Time, Money and Building a Home

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Building Your Own Home

This is a guest post by Kelli Bhattacharjee, the owner of FreebieFindingMom.com, a blog that offers the best freebies, coupons, deals and money saving advice. She is passionate about helping others save money and offering her insights to make them better family CFOs (Chief Financial Officers).

If you are considering building your own home, I implore you to read this article and answer each question with brutal honesty. As someone who has built her current home, I can attest to how demanding and stressful the entire process can be; however, if you are informed of the drawbacks before you endure the process, you’ll also find home building to be one of the most incredibly rewarding experiences.  

  1. Can I Afford It? This is the most crucial question to ask yourself when building a home. It is very common to experience unexpected surprises during the building process. These surprises tend to be costly. For instance we bought a lot with three large trees on it. No biggie, right? Per our builder, we budgeted $1,500 to have the trees removed. Well, the builder’s estimate was off by about $1,500. Yep, it cost nearly double what we had expected and budgeted for.  When establishing your home building budget, be sure to take into account how much you can spend on overages. You and your builder will come to an agreed upon home price, but that will not take into account the overages you may incur for your selections. For instance, your contract may include a budget of $5,000 for kitchen cabinets, which will seem like plenty. That is until you walk into the cabinet store and lay your eyes on absolutely beautiful Tuscan brown cabinets with a chocolate glaze that you must have (yours truly experienced this). Suddenly that budget looks pretty measly. The two best pieces of advice I can offer when deciding if you can afford to build a home is to establish a realistic budget and to put everything in the contract. If you know you typically prefer more expensive custom features, it is even more imperative you include as much as possible in the contract. For instance if the contract assumes $5,000 for kitchen cabinets, tell them to increase it to $10,000 just in case. If you don’t spend the extra cash, you’ll have that additional money to spend on something else or even reduce the price of the home.
  2. Do I Know Anything About Building A Home? If you have no idea how to build a house, it does not mean you should steer clear of the experience. It simply means you’ll have to do more homework to get up to speed. However, if you happen to have a super handy friend, neighbor, or brother who does know about home building, see if you can keep him (or her!) on standby for all your questions. Trust me, you will have questions!
  3. Do I Know How To Find The Right Contractor? Don’t underestimate the importance of having a great contractor. From my experience, selecting the right contractor to build your home is as important as selecting the right mate to marry. This is advice from someone who built her home with a contractor who lacks basic traits like honesty and integrity. The fact that he’s currently in jail is ample evidence of my assessment.  During the home building process, you are essentially married to your builder so you better like, respect, and trust the guy. It is important to like his past work and obtain referrals to make sure others were pleased with him. You can also do some research on Internet review sites and the Better Business Bureau. Even after taking all of this into consideration, be sure to consider the gut factor. If you have a less than favorable gut instinct upon meeting him, run the heck away. I should have taken this advice myself.Also, remember the home building process does not consist solely of the time spent building your house. You are in a relationship with your contractor during the designing phase, negotiating phase, and even a year after your house is built. Assuming your contractor is not in jail one year after your house is complete (like mine), come one year warranty time, you’ll get to see his face again.
  4. If Married, Can Our Marriage Handle Building A Home? If you and your husband or wife are already getting on each other’s nerves on a daily basis, you may want to avoid throwing gasoline on the fire. Simply put, building a house is stressful, and it probably will not bring out the best in each of you during the process.
  5. Do I Have The Time To Take This On? If your work is incredibly demanding or if you have other personal obligations that consume most of your time, you need to ask yourself whether you can realistically give the time necessary to this project.
  6. Can I Make A Lot Of Decisions Quickly? If it takes you one month to select cabinet knobs, you may want to avoid building a house. There will be much more difficult decisions during the home building process that will require your time and energy, so if you are not good at prioritizing and executing tasks on a timely basis you may want to rethink home building.  The numerous decisions that need to be made during the home building process can be overwhelming for even the most disciplined, organized person, so make sure you are okay with the demands you’ll encounter. If you become overwhelmed by the process, you’ll slow everyone down, which in turn will cost you time and money.
  7. Can I Stay Within A Budget? If you are the type of person who prefers custom features, be sure you have the deep pockets to make your wishes a reality. If you consistently choose features that are custom and not the standard selection option, be prepared to spend significantly more than your agreed upon home price.
  8. Am I Excited About The Prospect Of Building A Home? If the thought of making a home uniquely yours appeals to you, then home building will satisfy that desire. Overall my husband and I are very pleased with our home, but we had to endure quite a few too many bumps in the road to realize this reality.
  9. Do I Know What I Want? Do you like ranch homes or two story homes? Do you like vinyl windows or wood windows? Do you like traditional design features or more ornate features? These are just a few of the million questions you’ll have to ask yourself during the home building process. If you have no idea what your ideal home looks like, be prepared to spend a significant amount of time searching through books, magazines, and the Internet. Do your homework upfront because the further down the process you change your mind, the more difficult and expensive changes become.
  10. Am I Prepared To Wait Longer Than They Say It Will Take? This should really be the second question on the list because if you have a hard deadline in your mind of when the house will be done, you may want to avoid home building. During the home building process, very rarely is everything completed on time. Make sure you plan your life accordingly and establish contingency plans in case things get off track.

Image thanks to State Farm on Flickr.

Leave a Comment