Building your own house from the ground up is one of the most satisfying ways to acquire your custom home. Typically, most people who want a new house opt for quicker alternatives such as buying a resale or semi-custom home says Pinnacle PMC. Although buying an existing home is the more predictable option, building your own home is definitely more rewarding.

But there are things to look out for when building your own house. Far too many people who set out to build a custom home either don’t finish it or they get a home that is less than what they envisioned. The main problems you will face are designing the home to meet your expectations and budget, finding the right people, and completing the project within scope and on schedule.

To ensure your home does not become one of the many abandoned custom home projects, you should take the right steps from the get-go. The more you know about what lies ahead, the better prepared you will be for the challenges.

Building a custom home is risky but you can counter risk with knowledge and preparation. This post will help you get ready for building your dream home.


Things to know when building a custom home

1.    Determine what kind of house you need

Custom Home design

Do not try to build a house with everything you ever wished for in a home. Money will always be a constraining factor in building a house and if you fail to realize this early on in the process, it could come back to hurt you. Your goal should be to get the most value out of every dollar you invest in the home, and you can do this by prioritizing.

Make a clear distinction between your needs and your wants. By prioritizing needs over wants, the home you build will be both functional and beautiful. But to make this happen you need a competent architectural engineering design firm. An architect knows how to design a beautiful home that is centered on what you need versus what you like.

2.    Finding the lot should be a priority

Though it might go against the grain of your thinking, finding the land where you will build your house is the important next step. Most people who want a custom home start with their home’s design. But land imposes serious constraints on the kind of house you can build. The qualities of the land and neighborhood characteristics limit the design details of the house.

The slope of the land, its orientation, drainage, soil quality, and what lies beneath its surface, play a role in the kind of structure you build. Zoning laws, the presence/absence of public utilities, and the architectural style of homes in the neighborhood also influence your design. It could cost you more if you go-ahead to design the home before you know where you will build it.

To ensure the land you choose matches the proposed design for your home, talk to a competent architectural design and structural design firm. Explain your vision for the new home to the architectural consultant and let them work with you to find a location where you can execute the planned architectural design. If you don’t take this step before designing the home, you could face future difficulties.

3.      Create your budget

Custom Home - Create your budget

Before you create the design for your home, decide on how much you want to spend on the home. This should not be an arbitrary figure, it should be based on the important features you want in the home. Setting budgetary constraints on the project will inject discipline into the decision-making process. It will also help you avoid overspending.

By working hand-in-hand with your designers – MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) engineer, structural designer, and architect ­– you can narrow down to the must-have features of the home. If you put those features side-by-side with the details of the location, you can arrive at a realistic estimate for building the home.

The more details go into your budget, the more control you will have over the construction process. Again, having a reliable architectural design consultant beside you is vital for this process.

4.      Design your home

This is probably going to be the most exciting part of the process but be aware of letting emotions guide the design of your house. It’s alright to want a beautiful home, but you should make it beautiful in a way that is useful and cost-effective. To decide what should be in the design look at what you hate about your current home and do the opposite in the design.

The design should address your present needs, but more importantly, it should accommodate your future plans. What do you see yourself doing in the next 5-10 years? Additionally, think about the possibility of selling or renting the home in the future. Design it to be saleable, for possible use as a rental property and make it easy to remodel.

One mistake people who build custom homes make is to focus on aesthetics at the expense of structural features and the home’s major systems. You don’t only want the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to be adequate and up-to-code, but you also want them to remain that way for the next ten years. For this, you need a structural engineer for residential buildings and an MEP design engineer.

5.      Build the right team

Build the Right Team

If you followed the above steps, you already have a good team, a structural engineer for residential buildings, an MEP design engineer, and an architectural designer. But you still need a builder. The builder you choose must have three defining qualities: the firm must have expertise in building custom homes, they must have been doing it for a long time, and they must be active in your locality.

Before you hire a builder, visit some of their past projects to see if they build homes that match the scope of your own project. Also, talk to their past customers to learn what it was like to work with the builder. If possible, visit the site of the builder’s ongoing project to get a firsthand feel of their processes. Lastly, request a sample of the contract to assess its completeness.

6.      Think of financing

Lastly, think of how you will finance the project. A custom home project will usually not qualify for a standard mortgage; most lenders will not even give you money for a custom build. However, you can use what is known as a construction mortgage, but the terms are different from a conventional mortgage. You should explore other financing options.


In case you have architectural, structural, and MEP design requirements, feel free to contact us.  We provide you with the full permit set design + T24.