Home Building Tips: Staying Sane

Home building tips: Building a home can be stressful and frustrating. However, with the following four tips, you too can stay sane while building a home.

Few other projects in life are as frustrating, stressful, and expensive as building a home. However, with the proper research, planning, and advice, building a home can be a rewarding, exciting, and even joyful process. In other words, it is possible to stay sane while building a home.

Tip Number One. Hire a Competent, Honest, Reputable, and Professional General Contractor.

Unless you are excruciatingly organized, detail-oriented and knowledgable of the homebuilding business, it is not feasible for most people to act as their own general contractor. The details, permits, weather delays, budget restrictions, estimates, business lingo, and dealings with numerous subcontractors are enough to drive most people insane. For most people, staying sane while building a home means hiring a professional general contractor. At times, the contractor profit margin may look menacing; however, hiring the right contractor is likely to save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars in the long run. Ask friends, relatives, co-workers, and neighbors for suggestions and contacts. Personal and word-of-mouth references usually turn up the best leads. Once you have several names, set up appointments to meet the contractors and ask for references or portfolios of work previously completed. Take time getting to know each contractor. Evaluate how you would feel sharing intimate details of your home life and dreams with each contractor. Trust your instincts. Ask to walk through some of the homes on his or her reference list. Talk with previous customers about their impressions of the contractor's work and look at the details of the home. Ask the owners if work was completed on time and to specifications. Question any delays and the causes of the delays. Talking to past customers will provide a wealth of information about the contractor's competency and honesty. Question whether you like spending time with this person. You will be spending alot of time talking about house plans, revisions, deadlines, money, and intimate details of your home life with your contractor. Building a home is much more pleasant if this is a mutually satisfying relationship. A final note on contractors: not only is your financial situation considered by the mortgage company, your contractor's personal and professional finances are evaluated as well. Most mortgage companies are not keen on handing over huge sums of money to people who have little or no collateral, bad credit, and a history of bankruptcy. Asking questions upfront to your selected contractor about these issues will prevent disappointment and possibly financial tragedy in the future.

Tip Number Two. Select the Right Mortgage and Escrow Companies.

Entering into a mortgage contract with the right company is the second step to staying sane while building a home. Select a mortgage company and mortgage representative that value customer service and understand the process of building a home. Building a home, to an inexperienced representative, is an arduous process. Ask your mortgage company to explain their homebuilding loan process in detail. Question when the contractor will get paid. Most mortgage companies pay based on percentage of work completed and owner satisfaction with the work. Discuss with your mortgage company their training procedures and how many home loans they process in a year. There are no silly or stupid questions when your money is involved.

Tip Number Three. Research, Plan, and Communicate.

The most professional contractor and service-oriented mortgage company cannot produce a home without your vision, your dream, and your picture of the final product. The world is your oyster as the saying goes; however, in the home building business, the world is your oyster before construction starts. Once construction begins, some major changes cost thousands of dollars or even may not be possible. The best strategy is to research, plan, and communicate every detail about the home before construction even begins. Start the research process by subscribing to home magazines, or make regular trips to the library or bookstore for these magazines. Clip out ideas and pictures. Keep them in a special folder or portfolio to discuss with partners, family, and contractors. Become an expert observer and reporter when in other peoples homes. Ask them what home features they like and what features they would change if they could build a new home or remodel the one they have. Notice which homes promote the types of feelings you want to experience in your own home. Again, trust your instincts. Make a weekly ritual of going to open houses, showrooms, and model homes. If you see a house you like, ask the owners if you may tour the home (no, I'm not kidding). Some owners are more than happy to showcase their homes to a friendly and eager person. Search for floor plans that promote your idea of home life and make you feel comfortable. Evaluate room sizes and placement based on your individualized needs. Notice floor coverings, wall coverings, window detailing, appliances, heating and cooling systems, and other focal points of homes.

Tip Number Four. Document Everything.

Proper and complete documentation is the final step to staying sane while building a home. Leave nothing to chance. Document everything to the minutest detail. For the most part, the mortgage and escrow companies will document the financial transactions of building a home. There is little flexibility for the homeowner and contractor here. However, mistakes can and do occur. Reading and understanding the financial paperwork of the mortgage company and escrow companies, if applicable, will reduce stress, costly mistakes, and expensive changes. Make annotations on questionable figures and parts you do not understand. Consider this a small investment of time, which divided by most thirty year loans, is really negligible. Documenting everything is likely to give you peace of mind for the construction process as well. Most homeowners are not around for the entire construction process. Minute details can make or break a home.

Happy homebuilding!

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