Building a new home can be a very daunting project. It’s hard to know where to start and what you should know from the beginning to avoid mishaps. Is it more important to get those glass-front cabinets or the reading nook for the kids? “It’s all about the client’s lifestyle and what’s important to them,” says Brian Halblaub, owner of C B H Building and Development. C B H has a single-family home and a condo in this year’s Fall Parade of Homes to look out for. The following tips highlight how best to work with builders like Halblaub in this booming housing market whether you are building from scratch or customizing a rough plan.
- Rank your priorities
Are you an avid cook who spends hours standing at the stove? Then you may want to skip the tile, which can be uncomfortable to stand on for extended periods. Wood, attractive vinyl or laminate flooring can be a better fit. Consider your lifestyle and what your needs will be to accommodate that. The master chef and entertainer should make a gourmet kitchen #1. “Soft close cabinets and drawers, as well as good lighting and glass cabinets for easy access aren’t always a given in modern homes,” explains Halblaub. “We accommodate people who love entertaining out of their kitchens with full-height back splash, a custom range, and walk-in pantry. We aim for overall function of the space.”
- Establish a budget and understand costs
Before diving into your new home project, first establish a budget that you will stick through for the entirety of the development. After ranking your “must haves” in the home, understand what the price tag on those items will be. Having rough estimates as well as some room for unexpected surprises is always a good idea. Go with a licensed contractor that aims to save you costs along the way without compromising integrity. Halblaub states that CBH “watches the market and buys materials in bulk from their sister company when the price is right.” They then pass these saving onto the clients. But remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re asked to pay the full cost in advance, before the work begins, a red flag should go up, paying about 20-50 percent is common. You should also be wary if you’re asked to pay cash to a salesperson instead of a check, money order, or credit cared to a company. In this busy market, it can be tempting to go with someone that cuts corners and isn’t licensed, to save some money, but it is more than worth it to go with someone that performs quality work to code.
- Consider your floorplan
While the open-floor concept is very popular right now, go with the floorplan that will be best for your family. Maybe you want an open concept but that still has places and spaces to escape and hide, to feel cozy. Multi-functional rooms are also an intelligent pick. You may need a space off the kitchen that can accommodate 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner or transform into a breakfast nook where you sneak away for a cup of coffee. If you have children, you should also consider whether this is a place they can grow into. Having private spaces may be more important as they age and flex rooms can typically accommodate this transformation. “Making a loft gaming center with bean bags and a futon is a space that can host kids for years to come,” says Halblaub. “Having a reading nook or built-in homework desk might be more of a priority for some parents and their kids.” Playrooms and offices are becoming more popular and maintain high functionality.
- Make design decisions early
Think about placement of built-ins and feel of different spaces in the home. “Bring in pictures early in the process,” suggests Halblaub. “If your choices are already made, you can sit back and enjoy all selections, which can be a very daunting task [if you aren’t prepared].” You don’t think to consider some things, so it pays to do a little planning beforehand! Where will furniture go and consequently, where will outlets need to be? This is also the time you can make upgrades or customizations that need to be done early or it will be too late to go back and redo. Things like media integration are often an after-thought but should be decided on in the very beginning for the best results.
- Make sure it is energy-efficient
A large part of energy-efficiency that’s going to save you money in the long run is good insulation. You’ll be paying less on bills and avoiding the feeling of a drafty home. If the home is insulated and sealed properly you can avoid particularly miserable winter effects. Some appliance can achieve higher energy-efficiency as well. “A smart thermostat can help you to save money on heating and cooling costs,” tells Halblaub. “Appliances in the kitchen can also be upgraded to be more efficient.” Increasing the energy-efficiency of the home is a choice that increases home value because of the long-term benefits.
Begin with the end in mind. Whether you live in this home till the end of your life or plan on living in it for 5 years, someone will live in this home after you. Decide what’s worth splurging on, or what is a want you have now, but is a trend that will die in a couple years? If you plan on being in the home for a shorter amount of time, it may be worth it to buy the trendy shiplap and exposed beams for an easier re-sell. If you have a longer timeline, these kinds of choices may not be as smart, as they aren’t increasing the value of the home. Other upgrades, however, can be useful to you in the present but also increase the value for homeowners to come. Better appliance packages or installing quartz or granite countertops in the kitchen that look nicer and perform better will pay off. “Investing money into the master bathroom is another value-increasing selection,” Halblaub says. The master suite is a focal point of the home and the master bathroom is a place that should be very functional.
Your home should be an expression of your lifestyle and preferences. If you are prepared before the process begins, you can have the home of your dreams. Remember that no matter what surprises arise or if the budget doesn’t accommodate things a little further down the priorities list, it will still be the place you lovingly call home.