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Critical First Steps to Building Your Custom Dallas Home



Most folks who are determined to build their own custom home have been thinking and dreaming about that idea for a very long time. There must be exceptions where the idea springs full bloom out of nowhere, but most who are bold and creative enough to take this step are just finally fulfilling the goal that they have long ago created.

Now the time has come. The financing is there. The time is there. The basic concept is undoubtedly in place. Now what?

First the plans.

You need to have clarity on at least the basics of the home you want to build. How many square feet? One story or two? Basement? Finished attic? How many cars in the garage or carport? How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Will the master bedroom and bath be world class? (of course it will).

Depending on your skill level and willingness to go out on a limb, there are three possibilities for moving this rough idea to a finished plan.
 
  1. Create the plans yourself. You may know exactly what you want and have the skills to lay it out. Maybe you will eventually need an architect to create the blueprints, but he or she will be working from a very clear template that you have designed.
  2. Use online resources. There are dozens of sites online that have fantastic custom home designs showing both exterior views, and full floor plans. You can spend many hours reviewing these various ideas and either ultimately choose one or borrow ideas from many of them
  3. Hire an architect, building designer, or design build contractor and work through the design step by step. Most will choose this third option or some hybrid of all three of the above.
 
You will not want to move to final plans without having secured the property. If you don't already have a property, you will want to sketch out the general concept of the home before you look for or decide on a property. As you contemplate each possible lot, you can now review your plans and whether the sketched-out version will work or if it can be modified and still accomplish your dream goals.

In a tight market like that in Dallas during the mid 20 teens, finding the lot will likely be the hardest part of the project, and you may be forced to make tradeoffs.

Finding the lot.

While an entire book could be written on this subject, most of that book would be the obvious: Must be suitable for the use, in a good neighborhood, good schools, and so forth. The less obvious issue is one that many custom home builders miss:

The home your are building should be suitable for the neighborhood.

You don't want to put a 6000 square foot mini-mansion on a street filled with 2000 - 2500 square foot luxury homes. You will stand out like a sore thumb, irritate your neighbors, and you will never get your full value out of the home when you sell. The rule of thumb is that you never want to be the most valuable home on the street or the area.

Likewise the opposite. Don't build a beautiful 2500 square foot luxury home on a street filled with mini mansions. The exception might be if you have room on the lot and are planning to add on later. However, the problem with that is that the person looking to build in that neighborhood is going to want their design from the ground up, and not be interested in adding to the home you created, so your home value could be seen as a tear down if you don't get around to doing the additions yourself.

Final cost estimate.

Now that you have secured the property and finalized your preliminary plans for the house itself, you should be able to create an estimate of final costs, including surveying, excavation, permits, architect, and the house and grounds, themselves. There is an old saw in the custom house business that says you should figure you will spend 50% more and twice as long to get the project done as planned. While that may be an exaggeration and Unique Properties has an excellent track record at bringing projects in on time and on budget, it wouldn't hurt to have extra room in the budget for changes you might choose to make along the way.

We will do everything we possibly can to provide you with a range of choices on each and every decision. But your final estimate will be based on those choices. If you later decide to go for solid gold shower plumbing, the cost will go up.

Once we have all agreed to the final estimate, and the documents have been signed, we will work with the architect to draw up the blue prints and we will begin the permitting process. We will keep you informed all along the way as we achieve benchmarks or run into snafus. We build in some time for the unexpected which is always expected in any project.