What to Know About Building a House

Bill Gassett's Photo
By Bill Gassett Updated November 7, 2023


Couple walking through new construction home
Couple make their dreams of building their own home come true visiting house under construction

When building a house, there are important details to consider. Mistakes come quickly without proper planning and research. First and foremost is understanding the cost of building a home. Cost overruns are commonplace with those constructing a home. Maximum Real Estate Exposure is an excellent resource detailing building costs.

Remember, pricing depends on several factors, including size, type of home, amenities, and location. Construction costs are highly variable. Fortunately, in some places, building is cheaper than buying existing homes.

Second, researching the history and details of the land is crucial. Verifying water levels and flood zones can help avoid future problems. Not doing so is a common mistake among many potential homeowners. Third, planning for current and future needs, including outdoor entertainment space and accommodating hobbies, is essential.

In addition, designing the basement layout and optimizing room heights for a spacious feel are important factors. Selecting sustainable and non-toxic materials and strategically placing wiring and outlets are recommended.

Finally, determining the appropriate size for the garage is a crucial consideration. There is often a debate about buying a resale vs a new home. There are pros and cons to each. From experience, I've enjoyed building a few custom homes. While it is a significant amount of work, the result is worth it.

Understanding the Importance of Location in Home Building

The location plays a vital role in determining the success and longevity of your home. Before diving into the construction process, it's crucial to understand the significance of researching the history, details, water levels, flood zones, and potential hazards of the land you're considering.

Researching the History and Details of the Land

Before falling in love with buying a lot, conducting thorough research on its history and specifics is essential. Understanding the land's background can help you avoid future problems.

Investigating past contamination issues, hazardous materials, or former landfills will protect your family's health and prevent construction over potentially harmful substances.

Even if these items are down the road, it could create problems.

Knowing the history of a property can be helpful in multiple ways. Identifying who initially built your home is a crucial detail that can help you better understand your house. For example, if your home is dealing with major structural issues out of nowhere, knowing who built it can assist you in problem-solving.

A skilled local real estate agent can help you with the necessary research.

Some builders may use specific building techniques that don’t always last over time. Find out your home’s initial builder and start solving issues that arise.

Verifying Water Levels and Flood Zones

One critical aspect to consider is water levels and flood zones. Verifying the water levels in the area will help you determine whether the land is prone to flooding or other water-related issues. This information is invaluable as it allows you to assess potential risks and take preventive measures, such as implementing appropriate drainage systems or elevating the home's foundation.

It is especially vital when buying a waterfront home. The next significant storm could cause untold damage.

Investigating the Area's History and Potential Hazards

Besides researching the land, exploring the area's history is equally important. Understanding past events such as natural disasters, geological phenomena, or proximity to industrial sites can provide valuable insight into potential hazards.

By being aware of these factors, you can make informed decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of your future home.

All around the country, we are seeing these changes.

Mitigating risks when building your dream home should be a priority. Understanding the importance of location will set a strong foundation for the overall construction process.

Considering the Size and Layout of the Lot

When building a house, it is essential to consider the size and layout of the lot carefully. We will discuss planning for planning for your needs and factors to consider for outdoor entertainment and recreation. We will also examine accommodating hobbies and plans for the garden and landscaping.

Planning for Current and Future Needs

Before starting the new construction process, it is crucial to envision your present and future needs for the house and the outdoor space. Consider the number of family members and their lifestyle requirements. Think about the space needed for activities such as family gatherings, hosting outdoor events, or having a recreational area for children.

Planning for these needs first ensures that your house and surrounding areas can accommodate your current plans.

Factors to Consider for Outdoor Entertainment and Recreation

Outdoor entertainment and recreation are essential aspects to consider when building a house. Consider the amenities you want in your outdoor space, such as a patio, deck, or swimming pool. Evaluate the amount of space available and how these features will fit into the overall layout of the lot.

Additionally, consider privacy and landscaping options to create an enjoyable and inviting outdoor environment.

Accommodating Hobbies and Future Plans for Garden and Landscaping

Consider any hobbies or interests requiring specific areas or features in your house and lot. If you enjoy gardening or landscaping, plan for adequate space to cultivate and maintain your green space.

Understand the type of plants you want to grow and research any specific requirements they may have. This will ensure your lot can accommodate and support your hobbies and plans for a vibrant garden or landscape.

  • Plan for current and future needs of the house and outdoor space
  • Consider the number of family members and their lifestyle requirements
  • Allocate space for family gatherings and outdoor events
  • Create a recreational area for children
  • Consider amenities like a patio, deck, or swimming pool
  • Evaluate privacy and landscaping options
  • Accommodate hobbies such as gardening or landscaping
  • Allocate space for cultivating and maintaining a garden or landscape
  • Research specific requirements for plants or landscaping elements

Planning the Basement Design

Planning the basement design and ideas is essential for maximizing its functionality and future potential. Depending on your needs and preferences, the basement can serve as valuable storage space or an additional living area.

In speaking to several Realtors, they said that finished basements are at the top of many buyer's wish lists. You'll want to get it right.

Evaluating the Need for a Basement

Before proceeding with the basement design, evaluating whether a basement is necessary for your specific circumstances is crucial. Consider factors such as the size of your lot, your current and future storage needs, and the overall value that a basement would add to your home.

Designing the Basement Layout for Storage or Additional Living Space

Once you have determined the need for a basement, designing its layout becomes crucial. If your primary goal is storage, consider incorporating shelving, cabinets, and designated areas for organizing your belongings.

On the other hand, if you plan to utilize the basement as additional living space, consider incorporating bedrooms, bathrooms, or even entertainment areas. Your basement design should align with your desired functionality and lifestyle.

Considering Plumbing and Utility Placement for Future Basement Finishing

Even if you intend to wait to finish the basement, it is wise to plan for future possibilities. Consider the placement of plumbing and utility connections required to convert your basement into a fully functional living area. Strategically placing these elements in the initial design can save you both time and money should you choose to finish the basement in the future.

By carefully evaluating the need for a basement, designing its layout with storage or living space in mind, and considering future plumbing and utility placement, you can ensure that your basement design aligns with your long-term goals for your new home.

Optimizing Room Heights for Spaciousness and Functionality

When constructing a home, one essential factor is optimizing room heights to create a sense of spaciousness and enhance functionality. Collaborating with designers and architects on desired ceiling heights and balancing them with door, window, and architectural element placement are critical aspects of this process.

Collaborating with Designers and Architects on Desired Ceiling Heights

Working closely with designers and architects allows homeowners to express their preferences and vision for ceiling heights. Discussing the desired atmosphere and functionality of each room aids in determining appropriate ceiling heights.

For example, higher ceilings can make a room feel more open and luxurious, while lower ceilings can create a cozy and intimate ambiance.

During these collaborations, it is vital to consider the scale and proportions of furniture and other interior elements to ensure they harmonize with the ceiling height. Achieving a well-balanced and aesthetically pleasing design is crucial to optimizing room heights.

Balancing Ceiling Height with Door, Window, and Architectural Element Placement

In addition to determining the desired ceiling heights, it is equally important to consider the placement of doors, windows, and architectural elements to achieve a cohesive and functional design. The strategic alignment of these elements with the ceiling height enhances the space's overall aesthetic appeal and functionality.

For instance, large windows positioned higher on the walls can maximize natural light penetration and visually elongate the room. Similarly, coordinating the doors' height with the ceiling height ensures seamless transitions and visually pleasing proportions.

Architectural elements such as built-in bookshelves, fireplace mantels, or decorative ceiling moldings should be proportionate to the ceiling height. Strategic placement and sizing of these elements can add character and visual interest to the room without overpowering the space.

By carefully balancing ceiling height with the placement of doors, windows, and architectural elements, homeowners can create spacious, aesthetically pleasing, and functional rooms.

Selecting Sustainable and Non-Toxic Building Materials

When it comes to building a house, one important aspect to consider is the selection of sustainable and non-toxic building materials. Prioritizing health-conscious choices and exploring alternative materials can significantly impact the well-being of the occupants and the environment.

Prioritizing Health-Conscious Material Choices

When choosing building materials, it's essential to prioritize both environmentally friendly and safe options for the occupants. This means considering materials that don't contain harmful substances such as lead, asbestos, or toxic paints.

Opting for materials with low or no volatile organic compound (VOC) content can also contribute to a healthier indoor environment. Consider sustainable alternatives for various house components, such as flooring, insulation, and building materials. This includes options like bamboo flooring, known for its durability and eco-friendliness.

Concrete, wool insulation, and rammed earth can offer sustainable alternatives to conventional choices.

Exploring Alternative Materials for Flooring, Insulation, and Building Components

Flooring is essential to any house, so why not explore alternative sustainable and visually appealing materials? Options like cork, reclaimed wood, or even recycled materials like recycled glass tiles can add a unique touch to your home while minimizing your carbon footprint.

Insulation is crucial for maintaining energy efficiency, and many sustainable options are available. Consider natural wool or cellulose insulation, which offers excellent thermal properties and is made from renewable resources. These alternatives can reduce energy consumption and create a more comfortable living environment.

Furthermore, explore eco-friendly choices like salvaged or reclaimed architectural materials for building components. These options add character to your house, divert waste from landfills, and give a second life to materials that otherwise go to waste.

You can create a healthier and more environmentally friendly home by selecting sustainable and non-toxic building materials. Prioritizing the well-being of both the occupants and the planet is crucial in making informed choices throughout construction.

  • Prioritize materials with low or no VOC content.
  • Consider sustainable alternatives for bamboo, concrete, wool insulation, and rammed earth.
  • Explore options like cork, reclaimed wood, or recycled flooring materials.
  • Choose natural wool or cellulose insulation for energy efficiency
  • Consider salvaged or reclaimed architectural materials for building components

Strategically Placing Wiring and Outlets

When constructing a new house, strategically planning the location of wiring and outlets is crucial for ensuring functionality and convenience. Here are some key considerations:

Providing Sufficient Outlets throughout the House

It is essential to have adequate outlets in each room to accommodate the various electrical devices used in modern homes. This includes considering the placement of outlets near furniture, appliances, and workstations to avoid the need for excessive extension cords or power strips.

Including Wiring for Floors, Bathrooms, Kitchens, Bedrooms, and Offices

Each specific area of the house has unique electrical requirements. For example, kitchens may require dedicated circuits for appliances. At the same time, bathrooms need GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets for safety. Bedrooms and offices may benefit from additional outlets to accommodate charging stations and electronic devices.

Maximizing Natural Light and Considering Windows, Skylights, and Solar Tubes

While planning the wiring and outlet placements, it is essential to consider the location of windows, skylights, and solar tubes to take advantage of natural lighting. This enhances the house's aesthetic appeal and reduces the need for artificial lighting during the day, resulting in energy savings.

Determining the Right Size Garage

When building a home, one crucial aspect to consider is the size of the garage. Assessing your needs for storage, parking, and workshop space is essential in determining the appropriate garage size that will accommodate your requirements and enhance the functionality of your home.

Assessing Needs for Storage, Parking, and Workshop Space

Start by evaluating your storage needs. Consider how many vehicles you own and whether you need additional space for parking. You might require a more oversized garage with multiple bays if you have multiple cars or larger vehicles like RVs or boats.

Furthermore, think about your workshop requirements. If you enjoy DIY projects or have hobbies that require ample space for tools and equipment, allocating enough room for a workshop within the garage can be a great addition to your home.

Storage for garden equipment, sports gear, or seasonal items is also essential. Assessing the quantity and size of these belongings will help determine the storage space needed in your garage.

Considering Additional Storage Options for Families

In addition to the garage, it's worth exploring other storage options that can cater to your family's needs. This can include a shed in the backyard or extra space in the basement designated for storage.

Analyzing your family's lifestyle and hobbies can provide insights into the type and amount of storage required. If you have outdoor equipment like bicycles, kayaks, or camping gear, having designated storage for these items can help keep your garage organized and clutter-free.

Moreover, considering future storage needs is crucial. As your family grows and accumulates possessions over time, having adequate storage space will ensure the functionality and organization of your home.

  • Assess your storage needs for vehicles, workshop space, and belongings.
  • Consider the number of vehicles and additional parking requirements.
  • Determine if a workshop space is necessary and allocate sufficient room.
  • Analyze storage needs for garden equipment, sports gear, and seasonal items.
  • Explore additional storage options such as sheds or designated basement space.
  • Adjust the garage size accordingly to accommodate current and future storage needs.

By carefully evaluating your needs for storage, parking, and workshop space and considering alternative storage options, you can determine the correct size garage that aligns with your lifestyle and enhances the functionality of your home.

The Bottom Line on Home Building

Bringing Your Home Design Plans into Reality

Once you have a clear vision for your dream home, working with designers and architects is essential to realize those plans. Collaborating closely with professionals who understand your needs and preferences will ensure that your home reflects your unique style and provides the desired functionality. This stage involves determining the optimal room heights and balancing them with architectural elements, ensuring a spacious and harmonious interior.

Enhancing Energy Efficiency and Window Treatments for the House

To create an energy-efficient home and reduce utility costs, it's crucial to prioritize energy-saving measures during construction. Consider incorporating sustainable building materials and advanced insulation techniques for increased energy efficiency.

Furthermore, thoughtful window treatments, such as strategic placement to maximize natural light and minimize heat transfer, can contribute to a more comfortable and environmentally friendly home.

Protecting Your Home with Proper Construction and Design Choices

Ensuring your home's structural integrity and safety starts with proper construction and design choices. Selecting durable materials and working with reputable contractors is vital in protecting your investment.

Properties get unexpectedly damaged by contractors all the time. Choosing the right contractor is crucial to avoid these dire situations. It's also essential to consider factors such as fire safety, proper ventilation, and efficient plumbing systems.

By prioritizing these aspects, you can create a home that not only looks beautiful but also provides a safe and secure living environment for you and your family.

Collaboration with Builders and Contractors for a Successful Project

Building a house is a collaborative process that requires effective communication and teamwork between homeowners and builders. By choosing experienced and reliable builders and maintaining open lines of communication throughout the project, you can ensure that your vision is brought to life.

Regularly reviewing the progress and discussing any concerns or changes during construction will help ensure a successful and satisfactory outcome. Several real estate agents mentioned time overruns being the number one issue with home builders. Overpromising and underdelivering is a common trait among many home builders.

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