common mistake building a home

What To Avoid When Building a New Home?

You’re going to build your dream home, and you’ve thought it all through – or so you’ve thought. You know precisely what you need and want to have in your home, but have you thought about what you don’t like and what you don’t need? Have you thought the whole thing through? You have given much thought and consideration to what will work for you, but have you taken the time to think about what won’t work?

Poor planning and budgets that are too small can lead to some wayward, inconvenient and disastrous mistakes. When you plan on building a new home, you must look at the house from many angles. You must consider your current and future lifestyles. 

You need to consider family planning – Will, your family, be expanding? Or will your children be leaving the nest? Do you entertain often and host overnight guests regularly? Take your time and do your research both online and in person. Be sure to take the time to meet with professionals in the industry. 

Poor design choices can make your home not only uncomfortable but downright unhealthy. Architects, engineers and builders are all trained to help you make effective decisions. They will help guide you to save a few dollars and where you absolutely should not cut corners.

The Difference Between a New Build and a Custom Build

Before we get into mistakes people make when building a home, we’ll need to clarify what “building new” means.

You can either hire an architect to design a completely custom floor plan and then find a builder to bring that dream to life or look for a home builder who is already building new homes similar to the one you’re looking for.

The latter type of homebuilder is sometimes called a “production builder.” Production builders specialise in buying land or lots that are suitable for new homes. They generally operate with a portfolio of home plans that their clients can customise — within reason — to suit their own needs and preferences.

A high percentage of prospective home buyers start out thinking they may want to build a custom home but then end up buying an already built house or working directly with a builder to modify a home that is in the process of being built.

One of the biggest reasons that most buyers eventually opt to work with production builders is that builders generally have the advantage when it comes to finding the best homesites. It takes a lot of expertise to evaluate potential lots, and individual homebuyers generally don’t have the resources or knowledge to evaluate properties quickly enough to compete with builders. Builders spend tons of energy and resources on the quest for the best lots — and snap up many of them before they even go public.

Working with a production builder can be simpler and less expensive than going ultimately custom for other reasons, too. An utterly custom job puts you in charge of hiring an entire team of people, from the architect to the builders to other contractors. Production builders have already established these relationships and have years of experience to rely on throughout the process.

Finally, homebuyers hoping to finance their home construction project may also face lending hurdles that production builders don’t have to worry about.

Mistakes Every New House Builder Should Avoid

Foresight in Planning

Planning your current and future space requirements take precedence over the actual house construction. Your dream house may be a mansion, but you may have a modest budget to work on. So consider your financial preparedness and the extent to which you can stretch your budget before you hire a builder and start designing the house.

You need to keep in view the fact that while the construction is in progress, you may not be able to make any big-ticket purchases however necessary. All this boils down to planning your budget, supporting it with full financial preparedness, and including contingencies carefully. Any interruption in the construction invariably increases the project cost and can lengthen the timeline for completion.

Manage the Project Yourself

manage the project yourself

Though it is an attractive money-saving idea, it isn’t a sage choice. Established residential builders have several essential skills, such as:

  • Examining building plans and designs for potential problems
  • Getting the necessary building permits
  • Expertise in choosing materials and skilled labour
  • Ordering materials and scheduling deliveries
  • Estimating the cost of labour, materials, delays, etc.
  • Subcontracting specific jobs
  • Handling unforeseen problems

It works to your advantage to select a reputed home builder, carefully study the bids, seek references from builders, and see some of their projects personally.

Choosing a Builder Based on Price

Building a home is never a reasonable prospect. It may be tempting to choose the builder that seems to offer the best price on paper or the lowest bid if you’re bidding out the project.

But you’ll have to do some research into how each builder came up with their bids and their prices to understand what’s included — and what isn’t — in each bid you receive.

Plus, even the most thorough contract or bid leaves plenty of room for builders to take financial advantage of you here and there as the project progresses. That’s why it’s a better idea to choose the builder you trust and enjoy working with the most.

After all, you’ll be working with the builder for months and trusting them with your family’s home for the foreseeable future. Paying a little more for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re working with the best is usually well worth it.

To check builders’ credentials, you can ask them for references. You may even try to check out communities they’ve built in the past and chat with any friendly neighbours who would be willing to share their experiences with you.

Being hasty with choosing the location

A massive mistake that homeowners make concerning custom homes is compromising location for the price. Although a cheaper lot may be tempting, you have to remember a place. In terms of property, amenities are essential. Homes in a prime location are instantly valued higher. When building a custom home, purchase the best lot that you can manage and afford. A great lot in a great place now adds to your home’s value.

The location will have an essential role while living in your new house. You need to consider the neighbourhood, the distance between the lot and everyday facilities such as supermarket, the bank or schools and the quality of the land itself. Also, pay attention to the building process’s costs that a particular lot demands (building a driveway, connecting water, gas and sewer lines). Investing more into many lands that allow you to minimise any additional land costs could save you in the future.

Not knowing how to read builders quote properly.

Don’t be hasty and choose the lowest bidder. It’s pretty often that building the house will cost more in the end. There are expenses people don’t consider, and they are often unaware that not all builders use the same method of pricing. There are three main methods contractors use—square foot pricing, which gives you an average price per square foot. On a rare occasion, a specific price of the materials is included. On the other hand, assembly pricing requires detailed analysis and shows the cost of each component. The most reliable method is unit pricing because it consists of the precise cost of all the necessary supplies, without any surprises.

Choosing the wrong new house builder

Another mistake is not checking all the potential builders and reliability of the company. Make sure you do thorough research and ask important questions such as to see some of their previous work to get the impression of how your house would look like and if it suits you. You could also talk to the residents of the earlier subdivisions and hear their experience. At iBuildNew, we make sure that our member builders have a strong financial history and have experience building houses. It is easy to compare builders using our comparison feature, letting you look at all the features side by side.

Making big purchases while building a house

Forget about buying a car when you’re in the process of building a house. Even though it could be a bargain, you still can’t be sure if some unexpected expenses will appear, and you would find yourself in deep trouble if your backup budget went somewhere else.

Making changes during the construction phase

The changes in the design should not be made when the construction has already begun. They can result in additional expenses and significant delays. When the construction part is over, structural design services can help if you still want to make other changes without a headache for you and the workers.

Having too many under-utilised rooms

A playroom or a home gym can sound cool, but if you can admit that it will be empty after a month or two, do yourself a favour and leave it out from your floor plan. If you want to have a room for a hobby or fun, make sure it can easily transit into a room with a different use.

Wrong placement of rooms

This is something to be taken seriously, so bear these things in mind when creating a house plan:

  • The laundry room should be near the bedroom
  • The bedroom should be at the furthest part of the house and the garage (away from the noise from the street);
  • The kitchen should be near the back entrance or the garage and next to the dining and the living room.
  • The garage is preferable close to the kitchen, so all the mud and dirt coming from there can be limited to the kitchen only.

Trying to cut every corner on the budget.

Even though it’s tempting, don’t try to save up some money by choosing the cheaper windows that will need to be replaced in five years’ time. Search for quality materials, quality contractor and quality workers. After all, this is the home you are building, and you may be planning to stay there for a long time.

Overlooking the HVAC System

When you’re building a home, you may rightly be most excited about things like your new custom floor plan or unique add-ons like granite countertops or spacious garages.

But it’s a mistake to overlook the critical role the HVAC system plays in a home’s health and energy efficiency. Without a good HVAC system, you might also run into moisture issues that could go on to cause mould issues and impact your family’s health.

Pay attention to the sealing and installation of the ductwork to ensure things are as efficient as possible.

You can also ask your builder how the HVAC system will work and how it will be effective in each room of your home.

Not Planning for Contingencies

Even with the best-laid plans, something will almost always occur during a new build or remodel that wasn’t accounted for in your original budget. For this reason, we always recommend building a contingency fund either into the builder’s bid or your overall budget. The contingency fund amount varies depending on each person and project, but as a general rule, plan for a minimum of 10% of your overall construction budget. If possible, 20% is ideal.

You’ve heard about what happens to the best-laid plans, right? We can all appreciate the optimism, but perhaps it’s more realistic to plan for a few things going wrong during a complicated construction project.

If construction isn’t completed by the projected date, you’ll need to know how that will affect your mortgage costs, for example.

As we mentioned before, you’ll also need to know not just who will be responsible for unexpected expenses but whether or not your builder has accounted for them in the cost estimates.

Some contractors include a “buffer” in their price estimates to account for things like materials’ price changes or unexpected repairs due to weather damage.

Most important factors when building your home

It may be tiresome, but it is worth researching as many builders as possible before committing to ensure that you fully trust and assess the builder you choose.

Thinking Beyond the Standard Home Can Be Beneficial

It is essential to make yourself aware of which fixtures are standard and upgrades for extra money. If you are unaware of these extras, your new home can quickly jump up in price without you noticing.

Always Read the Fine Print

always read the fine print

It is common knowledge that you must read the terms and conditions of any contract but also be sure to take the time to become transparent with your agreement. It will become easier to set expectations and control situations if you are entirely aware of all the paperwork.

Know the Right Price

This is an essential aspect of researching your builder. You must ensure that you have a set budget but ready and able to extend beyond the base price if necessary. The design and upgrades you choose can increase your total cost, so be sure to accommodate your budget for growth.

Verify Before Committing

It is a huge mistake to not verify prices and hidden surprises before committing to a contract. It is essential that you have a firm knowledge and substantial estimates from your builder, and don’t shy away from asking questions to solidify your building design and floor plan. If you want to avoid nasty surprises after signing a contract, be sure to confirm and set prices with the builder and agent from the beginning.

Always Remember Interest

Many first-home builders forget that the monthly amount you pay during the building process can change due to constantly fluctuating interest rates. You can be prepared for these potential increases by asking your agent to provide you with estimates of different interest rates.

Expect Mishaps

Everyone wants their dream home to be just that, a dream home, A.K.A. perfect. However, you have to expect errors to occur, especially during the construction period. It is easy to keep mishaps to a minimum by simply visiting the construction site regularly so you can spot any mistakes quickly and before it’s too late to fix.

Have a Plan B

By thinking ahead, you can ensure that you can keep up to date with all your payments and decide how to manage your finances the best. It is difficult to rely on selling your current home to finance the project, and it becomes even more difficult if your home does not sell as quickly as you’d hoped. You must think about all circumstances and develop solutions in case issues arise.

Double-Check for Discounts

You never know what kind of discounts are on offer if you don’t consistently check on your agent. If you don’t double-check, you will be unaware of any ongoing promotions of preferred lenders that may decrease your total cost. When it comes to saving cost regarding your builder, it is always good to check up their credit incentive.

Be Patient

It is a considerable investment to build your own home, so try your best to not rush into decision making or to progress the process quickly, as cutting corners and rushing builders will lead to a disappointing outcome. It is integral that you take your time before finalising anything. Be sure to fully understand every aspect of the build rather than rushing to complete it.

When you build your own house, it needs to meet your family’s needs for several years. Using substandard and inexpensive materials may save money in the short term but prove costly in the long run. Your builder would be able to source suitable quality materials at competitive costs. Hiring an experienced professional can help you build your dream home.

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