Few things in life are as exciting and fulfilling as building a new home. You finally get to live in the house that you’ve always wanted, and everything inside is brand new. You can move right in and start making family memories.
But the building process can also be intimidating if you haven’t built a home before. You may not know what to expect, and a poor builder can make the building experience more frustrating than fun.
This article lays out helpful facts about home building to prepare you for what lies ahead.
The Benefits of a Builder vs. a Contractor
When building a home, you have the option of working with a contractor or a builder. A contractor is someone who completes a construction project on behalf of the owner. A builder is both the developer and constructor of a project.
The main benefit of having a builder is that they can offer you all-in-one service. If you work with a contractor, you may need to find and coordinate different suppliers for the various aspects of construction, such as the electrician, plumber, and so on. But a builder has all the contacts for a home already secured because builders design their businesses to offer turnkey solutions for buyers. Whatever you want in a home, they take care of it all, from start to finish.
Since builders often focus on building multiple homes at a time and may offer a selection of similar home styles, they also bring ongoing work for the companies and workers they subcontract with. This often means the builder has the best teams and sources in an area, which translates into an improved build.
Additionally, many builders offer custom, semi-custom, and turnkey designs at varying price points, which means you have a chance to purchase a home that fits your needs for a lower overall price than with a contractor.
The same builder may also offer you a range of material selections for easier design planning. You can pick your finishes, fixtures, and flooring, while also benefiting from the design experience of the builder.
The Cost of Building a Home
The cost of building a home depends on several factors, such as the size of the home, the location, the number of rooms, and the materials that you use. Generally, pricing can range between $170 and $400 per square foot here in Oregon, which is similar to the national average.
How to Find the Right Builder
You stand to benefit most by using a builder with experience in your area. They will understand the weather, geology, and topography and know how to get all the permitting approvals and source local materials.
A great way to find the right builder in your area is to ask for recommendations from people you trust. Once you have a shortlist of builders, schedule consultations with each one to discuss the project in detail. These talks are essential for learning more about the benefits of each builder and if you can speak and interact well with them. Clear and constant communication is integral to ensuring that your build goes smoothly and stays on budget. Your builder should act like a partner in achieving your goals.
During the consultation, ask about the builder’s experience and look at samples of their work. They may have homes you can tour that are built for other customers or used as model homes.
Understand Home Customizations
People often think that builders are limited in their offerings of home styles and finishes, but this isn’t true. Most people who build a home have a specific vision, and builders often accommodate this. While you may not be able to find a pre-made home template that perfectly matches your dream, you may still have the opportunity to change it or do a fully customized home instead.
When you’re planning your customizations, keep an eye on your budget. A custom home exactly how you want may be out of reach, so talk to the builder about a semi-custom home for more savings.
You Should Have a Contract
Once you’ve chosen a builder, get a detailed contract outlining the scope of work, the change orders, and the builder’s warranties and policies. If you need any special considerations, be sure they are listed in writing.
Before you sign a contract with a builder, be sure to discuss:
- The total cost of the project.
- The payment schedule.
- The estimated completion date.
- The builder’s warranties and policies.
- What is included in the contract.
Take time to read the contract in full, and ask for clarification on any points that you don’t understand. Once you’re satisfied, be sure to get everything in writing before work begins.
Know About Warranties and Guarantees
Most builders offer some form of warranty or guarantee on their work. This protects you if there are any problems.
Before signing any contract, read over the warranty or guarantee to know what’s covered and what isn’t. Anything that isn’t could lead to out-of-pocket costs later. The good news is that in most cases, the builder will be responsible for correcting any defects in their workmanship.
It’s important to remember that a warranty or guarantee is only as good as the builder who provides it. Be sure to do your research and select a builder with a strong reputation.
Know the Building Process
If you haven’t built a home before, you will benefit from knowing the steps involved. This will help you know when specific questions need to be addressed and understand how far along you are in the timeline.
Here are the basic steps in building most homes:
- Permit approvals
- Foundation pouring
- Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC
- Interior finishes
- Inspection by authorities
- Final inspection by you and the builder
Know What to Do When Things Go Wrong
If you have a problem with the work, the first step is to talk to your builder. They may be able to rectify the situation without any further issues. If you’re not satisfied with the response from your builder, you can take legal action, but a reliable and reputable builder should help you avoid reaching that stage.
Remember that the building process is complex, and there are bound to be a few bumps along the way. By being prepared and working with a reputable builder, you can ensure that the process goes as smoothly and enjoyably as possible.
Tips for Staying Organized and On Budget
Here are a few tips to help you stay organized and on budget:
- Create a timeline of the milestones in the construction process, such as when construction is scheduled to begin and when you expect it to be completed. This will help you keep track of the progress and ensure that everything is on schedule.
- Make a budget for the construction process. This will help you keep track of your expenses and ensure that you don’t overspend.
- Keep a file of all important documents, such as the contract, building plans, and warranties. This will help you stay organized and help you find the information that you need quickly and easily.
Remember, This Is Supposed to Be Fun!
Although the building process can be stressful, keep in mind that it’s also an exciting time! You’re creating a space that will be your home for years, perhaps even your lifetime. That’s something to be enthusiastic about. By following these tips, you can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible and that you will end up with a home that you love.