Where to Begin on Building a Home
Whether you're fresh out of your parents house, dorm room, or you're a well-seasoned home owner, building your first home is no small feat. It takes hard work and a lot of sacrifices but it is so rewarding and the finished product is well worth it!
If you've always dreamt of building a home, but have no earthly idea on where to even start, then this post is for you! I had a lucky draw being raised by a construction worker who could explain the basics to me, so the basics is what I will try to relay to you!
Create a Design Board and Building List
So... where to begin?! If you're reading this, I'm guessing you already have a running list of things in your mind of what you want your home to be like. I encourage you to start by recording the things you imagine, whether it's through journaling, creating a Pinterest board or going super old fashioned and cutting things out of magazines and creating a design board of home aspects you enjoy.
Figure out what your budget is. In Southwest, MO, a super rough estimate is to plan for $100 a square foot. Obviously, the more you can figure out how to do on your own, the less you will spend. Decide where you want to live and how much land you want. Also, come up with a list of necessities and wants. Figure out what's most important for you to have and what can be left out if needed. Be prepared to be flexible on this! Laramy and I were pretty adamant about wanting a covered porch and a fireplace when we first built, but it wasn't in the budget at the end of things! We were finally able to put in our fireplace a year later and still have plans to cover our porch when we can, so just because you can't have it immediately, doesn't mean you can't add it later!
Draw it Out
Now that you have your design board and building list, start drawing your home's layout! Search for other floor plans to get an idea of how you want things spaced. Think about how many bedrooms and bathrooms you want, if you'd like an open concept, and how many levels there will be. Then, purchase a book of large drawing paper or graphing paper, a ruler that marks to an 1/8th of an inch, and good pencils and erasers. My dad and I drew my home for 4 years! We started drawing it when I was in high school and really ironed things out when Laramy proposed and we knew we were going to make it happen!
We just used my artist drawing pad that you can get from Hobby Lobby or Walmart - 18 inches by 24 inches should be good. When drawing your home, every 1/4 of an inch on your ruler will be 1 SQUARE FOOT. If you're not comfortable with using a ruler, get an 8X8 graph pad (a 4X4 won't have quite enough squares if you're drawing a full home). Use every square as 1 SQUARE FOOT, (so a 1200 square foot home could be 30 squares by 40 squares, if that makes sense). Don't let this intimidate you! If you have no idea how things are sized, just get a tape measure and use things in your current home as a reference. For example, our kitchen countertops are 2 ft deep, the fridge is 3 ft wide, etc! Treat this as a rough draft of your home that you can take to your builder. Unless you're an architect, there will be things that you'll have to change because they don't structurally make sense. When I was drawing our home, I would start adding certain elements not understanding the roof line or necessary supporting walls and my dad would correct me! However, this is a great way to dream your layout and I wouldn't skip this step if you're really wanting to be involved on how your home turns out!
Buy Some Land
I know a lot about this next step! I'm a real estate agent and specialize in selling land and rural homes, so if you have any questions, definitely feel free to reach out to me! Figure out how much land you want and what you want it to provide. Do you want a lot in town, 10 acres, several hundred? Decide what's important - seclusion, a great view, farmland, hunting opportunity, live water? If you're to this step, get an agent that you trust and will work hard to help you find what you're looking for. You (typically) don't pay anything to an agent as a buyer (I have heard some people are starting to charge a fee for this, I do not). Explain to them what your needs are. You might be able to get into a property with some amenities already established - electric, well and septic. Find the perfect spot to stick that new home of yours!
Hire a Contractor
I could recommend someone for this, too! I'm coming at this one from a limited point of view - My father acted as our contractor and we worked together to subcontract other professionals. I encourage you to do your own research on if you need an architect, a contractor or builder, or if you think you can act as your own builder. If you act as your own builder, you will be the one who handles hiring needed professionals and you'll have to manage your budget carefully. This is what we did, so I'll give a little more insight to what this looks like.
Laramy and I were in charge of our funds on our construction loan. With my father's help, we hired professionals for dozing, concrete, gravel, roofing, well and septic, sheetrock, etc. It can be a handful to research reputable workers and to keep in contact with them throughout the process, especially if problems arise. It's clearly not impossible to keep up with everything, but hopefully this helps prepare you for what to expect going into things! We were able to do a ton on our own, so figure out what you're able to do if you're trying to save money. We helped my dad with running electrical and plumbing. We were able to lay decking, hardwood, install fixtures and appliances, siding, and more. If there's something specific you're not sure you can do, look up a couple YouTube videos to see what the process is like. There were so many things we were clueless on but you'd be surprised what you can figure out for yourself!
Expect the Unexpected
Build in a 10% over-cost safety net on your budget. It will be awesome if you don't have to use it, but just in case things get tight, it's nice to have a little extra to finish up the project. There WILL be problems and you may have to sacrifice some things. Try not to let the little things get to you. I found that many times, things that I thought were a necessity for my home, I really didn't want at all. Try not to change your mind on things half way through, which was a tough one for me! I'm a terrible decision maker, but you really have to try to stick with the original plan or you'll have an irritated builder (or husband), and it could be costly. Start to "finish," our house took 9 months, but an 18 month timeline could be more accurate. We were in a hurry to finish things for a few reasons, and we sacrificed all of our free time to get it done. Expect to put in hard work and a lot of prayers!
Make that house into a home! This is the BEST part! When you can look back on all the hard work you put in and see how God provided throughout the process, this is a fulfilling gift. We could not have made this happen without SOOO many people's help and God's provision. Take some time off from working on the house for a bit and enjoy!