Building a custom home is a big decision! It’s exciting to even contemplate, because it means that you have a chance to create the home that’s captured your imagination. After all, you could search all over Austin without finding the home that meets every one of your needs.
However, you will be happiest with the custom home build process if you go into it with realistic expectations. That’s why we’ve put together this blog post, so that you can have a better understanding of what’s ahead.
1. It’s important to have your must-haves and nice-to-haves in order.
What will it take for you to be happy with your custom home? Does the laundry room absolutely have to be on the second floor so you don’t have to walk clothing up and down the stairs? Do you need four bathrooms? Is it important for your kitchen to have a food prep island in the center of the room, or is that secondary to having a walk-in pantry?
It would be nice to think that a custom home build means having everything just as you want it. And if you have an unlimited budget and unlimited time you probably can. However, if you’re like most people there are still going to be some limits to how much you can accomplish. If you know what you need before you start the process then you’ll be able to communicate that to the builder and to your architect, which guarantees a successful project.
2. You will need to meet with an architect.
Many of our customers are surprised to realize that they’ll need to meet with an architect. That means they haven’t put this meeting into their budget.
But it takes an architect to create the plans that will turn your vision into a reality! Without these plans the contractors would be flying blind, which means that your project would fall apart quickly.
It can take some time and energy to find the right architect. At Soledad we maintain relationships with architects throughout the Austin area so that we can offer you a referral. We offer you choices based both upon the style of house that you want and upon your personality and approach. That means you’re more likely to get an architect that you’re happy with right away, instead of having to shop around.
3. It’s vital to understand your builder’s process.
No two builders approach the process exactly the same way. Some, for example, are convinced that customers only want the cheapest quote they can find, so they only quote the very cheapest fixtures on the market. If you really wanted a true marble countertop instead of a faux marble countertop then you wind up with an unpleasant surprise later: the choice between actually getting what you want and going over budget. By that point, you may have finalized the financing paperwork. You may only have a few months left in the apartment you’re living in. Changing course might not be an option.
At Soledad we discuss each and every fixture and find out exactly what you want. Some people will want the $100 sink. Some will want the $2000 sink. And that’s okay, as long as you know exactly what you’re getting.
In addition, not all builders will communicate with you the same way. Some new build homeowners are constantly struggling to play catchup because they’re never quite sure what’s going on.
Soledad uses Co-Construct, which is an online project management system. This allows you to choose fixtures with the touch of a button, to view your custom home build’s timeline, and to upload things that you like. Did you find a photograph of a great picture on Houzz.com, or on someone’s blog? You can actually share that picture with us. You also will know if you need to get in touch with someone to move the process forward, and you’ll be able to type questions directly to the site, which means that you’re never left in the dark.
4. “Green” building isn’t always more expensive.
A nice side effect of building a custom home is you can choose to make it as energy efficient as possible. That means that you’ll lower your carbon footprint from the moment you move in. You’ll also lower your water bill and your electric bill.
Believe it or not, many “green” options cost exactly as much as their less efficient counterparts. In addition, sometimes the energy efficiency is all locked up in the installation. For example, if you install your windows correctly they will help you catch the breeze when opened, so you won’t have to run the A/C every single day. You’re going to have to install a window either way, so why not do it in a way that saves you money in the long run?
5. There are always challenges.
Every build comes with unique challenges. It takes a really good problem solver to make a custom home build a pleasant experience for the buyer. It also takes a really good problem solver to keep the process flowing so that the build is completed on time.
We also want you to understand that challenges are part of the process so that you aren’t overwhelmed the first time there’s a roadblock. There are a lot of moving parts in a new home build. Sometimes even the best suppliers deliver the wrong thing, or fail to deliver something on time. Sometimes inclement weather makes it all but impossible to get the work done as scheduled. A myriad of other issues can crop up. Really good, experienced builders stay on site as much as possible so that they can meet those challenges head on. Make sure you ask if your builder will do the same—we certainly will!