Deciding to build a home can be stressful; but, it doesn’t have to be. Planning and thinking logically through your needs/wants makes you fall in love with your new home. The process of planning is not too hard to tackle.  Here are some suggestions that we want you to think through before you meet with a builder to discuss your “perfect” home.

  1. Plan, Plan, Plan! – some of the things you need to decide on are below:
    1. Monetary planning: How much do you plan to spend on your home? Have you been pre-qualified through a reputable mortgage lender? How much will you have to come up with to build this home? Have you thought about larger items that you may want to purchase, or accounts (that affect your credit score) set up, before the home building process begins? Large purchase and applications for credit cards affect your credit score. We recommend not buying furniture, cars or anything that requires financing during the loan. And, you sure don’t want to open that clothing store credit card to get a discount while building either. If it affects your credit score, DON’T DO IT!
    2. House plan: You don’t want to buy a plan before talking with a builder. It may not fit on your lot. And on the plan, reputable builders won’t want to have lots of waste. They know the sizes lumber come in to frame a home and can make logical suggestions for plan design.

      And, while we are at it, make sure you and your builder are a good fit. If there is miscommunication from the very start of the process, chances are, it will only get worse during the process. Side note: don’t forget the porches. Wrap around, large back-screened in porch or small front porch that is open?

    3. Size of home: How many bedrooms and baths. Style is an important thing. If the neighborhood requires certain materials be used on the outside. Do you have to build a style of home such as Craftsman, Farmhouse, Colonial, etc.? Will the home fit on your lot? What are the setback lines? If you have acreage and place it toward the middle or back, there are additional cost to run power, water, sewer lines. The driveway will be longer = more concrete and more concrete labor.
    4. Closets: Determine where you will need closets and how big. Will you want a closet in the foyer? Home owners in the warmer climates don’t have as many jackets/bulky jacket being stored at the entryway. In the bathrooms, each will need some type of linen closet to store towels & washcloths, extra soaps & shampoos, etc. Maybe you need a hamper or basket in there to put your dirty laundry in. Do you have blankets, a vacuum, games to store? You might want to think about a hall or several hall closets. Is there a need for walk in closets in your bedrooms? Do you need two closets in your master bedroom/bath & do you want lots of shelving and/or shelving and cubbies?
    5. Placement of rooms:
      Garage: Do you want or need a courtyard entry, side entry or back entry. Does your neighborhood require no front entry garages? Does it have to be on a certain side of the home? Remember to have enough depth and width (and height) to park your cars. Additional space may be needed for storing that lawn mower and yard tools. Also, think about size and location and whether you want it enclosed or open.

      Laundry room: Consider whether you want it close to master bedroom or other bedrooms. What about the floor, 1st or 2nd (and will you need a laundry shoot).  Do you want an enclosed laundry with one door or will you want a walk-through from the master bedroom, bath or closet with a pocket door too?

      Space for pets: Will you be needing a place to put Butch, your Golden Retriever when you are gone? Do you want to keep him out of the bedrooms, living areas, halls? Is a built in ½ pocket door the solution? Are you wanting to have a doggy bath/shower area? Where is it going to be located? Extra costs include plumbing for sprayers and the sprayer itself. Need a doggie door? Decide on size and location as this is put in during the framing stage.

      Small children: Do you want your kids’ bedrooms close to yours? Do you need a built in ½ pocket door? Will the fireplace hearth be flat on the ground or will it be raised for extra seating?

      Bedrooms: Most want their bedrooms placed as far away from noise as possible. Do you want your bedrooms on the same size of the home or do you want a split plan? Upstairs or down? Do you want your master bedroom close to your laundry? Another suggestion, don’t put your master near your living area. TVs and noise will affect your sleep.

      Kitchen: You will want your kitchen close to eating areas such as breakfast room or dining room for easy access. Also, having it close to an entry or garage makes lugging in groceries sooooo much easier. Do you need more space for that large fridge? Where will that deep freeze or ice maker go?

      Extra rooms: Do you need room for your pool table? Do you see a mother-in-law suite needed in the future? Want sewing space but need an office too? Underutilized rooms are just that – never used and a waste of space. Gone are the days of media rooms. People tend to congregate around the kitchen and great room area; so, maybe, just maybe, you won’t need that formal dining room. You won’t miss it!  Consider making that extra room you do need a multipurpose room. Tip *adding a closet will make a room a bedroom. And, where do you want these rooms: upstairs, in the back of home, near the garage, detached from the home, over the garage?

    6. Decorating: Are you wanting soaring ceilings and tall doors? Will your doors be hollow core or solid? Door knobs: how much is your budget-and do you want special knobs, like glass ones similar to the ones your granny had? Will your great room be vaulted? Do you want beams, ship-lap or brick walls? Is your home going to be trimmed out nicely? Do you want your windows to have trim or do you want wainscoting? Built-in cabinets in the living area are nice; but, they come at a cost. Are you putting carpet, hardwood, laminate, tile or scored flooring in; and, which flooring will put in which area? Do you need impact resistant windows because you live in an area that attracts hurricanes? Those windows come at a cost to you. Countertops in the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry areas are things with which most struggle. So many decisions to make. Talk with your builder about budgets and your needs vs. your wants.
    7. Cabinets: Where do you want them? Do you want something special like a coffee bar or homework area? Do you want something special like a paper towel holder or spice drawers?
    8. Lighting: Don’t make your home look like a dungeon. Lots of natural light brightens up a home. Each room needs a window and the bigger the better. And, don’t forget can lights. How many do you need and in which rooms? Do you have adequate lighting in the bathrooms? Will you want gas lighting or electric on your front and back porches? Will you need ceiling fans? We recommend ones with light kits. Is your outdoor fan damp rated? Under and/or over cabinet lighting? Pendants, flush, semi-flush or chandelier?
    9. HVAC: Don’t make the mistake of over or under buying your system as it will over-perform or under-perform. It might not cool as much as you need it to during those hot months.

Don’t start sweating yet! Get yourself a good builder who goes over all these things with you so there are no surprises. Find someone who is realistic, tells you a budget, guides you through the process and helps you stay within budget, is flexible and is honest. There are many decisions to be may before you start building. Get with someone who will guide you every step of the way. The process should be enjoyable. Take time to plan ahead – you will be so much happier and less stressed. So, go out there, and BUILD A GREAT HOME!


Ron Cuny
Builder | Owner
ARK Builders, LLC


251.422.2709 c | 251.621.1752 o