6 Questions to Ask Before Building Your First Home

Building a home is a lot of work--especially if it's the first home you've built. The reward can be great: You don't have to worry about replacing the awful flooring the last homeowners left or spending a fortune cutting down the bamboo forest they inexplicably planted in the backyard.

But before you have visions of an easy process, you might want to sit down and ask yourself some questions. It'll go a long way in deciding your level of customization and helping your manage your expectations. 

  1. How much should I spend on a house?:  First thing's first. You need to sit down and realistically budget what you can spend on a downpayment and monthly payments. Our mortgage calculator is a great tool to help you get started. 
  2. Custom or production?: Choosing a custom home means you’ll have complete control over all the the options. But that also means you’ll have some additional hurdles. A custom build is usually more expensive and it’s up to you to find and buy your land. A production home--one that’s built from stock floorplans--means you’ll have a limited number of options for what your home looks like. On the plus side, you’ll typically be able to include the cost of your land in your mortgage and a production home is most likely going to be cheaper to build.
  3. Where do I want to live?: You’re a little bit more limited by location when you’re building a new home. You can’t just plop one down in your favorite neighborhood if there’s not a plot available. If you’re going the custom route, you’ll need to find and buy a parcel of land before you start building.
  4. What’s my timeline?: How soon do you need to be in your home? Before you get started, talk with your builder. If their timeline isn’t going to match up with yours, you might need to find a different builder.
  5. Where will I live in the meantime?: If you’re already renting, this might not be a problem. But if you have an existing home, you’ve got some decisions to make. Maybe you plan to use it as a rental property, so you can live there until your new home is built. Or maybe you plan on renting during the build. Or maybe your parents or siblings have some extra space for you. Remember to factor in that cost when you’re planning your finances for the move.
  6. Who’s the right builder?: Do they offer the types of floor plans you like in the right neighborhoods? Have they worked on custom homes before? Do they have a good reputation? Choosing the right builder makes a huge difference. Interview a couple--even if this isn't the first home you've built--to see if they’re a good fit for your needs.

So, what do you think? Is building a home for you or are you thinking about going a different direction?