You tore down an old home, so now what? Many of us spend a fair amount of time daydreaming about our dream home. We think of what it will look like both inside and out. We picture the special touches we want, the furniture, the placement…everything we’ve always dreamed about. Building a new home is exciting but can be very overwhelming for those doing this for the first time. The end result, however, can be extremely rewarding.
In terms of building a brand-new home, there are a few options buyers can choose from: You can select a homebuilder who can show you the plans and materials to choose from or you can do the research yourself, draft up plans, and hire a contractor to build it. No matter the path you choose in order to create your dream home, there are some really important points to keep in mind as you go about the process:
- Be realistic about your budget.
A big point of issue for many homebuilders is money. Know what you can afford to spend. If you are going to be paying for two mortgages while the build continues, you need to be aware of every penny you are spending. Establish your numbers and then decide what the best way to stick to them would be. Many real estate experts advise that buyers work closely with their builder to create a realistic estimate of what it will cost to build the home as well as all the features and fixtures you want to see on the inside. It’s always a good idea to keep some money aside as a contingency for any unforeseen costs. On the off chance that there are some issues and extra cash is needed, you don’t want to have all your finances tied. Begin with what you can afford, and move from there.
- Think about what you need versus what you want.
Daydreams are often much grander than our budgets allow, so in building a dream home it’s essential that you remain realistic in your needs and wants. While a movie theater room sounds amazing, is it really necessary and do you have the budget for it? Or should that budget go for something more important like bathrooms and kitchens. You can build your dream home to include everything you could ever want, but remember that you will need to pay for it, so choose accordingly. It’s easy to dream about all the things we would love in our home in an age of HGTV and Pinterest, but viewing pictures of a home that is 5,000 square feet when you have a home that’s about 2,500 square feet won’t do you any favors because they are completely different sized spaces. Understand that you can still have some aspects of those homes or rooms that you absolutely love, but you may have to compromise. Bookcases in a family room or dining room can eliminate the want for a library. Simple compromises and fixes can have a big impact on your space and your budget.
- Go back over your budget…again.
Don’t be afraid to back over your budget. Don’t play games with your builder about how much money you can spend. Be completely honest with yourself and those you are working with. Think heavily on your finances and what you can really afford. And don’t forget to budget for landscape and interior furnishings as those can tend to stretch the budget more than you would have originally thought. Most builders like to know an entry level for pricing so they can direct you to vendors who sell items that will help you stay on budget, or even better, under budget.
- Hire a good builder you can trust.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your builder if you choose to hire one, so it’s a good idea that you get along pretty well with them. If you are nervous about anything, be sure to communicate and talk with them. They can’t read minds, so be direct with them. Remember that certain things cost what they cost and your builder can’t change that. Framing materials can be costly, but there isn’t much your builder can do to lower those prices. Be sure to do your homework before hiring. Get a list of references and ask to see their work so you get a feel for the types of projects they have worked on previously. Then get everything in writing. This applies to subcontractors as well. Make sure everything is recorded and well-documented so if you need to go back to the fine print you are able to.
- Consider newer materials.
Have you always had your heart set on granite, hardwood floors, or marble tiles? With new materials coming out all the time, you don’t have to spend as much to achieve the look you want. There are new and affordable materials that will allow you to get that luxury look for much less than you originally thought. Want hardwood floors but can’t afford them for all the rooms you want? Look into laminate. There are so many options for laminate flooring nowadays that look very real and are extremely durable for everyday wear and tear. They are also much easier to install, many of them coming in interlocking pieces that just snap together. Another interesting trend are pieces of tile that look like wood for areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room. The same thing goes for granite—you can get the look of real granite for a fraction of the cost by using laminate countertops. Lastly, if you wanted marble tile for your bathrooms or kitchen, you can install a slab of concrete and have it stained to look like stone or marble, which is much more cost effective and allows you to achieve the very same look you were hoping for. Research and see what materials you can find that may save you money. But if you have your heart set on the better materials and there’s room in your, then go for it. It’s your home and you need to be happy with your choices.
- Plan. Plan. Plan. And then plan some more.
You may not want to, but you should play the “what if” game with yourself. You don’t want to be sitting at the end of the project saying, “we should have done….” You want to get everything right the first time, and this takes some serious planning. During the build you will be asked to make many decisions, so just be sure that you are happy with what you pick because you like it and not because you are under a time crunch. Don’t second-guess yourself. Whatever choice you made originally is typically the best to go with. If you keep changing your mind, nothing will get done. The project will stress you out and you will undoubtedly feel the pressure, but stick to your gut. Time is money, and if you keep pushing back the project because of changes you will cost yourself more money.
Lastly, enjoy your home. You are building it to make your life easier and to be happy inside its walls and build memories with your family. You did all the hard work and you waited all of those months for it to finally be done. So enjoy it. Throw a party. Have people over. Laugh and smile. You made it through the build, and you now have your very own dream house to call your own.