Building your first custom home can be both daunting and exciting as there are many decisions that must be made by you! If you cannot make the tough decisions, your builder will be forced to make the choices. This is not an ideal situation as the home may not turn out or live up to your expectations. Below is a list of 7 things you need to know and take into consideration before building your own home.


1. Building Codes and Land Permits

Before building your home, it is important to know and understand the local laws regulating the location and construction of residential properties. Codes and permits can impact your build, resulting in increased construction costs or undesirable neighborhood changes in the coming years. It’s best to meet with your builder, contractor, or project engineer before purchasing a property to understand any codes and permits that are in place for that location. If you are working solo or do not have a builder yet, many codes can be found online or your city/town should have a local building codes department if you can’t find what you’re looking for.

Papers reading "Approved Building Permit"

2. Pick a Trusted Builder

There are many builders out there, however they all differ from one another. It is important to do your research to find the right home builder. You will want to look into reviews on the company, asking questions such as: Are they reputable? Do they have my best interest? Do they have past builds I can look and compare? Do they actively promote their work online? You can also look for recommendations from family and friends to better understand a builder’s quality of work. If possible, you can contact previous client’s or the company’s list of references to ensure they are a right fit for the job.

A home builder/contractor (a man) on stairs in a home's framing stage.

It is best to go with a local builder as they can aid in keeping costs down because they know the regional building codes, restrictions and permits!


3. Estimate Costs and Know your Budget

Before you make the decision to build a home, you want to look at the numbers to determine if you can afford to build your custom home. Once that’s established, it is crucial to set a budget and estimate building costs. You want to work with your builder/contractor to create a realistic budget that meets your expectations.

Canadian currency (three loonies, a toonie, a $5, $10, $20 and $50 bill), next to a calculator.

Your budget should also include any contingency costs. A contingency cost or budget is money set aside to cover any unexpected costs during the construction process. It’s best to add at least 25 percent to your budget to cover contingency costs.


4. Think Green

As the global climate crisis rises, you can do your part in your home build by opting to incorporate sustainable elements. This includes energy efficient designs, water-saving technologies or utilizing recycled materials to help reduce your carbon footprint. For example, you can choose to install solar panels or a greywater gardening system. You can even let your home builder or architect design the home to allow for maximum sunlight during the day.

The ENERGY Star logo (blue background with white writing).

In addition to sustainable designs and technologies, you can opt for ENERGY STAR appliances. The ENERGY STAR logo is found on appliances that are certified as energy efficient. Click here to learn more about ENERGY STAR in Canada and its benefits/rewards.


5. Build and Design for Resale

Unexpected factors can arise, like job relocation, that will inevitably make you sell your home. Before building you should consult with a local real estate agent to understand the housing marketing in the area. Talking about the home’s potential resale value will aid in avoiding unnecessary upgrades that may overprice your home. You might call this build your forever home, but design it will functionality, incorporating elements YOU want, but ensure you are also designing it for the next buyer.

A white house roof with a chimney, on top the words FOR SALE.

6. Finding the Right Architect 

Many individuals might not consider choosing an architect when they begin thinking about building their home. Not only do architects design the property and structural blueprints, they also observe the work that is going on to ensure the quality of the structure meets certain regulations and expectations. More times than not home builders have an inhouse architect, but it is important to find the ones that suite and fit your style and design preferences.

Architectural drawings/blueprints.

7. Using an Interior Designer

An interior designer aids with the style and design elements of the home from the color of the kitchen cabinets to the types of flooring you choose. Working with an interior designer can aid in bringing your vision to life, especially if you do not have a creative eye. Like architects, home builder’s offer their in-house designer. But always remember to find and choose one that fits all your style needs.

A living space with the fireplace in the center with a tv. There are two couches: a blue sectional on the left and a grey couch on the left.

A living space from our Crestview home build. Check out the full home portfolio here.