It’s a really good idea to establish a budget first. Visit several financial institutions and speak with lending officers. There’s no need to commit to any one institution at this point, but a financial loan officer can be invaluable in helping you evaluate your budget. Banks rely on criteria beyond a simple income statement in order to qualify potential homebuilders and homebuyers. They can save you time and effort, and help you determine what you can realistically afford to spend or borrow, if need be. It’s important that you know your budget before you start into the design phase.
To better communicate your ideas and aspirations to us consider creating a scrapbook. Collect plenty of photos, brochures, articles and magazine clippings as you can which help to describe what you’d like your home to look like, inside and out. Keep in mind; this can be a lengthy, ongoing, ever changing process. Take as much time as you can with it. A good scrapbook can take months to assemble.
As your scrapbook takes shape, take a look at your lifestyle and develop a wish list of rooms and features you would want in your new home. Use your current home as a model – are the bedrooms too small, the kitchen too dark? Does your grandmother’s antique buffet fit in the dining room? How is the “flow” from one room to another? There are many things to think about. Use the comparison form included in this packet to get started.
If you don’t already own a building lot, at some point you will need to find one. Hopefully you have included some features about “where” you want to build on your wish list of “what “ you want to build. You will want to make sure your design ideas blend with the area or neighborhood you have in mind. Also, check to see that your design falls within the price range of the existing neighborhood because this is something the bank may scrutinize. Thoroughly investigate the site itself. Is it construction ready, or will you be responsible for the installation of water, electric, gas, and septic or sewer? Make sure you do your homework before you purchase the property.
It’s never too early to talk to contractors. Always ask for references, and follow up on them. Visit completed projects and speak with the owners. Ask questions about their satisfaction with the contractor’s performance and fees charged. Once you’ve decided on a General Contractor, or a contractor for a particular portion of your project, i.e., a mason, be prepared to wait for his/her availability. There are probably some projects ahead of yours. If the contractors are good, they’re busy.
During all of these steps, it pays to keep in touch with your banker(s). They can be very helpful in keeping you on track with your budget as well as trends and information about the housing market. At some point you’ll be talking with them about any money you’ll be borrowing. Keep in mind that some banks are better tan others are with construction loans and mortgages. Even if you are established with a bank, it pays to shop. You will also want to let the bank know whether you’ll be acting as the General Contractor or not. Some banks may have an issue with this, so it’s good to get it on the table early.
As you start to pull together your building site, finances and design ideas, you’ll want to get in touch with us at By Design Group to schedule an initial meeting. Take a look at the outline of the design process we’ve provided, it details the steps involved in taking your ideas to actual construction documents. The key to getting through this phase of your project is to be realistic about your budget. It can be frustrating, but our goal is to keep as much of your custom home intact while staying within your budget.