There’s an old adage that new homes take twice as long and cost twice as much to build, but the truth is that it really depends on all the factors we covered in the first of this two-part series. If it makes sense to build, let’s cover the seven challenges this option presents.
1. Managing expectations
Unless you’re working with a limitless budget, compromise in some capacity is inevitable. The best way to set yourself up for success with a new build is to work with a builder you trust and plan ahead as much as possible. In my experience, the challenge typically comes with communication between your builder and your architect, so choosing a team that has worked together in the past is key.
2. Finding the right build site
Generally, there are two options for building a home. You either buy land and then build the home to suit the property, or you choose a house plan and look for land that will work with that home. In both cases, it can take some work to find property in the right location for the right price, so factor that into your planning. Flat building sites offer less views but easier builds and take into account the machinery access points. Having to bring utilities to the site (well, septic, trenching for energy or public water) increases your build cost precipitously, as does foundation issues such as retaining walls.
3. The length of time it takes to build
Building takes time, so be prepared to practice patience. For many people, that’s easier said than done. Expect a home under about 2,500 square feet to take between seven and nine months once you have permits in place and it’s often a challenge making sure you have the right materials on site in time—but not too early. Thefts of build sites are a real thing, so prepare as best you can for that. Best case scenario, a larger home, upwards of 7,500 square feet, will take between 12 and 30 months.
4. Seemingly endless decision making
There are a lot of decisions to make when you build, from choosing the builder and architect to settling on interior and exterior finishes. It can be overwhelming and tedious to make decision after decision, so make sure you’re working with experts you trust. They can help steer you in the right direction.
5. Unexpected delays
Even the best-laid plans can go awry. The weather can be unpredictable, or you may unintentionally delay progress yourself by taking too long to choose the perfect flooring. Again, planning ahead here is the best way to keep your project on track, but there’s only so much in your control.
6. Unexpected expenses
There are a few places where unexpected expenses may pop up. Site preparation is a big one, and last-minute design choices can also strain the budget. One of the biggest expense overruns in a well planned build budget are change orders. Sometimes it’s inevitable, but keep those to a minimum!
7. Relationship strain
Between the financial stress, decision-making, and timeline, building a home can be rough on your relationship. It’s something that most couples don’t necessarily anticipate going into the project, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
I have been an observer of enough back to the studs and full rebuilds to know—don’t try to project manage it yourself, especially if you’re not in the construction industry full time. Hiring a general contractor that manages all the sub-contractors, that has a good reputation and maybe isn’t the least expensive is definitely the way to go! You can’t imagine how many issues can arise with the domino effect of a tiler who can’t tile because the plumber needed to do work and they were delayed and the tiler only had that one week window to do your job… A good general contractor deals with those headaches daily. I have seen some very successful ground-up construction jobs and over time, hiring the right professional team (contractor, architect and for my money, I’d be hiring an interior designer as well) is the best recipe for success. What is selling right now the quickest is turn-key—just make sure not to overbuild. One of the best contract tips I saw was a client who added a 10% bonus to the contract bid for closing on time. It ended up being worth the money!
Need to talk out your purchase options? You know where to find me.