A Home of Your Own: A Step by Step Guide to Getting Your Dream House Built

Have you been dreaming about building your own home? Has the reality of it seemed so far removed from the dream? Has it been appearing to you as an impossible feat, like a giant Goliath towering over a puny David? Have you been wondering whether it will ever come to pass, shrouded by the fear that it could be just another one of those dreams that will be despised as a vanity?

A Home of Your Own: A Step by Step Guide to Getting Your Dream House Built

It Can Happen For You

Your bespoke dream house is indeed a possibility. It could be that you just do not have the faintest idea on where to start. As daunting as the task may seem, a journey of a thousand miles always begins with one step. This article is to help you discover and take those steps. Get closer to your dream home reality by reading through this step-by-step guide to getting your dream house built.

Begin with a Budget

Come up with a budget before any design work begins. Know exactly how much you are willing to spend on your home. Your budget should be realistic and after you set it, do your level best to stick to it. The amount of money you will be willing to spend will largely determine where and what you can build. Let your builder or architect know upfront how much you are willing to pour into the project. They will be able to advise you on the best course to take.

Consult an accountant or a financial advisor in case you need any assistance in compiling your budget. Make sure to remember to assign an amount for contingencies. The recommended allocation for this is usually ten percent of your overall budget. Usually, many hidden costs spring up and you will need contingency money to fall back on. You should set about twenty-five percent of your budget for purchasing land. Other costs to factor in include things like local fees, taxes, design fees, engineering fees, construction fees, and the like.

After you set your budget, figure out how you are going to fund it. Do you have the money on you? Are you out to take a construction loan? Are you considering a mortgage? Keep in mind that it is always best to have the total amount of money with you before the work begins, your source notwithstanding. Also, think about and plan on how you will manage the cash flow through all the stages of the project.

Set a Timeframe

Determine when you want your project to start and when you want it to end. Once you do this, you will be able to set individual deadlines for the various stages of your project. You might consider hiring a project planner to assist you with this. You can break the timeframe down into a number of timelines, for example, you can develop a pre-construction phase timeline and a construction phase timeline.

Once you are ready to begin building, before you settle on a contractor, ask them to furnish you with their timelines as you interview them. The timelines should show their proposed start date, end date and work schedule from the beginning to the end. Once you settle on a contractor, make sure the timelines are detailed out in the construction contract before you sign it. You will read more about negotiating the contract further on.

Locate your Site

Where are you planning to build your house? Bill Kauffman said – and it is true that “The first step to designing a custom home is the location.” The site location will greatly influence your design because of the features that are unique to the site and also because of the building laws and regulations that govern your chosen area. The former usually influence the design as the architect or home builder seeks to make the most out of the best features of the site. The latter usually dictate what you can and you cannot do as you build. Before you buy the plot of land that you would like to build upon, it would be wise to consult professionals.

Get your ‘Design and Build’ Team together

Look for an architect, a house designer or a package supplier. Package suppliers can both design and build your house for you. They work with you right from the beginning to the very end of the project. Read more about the services package suppliers provide here.

If you opt for an architect or for a house designer, you will need to hire building contractors for the construction phase of the house and a project manager to oversee the whole project as well. You may choose to manage the project for yourself if you have the time. Consider whoever else you may need to hire, for instance, interior designers, landscape architects, land surveyors, engineers and so on. Sometimes the architect or the building contractor will be able to put the required team together for you.

House design - A Home of Your Own: A Step by Step Guide to Getting Your Dream House Built

When selecting who you are going to work with, honesty and integrity should be a paramount requirement on your part. Go for people you can trust. Get a team of competent people who will listen to you and advise you accordingly. After all, it is your dream house so you really should get what you want – or the closest thing to it. You should, in a sense, be allowed to take the lead in the whole project. Interview every single person that you are inviting to be a part of your team and ask to see portfolios of their previous projects.

Negotiate the Contract

The contract agreement is basically to ensure that you get the house that was promised to you and that the contractor gets paid for his work. Building contractors usually have ready contracts. If this happens to be the case, ensure that you read through and properly understand it. Know that you are free to negotiate on any of the terms. If there is no ready contract, you can draft your own or hire an attorney to draft one for you. Make sure that every single aspect of the project is covered in the contract. These include items like the scope of work and changes to the scope of work.

By the time you will be going in to negotiate the contract, you should already have a clear idea of the costs, how much you are willing to spend, and how long the project will take. We have already touched on all of these. All such details should also be included in the contract. The contract should also state who will be responsible for cleaning and tidying up your site once the construction is complete. It should specify the maintenance period, indemnity insurance, liquidated damages, the payment plan and all other things that pertain to the project. Before you sign the contract, never forget the golden rule – always read the fine print.

Check with the Planners

Make sure that what you are thinking of putting on the ground is permissible before your team begins the design process. As already stated earlier, building codes and zoning regulations dictate what and how you are allowed to build in different areas. Once you have decided on the site, pay a visit to your local planning office and let them in on your idea. This way, you will be able to find out early if what you plan to build is in line with the law. If you just go on ahead and begin designing and building and then halfway through your project you discover that you ‘cannot’ build what you want to, it will cause you to incur some pretty heavy losses. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Design Process

Your team should consult and engage you all through the design process, from the site analysis stage right through to the completion of your home. Your designer will analyze the site and present to your proposed designs based on what you told them you want. Furnish your designer with all the information you can. Communication is key in every step of this whole process. Sketch it out for them if you have to.

You can also download images from the internet or show them images in, or cut-outs from, magazines. Once you agree on the basic sketch design the architect will then proceed to do all the layout drawings, all the while presenting them to you for your approval. Soon you will have your detailed drawings and your blueprint and you will be ready to engage your contractor.

Building Regulations

Submit your design to the building authority and get permission to build. Usually, it will be your designer’s responsibility to handle this.

Build and Occupy

Once you have your permit, you can give you contractor the go ahead. Choosing to manage the project yourself will enable you to stay on top of everything that will be going on as the building progresses. Otherwise, make sure that you are in constant touch with your team. Monitor the whole process and make sure that all the legalities are in place such as insurance, inspections and so on. Once your home is complete, you are free to move in and occupy it.


There you have it – your very own dream home in just a few steps. It may seem like a daunting task but the best thing to do is to tackle it one step at a time. That way it may prove to be more manageable for you.

Happy building!

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on building your dream house.

You can check out my home section here for more ideas to do with your home.

rachel bustin

*This is a guest post

Thank you for sharing

One thought on “A Home of Your Own: A Step by Step Guide to Getting Your Dream House Built

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.