What do I do first?

This question has been asked at almost every design meeting I have ever attended. It’s absolutely the most important question to ask first, so you can set yourself upon the right path. However, it is not the actual answer to the question, just a tool to get there.

I know, “Now you are confusing me, Mr. Fletcher.”

A plot Plan, or Plat will be necessary for any building project.

Let me explain. If you make this the first question you ask when deciding you want a custom home, you have a starting point for the designer of your choice. You have a place to start the process and a great way to start dialogue between you and your designer.

In actuality, the first thing to do is broad, has a lot of little details, and is quite scary.

You need to have a budget. You need to know how much you can spend on your new home before you can even consider what it will look like.

So, some things to consider when setting out your budget are as follows.

Your new home will depend upon your budget, so make sure that you are not designing way out of budget.
  1. Land. How much will it cost and can I get any? You may already have a piece of property. Great, make sure you keep all of the paperwork, it will be needed later.
  2. Financing. How will you pay for it and how much do you have available to purchase? If you have the land, your financing, and any cash you may put in will go straight to the construction of the house, which we will talk about later, but if you do not have land, you must consider this in the cost of construction. If you are able to put together $500,000 to build with, understand that the cost of your property will be deducted.
  3. Who will build it? You should have a contractor in mind for this, if not, get some referrals from folks you know. Look online at reviews, see who has a great product for a great price. (No, there is not a contractor who has a perfect track record, that is impossible.) Ask your designer who they work with the most if there are any contractors that stand out. They may even be able to help you locate a good one that fits you and your project.

So, these are the areas to focus on first. Even if you don’t have property, you can begin the process of locating a lot. While you are doing that, start the process of getting financing. See what you may qualify for and if it works with your current budget. Remember, a contractor may have lots or know of some good lots you can build on, so keep that in mind.

Your initial budget is just for planning purposes. It will not be the actual construction cost and you will find that the price will change. A budget is only for initial planning purposes.

Your designer should be able to help you through this process. They may be able to help you by referring a loan officer, a real estate agent, and a contractor.

If you own a lot, make sure it is able to be built upon. (Yes, there are lots that you cannot build upon, wetlands, areas of preservation, etc.)

Find out if there is public water and/or sewer available, or if you need to put a well and/or septic tank in.

Choose a look that excites you and makes you want to come home. Many features can be added to your new home, so decide what is very important to what is just a dream, or wish.

Find out if there are any HOA (Home Owners Association) rules to follow and find out what the building envelope is for your property. (Building setbacks, size restrictions, etc.) A lot of this, your designer can help you with at the beginning, but the more of this information you have, the easier the process will begin.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with dreaming. This is your home, you should be able to have some things you like. While looking at ideas, keep a folder of pictures you like, just remember, you probably won’t be able to get it all. This folder is only to help you communicate things with your designer. Your budget will decide how much you can add.


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