Savvy Advice on How to Build a New Home

Buying a new home is a fun and exciting endeavor, it’s the start of new beginnings and a bright future. But what about those brave enough to go through the process of designing and building a home from the ground up? Well hats off to you, you’re in for quite a journey. And to make sure it’s a smooth and successful adventure and not a bumpy misadventure; we’ve put together the key things you need to know before embarking on your path to new home design and construction. Whether you’re a seasoned homeowner or a first-time home buyer, read on to discover the latest tips and strategies on how to build a new home­–successfully.


How Much Does It Really Cost to Build a House?

The short answer, it varies, and comes down to a number of factors.


Cost of Land, Materials, and Labor

The cost to build a home depends on many factors. One of the first things to realize is your chosen location will have a considerable impact on the cost of land, materials, and labor. For example, it’s not surprising that building a new home in Florida costs less than a new home in California. But what about the other states? If you’re a new retiree or even a young family looking to move out of state, it’s helpful to know the cost of living and how much house you can afford in different areas. The National Association of Home Builders did an extensive survey in 2014 of home builders to see how much it costs to build a new home in their state. You can see the results of the study here. And, if you are looking for an affordability consider one of our top 2019 picks for most affordable places to live.


Cost to Build on Own Lot vs Neighborhood

Whether you're dreaming of a ranch style home, or two-story mansion, your mantra should be location, location, location. That is especially true with new construction. If you want to live on five rolling green acres in the country, before you sign on the dotted line, do your homework. One of the biggest unknown expenses is the cost of bringing in utilities if the land is undeveloped. That’s a huge advantage of building in a planned community, you can save you tens of thousands of dollars because the utilities and roads are already in place. The other costly expense in developing land is whether the ground is level or rocky and uneven. Clearing and leveling the land requires specialized machinery like bulldozers which can run between $75 to $100 an hour in some areas.


When you've chosen the area you’d like to live in, meet with contractors that build the type of home you want. Find out how much they charge per square foot. Make sure you know what’s included in the price so you can make an accurate comparison. Don’t forget to check out planned communities too, as quite often you can save up to 15% as compared building a fully custom home.



Top Tips for Designing Your Own Home


Consider a Two-Story vs a Ranch Design

The layout of your new home can influence its price in unexpected ways. For instance, when designing your own home, you may be surprised to discover that a 2400 square foot ranch style home will most likely cost more than the same size two story home. That’s because two of the most expensive things in construction are the foundation and roof. That means you can have a two-story house with the same square feet as a one story yet save money. You can also save money on land if you choose a two-story home with a smaller lot.


Find a Plan that Works for You

Another plus of choosing a housing development is they offer the latest trends  in home design and have floor plans that are designed to work for you. That alone cuts down the overwhelm of searching through hundreds of options if you were to build a custom home on your own. Besides your list of must-haves like a gourmet kitchen, open floor plan, granite countertops and over-sided pantries, a builder’s list of floor plans probably include a wide mix of sizes, bedroom and bathroom counts and enough flexibility to personalize some parts of the home layout so that it is perfect for you.


Look for Energy Efficiency

One of the benefits of a new home, is that it can be designed to be environmentally conscience. When designing your home make sure to take advantage of an energy efficient features


Your new home builder should include features like

  • roofline insulation
  • exterior wall insulation
  • tankless water heaters


These are sound investments that will save you money on your utility bills. And while you’re at it, ensure your builder is up on all the latest technology, so you take advantage of the benefits of Smart Home technology to make your life easier and more enjoyable.


Important Steps in Building Your Dream House

Once you have a good idea of location and design, then you’ll get into the next steps in building a house. They’re pretty straight-forward. Let’s go over them now.


Step 1.  Determine a Budget

Since you know land and building costs, you can set a realistic budget. Be sure to add a little wiggle room because in any big project like building a new home nothing ever goes 100% as planned. There are always unforeseen things that come up, so rather than stressing out–plan for it. Once you set your budget, stick to it. Don’t spend more on upgrades than you need or can afford.


Step 2. Select a Lot & Location

 Now the fun begins, and the dream of building a new home is becoming much more real. It’s time to pick your parcel. Remember to consider all land development costs and figure them into your budget. Another important consideration when choosing a lot is your lifestyle - would you rather live in an active community with lots of amenities? Or enjoy the tranquil peacefulness of the country?


Step 3. Select a Builder

This is your most important decision. Make sure you hire a high-quality builder. Ask around, get references, visit other homes the contractor built. Get the builder’s warranty in writing along with a list of their materials and quality. You don’t want a beautiful dream house built only to find out the structure isn’t sound or that items aren’t going to be covered after you move in.


Step 4. Select Your Floor Plan

When selecting a plan consider the lot’s orientation and natural lighting. Your goal should be space utilization and arranging rooms in a way that flows with your lifestyle. Don’t forget to design a welcoming entrance so when visitors arrive, they are immediately impressed. 


Step 5. Start the New Home Construction Process

Your project starts with site preparation and the pouring of the foundation. Next comes rough framing, HVAC, electrical, and plumbing. After that insulation gets installed, drywall is put up, textures and finishes are applied. The interior comes together with the installation of the flooring, countertops, trim and fixtures. Sometime during this process, the exterior driveways and sidewalks are poured. Depending upon your budget and contract, exterior landscaping may or may not be included.


Step 6. Final Walkthrough and Moving

Upon completion, you’ll do a final walkthrough with the builder. Make notes of anything to be fixed. Your contractor should have a written warranty to return to repair anything you find once you move into your new home.


Our final advice to anyone looking to buy a new home is–enjoy the process, don’t sweat the bumps in the road. Create a future that you love seeing you and your family in. For more ideas on designing your new home visit Pulte Homes.



Contributed to Your Home blog by Carol Youmans

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 7.20.19

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