You have made the decision, it’s time to build your custom home. Your dream home, your forever home, the perfect place for your family’s life, a home built for living. But where do you start? Building a custom home can be daunting: there are so many decisions to make, factors to consider, and steps to take when you want your home built for life. At G&G Custom Homes, we help you take those steps one at a time. They say the journey of 1000 miles starts with a single step: once you take the first, the second is easier, and third easier still. Here is a quick custom home build checklist to help you get your mind wrapped around the process.

new home checklist

A Checklist for Building Your Custom Home

❏ Build a Budget – Establishing your budget and gathering important documents is a crucial first step to building your custom home.

❏ Clarify Your Vision – Take time to get inspired and decide what features your ideal home must have.

❏ Approach Lenders – It’s important to know who you are working with, and how their process works when financing a custom build.

❏ Find the Right Custom Home Builder and Team – Finding the right builder will alleviate headaches along the way, and ensure your vision is brought to life with all of your wants and needs.

❏ Look at Locations – The right location to suit your lifestyle will have a major impact on your enjoyment of your custom home. Don’t overlook this very important step!

❏ Get Going – You have financing in place, a solid vision that has been communicated with a builder you trust, and it’s time to start building!

❏ Almost Home! – As the process winds down, you complete a final walk-through and sign on the dotted line, don’t forget to take a moment and enjoy your new custom home!

We have broken down this list with a few more detailed descriptions, so read on for more guidance on the custom home building process.

 Build a Budget

❏ Track income and expenditures. Get your finances in order. While this is your dream house, going beyond budgetary constraints can quickly become a nightmare.
❏ Check your credit reports. You get three free credit reports per year: use them! Check that they are accurate and up-to-date. Any erroneous entries? Get them cleared up.
❏ Clear up any outstanding debts. It might be a doctor’s bill languishing on the kitchen counter, or even a small credit card bill we thought was behind us. Check your credit report for any outstanding debts and pay them off to boost your credit score.
❏ Gather key documents. Lenders need to see income statements, bank records, retirement account statements, and proof of other assets so they can mitigate their risk – and give you the loan amount you need.
❏ Determine down payment. Banks usually require a 20 – 25% down payment for custom home builds. Budget this in, save, and if you can, put down even more to enhance your loan terms and monthly payment structures.

custom home checklist

Clarify Your Vision

❏ Find Inspiration. Scour sites like Pinterest and Houzz and magazines like Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and Better Homes & Gardens for ideas. Get those creative juices flowing!
❏ Determine the Features That Matter Most. Think big and make a list! Do you want a single level or multiple stories? A finished basement with custom bar? Four bedrooms and three baths? An open floor plan or dual staircases? A game room? An expansive kitchen? Decide what features will best accommodate your lifestyle and bring your dream home to life.
❏ Create a Vision Board. Using Pinterest, a digital solution, or a good old-fashioned pinboard, clip your favorite style and architectural elements into a vision board. When you find the right custom home builder, you can share these ideas to jumpstart a conversation.

custom home checklist

Approach Lenders

❏ Interview potential lenders. Inquire with local banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.
❏ Ask the right questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: how does the process work? What will my loan terms be? Can I get funding to cover construction and then roll it over into a long-term loan? What are the differences in interest rates and terms for construction vs. permanent loans? If you don’t understand something, ask again! Lenders should be clear and forthcoming.
❏ Make your financing decision. Don’t let interest rates be the sole deciding factor. Consider other fees and costs, the ease of the process with lenders, etc.
❏ Get pre-approved. Now you know the ballpark you can shop in when it comes to purchasing land and drawing up plans for your custom home.

 Find the Right Custom Home Builder and Team

❏ Do your homework. Research builders that belong to the Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis and/or the Building Partners of Central Indiana. They must meet specific criteria for membership; this gives you reassurance that they meet or exceed industry standards.
❏ Vet potential builders. Just as with lenders, you want to make sure to ask the right questions. How long has the builder been in business? What do online reviews and ratings say? What do past clients say? Can you look at a model or in process build: how is the craftsmanship and material quality? The right fit is essential.
❏ Start with a conversation. Discuss your ideas and vision with your builder. They should listen intently – and, while honoring your vision, help you make decisions that align with your budget.
❏ Create a game plan. What’s next? Go through the steps of the process with your builder and make sure you are clear.

 custom home checklist

Look at Locations

❏ Look at lifestyle factors. Do you want to live in an urban, suburban, or rural area? Are you looking for a certain style in a developed neighborhood? Do you want a large lot with lots of trees? A sunny space to grow a garden or to maximize natural light in your design?
❏ Look at the practicalities. If the lot is not developed, how easy will it be to install utilities? Will you be able to access municipal water/sewer, or do you need to install a well or septic system? Are the amenities (schools, medical centers, restaurants, shops, transportation, your job, etc.) you want and need close by?
❏ Evaluate the geography/terrain. Some terrains make it more time-consuming and costlier to build (e.g. a steep ridge). You also want to have a survey done and ensure the soil is tested.
❏ Walk Through with Your Builder. It can be difficult to assess the nuances of a piece of land. Have your builder walk through with you so they can give you an idea of the benefits and potential downsides of building there. Will you have to adjust your design? Should you keep looking? Is it the perfect spot? They can help you answer these questions.

Get Going

❏ Sign the contract with the builder. You’re ready to break ground: review your contractual agreement carefully and sign.
❏ Pay your deposit. Typically, deposits are nonrefundable; your builder will then prepare working drawings and start lining up subcontractors.
❏ Understand your responsibilities and those of the builder. Stay in touch with the builder during the process: this is your home. If something concerns you or you have questions, contact your point person immediately. They should be happy to walk you through the issue. Make decisions (light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc.) in a timely manner so work can proceed smoothly. Your builder will handle insurance, subcontractor supervision, permits, inspections, and, of course, building your home!
❏ Know the process for change orders. Changes in your design can delay your project and add on costs. Ask your builder how they handle these changes and what your role is.

Almost Home!

❏ Take a walk-through. When your home is complete and your builder obtains a Certificate of Occupancy, they will take you on a walk-through. If you have any questions, now is the time to ask!
❏ Sign closing papers. Sign on the dotted line and get your keys. You’re almost home!
❏ Enjoy. While you still have moving in to contend with, the project is done! Now is the time to savor your custom built home and begin filling it with life and happy memories.

Your custom home should be a reflection of you and your family, and that starts by knowing what to expect from the process. The process can seem daunting, but the team at G&G Custom Homes is happy to talk about your specific needs and concerns. Schedule a free consultation with us to have all your questions about the custom home building process answered.

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