How to bring a new home into your life
Congratulations! You’re envisioning yourself as a homeowner, and you’re finally ready to make it happen. You can see it now – you can picture yourself in a home that’s uniquely suited to you. You’re excited, but nervous, too. Because, let’s face it, buying a home can be overwhelming.
Few of us face such momentous decisions in our lives as buying a home very often. But there are some simple guidelines that can help you along, step-by-step, in making your choices. Buying a home may take a bit of work, but the benefits of the right home to live in are beyond measure.
Custom-made or off-the rack then tailored?
You already know that you want some degree of customization. Should you buy something close and then renovate, or just build your home?
Obviously, if it’s possible for you, building your own home allows you the most control to design a home that’s created just for you. It really lets you bring your dream to life. And you can build your own home within a surprising range of budgets. Searching for an already-built home that’s “close enough” and planning to renovate might take longer and be costlier than you think.
So, if you do decide to build your new home, great! Here are some simple guidelines to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
Plan for now and tomorrow
There’s an old saying: “Measure twice, cut once.” In construction, careful planning is essential. You need to examine every detail. Any mistakes which may not be obvious at the beginning will be costly to correct later on.
You’re building your home not just for today, but for years to come. How do you see your life changing? Do you have a young family, who are growing and whose needs will be changing? Do you envision staying in this home as you age? Will you need spaces that can change and grow with you? We all like to just jump right in when we start something new, but it really is a smart move to stop for a moment at the very beginning, and think about the big picture. Take a little time to really think about what you can predict about your future needs, as well as thinking about what you really need and want for the moment.
Think about the setting
You’re building your home, but don’t forget about the land that it sits on. Allow yourself enough room to grow outside as well as inside. You may want to add landscaping details like trees, bushes, flowers and other plants, perhaps a garden. Also, you’ll want to keep direction in mind when you plan where you home will face, especially when it comes to the sun, taking advantage of insulating principles, window placement, etc.
Don’t get too distracted by the “shiny”
Yes, it’s lots of fun to plan details like kitchens or bathrooms, but don’t neglect the basic issues of safety. Make certain that essential safety features are in place like fire exits, exterior lighting, a security system, and of course, fire and CO2 detectors installed later.
Keepin’ it green keeps the green in your wallet
Going green as much as possible is a win-win situation. Green choices are good for the environment and they save you money. Check out all the green, water- and energy-saving technologies available. Appliances, HVAC/insulation systems, windows, roofs, skylights, water-collection systems all have green options, both high and low tech. Many homes use a variety of systems and savvy use of environmental factors to lower energy costs considerably. There are even green building methods.
Don’t lose sight of the bottom line
In all the excitement of planning, it’s important not to forget that everything comes with a price tag. Have a realistic budget, and stick with it. Here’s an even better idea: give yourself a budget that’s actually a bit less than you can really afford, even up to half what you’re prepared to spend. That way you’ll be prepared for the unexpected.
Look closely at the details
After you’ve worked your way from the big picture, to the setting, to the home itself and its layout, finish by taking a close look at the details. Bathrooms on each floor? Check. Extra closet and storage space? Check. And how about those electrical outlets, USB ports, vents and wiring? Air-flow and insulation? Take time to pay attention and check all those important but easy-to-overlook details.
Work with a pro
After you’ve done all your work and gone through the checklist, then your best bet is to work with professionals. Interview and hire a good architect and builder whom you trust to bring your dream to life. Go over plans with them thoroughly.
You should expect that changes will have to be made to your initial plan, whether because of budget, ergonomic/structural or environmental reasons. Try to be flexible while maintaining your overall vision. Speak up – don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s far easier to make changes in the planning stage than later.
Once construction begins, be involved, visit the site often, and again, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There should always be a contact person ready to take your calls.
The end result – your own home! — makes it all worth it
Yes, building your home is a project. It demands your attention, your time, and your energy. But the end result is worth it! A custom-designed home, uniquely-suited to you and your family is a treasure. The construction phase ends (eventually…) and you and your family can enjoy your new home forever.