Building a Custom Home? Here are 6 Common Mistakes and Pitfalls to Avoid
Designing and building a custom home to fit your family’s needs and aesthetic goals can be an exciting journey. Whether it’s building a weekend-getaway cottage or creating your family’s forever home, the process comes with many decisions, as well as plenty of opportunity for mistakes.
However, knowing all of your options and what red flags to be aware of of is a good way to set up your home project for success. From design conception and blueprint creation to site planning and breaking ground, building a custom house takes time. But getting to know more about the process will alleviate unexpected setbacks or design regrets from taking place.
You probably have a semblance of an idea for what design touches and finishes you prefer, as well as the layout that will work best for your family. It is imperative to clearly communicate your wishes and expectations to your contractor before working out any contracts, to ensure all parties are on the same page.
When selecting your contractor, it’s important to note that some contractors only design, some only build, and some will work with you on the entire scope of your home build from the initial concept, to design, to final construction. If you’re working with a contractor who only does the build, they will require the construction plans from the home designer before they can price your project and get the proper permits.
Additional read: The six red flags to avoid when selecting a contractor
Keep these common mistakes in mind, too, as you embark on this custom home endeavour to avoid any potential headaches—or worse—wasted time and money.
Having an unclear contract—or no contract at all
Contracts can be difficult documents to digest, but with a project as big as building a custom home, it is necessary to examine every word of every line in the contract. If it seems vague—or if your contractor assures you there’s no need for a contract—this is a bad sign.
After all, a handshake or handwritten invoice won’t provide you any insurance if something goes wrong. Deliverable dates and a breakdown of what is included, including each finish described in detail, are the baseline necessities in a contract. There should also be a written plan for what will happen if there’s an unforeseen issue or setback.
Thinking only about the foreseeable future
If this is your forever home or your family’s vacation home for kids and grandkids to come, you want to take into account not only the next several years but also the next several decades. Even if you end up moving, future homebuyers will appreciate your thoughtfulness for the future.
Will you be living here through your senior years? Keep in mind the mobility and access to important areas of the house. An elevated porch or second-floor master bedroom may cause issues later in life. Do you plan on having more children? Make sure you have enough bedrooms, storage, and bathrooms to spare.
Cutting corners to save a few bucks
“You get what you pay for” has never been truer than when building a custom home. While energy-efficient features and quality finishes may cost more upfront, they can save you a fortune in the future. A few places you never want to pinch pennies include plumbing, electric wiring, and insulation.
Picking higher quality aesthetic finishes is always smart, too. Choosing a solid wood cabinet over veneer doors is often a more long-lasting choice. While veneer can look fine, it’s thin and can blister, delaminate, or peel back at the edges. Solid wood is practical, durable, and easy to repair. Opting for inexpensive, mass produced plumbing fixtures that may be cheaper now, but in the long-term may leak. Higher-quality finishes fixtures are more reliable and can carry a better guarantee.
Creating an unrealistic timeline
Timelines can be tricky to create because there’s no telling what kind of unanticipated setbacks might arrive. For example, spring might be rainier than usual, making some construction impossible to move forward with.
There can also be setbacks with workers or permits that cause delays. It is smart to build a timeline with as much flexibility and realistic expectations as possible. If things come in ahead of schedule, it’ll be a nice perk and pleasant surprise.
Additional read: General timelines in a custom home build
Placing rooms in the wrong areas
There’s nothing worse than a laundry room in the basement with all the kids’ rooms upstairs. It’s also smart to put bedrooms out of the way of the majority of traffic and noise. A half bathroom near the kitchen or family room for guests to access with ease is often a good idea, too.
Being mindful when it comes to room placement will allow for the best possible living space for the whole family. Rooms should be convenient and allow for ease of use for everyone.
Ignoring your gut instincts or original ideas
When it comes to building your custom home, your home builder will provide guidance on any questions you may encounter. However, if you are attached to a vision for your home that makes sense for the function of the space, stick to your guns to bring that idea to life.
If your contractor doesn’t have a hand in the design and is solely constructing the project, be sure to communicate your expectations for the final product that you’ve come to with your designer. If you have an instinct about a certain way your home’s details should look, follow through with that vision.
Contact Gilbert + Burke to discuss your custom home build
Our team of homebuilder professionals strives to exceed the expectations of our clients, and we bring their unique visions to life on budget and on time. We are committed to setting the standard of excellence in our industry in all aspects of your project.
If your family is interested in building a custom home or remodelling, get in touch with us to discuss your future home today.