Today, at least one in four homebuyers custom build their new home. The reasons for doing so vary, but those who choose the custom route often say they’ve long dreamed of the day they’d build a home from scratch, with every unique detail carefully planned out by them and their builder.
These homebuyers love the choice and flexibility that custom brings. From foundation to doorknobs, it gives them a canvass to express their personalities, and the ability to mix styles and plans that result in a home molded to their specific needs and lifestyle. They look forward to sharing the home with friends and family, and envision nights hanging out in the home movie theater or gourmet kitchen.
The Price of Flexibility and Choice
If you’re dreaming of building a custom home and more than eager to get started, it’s a good idea to pause and think about the extra decisions, setbacks and stress that a custom home brings. It will help you decide if you have the right temperament and resources to see it through. Here are some things to consider:
- Fortitude. It takes patience, and a bit of courage, to work through all the decisions that you’ll need to make. From window frames to floor tile, the choices are endless. It’s also a lengthy process that includes planning, permits, lot assessment and more.
- Know What You Want. Are you prepared to clearly articulate what it is you do – and don’t – want? Don’t assume your builder will know your wishes. It helps to make a binder that includes magazine pages with things like architectural details and furnishings that appeal to you. Houzz.com is also an excellent source for building your idea book.
- Ability to Adapt. Before buying a lot, find out what you can and cannot do with it. Then decide which is more important – location or home. You’ll most likely have to compromise on one or the other.
- The Money Talk. A lot of custom homebuyers have unrealistic budgets. Are you at ease talking honestly about money with your builder? Your builder’s one desire is to give you the home of your dreams, but without a clear idea of what you have to spend, the job is that much more difficult. The average cost to build a custom home in the U.S. is $200-400 per square foot. Are you comfortable with that?
- The Money Talk, Part Two. Even before discussing budget with your builder, talk to your lender. A custom home loan is more complicated than a straight mortgage and typically involves a larger down payment, and more paperwork, including timetables, designs and budgets.
- Collaboration. Are you comfortable being part of team? Building a home takes a lot of cooperation from a diverse group of people. Designers, subcontractors, and other professionals are crucial to the process. Choosing a design/build firm that has a cohesive in-house team and long-standing relationships with subcontractors will help keep things on an even keel.
When Not to Build a Home from Scratch
A homeowner’s lack of decision-making skills is the biggest delay in custom home building. If you’re not comfortable with making a choice and then moving on to the next one (and there will be plenty of them to move on to), building a home from scratch is probably not for you.
If you’re still in it for the gold, don’t forget to have fun! Designing and building your custom home can be an extremely enjoyable experience. Yes, it’s hard work, but at the end of the day, you have a home that is perfectly built just for you.