What It’s Like Building a Custom Home

Building A Custom Home

We have been in our new home for about six months now, and since then the house is further and further becoming a home with each room taking a personality. Since we started the journey, I talked a lot about the process on my socials and podcast including talking about our journey of finding land – which is the first step of building a custom home. It has taken us quite a while to get to where we are. When we first decided it was time to move out of our townhome, we had all options open – both considering new builds in a development and buying a home that was less than 5 years hold in addition to a plan to build a custom home. But after going through all of our options and looking at what was out there, we decided that building a custom home was what we wanted.

Of course, there was a lot that we weren’t prepared for when we began our journey of building a custom home. We had done initial research, but even with that, there are so many things that can differentiate from one build to the next. And what we thought originally was going to be a one year journey of building our home, actually took us in total of 2.5 years starting from the initial search to our move in. Now while the majority of that time was the search process of finding land and finding the right builder, it still made us anxious as we were so ready to move on from our townhome to our dream home. For those who are considering building a custom home are have began the process, in this post, I’m going to share what it’s like building a custom home with what to expect and some tips for handling certain situations.

What Its Like Building A Custom Home

BUILDING A CUSTOM HOME

MAKE YOUR Vision CLEAR

When you first start with your custom home build, you’ll want to find a builder that fits for you. It’ll be a builder that works within the area that you are looking to build, has multiple options of floor plans that match very closely to your ideal floorpan, and has a process through the building process that aligns with how you would like to move through the process. We had vetted three builders before we found one that worked for us. It all ended up coming down to the floorpan and the budget we were working with – as builders start with a base price for a floor plan before any customizations, land work, building feeds, etc.

As you work with your builder, make sure that you make your vision clear of what type of home you are looking to build. Give them the idea of how you would like your house positioned on your land, how you would like to move through your home, and how you envision operating in your own. It’s with those unique ideas that they’ll guide you through customizing your home. Through these type of conversations, we are able to customize the base floor plan and begin making changes to the external and internal look of the house.

Even as we moved out of the initial blueprint stage, I made sure to keep my vision clearly communicated to them so that we could also easily navigate through picking out each aspect of the home. Making an inspiration board on Pinterest worked really well for me to be able to show a visual to the builders of what I was looking for in terms of the entire look of the house. And when it came down to picking out everything in our design center appointment, there was a lot less guesswork and a lot more deciding that was made.

Cutting Down Trees Building A Custom Home

KNOW YOUR Points of Contact

Depending on how your builders operate, you may have different points of contact throughout the process. When we first started with our builders for building our custom home, we first worked with a land acquisition manager who worked with us to secure the land, go through what work would need to be done and the pricing of it, and helping us to transition over to the next stage. It was then we were introduced to a completely different person to go through permitting and then another person for contracting and then another person for picking out our design pieces and then other people for other processes. We, fortunately, were provided with a directory of who was responsible for what so that we knew who to contact for different occasions.

Knowing who your contact is for each of the stages is essential if you are looking to get answers fast to keep things moving forward. At times, we often found ourselves talking to the wrong person who then had to pass on a message for another person to reach back out to us – thus creating a delay in getting the answers that we needed for certain tasks that we had to do on our own.

If this is something that you don’t want to deal with, make sure that as you are picking out your builder that you ask them whether this is the process that they go through or will there be one main point of contact throughout the entire process. For us, this is one thing that I had wished I had asked and knew from the start of the process. It may have not drastically changed our decision on who we chose as our builders, but it would have made us prepared for what was to come.

Visit YOUR HOME BUILD OFTEN

During the process, the people who will care most about whether your house looks just like you want it to is you. So make sure that you take the time to visit your property often to check on status. Once the foundation was laid, framing went up quickly and then next thing we knew the drywall was up and preparations were being made to put in all of the utilities and cabinetry. In order to make sure everything is being done by the book and meets all regulations, you may want to hire your own third-party inspector. The builders had their own inspectors that went through the house to make sure everything was done correctly, but we had the mentality that that person doesn’t work for us and most likely is looking out for the best interest of the builder. With our bank, they had a separate inspector that came through, which we ended up relying on, that went through and checked on everything in order to make sure all was up to code before releasing any funds. That inspector was very diligent which allowed us to not need another inspector, but it was explained to us that not every bank who handles the mortgage provides an inspector.

Even after those inspections are done, you want to make sure you’re walking through your home to make sure that everything is being done how you expected it to be. Many builders have various vendors that they bring in to do different parts of the project and things may get missed. If you don’t catch some of those things early, you may end up either not being able to have it fixed or it delaying your move in. Around the time the drywall went up we were in the house about two times a week to check on everything. There have been horror stories that I have heard where paint colors were wrong, the wrong backsplash was installed, different floors were put in the house, and the layout was actually built to the original base plan and not the floor plan. Fortunately, for us, the only small thing that we ended up finding completely wrong outside small, fixable damage, was that the garbage disposal that we requested as an upgrade was not installed, so they had to have their plumper come back out to install it.

Building A Custom Home Build
Journey Of Building A Custom Home

BE AWARE OF Timelines & Deadlines

At the time that your house is being built, you will need to keep in mind that your builder is not just building your house and may have other projects happening at the same time or about to begin. With that, you’ll have timelines that are established by your builder, by your bank if you’re working with a mortgage, with the township that may need to do certain things in a certain time, etc. Knowing all of those timelines and deadlines will help you to manage the overall build project and keep anything from being delayed.

In most cases, your builders will be in coordination with the township, your bank, and other parties involved in the build, but that doesn’t mean that they may keep up with all of the deadlines that they need to meet outside of their own deadlines. At the end of the day, everyone may be working on their own timeline regardless of what others need done. So make sure that you know all of the deadlines and don’t be afraid to call and check in to make sure that everything is running smoothly. The last thing you want is your custom build being delayed for months because a certain deadline was missed.

Trust YOUR GUT & SPEAK UP

As you walk through your home, work with builders and vendors, and do all of the specific things that you need to do when it comes to putting your entire home together, make sure to ask questions and if something doesn’t feel right, go with your gut and speak up. As a part of the process, we picked out our own appliances which we decided to go with LG Appliances from AJ Madison. At the time we were preparing for our appliance installer to come and install our hood, I took a walk through our house and realized that the vent that had been carved out was not centered between the cabinets over our range. I immediately called our builders and let them know of the issue and they came out and had it fixed before the appliance installer arrived. I wasn’t sure whether the vent was supposed to be centered or not, but it felt off so I went with my gut and had it fixed and our appliance installer let us know that if it wasn’t centered, he wouldn’t have been able to install it which would have cost us our service fee.

Kitchen Building A Custom Home
Appliances Building A Custom Home
Cabinitry Building A Custom Home

TAKE Pictures

From start to finish, we took plenty of photos and still continue to do so as we complete other projects in and outside of our house including decorating and doing landscaping. You’ll not only want pictures to share progress and look back on at some point when you are finished building your custom home, but taking pictures of things that you see that may be wrong are great so that you can send to your construction manager for it to get fixed. In many cases, the construction manager or project manager is not coming to the house but simply receiving updates from vendors who are in the house about when a certain part is started and finished, so he or she is not aware if something is wrong or, if they do visit the house, they may not see it.

An additional thing that has helped us, that I didn’t even know would until we started putting up wall fixtures, is that if you take pictures of the interior of your home prior to drywall going up, you can use it as reference for where studs and electrical wires are. When we first starting putting up our curtains, even with a stud finder, we were having some issues securing the curtain rods and finding the right place of the stud. It was through referencing those photos that we were able to hand things efficiently without putting too many holes in the wall.

HAVE Patience

Patience is key when building a custom home. Delays will most likely happen at times that may set things back a couple of days, and work being done may not happen as quickly as your builders may originally say. Keep in mind that they are going off of averages and previous experiences. But each custom home is different, which is why it’s custom. Builders can’t determine how long it will take the local water authority to connect the public water to your house, and if they are using vendors, they don’t know exactly how long it will take the floor vendor to put down all of the floors in your home.

You’ll need patience while you watch your house become your home and a mindset that at the end of the long wait, you’ll have the house that you want made uniquely for you and your family.

Enjoy THE PROCESS

At the end of it all, just enjoy the process. It will be stressful at times and you may find yourself on the brink of tears or wanting to call up your vendor and have some choice words with them, but it is all a part of the process and the house you are building will turn out to be well worth the wait.

Finished Building A Custom Home
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