Around a fifth of the new homes constructed in the United States each year are customer builds. The average time it takes to complete a custom build ranges from 6-12 months, but that, of course, will depend on a wide variety of factors such as the size of the house and the complexity of the build.
If you’re just starting out on your custom home, or if you’re still in the perusing stages, here are some fundamentals that you’ll need to take into account and build on.
This is one of the really fun parts of designing your own home: how many bedrooms and how many bathrooms.
You may think of this as an exciting first step, but it’s also a necessary one. Your bedroom and bathroom count will help determine basic things such as the square footage of your home, whether your build is one or multi-story, and whether there will be communal bathrooms or en-suites.
The next step after deciding on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is to settle on the floor plan. Designing your floor plan is really the first opportunity you’ll have to customize your home and draw a layout that is truly “you.”
An important thing to bear in mind is to plan for spaces as they would be used in all circumstances. For example, you’re probably not going to be hosting parties every weekend, but what will your living area allow for when, say, your cousin wants you to host her baby shower? Similarly, a smaller dining room may work just fine for most meals, but what about hosting large family get-togethers over the holidays?
You’ll probably want to start thinking about the types of materials your custom home will utilize early on. One reason for this is that the type of material (or materials) that you use for your house will determine the shape, size, and even location of your future home.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) divides home construction into four different types: panelized, concrete, wood, and modular. Panelized builds come in many subcategories, but the general idea is that the walls and roof of the home are broken into panels that can be brought to the construction site. Modular home building is somewhat similar in that the floorplan is broken up into sections, with the individual sections made in a factory and then imported to the site. Concrete and wood builds are a bit more self-explanatory, and are often used in combination with more traditional building materials.
Among the more hidden aspects of any home build is the home’s system for heating and cooling. Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system needs will vary according to your location, but no matter what it’s an aspect you’ll want to start thinking about early on.
Many builds in cooler climates opt to forego central air, for example, and choose to spend most of their planning on heating methods. Fireplaces are a popular option for heating your home especially in smaller or more rustic builds, but a fireplace requires a lot of maintenance to keep clean and running efficiently and may not be practical for heating larger homes.
Planning for storage needs may not be the most exciting thing about designing a custom home, but it’s a needed task. In fact, a recent survey showed that more than a quarter of home buyers felt that they had outgrown their home within two years of moving in.
So even though it may feel weird to design a bigger space than you need, be realistic. Look at your past moving history – why did you move? Did your homes get progressively bigger as you did?
Designing extra storage space doesn’t have to be all dull, either. Try adding a kitchen island or extra built-in cabinets in the dining room. Mud rooms, linen closets, and even a basement are all good ideas for extra storage.
It may be tempting to decorate your new custom build in just your style, but you may want to stick to the classics even if you don’t plan on ever selling the house. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your decorations and be satisfied that they reflect your unique tastes, but it does mean that perhaps you shouldn’t go too far off all at once.
It’s always a safe idea to consider classic decor throughout the house and add in unique accents as you put on the finishing touches. Plus, you may want to redecorate within a few years anyway, and this will make it easier.
This is a step nobody likes to think about, but it’s hard to get around the fact that your build may not be ready when you thought it was going to be. Your custom home will come up against so many decisions that it’s actually pretty difficult to anticipate them all.
Many delays are due to factors that are beyond your control, such as trouble scheduling contractors, bad weather, issues obtaining permits, etc.
And last but not least – think ahead! This may sound obvious, but if there’s one thing we know it’s that humans can be really bad at predicting the future. Don’t try to predict as much as allow for flexibility.
Will you sell your custom home at some point in the future? Then it may benefit you to research what sorts of features are in-demand amongst home buyers. Is your family likely to grow or shrink while you live in the home? How about space for housing visiting friends or family?
Building a custom home is both fun and challenging. It’s exciting to think of designing your home to reflect “you,” but it can also become stressful with the amount of decisions you’ll likely need to make. There’s certainly a lot to think about when it comes to designing a customer build, but many home builders find it well worth the challenge – and the wait.
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