1. Face Financial Reality
The first step is being realistic with your current finances, and what your financial position will be in the next few years. This is the most important discussion you will need to have before you begin to seriously think about what your home will consist of. You really need to think not only about what you can afford today, but also how your life might change in the years to come and the impact that those life changes can have on your finances.
A mortgage pre-approval is given by financial institutions to give you a clear estimate on what your finances will look like and are a great place to start. Pre-approved mortgages cost nothing, and they usually come with a guaranteed rate for a specific time period.
There are many options to consider when searching for a mortgage lender. It is possible to have mortgages through banks, trust companies, mortgage brokers, as well as other service providers. You can start by talking to your financial institution. They have professionals with experience in residential mortgages and you probably already have a personal connection with them.
You can also arrange mortgage financing through a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers have access to a large array of lenders (banks, trust and life insurance companies, credit unions, etc.) and they will do all the work to find you the best deal possible. A lot of people feel very confident when working with mortgage brokers because they are very specialized.
Finally, if you already have a builder in mind you should contact them as they will more than likely have connections and experience with certain mortgage lenders. Do not be shy to ask home builders because they are there to help you, and to educate you in their field of work.
Another important factor will depend on where you are in life. You may be a young newly wedded couple looking to be first time home buyers or looking to accommodate your growing family. Perhaps you’re thinking about downsizing from your current home or looking for an upgraded home with all the bells and whistles? Your lifestyle is what your home building process is dependent on, after your finances of course.
If you are looking to build a new home and are just starting a family, think about what your household needs will be in the future, as well as right now. If you’re planning on growing your family, make sure to include enough space to be able to enjoy your new construction for more than just a few short years.
When it comes to downsizing, it’s very important to consider building a home that can adapt to potential changes in physical capacity. A well planned out, accessible home includes details such as a one-level floor plan (eliminating the need for stairs in the home). Helpful grab bars in the washrooms that make your shower and tub safer are another feature that will help you age in place much easier. Other aging in place details to consider include lighting, heating systems, kitchen/bathroom floor plans and flooring materials to name a few.
Considering accessible designs isn't just for older people either - aging in place design is smart at any age. It will certainly make visits with grandparents, parents or other older friends/family easier and convenient. And a more accessible home can potentially open it up to a larger audience if/when you think about selling in the future.
3. Location! Location! Location!
The neighborhood you choose to build in, or near is one of the most important things to consider when building a new home. Do your research in the most practical way - by spending time in the area you're considering. Drive to work from there at your normal commute time. Drive or walk around to get a good sense of how the neighbourhood feels. See what amenities are nearby. Ask yourself the following questions and find out what is most important to you and your family:
- Is this location safe?
- Is it children friendly?
- How far is it from work?
- Are there good schools in this district?
- Are amenities (grocery stores, hospitals, etc.) offered by?
- Is there a social aspect to enjoy?
- Is there entertainment offered in this area suitable for me and my family?
One way to help you through all your decisions is using a “decision matrix.” Rather than a simple list of pros and cons, a decision matrix allows you to place different weight or value on each decision item. Also known as the Pugh Method (named after its creator Stuart Pugh), a decision matrix helps remove subjectivity in order to make a sound decision (Business Weekly).
Now that you know what you can afford, what size of home you need, and the location where you want to build it, now is the time to put pen to paper and start designing. This is the exciting and personal part of building your home. You get to consider every aspect of your household’s needs and add touches that will improve your day to day life.
Take a look at the other homes in your neighborhood. Are they all made out of brick? Are they modern or traditional? In the end you should design the home you want but also try to compliment your surroundings. In saying that, when designing your home you should consider resale value and ease of selling, because if the time comes to sell, you don’t want the floor plan and finishes you’ve chosen to be the reason you have a hard time selling.
A few details to consider adding to your home that many home buyers and realtors are seeing these days that can add value are:
- Spa-like bathrooms
- Practical yet Impressive kitchens
- Well thought-out floor plans
- A distinct area for laundry/cleaning supplies
- Smart storage
- Three to four bedrooms
- Attractive curb appeal
Building a relationship with your builder is important and can be comforting during the entire process. If you want to make sure you’re working with the right company, you should base your judgement on more than just dollar bills. Consider things like their reputation, track record, reviews, warranties offered, and what their standards include to help you make an informed decision.
You should also consider what type of construction you would like to go with. The two most common construction types for home building is traditional site built construction and precision-engineered factory-built modular homes.
For more details on each type of home building, we’ve created a free e-book that compares both site-built and factory-built modular homes.
6. Are You Ready?
Like any big decision, the most important question to ask yourself is, “Am I ready?” Depending on the complexity of your construction, the home building process could take over a year, so be prepared for highs and lows. If you follow the five steps we’ve listed, hopefully it will make it easier for you and your family and get you to think about what building a home consists of.
To ensure you’re ready, ask plenty of questions and take your time. Being mentally prepared for such a big investment will allow you to avoid making bad decisions and add stress to the situation.
Building a new home can be both exciting and overwhelming - even for people who have built homes before. The best advice we can give you is do your homework, don’t make emotional decisions, and stay true to your budget and the needs of your household.
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