Whether building new on a plot of land you bought or renovating an existing structure, creating a new home is a journey of discovering who you are, what you want, how you want to live, and where you want to be. Creating a home is more than building “3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms.” It is so much more than the sum of a few parts.
Creating a new home for yourself is all about setting goals and taking the steps to achieve those goals.
Questions to ask:
• What do you want to achieve?
• Where do you want to be?
• What will this cost?
• Can it really be achieved?
• Does plan A make sense?
• What’s plan B?
Establish a budget.
While a budget should be in any goal statement, it’s such an important piece that it’s included here as a separate task. When making your budget, of course you’ll begin with what you can afford, and how the cost of your house fits in with your overall plans for the future. When you’re ready to get down to details, include everything that will go into the project: local fees and taxes, design and engineering fees, construction of not just the home but the landscape, plus furniture and decorating.
And don’t forget a healthy contingency. As with any complex project, things will happen, and the road from point A to point B will have a detour or two. Make sure that these little side trips won’t send you over the edge.
A spreadsheet program such as Excel is a good tool to use for developing a budget, as you can continuously update and modify it as you work your way through the project.
Assemble a team.
While you might think you can go it alone, assembling a team of tried and true professionals is the better approach. After all, you wouldn’t represent yourself in court. So why wouldn’t you entrust your single largest investment to an experienced team?
An architect and a builder (if not one and the same) are going to be your most important team members. And, as with all good professionals, the right guide can ensure that the journey is all the more enjoyable.
Plan, plan, and plan some more.
Every large project has one thing in common. The owner, whether a private developer, government agency, or corporate entity, knew the importance of planning the project in detail before starting to build.
These owners knew that moving walls on paper is a whole lot cheaper than moving walls after they’re built. So embark on a robust planning and design phase.
Accept the inevitable.
You’ve made the plans, gotten the permits and secured the money; now the only thing left to do is build your house. You’ve accounted for everything, so it should all come together as smooth as silk. Easy, right?
Oddly enough, stuff happens. That’s a given. How you and your team react to these hiccups will be important. My advice is to stay calm, keep your sense of humor, and work with your team to address the issue. This is where having the right team in place can pay dividends. An architect, a builder, and others who can work together and share ideas without criticizing one another will go a long way to helping you keep your sanity.
Some tips for staying sane during construction:
Don’t change your mind. Early on make all of the decisions you have to, select all of your finishes and don’t change your mind. Yes, you’ll be enticed by that new thing that comes along. Just remember that once construction starts, it’ll cost you time, money, and perhaps a trip or two to a therapist if you change your mind.
Turn a deaf ear to the goings-on. Every construction site is filled with workers complaining. After all, who doesn’t complain about his or her job? Who hasn’t wanted to vent about the boss? The best thing you can do is ignore it. Don’t worry; if it really is an issue, you’ll be told about it.
Enjoy your new home.
You’ve worked hard and spent more than a fair amount to create your new home, so enjoy it to the max. Revel in the way the light falls across a room and how it changes with the seasons. In the end you’ll be amazed that your new house is so much more than the sum of just its three bedrooms, living room, and so on. It’s the place you get to call home and make uniquely yours.