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Making the plunge to build a new home is never easy. Even if you’ve been saving up for years, there’s always the worry that it won’t be enough, or that you’re still not ready. We get that, and we know that starting the building process can be tough, but with a little bit of planning and preparation, you’ll see that getting your custom home project underway is a lot less scary than it seems! Here are a few tips to get your custom home building project started:


This is one step that’s overlooked by most. It’s easy to skip ahead to the fun part of planning and designing a house, but before you can do that, you have to have somewhere to live. For most people, this decision depends largely on the size of their family and the amount of money they have on hand. Some people want to remain in their existing home until the new, custom home is move-in ready, but for most, this just isn’t a financial possibility. It makes more sense to put an existing home up for sale and use the money you make from that to put towards a new build.

While this is a great way to save money, it doesn’t actually answer the “where to live?” question.

If you plan on selling your home, you have the option to find an apartment, rent out a home for a few months, or even stay with relatives. Obviously, staying with a relative is the most cost-effective way to do it, but it’s not always an option for everyone. If you don’t want to stay with your parents, or your spouse’s parents, know that affordable rentals are an option. They’re probably going to be smaller than you’d like, but it’s important to remember that they are temporary. Just find something that’s workable for a while, and you’ll be saving money, ensuring your building budget remains untouched.


Once you’ve decided where you’ll live while you’re building, and you’ve put your old house up for sale, if necessary, then it’s time to set your actual building budget. Make sure you’ve made allowances for how much you plan to spend just on day-to-day expenses while you’re building, but create a budget that’s set aside just for the build. Take into account how much you plan to spend on a lot, the actual custom home itself, as well as appliances and finishings. Once you’ve got your budget set, go ahead and add a little bit more onto that to give yourself a cushion for any unexpected expenses.

Building projects are notorious for becoming a bit more expensive than you originally planned. Though a good custom builder will work to make sure your project stays on budget, there are always going to be one or two things that might come up, whether it’s an expensive dining room table you just have to have or a minor design flaw. So, it’s best to just ensure you add in a little bit of breathing room to your budget, just in case.


Funding custom home builds is a little different than getting loans for an existing house because you’re doing the building, and then you’ll be living in the home. In most cases, this means you have to obtain a loan that covers you during construction and then transfers into a permanent loan after you’ve closed on the house. Some decide to take out two separate loans, one for building and one permanent loan for after the home closes. Either way works, but you’ll have to figure out which method is better for you personally, and you’ll have to start filling out the paperwork so you can obtain those loans in time for your build.


Once you’ve set a budget and are working on securing funds, you can start looking at lots. Think about where you want to be, and what sort of lot you see your new home on, but don’t make a final decision on one until you’ve spoken with a builder. Too often, people find their dream lot, only to realize later on that their dream home won’t fit on it. It’s important to remember that your home design should flow and work with the lot you purchase, so talk to a builder or architect before you purchase the lot for your custom home.


Once you have a few ideas for lots, it’s time to get serious about your custom home design. What things do you definitely want, and what don’t you want in your new home? It helps to make a list of must-haves, keep a board on Pinterest of pictures that fit your style concept, and be very clear about what you absolutely won’t have in your new house. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for your builder to give you a realistic budget for the amount of space you’re looking for and the type of design you’re leaning towards. The more you plan, the easier it will be for you to convey what it is you’re looking for from your builder. Start with basics, like how many beds and baths, but continue to narrow down to as specific as you can possibly get at this point. The more you plan now, the easier everything else will be down the road


This might seem minor, but the placement of utility lines and electrical poles in your lot can have a big impact on the design of your home. Having an idea of where those are all situated before you finalize your design plan will help ensure there are no major surprises once you get a crew out to the lot. The last thing you want is to have perfected your homes’ design, only to find that utility lines start way on the opposite side of your lot, or that an electrical pole is sitting right where you were planning to put the garage. Take care of these minor concerns early, and they won’t be a big deal as you start the building process.


When you have a pretty clear idea of what you’re looking for, where you want to put it, and when you’d like to have it done, it’s time to find the right builder. Possibly the most important aspect of the building process, a good builder can make or break your custom home project. Take time to find someone who has a great reputation in your area for building the types of homes you’re looking for. There are plenty of amazing custom builders out there, but not all of them may be familiar with your style or understand exactly what it is you’re looking for.

Make sure you sit down with a few different builders, talk to them about what you want out of your new custom home, and don’t leave without a list of at least three references you can call or visit. If possible, go check out some of the homes they’ve built in the past to see what their work looks like. Choose a builder who’s proven to deliver quality custom homes, but who you also get along well with. This is someone you’ll be working very closely with for quite some time, and on a project that means a lot to you, so it’s important you see eye to eye.


Once you’ve chosen the right builder for your home, it’s important to keep up lines of communication. Obviously you’ve chosen that builder for a reason, and you like the work they do, but the only way your home will come out exactly how you want it is if you communicate with your builder. Make it very clear what you’re looking for, and if you want something a certain way, like a farmhouse sink or custom cabinets, be sure to let them know. While your builder is going to work hard to ensure you get exactly the custom home you’re looking for, they can’t read minds, so they’ll need input from you before they can get started.


Finally, it’s important to stay patient. Building projects can take a while, and living somewhere other than your own home can get stressful. From obtaining the permits to drawing up design plans to actually breaking ground, a brand new custom home will take months, and it’s important to be prepared for that. But, so long as you’re patient and have done the planning to make sure you get a home that’s designed for you, the finished product will be well worth the wait. After all that building and planning, you’ll end up with a custom home that’s sure to last a lifetime and built just for you.

Making the decision to build a custom home doesn’t have to be scary. With the right amount of planning and research, you can ensure you’re totally prepared for the building process. What’s more, a quality custom builder with experience in your area, and dedication to your unique vision, will work with you to create your dream home. If you’ve been considering building a custom home in the West Michigan area, be sure to get in touch with Whitmore Custom Homes. A family-owned company, Whitmore Custom Homes has been designing and creating luxury custom homes for years and would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your vision. Give our office a call at 616-446-3482, or contact us online today!

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