8 Things You Need to Know Before Building Your Own Home

by Andra Hopulele
5 min. read


Many homeowners dream of one day building their own custom home from scratch, but in this day and age it’s not as simple as buying a plot of land and building whatever you want. With strict building codes and regulations in place, you need to be sure that your home is built the right way. This often-daunting task should not be taken lightly, though with some forward planning, the results can be tremendous.

Can You Afford It?

The very first thing you need to know before building your own home is whether you can afford it. Of course, buying a home can become very expensive very fast as well, especially if the property has some serious problems. But building one isn’t easier. On paper, it often seems much cheaper to build a new home than to buy an existing one, but there are more numbers to consider than simply the cost of materials and labour. For instance, you need to ensure you know exactly what work must be carried out to get your plot of land ready to build on in the first place.

There are numerous hidden costs, in the form of permits, inspections, legal fees and additional jobs you might not have thought about. Delays can also increase the cost, and prices of materials can always rise. Speak with a professional to ensure you’re on top of the work that will need to be carried out and create as accurate a budget as you can. Add at least 10% to this to account for the unexpected costs that can crop up.

Do You Have the Time?

Knowing how long a custom house build can take is essential. This typically differs depending on the size of your planned home, the materials used and the style. Most custom homes take anywhere between one and half to two years to plan and construct. If you don’t yet have the land to build on, it can take several months to find and purchase the ideal lot. Be sure to account for delays when planning. Building a house is best suited to those who aren’t pressured by time, and if you are on a deadline it’s best to buy a ready-made home.

It Can Be Mentally Exhausting

Buying a home comes with its set of challenges, but building one is a more stressful endeavour and can put a strain on any marriage as disagreements mount up. Delays, rejected plans and issues with contractors are inevitable causes of stress, so be prepared! Hiring professionals to help will alleviate a large portion of this stress, but even with the best general contractors, architects and designers, issues are likely to arise.

Permits Are Your Responsibility

If you hire a general contractor, they will take care of obtaining the necessary permits and paperwork as part of their job. However, the final responsibility lies at the feet of the homeowner, so it’s important that you make sure all permits are correctly displayed and up-to-date. If there’s an issue, it will be you that has to pay the fine.

Know the Local Regulations and Laws

It’s not enough to simply be up to date with national building codes and regulations; there are numerous local regulations and restrictions you’ll need to be aware of as well. Again, a good team of professionals should be aware of these, but if you’re managing the build yourself, you have to be on top of it. Different areas may enforce stricter or more lax regulations, depending on the location. For example, areas prone to flooding will typically adhere to different regulations than those applying to less flood prone areas.

Location Is Important

Where you choose to build your home will play a large part in determining your budget, time scale and exactly what work needs to be carried out. Land may be cheaper in more isolated rural areas, but if there’s no infrastructure in place, you will need to factor in the additional costs of installing things like a septic system, digging a well and hooking up your home to the mains water, gas and electricity if necessary.

Demolishing an old house and building on the site can prevent these issues, but may present other potential problems. Some areas enforce neighbourhood site plan controls which must be followed and can add months to the process as you await paperwork.

Managing the Project Is Hard Work

If you decide to save money by managing the project yourself and not hiring a general contractor, be prepared for a lot of hard work. This will become very time-consuming as you need to hire and organize various subcontractors in such a way so that the work flows well, minimizing delays. You will also need to take care of permits and inspections, making this an almost full-time job at times.

Planning Ahead Saves Headaches!

Just like with home buying, making a wish list and planning ahead is vital. Most importantly, having a solid plan can reduce stress and prevent you from making rushed decisions. Take your time researching architects, designers and contractors, ensuring you find a team that you feel comfortable working with. Spend time working with an architect to develop a clear and precise plan from which to work from.

Think about furniture, cabinets and finishes before any construction begins. In this way, you can adjust the layout to best fit your furniture, something that is particularly important in the kitchen. This also helps to ensure that you will have ample space and that your new home flows well. Additionally, you won’t be pressured into making decisions regarding the finishing touches at the last minute – avoiding delays and choices you may live to regret.

The more you know in advance, the less stressful the whole process will be and the more time you will have to realize your dream home. Think long and hard about the commitment required to build your own home, and don’t be blinded by the potential savings. This is a huge undertaking, but by following the advice above, the hard work will all be worth it in the end!

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