Most people will only build a custom home once in their life. Because of this, it can be hard to master all of the details that go into the process.
Unfortunately, it’s common for some small details to be overlooked.
We worked with a Barden homeowner to put together this guide to help prospective custom homeowners better understand some of the finer, nitty gritty details of custom home building and ensure nothing is overlooked before and during the building process.
6 Small, But Important, Custom Home Building Considerations
It would take years to outline every single detail to account for when custom home building. For the purpose of this guide, we’ve compiled the most common topics that we hear customers say “I wish I had thought about that” including:
- Lot selection
- Utility configuration
- Building method / building partner selection
- Homeowner responsibility
- Aesthetic choice importance
- Legal details
Keep reading for a more in-depth look at each of those topics.
1. Lot Selection
Lot selection is the first step when building a custom home, and homeowners know it is one of the most important steps. But, unfortunately, sometimes homeowners overlook important details of the lot that are key for building on it.
These details include (but are not limited to):
- Utility hookups: While it is possible to hook utilities up to almost any lot, there are some lots that are more feasible than others. It’s also important to remember that utility considerations and lot selection does go beyond simply “Is it possible?” Opting for a lot where utility installation is easier can help save money during the building process. If you’re between a couple of lots, it’s a good idea to pull in a contractor and ask for a consultation about the ease of installing utilities on the lot, and understand any impediments.
- Sewage: When thinking about sewage systems, it’s important to pull in an expert as well. This is especially important if you a building on a hill or steep grade. Many homeowners make the mistake of assuming that because they are building close to other homes or in a suburban area that sewage will be easy and do not give it a second thought. Avoid the headache (and cost) of finding out halfway through your build that your sewer system will not work as planned by consulting with a contractor early on.
- Solid Ground: There are several tests that can be done to verify that the ground you are building on is solid. Commonly, a core sample is done to test and ensure that building is wise on the lot. Again, bringing in an expert early is key. You don’t want to make the mistake of purchasing a lot, only to find out a massive sinkhole is preventing you from building your dream home there.
- Drainage: It’s important to have a grasp on how groundwater and rainwater will flow, pool, or drain around your foundation -- and the property as a whole. Implementing infrastructure to ensure proper drainage can be costly, so opting for a lot that has natural drainage is often a good choice, and hiring the right pros to advise you for this task is necessary. A perfectly drained lot often isn't an option, but is not a project killer with the right people.
- Logistics: Is the lot you want on a narrow road? Is the road paved? Is the road steep? These are all considerations to think about, as it will be your responsibility to ensure that all of the materials needed for building are able to be delivered to your lot. This includes any number of costs from purchasing gravel to ensure a truck can get through a muddy road for deliveries, to adjusting the method of delivery.
The truth is, if you find the lot of your dreams, but it is going to be a headache and money suck before you even move in, it might be worth looking into other lots that are more conducive for building your home.
2. Utility Configuration
While it’s important to consider the utility requirements while you’re in the process of selecting your lot, the considerations do not end there.
One of the most important things to consider is the timing of your scheduled utility hook-ups. Oftentimes, we see home owners neglect to coordinate utility set-up and hook-up far enough in advance. This can cause delays in the build, as there are several processes that are dependent on utility installation to be accomplished.
For example, when building in the North East, it’s important that heat is in place to help speed along the process of the drywall setting. Without the utilities being connected prior to the beginning of the drywall process to enable heat flow through the structure, it is impossible to move forward with drywall and stages following drywall.
It’s best practice for homeowners to coordinate with their utility installation contractor and their general contractor to ensure there is no downtime in the project. Thinking about utilities early and often helps limit any delays down the line.
3. Building Method / Building Partner Selection
When choosing a home building method to complete your custom home, you want to make sure that the method of choice coincides with the amount of customization you want in your home.
We’ve discussed the considerations between custom building through the modular, panelized, and stick building methods in this article.
Additionally, ensure that no matter what method you choose, your building partner’s capabilities are in line with your final goals for your home. This means thinking about the little things and inquiring about them early, to guarantee they’re within their skill-set.
This can include anything from basement creation to the logistics of adding a garage to the lot. Never assume that all home builders are equal -- always ask if their capabilities are in line with your goals.
It’s also important to inquire about your home building partner’s relationship with their subcontractors including questions like: How long have you been working with this crew? Who is your subcontractor for this particular process? How long have they been a subcontractor of your organization’s?
Asking these important questions early on prevents any surprises arising down the line, and helps you decide on a home building partner with integrity.
4. Homeowner Responsibility
When opting for Barden panelized home construction, you have the ability to get involved with the process as much or as little as you’d like.
This ranges everywhere from homeowners becoming their own General Contractor on the project, to choosing a General Contractor to handle it for them.
Becoming your own General Contractor or even just getting involved in your home building process is a great way to have the experience of making not just a custom home, but your dream home. However, there are some things to keep in mind before embarking on the journey. Including:
No matter how involved you choose to be in the project, open the lines of communication early so you understand the full scope of your role.
5. Aesthetic Choice Importance
When drafting the plans for your home, make sure you are as positive as possible on the features that you are planning on integrating into your home.
Too often we see projects delayed because of something that seems like a minor aesthetic detail, but can actually greatly slow down the build. This includes choices like the colors of your shutters or outdoor trim, or even the internal configuration of the walls in the home.
Take a little extra time while drafting your home to make sure that everything is perfect. By doing so, you’re saving countless time and money while the project is underway.
6. Legal Details
Some homeowners never need to worry about this aspect of custom home building, but for others this becomes a major impediment to getting the process completed as quickly as they would like.
Legal items to consider include:
- Property lines
- Zoning considerations
- Build requirements / guidelines
- Code compliance
Similar to the other items we’ve discussed, it’s important to bring in an expert early. Contact your surveyor prior to purchasing your lot to ensure there are no encroachments onto your property, as this can become a liability when the build begins.
Additionally, talk to an expert about the legal considerations associated with the area in which you’re building. Each town, city, and neighborhood has different requirements that can be confusing and complicated to understand. But, it’s important to ensure your build is in compliance with all of the above items before breaking ground.
Cross Your “T”s, Dot your “I”s
The best recommendation that we can give to prospective custom homeowners is to get in touch with a home building partner that you trust as soon as possible, and ask questions as frequently as possible.
For more information on the process of custom home building, check out our guide to answer questions about home building methods, financing, the step-by-step process, and more.