How to get started building a custom home

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Today’s post is from Shea Whitmire, President of Whitmire Homes, a Georgia custom home builder. The Whitmire family has been building custom homes for more than 30 years and has a proven track record of helping people find a way to make their dream home a reality.


When it comes time for you and your family to make a large purchase like a custom home, much conversation is bound to occur.

Where do you start?

Due diligence is a must to get it done right, the first time. One of the biggest purchases made by most Americans is that of a new home. Getting exactly what you want is of great importance, not only because of the cost, but due to the fact that you and your family will spend a vast amount of time living in the home.

Many people are satisfied with simply buying something “on the market” and trying to make it fit their family’s lifestyle. What is often overlooked is the chance to get exactly what you want in a home. How, you ask? Custom built homes are not “for the wealthy” or a thing that is out of reach; custom home builders are available to help you build the home of your dreams, regardless of size or budget.

So what happens when you know nothing about building a home? What happens if you have a vision, but don’t know how to translate that onto paper or put it into action?

Custom home builders are capable of answering all of your questions and walking with you throughout the entire process to ensure your dreams are realized. There are a number of things to consider when you decide to build a home, all of which deserve your time and attention. Many of the leading builders in the marketplace can assist with architecture, design, build, engineering, landscaping, site preparation, permitting and more. Finding this type of company to work with is key to making the project run smoothly, on time and according to budget.

Budget accordingly
Many people simply want to know what it cost to build a home, per square foot. What is often overlooked is the need to buy a piece of land, prepare the site for building, run utilities to the home site and pay for appropriate permits. Not all parcels of land are immediately suitable for building, so you must budget for extra expenses associated with prepping the land.

When considering the size of your home, build it to suit your family’s needs both today and in the future. If you’re going to put in the effort of building to suit your wants and needs, make sure you plan for family growth (more children, in-laws moving in, etc). There is nothing worse than building a home and outgrowing it in a few years.

There are additional expenses that come with owning a home: insurance, property taxes, maintenance, upkeep, repairs and renovations. Knowing what you’re getting yourself in to, financially, is a key to getting started. Be sure to do your homework on how much these expenses will cost to make sure you can afford it all. Once you’re comfortable with the budget you can plan for the construction of the home itself.

Location, Location, Location
While many people that build a home plan to live there for some time, they forget to take into account the location of the home and the impact it will have on their daily life. Are there restaurants, hospitals, shopping malls, retail establishments, mass transportation, outdoor recreation and other amenities close by? Investigate the local school systems to find out which school districts are best. When / if you have children, you’ll want to present them with the best opportunity to succeed in school. Furthermore, strong school districts can be a huge plus at time of resell.

Make sure that your home, regardless of your needs, fits with the surroundings. There is nothing worse than having a home completely out of place in a given location. While your home should boast a unique design to incorporate your personal taste, it’s also important to make it fit well into the surroundings. Your home should be a beacon that welcomes friends, family and neighbors. Anyone passing by your home will notice that it is reflective of who you are. First impressions are everything, so why not put your best foot forward in a way that is inviting and welcoming, but also a nice touch on the neighborhood.

Work with Professionals
There are plenty of “builders” and “contractors” out there to help you build your dream home. How do you choose between them? How do you know what you’re getting yourself in to? Almost every state requires that builders and contractors obtain a license to be involved in the building industry. Many states have tools in place to help you verify that these licenses are up to date and accurate.

When you’re making a major investment like building a home, you want all of your ducks to be in a row so that you have nothing to worry about. Reputation in this line of work is key to survival. Ask for references from your builder, ask to visit homes they’ve built, talk to homeowners the builder has worked for and get everything you are on put into writing.

At the end of the day, building a home is not a difficult task when done properly. A few parting words to summarize the process and help you get started:

  • Budget accordingly
  • Plan for the future
  • Ask for references
  • Get everything in writing
  • Manage expectations with the builder
  • Find the right area to build


Thanks, Shea!



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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.