Let's be completely honest for a minute. Building a house on your own land is hard work. It takes a lot of time and effort for you as the owner, and not everyone is ready for that. How committed are you to your dream?
Starting the process
There's lots of initial discussion early in the process to get to the first design concept of a home. Once the house designer or builder has revealed their preliminary design, people generally feel one of three ways about it.
- You love it! No changes required, so let's start building.
- You hate it. There are so many things you didn't think about until you saw the plans that there's no way to salvage it. Time to start from scratch.
- You like it, but it needs some adjustments to get it just right.
We don't see those first two scenarios very often, although they do sometimes happen. But most people fall into the third scenario, and that's when the work really starts.
Fine tuning the details
It's hard (sometimes grueling) work to decide what to leave in, what to take out, and whether to increase your budget. Sometimes you and your spouse won't agree on priority order. How willing are you to roll up your sleeves and figure it out? How willing are you to allow your builder to peek inside your mind to help you figure it out? (After all, he's the expert, or you wouldn't have hired him.) This is where you find out how committed you are to making your dream a reality.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants more than they can afford. I've built houses that cost $100,000 and houses that cost $1 million. The one element they ALL have in common is they started the process with more on their wish list than they could afford. Every single one.
However, they ended up in two distinct groups: houses that got built and houses that didn't. The success stories come from families who did the hard work of prioritizing, compromising, and thinking creatively to achieve their dream. The houses that never got built are because the would-be homeowners never stepped up and made the tough decisions to bridge the gap between dream and reality.
There's a third group, too, which I hate to even mention. That's the group that shopped for builders until finding one desperate or dishonest enough to tell them what they wanted to hear and convince them they COULD afford it all. Of course, then got halfway through the build and were so far over budget they ended up having to sell the house before they ever got to live in it.
Keys to success
If you're committed to your dream and want to be part of that first group, here's what you need to do. First, view your builder as a partner (not a customer/supplier relationship) in creating a house plan and list of features that satisfies your dream but still fits within your budget. Your builder will propose a conceptual house plan and list of features. You'll then study those, ask questions, and talk openly and honestly about your true needs and wants.
Your builder will take that information and revise both the plans and details, along with the dollar investment it will take to build it, as many times as it takes to get to the ideal combination. The more transparent you are about your true needs and wants and the more forthcoming you are about your TRUE budget, the faster you'll get there. And the happier you'll be with the finished product, too.
This back-and-forth process can take a few weeks. It comes with some frustration, some tough conversations with your spouse and your builder, and some emotional highs and lows, but ultimately it's worth it. If you really want to make it happen, you'll stick with it.