The Dreaming and Research Phase

Building a home will probably be among the largest investments you make in your entire life.  It will also be among the most complicated processes you encounter outside of your work environment.  We humans seem to find great excitement and personal satisfaction in establishing our own home.  Yet the financial burden and the risks associated with such a complex transaction, magnified by urban legends and horror stories recited by friends and family, create considerable stress.  Research, knowing the details of a home buying transaction and preparing for the pitfalls, is a great way to control the inevitable stress.  In addition to the information you will find on this web site, there are many other internet resources as well as numerous books and magazines.

Choosing a Home Site

There are two parts of the home buying process in which we are only indirectly involved.    The first part is choosing a home site.  As every realtor we have ever known loves to recite: “the three most important parts of buying or building a home are location, location and location.”  For purposes of this discussion, we want to point out that your choice of a building site will have an important impact on design and specifications.  You’ll want to understand zoning requirements and any covenants that constrain what you can build.  Other possible impacts are wet lands regulations, wildlife protection regulations, easements for utilities and other public services, and environmental limitations arising from prior uses of the property.  Taken together, these laws, regulations and covenants may affect the size of your home (length, width and height); its orientation to streets and even the choice of design and materials.

Arranging Home Financing

The second part of the home buying process is arranging home financing.  Unless you are in the fortunate situation of having sufficient cash to buy your home, you will need to make arrangements for a home mortgage.  Since the financing available to you has such a profound impact on your budget, it is advisable to do your financing research early in the process.  The potential lenders you approach can probably give you some indication of the maximum amount you can finance, and may actually “pre-approve” you.  For purposes of this discussion, we recommend that you inquire whether the lender can provide you with financing during the construction phase.   If they do, it gives you some valuable flexibility.  If not, you will need to find a separate construction period lender or find a builder who has construction financing.   Another question you will want to ask your construction lender is whether they are familiar with prefabrication.  One of the great advantages of our industry is speed, but the standard loan documents for some construction lenders assume a slow disbursement pace typical of site-built construction, and they are surprised when there are fewer, but larger and quicker disbursement requests.

When is it time to move from doing your own independent research to talking directly with a builder?  You will need to work with a builder when you need to finalize a design and get a firm estimate for the cost of that design.  There may be an intermediate step, if you choose to avail yourself of a professional home designer, such as a home plan service or an architect.  You might buy a plan you like from one of the numerous plan services that advertise in home magazines or home internet sites.  If you want to pursue a unique and personal design, you will probably engage a registered architect, and develop the design of your dreams before you begin speaking with a builder.  The architect may be able to give you some budget guidance.  If you do take the route of using an architect, and want to obtain the many advantages of pre-fabrication, we strongly recommend that you ask the architect to contact us.  We’ll describe this more thoroughly in the next section.