The Planning Phase
This is where a lot of your time will be spent and where you have the opportunity to save a great deal of money! The better and more thorough you plan at the beginning, the smoother the project will go! Below are some helpful ideas to help keep you on track while you are in your planning phase.
Financing – To get started, you should get pre-qualified for financing – This is important because once you do this, you will know what you have to work with for a budget. Shop around a little to find the bank or lending company that has the lowest interest rates and works best for you. Once you are pre-qualified, the fun can begin!
Choosing a lot (if you do not already have one) – Some people like to find the land they want to build on before they have their house plans drawn up. This is because they want to explore the factors such as the soil condition, the slope of the land, the drainage, the zoning and the building codes in the area. Of course, it is ultimately your choice when you find your lot and it can be done at any point during the planning phase.
Several factors come into play when choosing the land that is right for you. First, think about what area you would like to live in. Do you want to be in the city or the country? If you have school age children, looking into the school systems may be at the top of your list. Next, how much land would you like? When you are deciding on how many acres, think about the future. Will you be able to divide the land someday should you choose? What is the zoning of the area? Can supermarkets and shopping malls be built in that area? How close can your neighbors build? Etc…
Price is also a big factor. Keep this in mind. The cost of your land will be taken out of your overall budget and whatever you have left will be the amount you have to build your house with.
It is also a good idea to walk your lot before buying it, so there are no surprises. Does the land get wet in certain areas? If so, is it in a flood zone? Are there trees you will need to have removed? How about big boulders? Is the lot flat or does it slope? Has a soil test been done to determine if there will be proper drainage, if there is ledge that will need to be blasted, if the soil will support the weight of the house? Etc… A real estate agent can help you with all of these factors.
Once you have decided on the lot that you would like, you will want to visit the local building inspection department to determine if a building permit can be issued for that lot. Be sure that they will issue you one before you pay for the land. If the land is not deemed to be a “buildable” lot you will not be able to get a permit and thus will not be able to build there.
Make a list of what you want – This includes: any ideas, needs & wishes – decide on details such as type of cabinets, flooring, paint, trim & fixtures. You can find ideas in magazines, online or even things that you like that you have seen in other people’s homes. The more specific you are with this list, the better idea you will have of what it is going to cost you. Remember what you are pre-qualified for and stick to your budget.
We have created a user friendly project selections sheet in our E-Z Builder Pro to be sure you don’t forget anything and to help keep all of this information organized and at your fingertips. This sheet is fully customizable and you can make it as in-depth as you wish right down to the brand, model number, color, etc… This sheet also keeps a running tally of the cost so you can see where you are at at all times.
Drawing up your plans – It’s time to visit the architect, draftsman and or designer to draw up a complete set of blueprints. You can find a full list of reputable architects, draftsmen and designers and can get estimates from several of them before deciding who to go with.
Once you make your choice, be sure to stay within your budget while designing your new home. You can do this by telling your final budget number to your architect, draftsman and or designer before they draw up any of the plans.
A couple of the biggest cost effecting components to keep in mind are the size and style of the house you choose to build. For example, a two story house can have the same amount of living space as a one story house, but the foundation and the roof will not need to be as big. These are important factors to remember since the roof and the foundation are two of the more costly items. Another aspect to consider when trying to cut cost or stay within budget is opting for less expensive hardware and fixtures now that can always be upgraded at a later date.
You will want to stay as involved in the architectural process as possible. Not only does this keep you in the driver’s seat, but the more you know and understand about the project, the easier it will be to work with your builder.
Finding your Builder – One of the biggest tasks in the building process is finding a “good” builder. By “good”, we mean a honest, reliable, quality contractor that is respected in the area and is known for having a worthy reputation. This is important because this is the person that will be on the site working on your house day in and day out. You want to be able to trust them and have confidence that they are going to get the job done right!
Not all contractors are created equal! I’m sure you have heard of those horror stories where a builder doesn’t complete the job, runs off with the money or just plain old does a bad job. We don’t want this to happen to you, that is why we at Home Building Estimates have done the majority of the homework for you. We want you to have peace of mind! We have done the research and rated each of the contractors on our site to be sure they are of utmost quality.
Normally when looking for a “good” builder, you would have to spend quite a lot of time and effort doing your due diligence. In order to get multiple quotes, you would need to find several contractors.
First, you could find various contractors by looking in the yellow pages, by searching the many sites on the internet, by reviewing newspaper ads, etc. Next, you would need to contact each one and see if they would be available during the time that you are building. Then comes the time consuming part…conducting some extensive research on each builder to be sure they are legitimate, licensed, insured, and honest. Not to mention reliable, do a good job and get the job done in the allotted time they have quoted you. You can make multiple phone calls for each builder, go to several job sites to see some work they have conducted, ask for references and call them, look them up online and with the better business bureau to be sure they don’t have any complaints against them, etc…
I’m not sure what you are thinking, but this seems like quite a lot of work to me. Just in order to have peace of mind that you have found some “good” contractors to get your quotes from. By using Home Building Estimates we have taken most of this work out of this equation. We have rated our contractors with a number grade based on factual information and we do not allow anyone on our site that does not make the grade.
Your builder and his crew will be your main contractors in the building process. Not only are they in charge of all of the framing from the floors to the ceilings, but they are experienced and will help you with many crucial building decisions along the way. A good builder is usually hard to find, but not with Home Building Estimates! We have made it easy! Also, since the good ones are usually busy, you can request quotes from them way in advance with our program, E-Z Builder Pro to let them know the future dates you are planning on needing them.
Your quotes – when you receive the quotes back, don’t always presume that the lowest quote is the right choice…especially if it is significantly lower than the other quotes…they may have underbid or may not have fully understood the entire scope of the project. All of the quotes you receive should be in the general ballpark of each other if each builder is bidding on exactly the same thing.
Your quotes should include all of the needed materials, the time that it will take to complete the project, the cost of labor and all of the equipment needed as well.
The contracts – always be sure to use written contracts that are signed by both you and the builder. Some builders have their own, but for your convenience we have one all made up on our E-Z Builder Pro and you can just print it, fill in the blanks and write any other additional information needed on it. Be sure to include everything on the contract. No detail is too small. If it is not on the contract, than legally the builder is not responsible for it even if they said they would do it, it needs to be in black and white and signed by both parties.