I Want To Build A House, Where Do I Start?

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Have you always wanted to build a house, but don’t know where to begin? This full guide is your starting point, from brainstorming to blueprints. Read on to learn more or, if you have specific questions about new builds in Louisiana, feel free to contact our team at MLM Incorporated for help. 

1. Settle in for a brainstorming session 

Grab some coffee and a notebook, and get comfy. Before even beginning the process of a new home build, spend some time thinking about your goals. 

Ask yourself why you want to build your own home in the first place. What are your goals or your vision? Do you already have a plot of land that you inherited or purchased? Are you ready to create your dream home and want it custom-made to fit your family? Do you want to create an eco-friendly house that will save you money in the long-term? 

Don’t lose sight of your major goals during the rest of the home building process. You’ll make hundreds of decisions throughout, and having two to three major goals can make those decisions easier.

Next, start to dream. Building your own home is exciting! At the very beginning of the process, get creative and allow yourself to brainstorm as many ideas as you can. Think about:

  • Total size
  • Stories
  • Floor plan
  • Number of rooms
  • Types of rooms, like home offices, dining rooms, or workshops
  • Overall style 
  • Exterior features, like decks and garages 
  • View and orientation 
  • Special features, like fireplaces or basements 
  • Design goals, like eco-friendly or historic 
  • Layout, like open-concept or smaller intimate rooms
  • Accessibility needs
  • Technology upgrades, like a media center or home theatre 

As you think of ideas, write down each into one of three categories: 

  • Needs: This will contain the elements that your home must have, such as minimum size, amount of bedrooms, or other necessary features. When you can, rank these in order of importance. 
  • Wants: When building a home, you’ll have to winnow your ideas down based on location and budget. Right now, though, add those things you’d love to have in your home.  
  • Dreams: What elements would you add to your dream home? Note those down here. You may be able to add them or they may provide inspiration for similar features in the future. 

Finally, make one last list. Note down anything you absolutely do not want in your home. When you start working with professionals, this list could be just as helpful as your other ones. 

2. Scope out some potential areas  

After your initial brainstorming session, start looking at different areas you’re interested in living. Unless you already have a specific lot of land in mind, try to remain open during this period. 

Consider what type of area you want to live in: a dense urban city, a suburb, or a rural setting? Each of these will come with benefits and challenges when you build a house. Are you interested into moving into a historic district that will require you to comply with additional building requirements or an area with newer builds? 

Are there a lot of appropriately zoned and affordable lots in the area for sale or will you need to plan on spending more for the land? In dense areas, will you need to buy a lot with an existing home on it and handle demolition? Are utilities already set up, like water and electricity, or will you need to plan for these in your building costs? 

You may not decide on the exact area at this point—in fact, it may be better to have two or three options in mind. However, it’s important to have an idea ahead of time.  

3. Determine your time frame 

It usually takes at least six months to build a new house, though the process can be considerably longer if there is demolition, many custom upgrades, or unique building challenges. Our earlier post goes over your new home construction timeline in more detail.  

Some things that may affect your time frame include: 

  • Your current lease on a rental 
  • A new member of the family, such as a new baby or elderly family member moving in 
  • Upcoming change of job or school

Always plan for additional time before you need to move in, as weather or project changes can extend your timeline. Then, create a general time frame for when you’d like to move into your home. 

4. Figure out your financials and budget 

Once you have general ideas about your home, timeframe, and location, it’s time to look into the full financial side of building your own home. 

You may be able to take this on yourself, but most people will want to work with their bank to get pre-qualified for a construction loan. Your bank will take into account your income, current debts, and other factors to determine your loan amount. Get quotes from a few financial institutions, comparing interest rates to find the best one for you. 

Always add at least an additional 10% contingency to your overall budget, as material costs can vary and your project may change over time. Also know that you don’t (and probably shouldn’t) use the full amount of your quoted loan. Find a budget that will make it easy for you to keep up with payments, and also allow you to handle unexpected costs that come up when building a new home. 

For example, in addition to the lot and the cost of the home itself, you’ll likely also need to pay for landscaping, window coverings, furniture to fit your new space, and more. 

5. Go back to your goals 

If you started with the dream of your new home, now it’s time to make it a bit more realistic. 

If your heart is set on a higher-priced community, reconsider your home’s must-haves. Know that you want a larger home with upgraded features? Think about focusing your efforts on an area with abundant land. You’ll also need to ensure that the house you want to build fits the style and value of the homes around it.  

As always, keep your major goals in mind to help with this decision-making process. Develop a more focused idea of your new home build goals before moving to the next step. 

6. Bring in the professionals 

Building a home is exciting and fun, but it’s also a lot of work. You’ll need the help of professionals to ensure your home is built safely and that the process is as smooth as possible. 

We recommend starting with a reputable, local home construction company. When searching for homebuilders, always look for a company that does great, high-quality work at fair rates. Ask to see their previous builds or to talk with past clients. You’ll be working closely with them for a long time, so it pays to be thorough in the beginning. 

All of the prep you did to start your new home construction comes to fruition in this step. Talk to your homebuilder about all of your needs and wants. Discuss the areas you were looking at, as well as budget and timeframe. They’ll have the experience to guide you through these decisions, ensuring you get the most value out of the new home process and pointing out any potential issues from the start. 

Many builders will also have pre-designed templates that can be great starting points for your new home build. They know these styles work in your area and make the best use of space. You can often make customizations to turn these floor plans into your dream home. By working from these, you’ll usually benefit from faster timelines and more affordable costs. 

If you want a fully custom home, you can also bring in an architect to design your home from start to finish. Together with your homebuilder and realtor, they’ll work closely with you to first find the lot you want and then design a home that fits the area. 

Build a house in southern Louisiana 

At MLM Incorporated, we’ve helped homeowners in southern Louisiana build their dream homes since 2006. We ensure the homebuilding process is deeply satisfying and enjoyable for our clients, and we act as a guide through all stages. 

Whether you’re planning a new build or an extensive historic renovation, we are your complete building specialists and will work tirelessly to bring your dream to life.

Ready to get started? Set up a consultation with our team.