Tips for Building a Custom Home

6 Essential Tips for Building a Custom Home

Dreaming of the ultimate personal sanctuary? Get six essential tips for building a custom home that captures your unique vision, from hiring the right builder to navigating the budget maze.

In the age of hybrid and remote work, home is more than just where the heart is. It’s where many of us spend our whole day. Today’s homeowners prioritize the concept of creating an environment where they feel comfortable and productive. Building a custom home is the best way to have total control over its look, feel, and functionality.

If you’re looking to build a custom home from the ground up, there are several things you will need to consider. From picking the right location and finding your dream design team to hiring contractors and dealing with permits, here are five essential tips for making your custom home-building dreams come true.

Find a custom home builder

First and foremost, you will want to hire a custom home builder. A custom home build isn’t a DIY project. They’ll be the ones to handle all the complex elements of the project, including:

  • Designing and constructing the structure
  • Drawing up plans for contractors to use
  • Dealing with zoning regulations
  • Submitting permits
  • Overseeing construction

When looking for a custom home builder, make sure they’re one you feel comfortable with. One way to verify their credibility would be to read online reviews. You could also review their portfolio (every custom home builder worth working with will have one on their website).

Carefully consider your home’s layout

When you’re in charge of everything from start to finish, it’s your responsibility to consider the future implications of your decisions. If you ever decide to sell it, there are certain things new home buyers will look for.

It might seem strange to think about selling the house before construction has even commenced, but real estate is an investment. You’ll have to consider the following factors when designing the layout of your home:

  • The size and shape of the lot
  • The size and orientation of each room
  • Accessibility considerations
  • The type of materials you’ll use
  • Any features you’d like to include (fireplaces, outdoor living spaces)
  • The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other rooms

Unlike people who buy homes that have already been built, you’re at an advantage here. Yes, you can choose the attributes you want. However, you can also strategically add features that will improve its value once you sell it, such as eco-friendly home features or outdoor living spaces.

Prepare for a slower process (and decision fatigue)

With so many options available to you, you’ll have to do lots of your own research. You’ll probably reach several frustrating moments where you aren’t sure what the best long-term decision is. That’s just part of building a custom home.

Every little thing, from how long each wall should be to the type of handles you’ll use, is up to you. To mitigate this, major national builders often simplify the process. They typically offer a set of customizations categorized as “A, B, and C” choices, each with a different price point (from low to high). This approach makes it much easier to make a decision when faced with a limited range of options. It will also help you allocate more of your budget to things you care about most.

Don’t expect to move in on the target date

Delays in closing are already prevalent in the real estate industry, but new builds can present additional challenges.

  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Holdups with the Certificate of Occupancy
  • Delayed shipments from overseas vendors
  • Unforeseen construction issues

We can think of dozens of things that can cause delays. While it’s important to maintain realistic expectations, don’t be surprised if you don’t move in on the date originally planned. Not knowing your exact move-in date can also lead to various costly obstacles, of course. For example, you may have to pay month-to-month rent, which typically comes with a higher price tag.

To avoid potential mortgage rate increases from delayed closing, it’s a good idea to lock in the rate ahead of time when negotiating a price with your builder. Negotiate terms where after a certain number of days delayed, the builder covers the cost of additional interest on the mortgage.

Don’t forget to budget for specialized experts or services

In addition to buying the land, you can expect to spend around $150 per square foot total on your custom home, depending on your location. However, beyond the basic costs of construction and building materials, there are additional services you may need to budget for:

  • Surveyors to inspect the land
  • Landscapers if you want a lush outdoor living space
  • Specialty contractors like electricians and plumbers (most likely they’ll be required by code in your area)
  • Designers to help you plan and execute the interior design of your home
  • A lawyer to review the contract with the builder

These are just a few examples of services that you may need. Be sure to factor them into the budget when creating an overall picture of what it will cost you to build your new custom home.

Prepare for trickier financing

New constructions present unique financial hurdles, aside from the common issues of fluctuating mortgage rates and escalating budgets. The specifics may differ based on the buyer and location. Typically, construction loans mandate a more substantial down payment, usually between 20% and 25%.

These loans frequently come with a higher interest rate as well. Lenders often perceive a construction project as significantly riskier than an already-completed house. The rationale behind this is that an unfinished construction might hold minimal or zero market value, apart from the land’s worth itself.


Ultimately, building a custom home is a rewarding experience, but it requires careful planning and preparation in order to get the most out of the experience. The most important part is to work with professionals you trust, which will significantly reduce the risk of complications with costs, financing, and post-build functional problems arising. With the right combination of knowledge, preparation, and guidance, your dream home build can be a reality.

4 thoughts on “6 Essential Tips for Building a Custom Home”

  1. It’s good that you mentioned that aside from the design and construction of the building itself, a custom home builder will also be the one to deal with zoning regulations and submit the necessary permits required for the project to proceed. I’m investing in a new house in Tiburon for when I move there next year since my job transfer to the branch office there is currently being processed. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for home builders in Tiburon to hire for the construction soon.

  2. I own a lakeside house in Muskoka, and I was thinking of adding a cottage to my property that is located near the dock soon to use for when we have guests over. I appreciate you informing us that aside from the construction itself, there are also complex elements in a building project that are best left in the hands of professionals, such as dealing with zoning regulations and submitting permits. I’ll keep this in mind while I look for a cottage builder in Muskoka to hire for the construction soon.

  3. G’day! My daughter has a friend whose father recently bought a piece of land southeast of Melbourne and plans to build a house there. That’s why I have to go through this article where you mentioned how crucial it is to ask our builders to seek legal permissions on our behalf before commencing any project. Okay, I guess sharing this article should inspire him to find the right contractor straight away.

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