An 8-Step Guide to Building a Custom Home

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Building a Custom Home: A Step-by-Step Guide By Expert Custom Home Builders

Building a custom home has many unique benefits, especially when it comes to creating a living space that’s uniquely yours. Throughout every step of the custom build process, you and your family will have the added satisfaction and security of knowing that you’ll end up in a home that’s been meticulously designed to meet your exact needs, specifications, and preferences.

Luxury Living Room

That said, if you’ve ever thought about building a custom home, then you should first have an idea of what the typical home design/build process consists of. To do that, you need to know the answers to (or at least have an understanding of) important questions like:

  • What do I need to know before contacting a design-build company?
  • How much does a custom home cost?
  • How can I ensure the design-build company I’ve contacted is the right one for my idea?
  • What goes into finding a suitable location for a new custom home?
  • What does the blueprint and specification planning stage entail?
  • What materials will I need to bring my dream home to life?
  • At what point in the process will the actual construction begin?
  • When will all my internal amenities and necessities be installed?
  • What will the final phase of the project look like?

To help you gain a better understanding of these questions, we’ve put together this in-depth guide outlining every step of the custom home building process, from the preliminary research stage all the way through to the final touches. As you follow along, you’ll gain a much clearer idea of not only what each step entails, but what you can do from a customer perspective to make the most out of your new home journey.

Step 1: The Preliminary Research Stage

The first step in any custom home building endeavor should involve you learning as much as possible about the subject beforehand. If you take the time to familiarize yourself with the standard home building process, you’ll find that you’re much better prepared to answer essential design-build questions like:

  • What is your home construction budget?
  • What sort of building materials or decorations would you like?
  • What does your timeframe look like?
  • Where do you want to build, and are there any restrictions or covenants involved with building in that homesite?
  • What building codes will have to be followed?
  • How many square feet of space will you need? Here, you’ll want to consider things like whether or not you plan to entertain others regularly, whether or not you work from home, and, of course, how many people you’ll be living with.
  • How involved do you want to be with the project?

A young woman doing research on the custom home building process on her MacBook Pro

Of course, these are just some of the questions you’ll want to consider before meeting with a custom home builder. However, you won’t need to know the answer to every single one of these – after all, that’s what your new partners will be there to guide you through. But knowing what you want to ask – and what might be asked of you – will certainly put you in a better position during those early meetings, discussions, and planning phases.

Step 2: Finding a Team That Can Bring Your Vision to Life

After doing your preliminary research and gathering an idea of what you want your dream house to look like, it’s time to put together a team that can bring it to life.

If you ultimately decide to partner with a custom design-build company, you’ll be able to streamline the entire building process, all the way from the earliest conceptual stages through to completion. That’s because the design-build approach removes the separation between the home design team and the construction/build teams. In other words, all aspects of your new home construction project will be led by one entity known as the “designer-builder” or the “design-build contractor.”

A team meeting discussing the design phase of a residential project.

In addition, any experienced design-build company should also have a number of pre-established relationships with equally experienced architects, which will eliminate the need for you to seek out an architect separately down the line. As the project progresses, you’ll gain peace of mind knowing that virtually all elements of the project are being handled, contracted, and negotiated by one entity, freeing you up to help brainstorm on construction and design decisions – such as the ideal location for your forthcoming dream home.

Step 3: Finding a Suitable Location

After identifying which collaborators you want to work with, it’s time for you to enter the pre-construction phase, which involves locating a suitable homesite that can make your dream house a reality. Your professional team of collaborators will help you find and even purchase this area of land if necessary, or work with you over time while you evaluate multiple options and weigh the pros and cons of each.

In this regard, having the input of a custom design-build team will be especially helpful when it comes to considering things like the land’s suitability and whether or not it will be served by public utilities, or if you’ll need to have special/extra work done in order to get utilities installed (for example, having a well drilled somewhere). Your team will also help you ensure the construction project follows all the necessary building codes, zoning restrictions, and potential covenants associated with building there.

Step 4: Outlining Your Blueprints & Specifications

By now, you should have a solidified budget and timeline in place, and you’ve also started scouting out potential locations for your new home. At this point, your design-build team will start to provide input for the various collaborators they’re working with so they can create some more precise blueprints and other specifications for the project.

Floor plan blueprints for a future custom home written on a white piece of paper

While going over these ideas – both ones that you’ve come up with, and the ones that have been recommended by your design-build team – the various collaborators will be able to lend their own expertise and let you know what’s possible, as well as how you can incorporate these various ideas in a realistic, functional manner. Other professionals, such as structural engineers, might also be brought in to provide additional input and lend even more value at this important stage of the planning process.

Step 5: Deciding on the Right Materials

While we’re listing this step after discussing your construction/design decisions (step 2), finding a suitable location (step 3), and outlining the blueprints and specifications for the project (step 4), there will actually be quite a bit of overlap between steps 2-5. After all, building a new home requires a lot of flexibility, and throughout that time, some of your ideas might need to be tweaked or adjusted to accommodate.

Regardless, once you’ve found a suitable location, you can have the confidence to know exactly which materials and finishes are now realistic versus those that might not actually work so well. Keep in mind, of course, that several hundred – if not thousands – of items will go into the construction of your new home, and every single one of these materials must be approved by someone beforehand. As a result, clients who can clearly specify what they want will help their team know what to prioritize, while other items might be suggested for you to consider and approve of – it really all depends on exactly how involved you wish to be.

Still, for those items that you do have a specific idea, material, or vision in mind for – whether they be a certain type of material for your kitchen countertops, a specific color for your roofing shingles, or a specific vision for your living room floor plan – make sure to be as clear and comprehensive as possible about these specifications as possible so your design-build team can work to integrate them.

kitchen with marble countertop

Step 6: The Building Process Begins!

With the commencement of Step 5, the construction of your dream house can finally begin! Of course, every new home project is unique, which means every new home project will have its own unique considerations in regards to its construction and design process. Some of these aspects can include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Clearing out any obstructive trees, debris, or other large objects from your newly purchased home site.
  • Digging down into the ground deep enough to construct a solid foundation on which to build your new home.
  • Bringing in materials to lay the foundation, and also taking time to add in specialty installments such as a crawl space or basement.
  • Bringing in a framing crew to finish your floor decks.
  • Constructing walls of varying sizes and densities so they’re strong enough to support the structures around them.

Usually, after the framing crew is brought in and your floor decks are finished, you’ll be able to step in, walk around, and slowly watch as the basic structure of your new home becomes increasingly complex with the addition of more walls, windows, and, finally, a roof.

However, it’s important to note that since this will be the first time both you and your team will be able to see the house’s room sizes and layouts in real life, change orders are uncommon during this stage so it’s the time to be careful in your selection. The reality is that the process of building a custom home from the ground-up means that deviations from the original scope-of-work will likely happen at some point, regardless of how well prepared you are.

This is why truly experienced custom design-build professionals always have a solid system in place for managing such change orders proactively to help accommodate your vision every step of the way. Having a dependable process in place to address such changes is very important because it allows the custom home building team to adapt in real-time to shifting priorities in a seamless way, without compromising your project’s progress.

Step 7: Installing Your Internal Amenities

After the foundation of your new home has been laid, the construction team will be free to come in and install all the internal necessities and other additions. Whether it’s related to plumbing, installing a phone line, fixing up your heating and cooling, or having an interior designer come in to help with your lighting setups and other decorations, this step is all about getting you set up with everything you need to live luxuriously inside your new home.

Interior of a bathroom with a map of the world artfully drawn on the wall

Step 8: Finishing Things Up

Congratulations – you’ve made it to the final step of the custom home building process! Appropriately enough, the final stage of the home involves all the essential interior and exterior finishes, which can include everything from finishing up the paint jobs to miscellaneous landscaping services. Though you may be anxious to finally move into your new home, the “finishing touches” step is just as essential as the others, and your design-build partners will work carefully to ensure the highest quality installation and application of your home’s essential components.

Have an Idea for a Custom Dream House of Your Own?

If you found our step-by-step guide to build a new custom home helpful, feel free to contact us with any questions, ideas, or requests. You can also take a look at our portfolio to see the many luxury residential projects we’ve completed over the years, which could serve as a great source of inspiration for your own project!

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