Rules for Building a House


Building your own custom home is an enormous undertaking. It requires tremendous resources, organization, and focus. It's a project that should only be considered by those with an overwhelming passion for the project.

Know the Rules

  • Think carefully about why you want to build your own home. Are there legitimate reasons why an existing house is out of the question for you? When do you need to move in to your new home? Can you wait as much as a year to do so? Do you have the necessary understanding or experience to build a home or oversee its construction?

Determine Financing

  • Financing an unbuilt home can be complex. You will be asking a financial institution to loan you money without a collateral asset. Research this topic at length with a focus on specific local regulations regarding loans.

Research Your Home Site

  • It's simple to buy land. It's much harder to buy suitable land. Determine if land in the area is stable and determine whether it is in a flood plan or subject to any annual problems. Annual issues could include anything from migrating geese to locusts to trespassing hunters, or tourists. Talk to people who live in the area to find out the truth about living there.

Building Codes

  • If you are building your custom home because you plan to include special features, make sure those features are allowed by local building codes. For instance, in Sante Fe, New Mexico, water restrictions are so tight that you would not be able to have a lush garden or an uncovered swimming pool. Other areas have restrictions based on wildlife preservation, proximity to schools or hospitals, or fire safety requirements. If a building is built against codes many communities have the right to tear down your structure.

Murphy's Law

  • Anyone who has ever remodeled a home can tell you that something inevitably goes wrong. Building a new home involves dozens of projects and contractors. It also involves Mother Nature. A home's construction can be delayed for weeks or months by bad weather. Mother Nature can also destroy half-built homes that have none of the protections of a completed house. Your budget and timeline should be extremely conservative. Leave room for problems. Even the best planner cannot control the weather.

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