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Preparing to Design Your Home
Paragon C&D Builders / Vallone Real Estate
Wednesday, January 18, 2012 • Posted January 19, 2012 2:36 PM

So, you want to start preparing for the design of your home. Where do you start? Ask yourself these questions: Will I build on my current land or need a different parcel? When will I want to start and complete my home? What size of home and garage do I want? What can I afford? What style of home and exterior materials do I want? What interior designs do I want? What am I not thinking about for the design portion? How do I find a builder? These are just a few questions to help you start.

Do you have your own land or do you need to find land? If you have your own land or are buying land, finding a level spot will help cut the cost of the foundation. A builder has tools to help you determine slopeage. Looking to build and get the best views, sunsets, winds, and more? Again, this is what a general contractor/homebuilder can assist you with. A local realtor can help you find that ideal land.

When will you want to start and complete your home? The more plans and answers you have for building this home will help establish the timeline. Naturally, a smaller home of 1100 square feet can be completed quicker than a 7500 square foot home. If you are planning on building during seasons that might have weather conditions, allow for additional time. A builder/general contractor schedules all the trades (electrician, plumber, concrete, etc.) at the appropriate times and will try to keep a tight schedule to meet that completion date. If you want to be the general contractor, do you know at what stages to schedule the trades and watch what they are doing? This is not a recommended method. You might pay more for a general contractor to oversee your home, but it is their job to make sure they build to the best of their knowledge and skills. A good and honest general contractor will give you a warranty on their work and back it up.

What size of home and garage do you want? Are you going to build a smaller home or larger home from what you are living in now? Are you including a detached or attached garage? What about a guest house? For instance, if you want to see that river, you might need a loft to see over trees. Some subdivisions require a certain minimum for square footage or a side-load garage; check with their restrictions. If you want to build a guest house, you might want to cut the square footage down in your main house. You can build a separate guest house or something over the house or garage. What about other outbuildings? Storage, workshops, and pump houses for the well or swimming pool could be built to blend with your house.

What can you afford? Are you selling another home to build this one? The best thing to do here is to check with your local bank or a mortgage company to see what you can qualify for. A good estimate for a custom home per square footage to go by is $135-$175 (some builders could be higher or lower). Your tract builders are usually cheaper, but they don’t customize much, if any.

What style of home and what exterior material do you want? Are you looking to build a ranch-style home, colonial, or other style? Again, if you are in a subdivision, check their restrictions on materials. Some subdivisions require a certain percent of masonry products. Check out the internet, books, or a builder for house plans and ideas. Look at various stones, stucco, colors, and designs to find your preferences. Collect pictures of what you want.

What interior designs do you want? Start with your floor plan layout; how do you see your new home? Draw a plan on paper, use a computer program, get with a builder/architect, buy a magazine, cut out a bathroom or kitchen you like, or take a picture of a model and start a notebook of anything you like and might want to use in your design. Your builder can pull all your ideas together into this dream home. Get color, wall paper, carpet, and flooring samples at a local store. Look at them and change them around. Think about what kind of lights, ceiling fans, and plumbing fixtures that you would like in this home, too.

What are you not thinking about in the design portion? Do you want to build traditional, green, log home, ICF – Insulated Concrete Forms, or another type of home? What about solar, wind power, and rainwater collection systems? Do you need to make your home handicap accessible? Will you be selling in a few years and, if so, will this type of home sell? These are just a few things to think about.

How do you find a builder? Visit your local Chamber, look in the local paper, and ask around town. Interview the builder and get references and look at the builder’s work. Make sure the builder can give you accurate specifications on building your home, so you can all stay on the same page and you know what you are getting. Get at least 3 quotes to build.

For all your real estate and building needs or questions, call Debbie at 830-833-4249 or 713-818-6658, or send an email to

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