According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly 1.53 million custom homes were built in the U.S. between 2010 and 2019. In 2020 there was a 20% decline in new home starts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a housing shortage is sparking demand in custom homes in 2021 and experts foresee a rebound in new construction.
Custom homes differ from spec homes. Many home builders will purchase large lots, subdivide the area, and then provide clients with pre-designed home plans where they can select custom finishing touches. These spec homes are sometimes billed as “custom homes” when they are not truly customized homes.
A true custom home solution is unique to the client’s specific requests and is generally not predicated on other designs. Custom homes may or may not be part of a larger community. Often they are in communities or neighborhoods where the home’s designs may be governed by community design guidelines or other restrictions that may inform some design decisions to create a “theme” for the community.
To build a custom home, you must understand the full scope of the custom home development and design process before starting your endeavor. Think Architect’s team of residential architects has extensive experience in the custom home building process and has provided this short guide to navigating your custom home build.
Assembling Your Custom Home Builder Team: How To Find The Right Residential Architects
When you build a custom home, you need a team of experts to help execute your vision, from real estate agents to home builders, to general and specialty contractors to landscapers.
However, the most essential member of your team, and the one you should hire and consult first, is a residential architect. Your architect can help you assemble the rest of your team, depending upon your needs, and will provide the oversight and management of the project throughout the entire process.
To select the right residential architect, follow these steps to ensure that you hire the best person to craft your custom home:
1 – Browse their portfolio. Ask for examples of past work and look for diversity in project scope and styles. If your architect tends to lean towards a certain type of design—modern, contemporary, or industrial, and you would prefer a classic rustic, farmhouse, for example—you may not be the right fit.
2 – Get referrals. Ask other homeowners who have built a custom home who they worked with or look online to get a sense of the architect’s reputation. Search for write-ups or reviews in professional publications.
3 – Narrow down your candidates and interview your top choices. During the interview, ask yourself if you feel heard and whether you and the architect easily communicate and understand each other.
4 – Communicate your expectations and your budget. Realize that designing your custom home is more than simply drawing up plans. The process includes site analysis, permitting, preliminary approvals, design, hiring contractors, and more. Give your project about a year to plan, design and permit before starting the actual build.
5 – Provide required items. Your architect will have certain requests and will need you to provide them with the needed items promptly to keep the project on track. Be ready to bring your part to the table and be available to communicate with your architect frequently.
Once you’ve selected your architect, now it’s time to get started on your project.
Location Matters: Why You Should Have Your Architect Review Your Lot
Many people who are building a custom home believe that finding and purchasing a lot is the first step. However, the first step in any custom home build should be to select a residential architect for a myriad of reasons.
Hiring an architect before buying your lot can prevent problems from developing down the line. It’s important to consult with an experienced residential architect in your area and discuss your plans prior to searching for properties. Here are a few reasons among many:
- Your architect may already be aware of potential lots available for purchase that are not on the MLS.
- Before building, you must understand the codes and ordinances of the area, zoning, wetlands, septic, water, and power connections, and other environmental restrictions. An architect will know what to look for and what may hinder your vision.
- Lot analysis. Most buyers will look for flat lots and overlook a property’s potential. An architect with land planning and landscape design experience can work with complex lots and provide suggestions for incorporating fixed environmental features into your prospective design.
- Sculpting a well-designed home takes into account many factors, including views, lighting, and exterior to interior flow.
Your Timeline: Taking The First Step & Setting Expectations
Once the lot has been selected and the investigative process completed, where all of the zoning and regulations are fully understood, you will begin working with your architecture team to conceptualize your vision.
While you may have communicated a rough outline of what type of building you want and the features you’d like to include in your initial meetings, now it’s time to start planning the layout and features of your custom home.
Your residential architects at Think Architecture will guide you by questioning you to profile your expectations and needs. They will find out what lifestyle amenities you’d like to incorporate, what your aesthetics are, and what you hope to achieve. Together, our team will discuss your budget and we will begin to draft preliminary designs that will incorporate your wish list while fitting within the constraints of your budget.
As those designs are created and finalized, construction documents will be drafted to outline your custom home’s structural needs, including plumbing, HVAC, and electrical schematics.
Once your unique custom home solution’s parameters are established, we’ll create a realistic timeframe and begin to hire contractors.
Budgeting For Your Custom Home Design
The cost of your custom home will be more than just the building costs. You’ll need to factor in your lot purchase, the architecture and design team’s services, and the cost of permits. Your architect will give you a preliminary estimate which will be refined and updated throughout the project.
Being upfront with your team about your budget and expectations will help them keep the project within your parameters. If unexpected or unforeseen costs arise, your architect will quickly communicate any changes to you before proceeding with the build.
A benefit of customizing your home is that the finishing touches, layout, and design are all established by you, and you can allocate your budget to the areas of your home that are most important to you and save costs in other areas.
Think Architecture’s Custom Home Design & Development Process
During each phase of the custom home design and construction process, we work closely with you to ensure that your custom home is built according to your specifications and within your budget. Our goal is to provide you with a functional, aesthetically pleasing home that matches your vision.
Our residential architects are intuitive and can provide you with a custom residential design that meets and exceeds your expectations. Our unique custom home design and development process ensures that every detail is accounted for and included in your custom home project.
To build your custom home, call us today at (801) 269-0055.