This is a team you’ll be working closely with from start to finish so take your time, ask lots of questions and go with your gut! They’ll visit your lot and start working up a scope of work that covers all those wish list items your dream home cannot be without. Let’s face it, you shouldn’t have to budge on that master ensuite bath!

Time to build!

Once you’ve settled on your plans the architect can use those drawings of your home to help you find the right team to get it built. That means they may need an engineer to weigh in on certain structural elements, you for sure need a construction team and you’ll also need a project manager. There’s a lot of moving parts at this point in your custom home build, so allow your architect to help you select the specialists for each job. Every build is nuanced and unique, so you may find your construction team provides the project manager or foreman or sometimes the architect will have a specialist on their team to handle this. Either way, you’ll have every job secured in this step of the process.

As you go, your town or city will send their inspector to check various milestones from foundation to framing and plumbing to electrical. They may not be your favorite person (trust me, they know) but they’re an integral part of your custom home coming to fruition. Oh, quick tip, be friendly with your local inspector, bring them coffee and donuts, it helps you build a solid relationship in a town you plan to live in for quite some time.

Design and finishes

Ah, the fun part! Your architect may be the right team member to handle the nuances of your design but if not, you’ll need an interior designer for this phase. Cozy couches, king-sized beds, and mudroom organization are non-negotiables! A pro for interior design can make your house look amazing.