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Building Your Dream Home from Scratch

So you’re at that point that you’re seriously considering building your custom or semi-custom "dream home".  You've even thought of where you’d like to build and possibly have purchased some land or a lot to build on, only to find out that there are many obstacles and considerations to be sorted out before you can stick a shovel in the ground. 

With growth comes regulations and the new home construction process is now more complex and has more risks, on both sides of the deal, than ever before. To be clear we’re not talking about tract home builders.  Your custom home with a custom builder on a special site will look much different and of course, feel different, because it’s all about you…and the final price will reflect that.

The object here is to get you comfortable with the processes of constructing a new custom home on a raw land, which is a thoughtful and complex process; and ultimately a bunch of fun!

In a nutshell, what are the Home Buyers Expectations...

First Consultation - schedule our Discovery Meeting

Q: How easy is it to build a custom home on your lot in the 6 County Denver areas? What’s a good ball park figure for the cost of land…of the structure?

Lot Selection – Yours or TBD?

Q: Where can I build a custom home?

Here are 15 Things to Look for When Choosing a Lot for a New Home

Choosing a lot for a custom home is a crucial piece of the home-any factors affect the design and feature of the home, and can also impact your quality of life in the home. We can help you identify potential problems as well as advantages associated with a particular property.

Here are things to look for when choosing a lot:

1. The Slope of the Lot

Slope affects whether water drains off the property sufficiently, which is ideal, or if it collects, which likely will cause problems with footings and foundations, walkways and driveways, wells and septic tanks, and landscaping. Standing water also attracts insects. Choose a lot that has natural drainage of rain and runoff from neighboring properties.  The slope can affect the home’s design, determining if slab construction is possible or if the lot is best suited for a walkout basement.

2. The Shape of the Lot

Two lots with the same square footage may not both be buildable despite having the same area. A long narrow lot will not be as usable as one that is square. The shape of the lot impacts where the home is situated and the size of front, side and rear yards. Homes on cul-de-sacs (pie-shaped lots) may have setback requirements (the distance the home is from the street) that allow for side yards but also mandate longer driveways.

3. The Direction the Front of the House will Face

North-facing homes will have snow on the driveway long after it falls, because the house will block the sun. South-facing homes have greater opportunity for passive solar, which can melt the snow and make your home warmer all year long. Here in the Denver Metro Area, 300 days of sunshine a year can lower your heating costs when your house is properly situated. Of course, you have to address how that sunshine will increase your air conditioning costs in summer, as well. The direction your house faces will also impact the benefits of adding solar panels.

4. Zoning, Building, and Development Plans for the Area and Surrounding Lots

It is not always evident when looking at an undeveloped area what it will be like once homes, businesses and traffic move in. Consider what is around the lot currently and what potentially will be there. How busy is the street likely to be in a few years? Do you know what will be built around you that might impact your view, your privacy or your solitude? What are the zoning restrictions for setbacks, how high you can build, and what pets you can have? Are all the lots around you zoned for residential, or is there a potential for businesses to be closer than you’d like?

5. The Proximity to Streetlights, Electrical Towers, and Other Objects that Might Impede Your View

Be sure to consider the view from second and third stories, if applicable, as well as from ground level.

6. The Proximity to Schools, Shopping, Work, and Recreation

Personal preference typically dictates how close you want to be to amenities, work or school, or even friends and family. Does the location of the lot meet your needs?  Proximity to schools, shopping, work and recreation can be a factor for resale. Being too close in means more noise and traffic.  Being too far out means less convenience.

7. Traffic Patterns Around and Near the Lot

Will your lot border a busy street? What are the traffic patterns? Is the small street that exists now going to grow to a four-lane thoroughfare? Busy streets are noisy and tend to be less attractive to home buyers.

8. Neighborhood Characteristics

Make sure the home you have in mind is in line with the value of the other homes in the neighborhood and that you are not overbuilding. (You don’t want to have the most expensive home in the area.) Check to see if the homes in surrounding areas are well kept or run down. Are the lawns well maintained? Is the neighborhood desirable?

9. Amenities Available

Does the lot have easy access to; Underground utilities, municipally supplied water, Sewer and gas, Cable TV and high speed internet

10. Taxes

Find out what typical property taxes are in the area on homes that are already constructed.

11. View

Does the lot have a view that you will be able to take advantage of with your building design?

12. Easements

Easements grant rights to others to access your property for specific purposes. Some, such as utility easements, are common. Be sure you know what, if any, easements will impact how your property can be used and who can legally access it.

13. Trees

Trees can be an asset, but there are costs associated with them. Trees within the building footprint will have to be removed, which adds to the construction cost. Trees can also block views, increase fire risk, and require ongoing maintenance.

14. Soil Type

Some soils are subject to expansion and movement, which can compromise the structural integrity of your home. Have the soil tested by a knowledgeable soils engineer.

15. Restrictions

In addition to zoning regulations, some areas have restrictive covenants that determine what your home can look like and what activities can take place on your property. Local building codes and restrictions can also impact the type of home you build.

Financing Options on New Home Construction – Yes, you’ll probably have to do it. Many small batch builders won’t or are unable to.  I can refer you to banks specializing in construction lending. 

Q: Can you use my lot as a down payment?  What’s a "one-time" closing from the lender? 

Find a Builder - Choosing a builder for building on your lot depends on where and what you want to build.

Q: Can the builder supply Preliminary Design & Proposals, plus Final Plans & Pricing Contract & Construction Plans Construction with reasonable Timelines? Insured?   Any Homes in progress?   How many floor plans does he have? Is he willing to modify a plan? 

The Legal Stuff – If everything feels like a "go", what does the contract(s) look like? 

Q: Should we get an attorney to review?  How much is the builder willing to alter/change his contact?

So, let's get started. Contact me to schedule a meeting…our Discovery Meeting. Let’s see we can work together to accomplish your goal of building that dream home sooner than later!