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10 Tips When Building a House to Make Your Life Easier

Building your own custom home is a major undertaking and there are many things to consider so here are our best tips for building a house. It's vital to plan out both the house plan and your finances. You should understand exactly what you are getting into before you even think about starting the construction process. And who you work with is even more vital. Choosing the right general contractor and architect will make all the difference. Working with Fortress Home brings over 20 years of custom home building experience, hundreds of delighted customers, and a team of experts, ready to make your custom building project a reality.


Go forward with your eyes open



Before you even start your custom home build project it's important that you're aware of what you're letting yourself in for. The best way to build a house is to be realistic - you will enjoy a lot of the experience. It will be exciting and you'll learn a lot. But it will also be stressful and overwhelming at times. You'll worry about budget and schedules and you'll have more decisions than you ever imagined. You may miss deadlines and need to spend some of your contingency budgets when costs overrun, but if you're prepared for that it will be less stressful. The thing to remember is that at the end of the home building process you will have an amazing dream home, designed and built just for you and your family.

Plan, plan, and then plan some more

Our most important tips when building a house are to spend a lot of time on the planning stage and be as thorough as you possibly can, from as early on as you possibly can. Thorough planning should involve:

  • Must-haves - what are the essentials you need to have for your dream house? Do you live in a bungalow now but have always wanted a second floor? Are you dead set on a modern timber-clad house?
  • Space planning - work out how much space you are going to need in your new home. How many rooms do you want and how much outdoor space?
  • Future planning - are you likely to need more space in the future? If so make sure and include it in your house plans. You'll thank yourself in the long run.
  • Lighting - you should factor in both natural light and light fixtures although you'll need to work with your architect to ensure the natural light illuminates your custom house the way you imagine it.
  • Decor and furnishings - ideally you should have a good idea of what furnishings and decor you want in the planning stages. That way you can ensure you have enough space in each room for your ideal furniture layout.

You can get inspiration for building a new house ideas from magazines, Pinterest, and other people's homes but remember to always be true to yourself. Construction company in Chicago must obtain a licence for providing services to the clients.

 

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Get your finances in order

When asking 'how to get started building a house?' one of the first things you should consider is your budget. Speak to your financial planner and a local real estate agent to get an idea of both what you can afford and what the total cost of your dream house is likely to be. You'll likely need a construction loan to help to build a house, so you will need to speak to your bank and find out how much you can borrow. Once you have all your figures you can put together a budget. You may want to work with your general contractor and designer to get an accurate budget. Remember, the construction costs may end up being more than you expect, so always have a contingency budget in place.

Take time to choose the best team

Our best tips for building a house with a builder are to choose your team with care. Take your time finding the best general contractor for you. You may also need to find an architect to put together your plans, although if you work with a full-service contractor like Fortress Home, they can assist with everything from the planning process to completion.


Make sure you get recommendations for anyone you work with and if possible see examples of their work. You should also interview them about their budgeting and time management capabilities.



It's also useful to understand if they have a full team of experts employed directly, like Fortress Home, or they mainly work with subcontractors

The latter option is more likely to lead to delays and cost overruns as the general contractors have less ability for schedule management with people not directly managed by them.

Consider getting a designer

If you have an eye for design you might consider designing the interior yourself, but this can be a time-consuming and stressful task alongside your day job. Working with a professional designer will give you their years of training and experience. They can also help make some decisions for you, especially if you're being overwhelmed with decision fatigue.

Make decisions early on

Speaking of decision fatigues, there are so many decisions that come with the home building process, from the power levels of your HVAC to the color of the bedroom carpets. One of our key tips for building a new home is to try and make as many of the decisions as possible before breaking ground on your construction site. Leaving decisions to the last minute can lead to delays and making changes later on in the process can be expensive.

Don't cut corners where it matters

When building your own home there are some places where you should definitely spend money and others where you can save.

Spend on

  • Building materials and the basic structure of your house - if you cut corners here your house may not be as sturdy and durable as you would hope.
  • Your HVAC system - you need to ensure it's powerful enough to warm and cool your entire custom home, and reliable enough not to need regular maintenance.
  • Energy-efficiency - if it costs a bit more to put in higher-rated insulation we think it's money well spent. You'll save in the long run thanks to lower utility bills.

Save on

  • You don't need the best designer towel rail or light fixture. Many middle-of-the-range or even budget options look stylish and will last for many years.
  • Paint can also be a place where you can save a bit - plain white paint is often the cheapest and can give a great minimalist finish.
  • If you already have standard-sized appliances consider moving them into your new home and upgrading at a later date.

Recommended reading

Custom homes on your lot!
If you currently own a lot, or need help finding one, Fortress Home is excited to offer comprehensive on-your-lot home building services. We have many ideal floor plans for building on your lot, don't worry - we can modify our standard plans or develop a fully custom plan just for you.
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Customize with care

Speaking of standard size, we don't recommend that you customize everything. Designing with standard size doorways and windows can save you a lot of money as you'll be able to buy off-the-shelf units instead of ordering in custom units. This can also help save time and custom materials and units are often subject to more delays than their standard counterparts. This goes for your appliances too. Don't design your laundry room around a non-standard sized dryer as in the future when you come to upgrade it you may have trouble finding one that fits.

Good working relationships matter

Vital building tips  - your home builder is your best friend over the coming months while the construction process is underway. Make sure you can communicate with them clearly and keep the relationship friendly and professional. It's their job to make sure your dream home is built quickly, solidly and within budget and the best way to do that is to keep in regular contact with them. If the faucets for your master bath are out of stock, decide quickly on replacements. Or if for some reason a chunk of the budget is delayed coming into your account, let them know as soon as possible.  Clear communication is key.

Don't judge a book by its cover


If you visit your building site around the time of the framing stage it can be hard to visualize the finished product, but don't worry and don't panic.



Trust your planning and your designer if your rooms look smaller or darker than you imagined when the drywall goes up. But once all the windows are in and there's no scaffolding up all the natural light will come flooding back in. And it's amazing what a difference a coat of paint can make to lighten and brighten a room.

Frequently asked questions

What costs the most when building a house?

Probably the single most expensive part of your new home will be the framing, although if you live in certain parts of the country land costs could overtake this quite quickly. The interior finishing can also be very expensive, but you may categorize different interior elements separately on your budget. According to HomeAdvisor framing can cost up to around $95,000 and interior finishes come in at around $40,000 - $170,000.

What things to consider when building a house?

When you're planning for a new house it's very important to take into consideration these factors:

  • Your desired location - is it possible to get an affordable plot of land in the area you want to build? Is it close to roads and utility hookups? Is it zoned for residential construction?
  • Budget - how much can you realistically afford to spend and how much can you borrow? What type of house can you afford?
  • Resale value - unless you're planning to live in the house for the remainder of your life, resale value is something you should consider, including what type of properties sell well in your area.
  • The future - if you are planning to stay in the house for a long time, will you need more bedrooms for children or elderly relatives? Will you need an office or a large living area? The needs of a young couple are very different from that of a family with children.

What is the first thing to do when building a new house?

Before you speak to any professionals about the home building process our top tips when building a house are to plan very carefully what you want from your new house in terms of the floor plan, rooms, square footage, outdoor living, general look and feel, and design. Working out your finances is also vital and you should look at how much money you have available for the building process and how much more money you'll need to borrow.

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Fortress Home combines the roles of a general contractor, a construction partner, and a construction manager. Our talented workforce helps us professionally manage all aspects of on-site construction.

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