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I just built a custom house and this is what I learned…

After 15 months and more accurately 5 years we are proud to announce me and my family moved into our new custom-built home.  By now, you know that I believe in sharing knowledge.   I also believe the best knowledge is from our mistakes that we have learned from.  Here are the top 5 things we learned about building a home.

#1 – Own a home(s).   I modeled other client’s journies to a new custom home.  The most notable thing was/is the custom home is their 4th or 5th home on average.  They have used homeownership as a stepping stone to a nicer home.  They eventually sell the 4th or 5th house with a large equity payout to build the home of their dreams.  It also gives them perspective on what they want in a home.   

One of the biggest mistakes in buying homes is holding out for the perfect home.  There is no perfect home or dream home.  Heck, this custom home isn’t perfect after 2 days we already would change things.  It is, however, the best home we have ever lived in by a large margin.   And this would never have been possible if we hadn’t bought, lived, and sold 4 homes prior.  That gave us equity and perspective.

#2 – Interview 3 builders.  Everyone wants to ask about timelines and costs.  First, see if you like the person and see their other work in person.  You will be working with this builder for the next year or two.  Make sure you can work with them.  Make sure they communicate very effectively.  Do they check e-mails on the weekend.  Do they answer calls off-hours or on the job-site.  When you build a home you will have questions throughout the process and nothing is worse than not being able to get ahold of your builder.  

Timelines – If they are talking to you they have room in their schedule.  

Costs – Don’t ask about price per square foot.  There are too many variables style, layout, and finishes.   Get a design and then ask them to do a cost estimate.  

#3 – Get your design locked in.  The design process can take up to a year.  Start now.  There are some great designs already completed online.  If you want a couple of recommendations send me an email.  

A full set of custom designs will be $15 to $50k.  You can get it online for $5k+/-/

PRO_TIP – A builder can not give you an accurate estimate of costs without a design.  You can ask them to show you what they built elsewhere and ask for the final totals.  

#4 – Have a place to live for 1 year while you build.  The last thing you want is to be rushed to move in.  At first, you will have patience but, you will lose patience around months 7 and 8.  If you are in an RV or Rental you hate you will rush things and pressure builders to move fast.  This can hurt your overall quality.

#5 – Building is more expensive and requires more cash than buying an existing home.  We could have easily bought for less money or the same money and found a bigger home or nicer home.  Building a custom home you pay more for the experience of being able to choose everything.  You will get decision fatigue.  At first, it is fun but, after a while, you will be overwhelmed by all the choices for fixtures, flooring, siding, lighting, etc.

PRO_TIP – Hire a builder, designer, and interior designer that have an opinion.  Don’t get someone that will do only what you tell them to do.  Remember you think you know what you want but, you have no idea.  

Many builders will just do exactly what is on the plans.  Have a builder that will question the plans and the thought process and then give suggestions and options for you to choose.

A good designer also has an interior designer to help with fixture and material choices. 

Bonus Tip #6 – Right now a custom home will be $180 – $500 per square foot not including the land.  So, if you want a nice rambler at 2000 sq. ft. plan on $500,000 for the home not including land.  I’ve been told building costs and material costs are up 70% post-COVID-19 with no reason they will come back down.    

If you are on your 1st, 2nd, 3rd home and ultimately want to build your dream home… Reach out to us so, you can do the stepping stone method of building a custom home.  Sell and buy 4 or 5 times.  Each time we can sell high and buy low building your equity.  

We can give you a free market value of your home.  CLICK HERE TO SEE ONLINE.

Nick McLean 
Nick McLean Real Estate

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