First time building a home
krryroney
July 7, 2013 in Design Dilemma
I am trying to build a home and I don't know where to start, can any one help me on the process in which I have to take to build
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
armygirl1987
I would start by contacting an architect, designer, something along those lines. Do you have any skillsets where designing is concern. It would seem like an overwhelming process for me. I would definitely talk with someone. You could also check out the pro section on this website, type in your area. Where are you located. Check out Ironwood Builders page on here he might be able to help you out.
July 7, 2013 at 10:29am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Pick the lot on which to build and buy the lot. Find an architect whose work you like. Consult with the architect who will design the house over a several month period, and bring an interior designer into the process before the plan is finalized. Along the way, looking at houzz will be enormously helpful. Having an interior designer to help you make the right decisions is of primary importance. One of the best ways of finding an interior designer is by asking friends who they have used. Another way is to look at the list of professionals in the heading above that says "Find Local Pros".

I met yesterday with clients who are about halfway through the architectural phase. They had spent a lot of time looking at details on houzz already, but when we were discussing the possibility of a coffered ceiling vs. a beamed ceiling, we pulled out our iPads and looked through lots of examples to determine what they might like these details to look like. We repeated this process several times during our 3 hour meeting, searching for examples of stone walls that looks contemporary, examining different fireplaces to see how they looked with a really high ceiling vs a 12' ceiling, and on and on. Houzz has about 1.75 million photos of interiors and exteriors of houses and they are categorized in great detail, making it easy to find what you are searching for.
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
July 7, 2013 at 10:49am     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
jagood
Do you mean that you actually want to do the building yourself, or that you want someone else to design and build a custom home for you?
July 7, 2013 at 11:14am     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
krryroney
@ Jagood I have land and I want to contract out the work my self.
July 7, 2013 at 11:23am   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
krryroney
@ Angela I am a Master Plumber and I can do the hvac myself, I wonder how much I can save by doing these things
July 7, 2013 at 11:26am     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
jagood
I don't know if they are still available, but we enrolled in a DesignBuild class to learn how to be our own general contractor and build the home we envisioned. Check out the Fine Home Building website - there will probably be educational resources there. We subscribed to the magazine for years and also watched video tapes and read lots of how-to books that we ordered from them.
July 7, 2013 at 11:57am     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
jagood
Oh, I momentarily forgot - we're also a BIG fan of Sara Susanka and have all of her books. We have tried to follow her design principles with very pleasing results. Also, work with a good designer or architect that you trust - they are worth every penny. We found one that took our bubble diagrams, our functional specifications (how we wanted the house to function) and our style preferences as input - and the output was a home design that we loved, with very little tweaking as it was built. He walked the property with us, and we discussed the pros and cons of how to situate the home on the site when it was in the bubble diagram stage. He had the ability to remove his ego but maintain his creativeness. He was the second one - the first one just couldn't seem to see our vision and instead had his own vision, which probably would have been a lovely house, but not the HOME we envisioned. I don't know if any of this is helpful to you, since everyone attains knowledge differently. It's just how we happened to do it.
July 7, 2013 at 12:21pm     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
juniperjo
Also, I would recommend ripping pages of homes you love out of magazines, and collecting them, so you can show these to the architect you ultimately find. It is much more effective to SHOW someone what you want than to describe what you want. I would recommend that you not even look for an architect until you have at least 100 photographs of the look/fee you are going for in your new house.
July 7, 2013 at 12:25pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
juniperjo
You also might want to look at house plan sites; my favorite one is www.houseplans.com.

Look at the house plans of the houses you like, and bookmark these, and show these to the architects you are interviewing, as well. I'd talk to at least 3 architects before choosing one.
July 7, 2013 at 12:27pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Nancy Walton
If you have to go to a bank for construction financing, they will want a licensed general contractor on the job, whose responsibility is that the propers permits are pulled for each phase, the proper inspections are done at each phase, and all of the sub-contractos are licensed, etc. YOU will want a GC so that everything is timed perfectly, so no down time while waiting for materials, etc., so this doesn't become a never-ending project. I have done this before, and believe me when I say a GC is a life-,stress-, and time-saver! Of course, this is after the architect designs your dream home. Some are even design/build companies--one-stop shopping.
July 7, 2013 at 12:42pm     
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
juniperjo
Coincidentally, I'm a big fan of Sarah Susanka's "Not-so-Big House" series of books, too -- you could check out her website for free and see if her style of architecture appeals to you:
http://www.notsobighouse.com/

If you go to her "Home Professionals Directory" (left hand side, deep burgundy tab at the bottom), you can even search on design professionals in your area.

Another one of my favorite architects, Ross Chapin, is also featured on her website. She sells her own floor plans and Ross Chapin's floor plans (click on the dark magenta tab labeled "Not So Big Plans for Sale"); if you think you can handle all of the sub-contracting, you may not even need an architect, BUT I would strongly recommend that you work with one, anyway -- a good architect will save you much more than he or she costs.
July 7, 2013 at 12:43pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
juniperjo
What part of the country are you in, and how rural is the area where you want to build? That will make a big difference in terms of how the local municipality feels about you acting as your own GC. Cities are a lot more restrictive than rural areas.
July 7, 2013 at 1:06pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Nancy Walton
As I said before, banks are pretty restrictive, too.
July 7, 2013 at 1:08pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
krryroney
I am building in Palmer,Texas
July 7, 2013 at 1:08pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
krryroney
Which is in a rural area
July 7, 2013 at 1:09pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
Palmer is near Waxahatchie which is a bit south of Dallas. I just looked it up since I'm in Austin.
July 7, 2013 at 1:29pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
John McLean, Architect
Although I've got an obvious bias, I believe you will come out ahead if you choose a good architect with whom to work. Good means 1) talented, 2) smart, 3) understanding (empathetic), 4) knowledgable about construction and contractors, and 5) experienced. He or she will outline the steps involved in the design and building process, ask you about your goals and preferences and the reasons for them, and assess the assets of your site that might be exploited in the design. You will be asked about your budget as well as the items you want to include in the work and, very quickly, a decision can be made about the project's feasibility. If there is a mismatch between budget and desires, that mismatch must be quickly addressed to make the design effort worthwhile for everyone.

You will be asked for details about the items to be included in the work (furnishings, fixtures, equipment, finishes, etc.) and these will be compiled in a list (the project program) to which reference will be made throughout the design process by both you and the architect.

Your architect will also help you to select a contractor, and may encourage you (as I do with my clients) to retain one early in the design process (as opposed to after the working drawings have been done) for both construction consultation and cost questions. Generally, architects do not do detailed cost estimates anywhere near as much as do builders, so builders have a much better handle on costs. I would also strongly suggest you retain your architect during construction for several reasons: 1) to interpret the information on the drawings when there is a question about what was intended. 2) to provide another set of eyes to catch things that may have been missed as the work is built, particularly at the beginning of the work when the architect likely knows more about the design than anyone else involved with the work., and 3) to offer a third party perspective should any disputes arise between you and the builder.

If you choose the right architect, I think you will find the entire design and construction process very engaging and educational, and the final result more distinctive and satisfying than you might have expected. I think you'll enjoy yourself.
July 7, 2013 at 2:20pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
John, you did not mention the help of an interior designer. Do you not find us helpful in assisting the client with all the selections which must be made? As an interior designer, I inventory the existing furniture to make sure that there is space for it in the new house, and to ascertain what other pieces will be needed.

I also do a furniture layout plan so that lighting can be placed where needed, instead of evenly spaced in every room. Without knowing what the furniture layout will be, it's hard to determine where floor outlets are needed.
What is your experience in working with interior designers?
Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
July 7, 2013 at 3:15pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
PRO
Big Mountain Builders
Owner/Builders should beware that building a home is a lot more than just hiring subcontractors. Those subcontractors rely on the ability of the contractor to answer difficult questions, give them direction when grey areas come up, rely on the contractor to properly schedule so that they are doing their jobs efficiently. Most of my subs will not work for owner/builders for the reasons above. You need to know very critical aspects of the build such as what elevation to set the home at, making sure all of the structural is in place, items are installed to spec, etc. By taking on a new build as a home owner can create a lot of liability if you sell in the future. If there is a structural defect that you missed there is a 10 year liability period. The building inspectors do not catch everything and have no liability. Consider at least hiring a qualified project manager. This is a huge investment and you want it done right.
July 7, 2013 at 7:04pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Nancy Walton
That is basically what I said above. Even if you can pay for eveything with cash, you are protecting yourself by going with a GC. Money well spent.
July 7, 2013 at 8:09pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
jagood
When we acted as our own GC, we hired a very talented builder to do the actual construction and oversee all other craftsmen on the job, to recommend and communicate with the subs, and to work with us to obtain all permits, get inspections, etc. He has been building custom homes in our area for years and had many contacts and connections. He loves to build beautiful homes but hates the business end. We had a crew of three and we were their full time and only job for 18 months. We managed all other aspects of the project, including researching various materials, purchasing what was needed (in consultation with builder and architect), doing project planning, etc. Both my husband and I retired from management and software development jobs and we knew how to manage projects. It was a wonderful experience for us and we had no trouble getting financing or getting sub-contractors. It was our full time job also.

If you have project management skills and the time to spend managing your build, you may be able to do something similar. But warning - it is very detail specific at times - we used many charts, spreadsheets, etc that we devised as we went along. ( I assume that a major GC would have all the software tools already in place for project management, and would not need to devise his own spreadsheets for project management.)

Before we started to build anything - we drilled a well (650 ft) to make sure we had water. Do you have water and utilities on your land? The reason I ask is because many people who are longing to build their own home and buy some land, are shocked when they find out how much it costs just to get water, power, driveways, and septic systems, etc. Also, building fees and school impact fees can be very expensive, depending on your area. You asked where to start, and I think the best place to start is to understand how much these site prep things and obtaining a permit will cost you, and deduct it from your available money to see if you can really afford to build on your land.
July 7, 2013 at 8:18pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Nancy Walton
We were lucky when we drilled our well in Vermont, we only had to go down 200 ft. But Texas, you might be looking at a whole lot more.
July 7, 2013 at 8:43pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
jagood
Yes, you are lucky. Not only on the drilling costs, but the electricity cost to pump from 650 ft is more. Also more expensive when the pump broke down and we had to have it pulled and a new one installed. We also have to have a huge holding tank for potable water because the well doesn't supply enough per minute to meet demand. We have a float device installed, so when volume drops far enough in holding tank, the pump comes on and fills up to the shut-off point, avoiding frequent on/off cycling of the pump. I laugh when people say, "Oh how lucky you are not to pay a water bill." If they only knew...... but the water tastes great! I hate to drink city water and can smell the chlorine in it.
July 7, 2013 at 9:59pm   
Thank you for reporting this. Undo
Nancy Walton
I know what you mean. Our well here now in New Mexico is only 200 ft. as well, and the best tasting water.
July 7, 2013 at 10:13pm   
Sign Up to comment
Related Discussions
New Home Build-First time home buyer
I'm looking at a multiple-acre wooded lot that has...
first time building
I asim planning to build a cost and energy efficient...
First time building - need expertise picking paint colour
Building for first time. Trying to decide what colour...
More Discussions
What color should I paint this small bedroom?
Main floor is getting painted next week. Mostly SW...
NEW HOME.....BLANK SLATE!
We recently moved in and am ready to decorate! I have...
Help! House lacks curb appeal.
I love my house, but from the inside only. I cringe...
Above my cupboards decor
I hate this space above my cabinets, my husband refused...
Help me finish this room!
This avocado green velvet sofa was my husband's grandmothers...
© 2014 Houzz Inc.
Houzz® The new way to design your home™