Three Tips for Finding the Best Lot

As I’ve established, the custom home construction process will require hundreds of decisions. However, one of the most important is one that does not require hiring a professional.

What do I think is the most important decision? Choosing the perfect building lot. This choice will affect the type of home that can be built as well as the type of lifestyle you lead while living in the space.

From what I’ve gathered, there are three essential steps to finding the best lot for your construction project. If you can follow these tips, you will find yourself in a better, more prepared construction position.


  1. Understand the land.

Become familiar with the lots available in your target areas. Real estate agents and Multiple Listing Service websites can help you identify and narrow down a list of suitable properties, but it is essential to see what types of lots are available in the community at large. If you can, drive around and visually inspect these options. Then, pull on your hiking shoes and take a walk through the lots you’re most interested in purchasing.


  1. Narrow down your options.

Compile a list of property attributes that are most important to your construction project. Do you want a view? Do you want privacy? How much space will you need. Consideration must be given to each element that may have a direct bearing on what the property can accommodate. Quality of life and cost-related factors should also be identified and ranked. Think about area home values, property taxes, access to service providers, proximity to highways, and school systems.


  1. Perform the assessment.

Once you’ve settled on a property, have your builder or a separate professional perform a thorough site assessment prior to purchase. This will be your last opportunity to identify and consider issues which may prove to be problematic during construction. A site audit will also be helpful, and you must pay attention to anything that may add to building costs, such as tree clearing and grading.


Why You Should Consider Hiring a Residential Architect

Building a custom home is a dream come true for many of us, but the process seems weightier than simply buying a home. If your custom home construction goes wrong or doesn’t look the way you want it to, the burden falls to you.

If you want to get your custom construction just right, you should consider hiring a residential architect. These professionals have the experience and knowledge you need for a great custom building experience.

Designing a home is a lot tougher than you might imagine.

So, what do architects do? A lot, as it turns out.

They’ll design your space, but they won’t just do it to meet your aesthetic requirements. They’ll ask you about your life, how you live, and how you often use your home. In understanding the people inhabiting a space, the architect will be able to design a home that both looks great and can facilitate life inside.

If you go with a custom builder with pre-designed options, you might not be satisfied with the end product—it won’t be a home designed with you in mind. An architect can manufacture everything from the general structure to the details—as well as building codes—in order to build the home of your dreams.

The architect knows the language and the vocabulary of the homebuilder, so they’ll be able to serve as an interpreter of sorts.

Additionally, your residential architect will serve as an essential tool throughout the contracting process.

Throughout the planning and construction process, you’ll need to make hundreds of decisions. In establishing a one-on-one relationship with an architect—a person who has experienced this process before—you’ll have a voice of reason to defer to in times of tough decisions.

Finally, a custom home construction is usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You get one shot to build your dream home—you better do it right. An architect can point you to great builders, contractors, and designers to ensure the home looks as perfect as you’ve always imagined.


How to Choose the Right Home Builder

Custom home building comes with a lot of tough decisions. One of the most important? Selecting a builder. Unlike hiring a residential architect, every person building a custom home must select a home builder.

There are thousands around the country who have the ability to build your dream home, but you should not limit your decision to just those who offer the bare minimum. Selecting a home builder is a very personal decision. As a result, you should speak with several builders to ensure a perfect fit.

When you sit down with them, ask the following questions.


Does the builder come with a team?

Most people don’t know what to expect from the custom home building process. If a builder comes with a team or several close contacts, you’ll immediately broaden the number of resources available during construction.


How long has the builder been working?

Home construction has changed dramatically in the past ten years—fewer people are building custom homes. If your builder has been in business for ten or more years, they’ll understand the history and trends behind custom home construction. This is evidence of a strong company with a good product.


Are there home plans I can choose from, or should I hire a residential architect?

Some builders will provide homeowners with a gallery of plans to choose from, while others require individuals to hire architects to do the designing process. If a builder offers the former, ask about flexibility and the ability to make changes to original plans.


Where is the builder allowed to build?

If you want your home to be in a certain part of town or within a certain school district, be up-front about your needs. If a builder is not able to work in a specific area, move to the next candidate.


The answers to these questions will determine which builder best fits your project. However, you should also be aware of how the person or company makes you feel.

Does it seem like they have good ideas and design creativity? Will you be comfortable contacting them most days for the next six months?

In the end, choosing a builder is about choosing a personal connection. Don’t rush this decision and carefully consider every option.


Closing and Moving into Your New Home

The only moment truly better than finding – or building, as the case may be – your dream home is actually reaching the closing date and then moving all of your stuff into your new home, the place that you are going to set down some roots and build some memories with your loved ones and your family.

Of course, before you get an opportunity to spend even a single night in your new home there are plenty of things you’re going to want to have covered. You’re going to want to make sure that you are as prepared for the move as possible, that you have all of your ducks in a row, and that you are able to transition into your new home as effortlessly as possible. To help make your transition as easy as humanly possible, you’ll want to punch out this quick checklist so that you can really rock ‘n roll!

Make sure you have copies of all your important housing documents and that they are safe and sound.

Immediately after the actual closing itself has concluded, you’re going to want to make three copies of all of your critical housing documents. You’ll want to keep the original set in a safety deposit box at a bank you know you can trust, you’ll want to keep a set at home (ideally in your office inside of a fireproof and waterproof safe) so that you can review the information when necessary, and you want to have a third set that you can let your home insurance providers “borrow” while they review the pertinent details and set you up with your coverage.

Swapout any old locks and reset any key codes.

As a general rule, if you’re moving into a home that has already had an owner or two, you’ll want to swapout all of the old locks for brand-new ones so that you can guarantee that you don’t have to worry about a complete and total stranger effortlessly accessing your home with a set of keys when you aren’t around.

It’s a good idea to make sure that your contractor has provided you with all sets of keys that you have given when they were building or renovating your home, and even some people that have built brand-new construction choose to completely swapout the locks just to make sure that they don’t have any security issues to worry about in the future.

You’ll want to do the same thing with any digital locks and key codes that need to be taken care of, too.

Have professionals come in and clean everything before you move your stuff in.

The best time to clean your brand-new home is right before you move all of your stuff in, so it is a good idea to call in the professionals and have them clean from top to bottom so that your new home is ready to go when you have the movers come in.

This will really help you feel at home, especially once you get all of your window dressings, draperies, rugs, and other home decor items in. If you can hold off on the professional cleaners until you have the basics of your home decor set up and ready to go, all the better – as you’ll be able to move in your bigger furniture and all your “stuff” later and will be able to start off your new life in your new home on the right foot!


Dealing with a Builder or General Contractor

Working with legitimate professionals that are going to be building your home and bringing your dream to life is never quite as simple or as straightforward as many of us imagine this process to be – particularly if we haven’t gone through it all that much (if ever) in the past.

There are a couple of different things you can do, however, to make this process go a lot smoother right out of the gate and all the way to the finish line.

Keeping open lines of communication is everything, and while you’ll have to rely on your builder and your contractor to keep you apprised of any changes, any emergencies, or any unforeseen circumstances, you’ll also want to do your fair share of the heavy lifting keeping the project on track in moving towards the milestones that you have mutually agreed upon.

Outline your expectations for crystal-clear communication right away.

One of the most important things you can do to guarantee clear and open lines of communication are maintained throughout the entirety of the project is to outline these expectations right off the bat.

It’s really easy to have a completely different set of expectations for how you should communicate, when you should communicate, and how often you and your contractor or builder should actually get together to keep the project on track than your contractor and your builder – and that’s when things really start to run right off the rails.

If you’d like to have weekly conference calls with your builder or your contractor and any of the critical sub-contractors, you’re going to want to make sure that you outline that in advance. If you’d rather handle the majority of your communication with email so that you can keep better track of everything that has been said and have a better “paper trail”, that something that you want to communicate as well.

A lot of frustration can be avoided by outlining how you like to communicate with your contractor builder initially than just hoping that they are going to “get it” all on their own and communicate with you the way that you hoped they would have all along.

Take advantage of project management software and tools.

Project management software, especially cloud-based software that allows for everyone to have their own excess, their own platform to communicate, and their own tools to and resources and keep the project moving in the right direction can be a huge benefit to you and your builder/contractor as long as you both buy in to using the platform moving forward.

Oftentimes, builders and contractors will use this kind of software in these kinds of tools in-house but may be able to create an account for their clients with more limited access than their employees. This will help you stay abreast of all the updates, all the changes, and all the work that is being put into moving towards the finish line without ever feeling as though you are stepping on the toes of your contractor along the way.

At the end of the day, communication remains a two-way street and you’ll want to do everything you can to make sure that you are doing everything you can to make this contractor/client relationship work.