10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Building a Home

Posted by Jessica Akright on Jan 13, 2017 14:00:00 PM

Topic: ALL

Construction on new house

We’ve all heard stories from friends and family about building a home, and it’s true that nearly every owner of a newly constructed home learned some lessons along the way. Here are some common lessons learned so you can be better prepared for the home building process.

  1. If only I had spent more time in the neighborhood before picking a lot. Just looking at the lot and nearby homes is not always enough. Try visiting in the early morning. Do annoying sounds carry over from nearby businesses or highways, or will you wake to the pleasant sounds of chirping birds? Visit on evenings and weekends, too. Are there kids out playing who will become pals with yours, or would you prefer a neighborhood with older kids or empty-nester neighbors? Are streets heavy with traffic that might be unsafe for your kids?

  2. If only I had looked into subdivision building requirements. Before selecting a lot in a subdivision, be sure to review the features the subdivision covenants may require. These requirements could restrict the type of shingles, window styles, or the exterior building materials you are able to use.

  3. If only I had researched utilities more. Be sure you fully understand what utilities are necessary for your new home’s lot. Find out what it will cost you to install a septic system versus the cost to hook up to city sewer and water. If you have to drill your own well, talk with your neighbors to see how deep theirs are so you’re prepared to cover the per-foot costs if drilling goes deeper to get a good water supply.

  4. If only I had saved some money by doing more myself. If you’re comfortable painting, staining or doing your own landscaping, consider tackling these projects yourself rather than paying for them to be included in the total construction cost. Of course, discuss this in advance with your builder (and lender) to make sure this is agreeable with them.

  5. If only I had paid more attention to soil conditions and backfill. If your lot is heavily clay, which exerts tremendous pressure on your foundation when full of moisture, you’ll avoid future foundation issues by ensuring the backfill has more gravel than building codes may require.

  6. If only I had saved money by waiting to install or finish some things later. When it makes sense, take your time looking for light fixtures, ceiling fans and even cupboard and drawer handles after you’ve moved in. You may find better deals, and you’ll have more time to get a feel for what styles and colors you truly prefer. Consider waiting to finish basement until you’ve caught up on any unanticipated expenses that you may have incurred during the building process.

  7. If only I had double-checked the rough grading before landscaping. Swales around the building and grading that’s higher at the foundation then heads down and away from the house will help avoid basement water problems in the future.

  8. If only I had waited to put in a driveway. Dirt settles, especially after digging a foundation and then backfilling around your new house. Sometimes a driveway put in too quickly may end up with concrete cracks or sunken asphalt sections.

  9. If only I had been ready for unexpected costs. Didn’t understand something in the building plan up front? Ran into problems digging the foundation? Well had to be drilled deeper than expected or city increased utility hookup costs? Or maybe you changed your mind about an interior finish or amenity? Building a home is not always a problem-free process, so be sure you have some reserve funds to cover unexpected expenses.

  10. If only I had done more research before starting the process. Building a home is a big step and an expensive one. You can never do too much research. Take the time to check the references of everyone involved in your new home construction. This would include an all-inclusive builder, the general contractor or any subcontractors such as the carpenter, electrician, and plumber. Find out how long they’ve been in business and what reputation they hold by reading online reviews. Ask to speak to customers/references to find out if they were satisfied with the builder and contractors, or if they would have handled anything differently.

Remember, during the home building process, no question or concern is too minor or too silly. If you are uncertain during any point of the construction process, speak up. Doing so will ensure you end up happy and satisfied with your new home.

DOWNLOAD our comprehensive financing and building guide full of tips and information to help you get started.