If you’re thinking about building your own home, then this blog is for you.
I set out on a quest to build my dream home, but the list of 25 things I needed to avoid was endless.
Don’t build your house too close to the water? Check. Avoid creating a home on a slope? Check.
The list went on and on, and before I knew it, I had an acre of land with nothing built!
Eventually, after much consideration – and some strong encouragement from my wife – we decided that our new four-bedroom two-bath ranch would be perfect for us in West Virginia.
It’s a complete guide that will help you avoid most people’s mistakes when building their homes.
These are 25 things that’ll show you how to do it right!
Build a Strong Foundation – This Matters More than You Think!
The idea of building your own house is exciting.
The idea of designing everything from scratch, right down to the colors on the walls, makes it all seem so glamorous.
You get a sense that anything is possible.
But before you start pricing out materials or browsing Pinterest for inspiration,
There are some things about homebuilding that can be very tricky if not avoided altogether.
When you build a home, it can be very challenging and, in some cases, may even seem impossible to think about the foundation.
Building a solid and sturdy foundation protects against all sorts of damages due to natural hazards and protects your investment.
Building a solid foundation is most important when you make your own home.
- You can start by hiring an engineer who has the qualifications and experience in designing foundations against earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis, or landslides.
- Building your house on stilts is another way to provide proper drainage away from the area surrounding the foundation.
- The last thing you want is for your house to be flooded with water every time it rains heavily.
When Building Your Own Home: Avoid Constructing Directly on a Hill Slope
It would help if you considered the direction of the land slopes and how far down it slopes before building your home.
Building directly on a hill slope puts you at risk of landslides.
It also makes draining water difficult or even brings it closer to your house.
It would be best if you never built a home without knowing where the boulders are underground.
You get to know what kind of soil you have so that you can know whether or not to use an expensive type of support system for your new building.
Building faulty drainage systems can lead to a massive disaster.
- Never build a home directly on a hill slope, as this means you are at risk from landslides.
- Flooding by draining water is challenging because of where you build your home.
- Building a faulty drainage system can be pretty expensive.
- Making your home too close to the hill slope reduces space for landscaping, defeating the purpose of why you wanted to build your own home in the first place.
Build as Far as Possible from Trees
Trees hold well against solid gales and storms, but they do not fare much better during earthquakes and floods.
Trees can fall and bring your home with them.
Building as far away from the trees is wise because you do not want to risk losing everything when it has taken you years to make.
Building around trees is excellent for keeping the neighborhood tidy.
However, building too close can cause trouble during strong winds or storms.
Building too close to trees may also mean they will overgrow into your house.
If this happens, having a lot of space between you and the tree means minor damage to your home and property.
Never Think of Constructing Parallel to a Roadway when Building Your Own Home
You may think it’s wiser to build your home parallel with a road because you will have easy access from your bedroom or kitchen window, but you’re mistaken.
- Building right beside a busy road does not just mean that you will have less privacy but puts you at risk of dust pollution.
- Another disadvantage is noise pollution and safety risks due to vehicles driving now and then.
- Building too close to a busy road means that everyone passing can see what is happening inside your home through the windows.
- Your home is left vulnerable to vandalism and theft.
- Another problem is safety; if there is ever an accident on this stretch of road, your house could become collateral damage.
It is even worse for those living close to high-speed highways, as debris could end up flying into their home.
- Similarly, you will also have to deal with the increased amount of traffic that comes your way.
- Building parallel to a roadway can be very detrimental because it exposes you to these issues without bringing any benefit to compensate for it.
- It’s never worth it to build too close to any property line or roadways.
- One good reason not to do this is that should anything ever happen on the other side of your home where you are technically trespassing; then there could be some legal repercussions.
- You encounter problems with your neighbors in general about what happens when you trespass over borderlines.
- Additionally, if any part of your home falls into another state or country, then this can cause even more problems than just trying not to trespass.
Building too close to a property line also requires you to have deep foundations.
So it’s best to avoid going down the wrong path from the beginning.
Do Not Set Deadlines for Yourself – Don’t Bite More than You Can Chew!
Building a home can be a long and detailed process.
Not only do you have to worry about getting the land, but you also make sure that you get the plans approved by the city.
Some people may think that building your own home is cheaper than buying an existing one.
That is false:
- Building your own home takes more time and money than just buying an already built house.
- Building your own home can take up to 2 years.
- Compared to just walking into a real estate agency and purchasing an already built home within weeks or months, depending on location and availability.
When it comes to building your own home, most people forget all financial responsibility when they start realizing how beautiful their new house will look in its completion.
It leads most people to take loans from banks and friends.
Building a home is not cheap. Most people spend around $100,000.
That is an average for a decent house that will provide you with comfort and privacy.
- When building your own home, one of the most important things you must avoid is creating deadlines yourself.
- It can lead to severe disappointment when all your effort goes down the drain because you didn’t complete it on time.
- Building a home from scratch is an extremely lengthy process. It takes months, even years, depending on location and size.
- If you think about setting up a deadline, make sure to consult professionals who know precisely how long it takes to build a house from start till completion.
Most people come up with their dream rooms when they imagine their dream house.
They start getting too creative and forget whether the building is possible or not.
Building your own home can alter your finances by a lot; this is why you shouldn’t make any changes before the process is over.
Building a home can alter your financial stability, but if you choose to sell it at some point, you might get more money than what you initially invested in building it.
When Building Your Own Home Avoid Designing from Scratch
Another thing that you must avoid when building your own home is designing your building plans from scratch!
- Building plans can be very complex sometimes, taking up a lot of your time, effort, and money!
- Therefore, it would be much easier to go with someone else’s pre-designed plans than trying to draw them yourself.
However, the key is choosing the right company that will meet all your demands.
- If you want to build your dream home from scratch, then you need to be prepared for at least two years of design and planning.
- Building your own home is not something that can happen overnight.
- You must consider things like planning permission and structural calculations.
We would advise seeking the help of a professional architect who will guide you through each step of designing your own home.
They will ensure everything goes smoothly.
Never Build Inappropriate Buildings on Inappropriate Locations
It’s never worth it to build inappropriate buildings in inappropriate locations for their use.
- Building guest houses or garages meant for people staying over is hazardous and harmful planning because these structures can collapse,
- If there ever was an earthquake, and could easily fall apart without proper support throughout construction.
- You risk facing significant problems with your neighbors.
- Some may not enjoy having guests’ cars parked outside of your home all day.
Building guest homes, lodges, or garages meant for overnight guests is never beneficial to anyone involved.
It can also cause problems with your neighbors, as they may complain about increased traffic on their streets if it’s close to their home or simply because of where you decide to build them.
Building these structures in inappropriate locations can also cause legal troubles, as they are technically trespassing if constructed too close to any property lines.
Avoid Building Your Own Home on Sand or Gravel
It’s never worth it to build your house on sand or gravel,
Even though it might be tempting to do so because of the lower price for these types of home bases.
- Building houses on unstable ground can lead to some serious issues after just a few years have passed.
- Many people have seen their homes fall apart simply because they made the mistake of building on flimsy grounds such as sand or gravel.
- The chances are very high that you will have to invest in some new additions or repairs within just a few years.
- Building houses around soil that is not firm enough can also cause severe damage to your foundation.
- That will make materials break apart over time.
Building Homes Too Close Together
It’s never worth it to build homes too close together.
- One reason why this is bad is because of how crowded it will make your surrounding area look and feel,
- It does not matter whether there is still plenty of land available in the area.
- Additionally, building homes too close together can also cause problems with the foundation of your home.
- Building too many homes in a small area could quickly become problematic if nothing keeps your foundations together.
- Over time, it will be effortless for them to come apart, which is never suitable for anyone living nearby or owning the land.
- Building homes too close together can also cause severe problems with neighboring structures,
- As well as make it much more challenging to expand later on down the line when you might need that extra space or want to build an addition onto your house at some point.
Do Not Forget to Insure Your Home
When building your own home, one of the things that many people tend to neglect is insuring the property correctly.
- People assume that the land they bought comes with insurance and its potential structure (if any).
- Building a house from scratch without an already made foundation requires permission from the city,
- It’s essential to make sure the plans are approved and followed before getting an insurance quote.
It may seem like a silly mistake, but insure your home once it’s finished.
- Building your own home can be a costly process if done wrong, but if handled by professionals, it becomes a lot less chaotic and cheap as well.
- Building can go from cheap to highly costly in under a second if not tackled by experienced personnel.
- If you build from scratch it takes time, money, and effort, which can all lead to financial collapse without proper guidance or supervision.
Consider How Many Bedrooms and Bathrooms You’ll Need Before Building Your Own Home
Many people are surprised to learn that they will need at least three bedrooms, even if they only have one child.
Most contractors prefer to build larger homes to keep costs down.
- If you do not plan to add more rooms or bathrooms after building, you should consider making a smaller house with fewer bedrooms and bathrooms.
- You can always add on later when money becomes available.
- Figure out how much money you are willing or able to spend before choosing where to build.
- If you are inadequately ready for whatever that entails, it can cause problems later on.
- When designing your dream home, choose a set of plans that suits your budget.
- Floor plans that are too spacious or extravagant can be difficult to afford and maintain.
Building custom homes is more expensive than buying an existing property because the materials are often purchased wholesale instead of at retail prices.
Depending on size and materials, building a house may cost between $50-$75 per square foot.
As a general rule of thumb, the total cost to build a home should not exceed two times your annual pre-tax household income.
Building too large of a new house can raise your insurance premiums or result in difficulties qualifying for financing if you ever decide to sell.
Consider Materials Used
When building new homes or remodeling, it is often better not to choose the most expensive materials available unless your budget allows it.
Building a home is a long process, and if you have to sell multiple times, the best builders know how to save money where it counts.
- Building from scratch with the most expensive materials can be problematic.
- That is if you need to resell quickly or if costs escalate beyond your means.
- Using cheap building supplies may cause problems that lead to more work done.
- That means more money out of your pocket.
- Building a home is expensive enough without having to pay for repairs due to shoddy building materials.
It would help if you built new homes with the idea that you may sell at some point in time.
Building too many houses can lead to difficulties reselling without taking a loss.
Building what you need and no more can protect your investment and reduce costs associated with expensive building materials.
Avoid A Closed Floor Plan When Building Your Own Home
Build an open floor plan as you will need as much space as possible to accommodate your growing family.
- Building an open floor plan is a great way to ensure your home feels more spacious and well-lit.
- Building an open floor plan is very beneficial to you and your family.
- Build with natural lighting in mind.
- Building your home with large windows facing the south side of your property will allow maximum sunlight throughout the day.
- It can help brighten any room, no matter how dull it may feel.
Take advantage of all available sunlight as it will help you save on your energy bills and give you a more natural atmosphere.
Building with natural lighting in mind can improve the feel of any home.
Avoid Small Bedrooms
Building with more enormous bedrooms is a great thing to do when you create your own home.
- Enormous bedrooms will allow everyone in the family to have their own rooms.
- It is a great way to give everyone their privacy and help them feel more at home with their bedroom.
Enormous bedrooms are an excellent idea as you want everyone in the family to have their own space.
Aim for a Big Kitchen When Building Your Own Home
Building a big kitchen in your home is excellent to do when you make your own home.
- A big kitchen will allow anyone in the family to cook in their kitchen quickly, allowing for more counter and cabinet space.
- Building a more extensive and better-equipped kitchen can help anyone in the family, including yourself, make a meal more effortless and faster because of all the extra space.
It is great as you and your family will cook together without much hassle.
Do Not Build a Very Big Home
Building a bigger home than you could ever need is a big mistake.
- There are many reasons why building an unnecessarily big home is a bad idea.
- Significantly because it can limit your decorating options.
- Building a vast home might cause you to end up with unused rooms.
- It can also make your house feel less cozy.
- Building beyond your needs also causes the chance of having unused rooms.
- That can be a waste of space and money.
Do Not Build with Only One Floor
It is not an intelligent idea.
- Building your home with just one floor might cause you to miss out on some opportunities for creating more livable space in the future.
- A house with only one floor is harder to sell as your client might want a home with more than one floor.
- Not to mention that going up and downstairs is excellent exercise!
Do Not Build Rooms Without Windows
Building a room that has no windows is never a good idea!
- Building a room without windows will only lead to you feeling incredibly claustrophobic,
- Plus, there are many other problems associated with a building without windows.
- Building without windows can limit the light coming into the house, which is not healthy for anyone living in the house.
- Rooms built without windows will be dark most of the time, making them feel even smaller than they already are.
Avoid Building Your Own Home Too Low or with Insufficient Ground Clearance!
It can cause problems when you need to get in and out of your home without taking the stairs, especially if they are difficult stairs!
- Building with insufficient ground clearance can also create problems when adding more storage space or even getting into your home.
- It will also cause issues when it comes time for repairs and to get into your home, no matter how many stairs you have.
- It could be painful if there are hard stairs.
- Building too low can make it difficult to enter and exit your home and make it hard to add additional storage space.
- You might encounter some problems when you want to create more livable space.
Avoid Building a Basic Foundation When Building Your Own Home
Building your foundation on solid rock or making sure that there is at least 12 inches of gravel below soil level are good options for some places,
- But building an insufficiently prepared foundation will cause some severe damage down the road.
- Making too low/the wrong kind of foundation will cause problems in the future when you need repairs.
- Making the wrong type of foundation can lead to some severe problems in the future when issues come up.
- Make sure that there are at least 12 inches of gravel below the soil level for some areas.
Do Not Build a home with Too Little Insulation
Building a home with inadequate insulation can cause higher energy bills in the summer and winter.
Building without enough insulation will make your house much harder to keep warm in the winter, which is dangerous for you and your possessions.
It could lead to higher energy bills during both seasons, making it hard to stay warm in the winter & cold in the summer,
or even cause property damage when not maintaining proper temperatures inside.
Insufficient insulation can increase monthly electric bills throughout spring, summer, and fall because of heating/cooling costs.
Do Not Build with an Improperly Sealed Basement
Building your basement to allow proper ventilation will allow you to use your basement as extra space instead of spending money sealing it off.
- Inadequate ventilation will cause problems when working with chemicals.
- You cannot store anything that could be affected by humidity.
- Making your basement with improper ventilation can lead to costly repairs or keep you from using the space at all.
- Since items might get ruined by moisture & not providing proper ventilation can cause chemicals to be affected.
Always Use an Architect When Building
Building your own home is difficult enough, but hiring an architect is always a good idea if you do any renovations involving structural changes.
- Building without an architect might be cheaper, but it will only lead to more headaches in the future,
- Not to mention any non-structural changes can still benefit from having an architect on board.
- Building without using an architect is even more dangerous because of the structural changes that are required.
- Failing to hire an architect can save you money in the short term but end up costing you much more later on for repairs or additional renovations that you should have done initially.
- Building without an architect brings about added long-term costs if structural changes happen alongside non-structural ones.
Never Build Next to A Fault Line
Building next to a fault line would be problematic under normal circumstances, but when you are making your own home, then there is little that you can do after it happens.
- Building next to a fault line would create structural damage in the long run,
- Not to mention the safety issues of living on top of one.
- Building next to a fault line is dangerous because of the risk of causing problems with the structure in the long run.
- Living in an area with frequent earthquakes makes safety concerns about proper shelter apparent.
- Building near a fault line will cause structural defects over time, and having something fall apart during an earthquake is highly dangerous, not to mention the looming threat of earthquakes.
- Building near a fault line is dangerous because it can cause structural problems and increase short-term risk during an earthquake.
You Must Get a Permit
Building without a building permit will lead to fines in cities that require them for most construction projects,
You should always hire someone to obtain one for you before beginning your project.
- Building without a permit results in higher legal fees if caught & failing to get one may delay completion time since after-the-fact licenses are necessary in most cases.
- It leads to messy situations like fines or potential lawsuits if they know that builders did work without permission or a pass.
- Building without a building permit can lead to expensive fines or court fees down the line.
- It could delay time before completion due to extra effort after the fact in most cases.
- Building without a building permit is dangerous because it has potential legal implications, fines, and delays in the project’s timeframe.
Finally, Get a Building Site Plan
Building without a building site plan is only asking for trouble down the line.
Avoid this at all costs by mapping out your plans before beginning.
Building without a building site plan confuses which direction the house faces & many other issues.
So be sure to have it mapped out before you begin.
Building without a building site plan means not being able to figure out where the front is when looking at your house & also creates confusion in terms of any utilities that would need to go in, etc.
Building without a building site plan is dangerous.
Now that you know what to avoid and some of the basics, it’s time for you to get started on building your own custom home.
Be sure to keep all these things in mind as you search for a property or hire an architect.
You’ll want every aspect of your new house carefully planned out before construction begins, so there are no surprises along the way!
We can help with that too. Just let us know if we can assist, and we’re happy to provide any information or resources needed.
If not now, then when will you start planning your dream home?
There’s no better time than now to start building the perfect home!