Designing Your Home
You can normally choose, purchase, and bring your own plans to the builder for further modification. Hiring an architect to design from scratch is much more expensive and very rare these days. It is good to start doing research on your ideal home design early so you can be sure to choose a lot that fits the plans and a builder who is comfortable building it. There are endless options for finding home plans online now, including homeplans.com, dreamhomesource.com, and eplans.com. We recently had a buyer build a beautiful Southern Living Idea Home!
Choosing Your Builder
Buying a lot to build on allows you to choose your builder of choice. We recommend finding a builder by referral, because you need someone you can trust. Be careful of “family friends”, or being your own general contractor. The unexpected pitfalls can be many and expensive.
A good real estate agent will be able to recommend a trusted area builders that meet your criteria. We suggest interviewing about 3 and then making a selection based upon the best fit for your family.
The construction contract will detail your relationship with your builder including all the job specifications and details in addition to provisions for cost overruns, punch-list items, and time frames for completion. Having an attorney review the contract ensures you are fully protected!
The Challenging Task of Finding the Right Lot
Builders are constantly analyzing available lots to purchase, so typically, if a lot is still available, it is very likely to be overpriced or seriously flawed in some way.
Possible issues to be aware of:
- Lack of sewer or water access
- Unstable soil
- Buried heating oil tanks
- Excessive slope
- Impervious surface regulations
- Undefined adjacent development
Be careful and get an expert opinion!
You will want to be sure to have a survey and check government zoning regulations, flood maps, and any possible HOA covenants and ordinances. You will also need to fully understand how electricity, water, and sewage will be installed and dealt with during the building process. Before buying a lot to build on, you will want the builder to look at the lot to determine if they can build your home plan on it.
In most cases, it is imperative that your chosen builder be willing to purchase the lot and finance the construction. You will need to put down a hefty deposit, but they control the risks and they should carry the loan until the home is finished.
Managing the Construction Process
The three common choices inlcude:
- Pay more for an experienced, trustworthy builder to manage the process independently
- Hire a general contractor to keep tabs on the process
- Stay connected to the construction process yourself, if you have the experience and know-how.