Tips on building your first home

You’ve thought about it and now you’re doing it, you’re building your own home.  It is an exciting decision to make.  Being able to choose, plan and live in a dream for many, but now you are making that vision come true.

Are you stepping down this path for the first time? Like anything, the process can be tricky and there are many important details to consider as you get started.

Style of your new home

Have you decided on a style of home yet?  If you need inspiration, go to open houses or remember what you like about the design of you friends’ and neighbours’ homes. Make notes.  If there is an interesting detail or feature, write it down so that it doesn’t get forgotten during the excitement of building.

Where you will build is very important too.  If you already own the land you plan to build on, your opinions may be more open than if you are building in an established subdivision.  Many subdivision developers have restrictions called “covenants” which may force you to build a house of a certain size or style.  They may limit where you can choose to build your home, even what colour it is when finished.  These covenants are in place to assure that all the homes in the area are worth about the same and this will protect the value of your investment in later years.  Remember that this is an investment and even if this is your dream home, there may come a day that you will have to sell it.  Protecting help ensure its value in later years.

What to consider

There are a lot of other things to consider about the location of your new home.  Distance to shopping, schools and work have to be thought about.

Finding the right contractor is your next step.  A new home is likely your biggest investment.  Make sure you don’t rush into it.  It’s always a good idea to get at least three bids and remember the old adage, “If it is too good to be true, it probably is”.

To ensure that both you and your builder are satisfied with the work, make sure the details are spelled out in a written contract.  The time you spend at this stage will avoid any confusion later on.

With the internet and groups like your provincial Homebuilders Associations, reams of information is available to help your home. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation also offers useful information including valuable question and answer sheets.  Their website address is http://www.cmhc.ca.

Finding a good contractor

To find a good contractor, ask around.  Ask family, friends and associates about who has a reputation for doing good work.  Ask your contractor to supply the names of satisfied clients.  If he can’t, look to another contractor.

Not offering a warranty on their services,  poor workmanship and extra costs are all pitfalls on the path to feeling good about building you new home.  Remember not every contractor plays by the rules.  It is best, of course, to avoid these people.

The contractor will also be handling the scheduling of other trades such as electricians, insulation and drywall installers and any other specialists that may be required to complete the construction of your home.

Beyond choosing a good contractor, you will also need lawyer and a banker to handle legal matters and financing.  Finally, remember that many home builders are more concerned about structural integrity and the attractiveness of your home from the outside.  Remember that the interior should also be designed for practical concerns like – will all that furniture you already have fit? So if it’s not already clear, researching and planning before the first nail goes in is the key to making your new home a great castle to be enjoyed for years to come.

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