What to Know When Building a Home
Building a custom home is one of the most memorable and exciting experiences a family can go through. However, like any major project it requires research so that the experience can be enjoyable with as little stress as possible.

Important Questions  |  Building Process  |  Moving Tips

1. What is your budget?
2. How much house can you afford?
3. Where do you want to build?
4. How are the schools and other amenities in the area?
5. What type of house do you want to build and why?
6. Are there covenants or restrictions?
7. What building codes must be followed?
8. How long do you plan to live there?
9. Do you need any special accommodations?
10. How involved do you want to be?
11. What is your time frame?

These are only some of the questions you should be asking yourself as you begin the process of building a home. Doing enough research and answering some of the questions listed above will make the process as stress free as possible.

It is also helpful to understand the building process, so you are aware of each step and along the way. The pre-construction stage is especially important, as the decisions made here will affect the entire building process.

General Preparations
Before you can get financing you will need to be able to prove to the lending institution that you can successfully contract your own house. You will have to research the building and zoning laws in your area, set up accounts with suppliers, and contact a house plan provider.

Building lot/property
There are several factors which will influence your choice of lot/property. It has to be in a great neighborhood, close to where you work and where you want your children to go to school. Are there zoning restrictions, building set-backs, future development plans for the area? Be sure that you consider all of the related aspects of the property you are considering.

Home plans/Specifications
Where do you get plans and how do you determine specifications for your project? You will need to determine exactly what you need and want in your new home. Home building books and magazines are a great source of design ideas. You may also want to consider meeting with architects or designers at this stage.

Do you need the services of a structural engineer or geotechnical engineer?

Building Permit
You will need a building permit to construct your home.

Lien Waiver
Learn how to financially protect yourself and your project.

Contracts and Scheduling
Learn the projected time line for your project. Also become familiar with the common contracts and paperwork associated with building your home.

Once you have determined the above, qualifying for financing is the next step. When applying for financing, consider all the options in order to get the most economically efficient mortgage possible.

Phase 1
Temporary services, surveying, layout, excavation, footings/foundation, foundation options, sub-rough plumbing and HVAC, window wells/damp proofing/vapor barriers, slab, water and sewer laterals, backfill and rough grade.

Phase 2
Framing, windows and exterior doors, rough plumbing, HVAC & gas lines, rough electrical, 4-way inspection.

Phase 3
Wall insulation, drywall, finish carpentry, paint, attic and crawlspace insulation, vinyl flooring, tile and marble, hardwood, laminate flooring.

Phase 4
Roofing, final grade & exterior concrete preparation, soffit and fascia, electrical and gas laterals, house wrap, masonry, stucco, wood siding, interlocking siding, exterior concrete, exterior paint, foundation plaster.

Phase 5
Shower surrounds/wall tile, cabinets and countertops, finish plumbing/HVAC/electrical, carpentry pick-up and paint touch-up, hardware installation & first cleaning, final inspection, punch list, final clean & move-in.

Once the final touches are complete, you will have to begin the process of moving in to your new home. Careful planning will help to make the process as painless as possible for you and your family. Follow the simple eight week guide below to reduce the stress involved in moving.

Eight Weeks Before Your Move:
• Clean out the attic, basement, storage shed, and similar areas of additional clutter.
• Use up all perishable items, such as frozen foods, and non-movable items, such as bleach and aerosol cleaners.
• Develop an inventory list of personal possessions and belongings.
• Inquire as to pricing costs from at least three moving companies.
• Create a file to keep all moving documentation and items such as receipts, pay slips, estimates, and all other moving costs in one place.
• Make arrangements with your children's new and former schools or day care centers.

Seven Weeks Before:
• Prepare a list of medical and dental records detailing shots and prescriptions. Contact current doctors for referrals to health care providers in your new area.
• Call clubs and any organizations for which you have membership agreements to find out how to end, sell, or transfer obligations to your new area.
• Check your homeowner's insurance coverage to determine the degree to which your move is covered. Also inquire as to what changes to expect in your policy and arrange for insurance on your new home.

Six Weeks Before:
• Evaluate possessions list for possible donations. A garage sale is also a good idea to reduce the amount of old or unnecessary items to be moved. If you decide to donate items, be sure to keep track of receipts for tax deductions.
• Prepare a list of items that are irreplaceable and valuable in order to ship them by certified mail or be prepared to carry those items yourself.
• Make a list of friends, business contacts, and relatives to notify of your move.
• Begin moving property to an off-site storage facility, if necessary.
• Clean out closets and other small areas.
• Decide which moving company to hire for your move. Make arrangements with the mover and inquire about insurance.

Five Weeks Before:
• Have a garage sale or take donations to local charities.
• Collect boxes and moving supplies.
• Make arrangements for an exact date for the moving van, truck, or trailer.
• Complete a change-of-address form. The following is a sample list of contacts to notify of your new address:
Income Tax / Social Security
Doctors / Dentists
Charge Cards
Phone service
Internet service
Insurance Broker / CPA / Lawyer
Post Office

Four Weeks Before:
• Begin packing.
• Contact utility companies to make them aware that you are moving.
• Get items repaired or cleaned as necessary to have them ready for the move.
• Get all documentation (birth certificates, financial info, licensing, registration, school records, deeds, stocks) in order.
• Inquire as to refunds on unused homeowner's insurance, prepaid cable TV, security deposits.
• Inform insurance carriers (homeowner's, medical, life, and auto) of move date.

Three Weeks Before:
• If needed, prepare for childcare on the day of moving.
• Confirm travel plans with all relevant parties.
• Contact banks to close accounts and open in your new area.
• Return library books and rented videos, and pick up any dry cleaning or other items sent out for cleaning or repair.
• Properly dispose of unwanted items, as well as any flammables, corrosives, or poisons.
• If needed, take your automobile in to be serviced.

Two Weeks Before:
• Confirm special transportation for children, animals, and plants.
• Contact the moving company to review moving arrangements.
• If changing banks, clear out accounts and get travelers' checks for on-the-road expenses.

One Week Before:
• Get an "essentials box" ready, and make sure all other items are boxed up and ready for transport. Coordinate last-to-load items and pack suitcases and valuables separately.
• Empty gasoline from the lawnmower and grills, and kerosene from any heaters.
• Empty the refrigerator. Clean and defrost it at least 24 hours before the moving day.
• Write or print out detailed driving directions and have itinerary with emergency numbers for your moving company.
• Settle all bills that are still outstanding.
• Contact newspaper company to cancel the subscription.
• Go to the pharmacy to fill any prescriptions and buy enough medication to last at least two weeks. Have prescriptions forwarded to new location.
• Contact moving company for any updates.