Lily Dittschlag & Dennis Dittschlag
TOP 10 REASONS FOR BUILDING A CUSTOM HOME
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
We have come a long way since Henry Ford said “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.”
Customization is now an expected feature in many products, and it gets far more advanced than picking your favorite pizza toppings. You will be hard pressed to find a more customizable product than a house. There are many good reasons for building a custom home, so let’s get stuck right in to exploring this topic…
The ultimate reason for building a custom home is simple:
You are the customer and you get to pick what you want!
Beyond this simple truth are many other aspects:
Stop compromising too much and prioritize your needs!
Buying a home always comes with compromises, most of them driven by budget, time, availability, technology, taste or whatever has been done before you. Building a custom home means you can get things that are important to you while skipping features irrelevant to your needs or lifestyle. If you over-compromise, you will find yourself unhappy in the long-haul. Getting your priorities taken care of first, sets you up for higher satisfaction in future.
Control the process!
When you’re involved from the project outset, you get to have more say along the way. This will give you confidence that things are done right, and give you the best possible result. For example, a walk through with the builder just after interior walls are framed, still allows you to make last minute layout changes for minimal cost instead of noticing later that your walk-in closet is too small. You still get to count on people that are experts in their field and whose advice you can rely on (and resist the power-trip of telling the trades how to do things every day), but the point is that you get to influence the final result a lot better.
Future-proof your home!
You have plans for your life, like family expansion, retirement and doing away with stairs, or working from home permanently. The custom home process lets you address those plans to be ready for what’s to come. One thing we’re planning for is the ability to add renewable energy features on top of the house at a later time. In our contract with the builder we have specified to include respective infrastructure all the way up to the top of the house.
Floor planning and creating flow!
Most people will gravitate towards an open, airy, light-flooded main living space and flexible, multi-purpose areas for the family. It may not look like much seeing some black lines and boxes on a white background in the beginning. But the process of working with the builder, designer and architect on the actual layout is probably one of the first major steps when the “custom” concept really becomes tangible. Spending enough time here to review, debate and edit will go a long way. Our main tip is to envision yourself in the space and how you would move between areas and rooms. Make sure you have all main ideas covered that can influence the building’s structure first. Some things we edited were the placement and sizes of windows or the way a door opens.
Location, location, location!
We have all heard this classic real estate mantra and it does ring true when it comes to the value of a property. However, what you value most will also depend on what plans you have, both for your home build and your personal lifestyle. Whether you buy your own lot or pick from a certain inventory of properties that your builder may have already acquired in your desired neighborhood, it is your decision which location you like best. On top of that you get to chose which lot works best for your project (e.g. street frontage, neighboring buildings, elevation).
Who do you want to work with?
When selecting your project partners, you will want to find someone who you can trust. Look for someone that’s already active in your desired area as they will have local contractors standing ready. Research their reputation by talking to people like your real estate agent, checking for online reviews, official registrations and complaints. Once you have narrowed down your search, ask for references and check out previous builds to get a better impression and see some actual evidence. You may end up working with multiple partners, like an architect and a builder separately, or even project manage individual contracting pieces yourself. While some partners are more service providers like an architect, other partners have higher stakes in the process. Your builder or main contractors have a higher financial stake in the process and their reputation hinges further on your satisfaction. Focus on these main partners the most during your search.
Enjoy lower maintenance and operating cost!
A new home is less prone to needing any repair or replacements that would be associated with an older home. There are still efforts for regular upkeep, of course, but they stand in no comparison to the never-ending to-do list of older homes. And one major advantage in the first years is that the house itself comes with a warranty from the builder (ideally a Tarion warranty) and many appliances and fixtures will be under manufacturers’ warranty.
When it comes to operating cost, newer homes are more efficient than older homes. This is based on stricter building codes and regulations as time goes on, and with the development of building technology and materials. The same goes for some of the more visible features, like your appliances or LED lights. What you end up with is a comparatively lower consumption of electricity and gas and consequently lower energy bills.
These days you can take this even further of course and really try to put a “green” aspect to your home. We are making sustainability an absolute priority for our new home and will be sharing some of those details in later posts, so please stay tuned…
Make your personality come through in the finishes!
It is by far the most exciting aspect of the new home process, selecting the finishes. Your personality, style and design plan are most prominent in the things people can touch and see. At the same time, you want to think about the practicality and cleanability of fixtures and surfaces, especially in an environment with kids. The options here are endless and can seem overwhelming at times. But it’s probably the one area you have spent the most time dreaming about. Two hints from our side when making your choices: Think about the cohesiveness of the spaces and try not getting carried away and breaking the bank (…too much)! For inspiration, there are always the usual sources like Pinterest, Instagram or Houzz.com. Or, if you are so inclined, there are professional decorators and interior designers that can help you out to create your perfect space.
Smarten up your home!
Smart home technology is a fast-growing market. With a brand-new custom home, your advantage is in planning out a smart home concept from the beginning rather than retrofitting an older home or piecing different features together later. Your builder may already have standard solutions or previous experience that you can use as a starting point in your own plan. With upcoming technologies like Wi-Fi 6 or 5G, new smart home and IoT applications are set to appear constantly. A tech-savvy homeowner can really explore into full home automation (inside and outside), building security and monitoring, or robots and smart appliances. Check out this blog for a deeper look into this topic (https://blog.smarthome.com/news/where-is-smart-tech-going-as-we-approach-2020/)
We all know the world will continue to be much more connected, so why not integrate into your new home planning too?
Let's wrap it up!
If the above reasons get you excited and get your wheels turning, we are totally with you. This is what we are experiencing too. We feel it will set us up well for our family future, and we believe building a custom home is a dream we share with many, many other people.
Be aware that building a custom home also comes with added responsibility of defining your vision, elaborating your requirements and communicating them effectively throughout the process. Such an adventure may not appeal to everyone. And that’s fine. Everyone is different.
There are other options: Buying a house off the market and making it your own with upgrades and renovations, buying a house in pre-construction stage and just selecting the final finishes (typically seen in larger new developments / subdivisions) or even buying a “spec” home that a custom home builder decided to finish on speculation of having it as a show home and selling it after it has been completed for a more unique feel.
For our personal situation, the vision and some of our requirements are unique enough that we have not been able to get them accommodated otherwise. To get as close to our dream home as possible, going the custom home route is the best option. And at the end of the day, it will feel ever so much more special and like a true home. Being involved in the process of building a house from start to finish and putting your personal stamp on it will ultimately reflect in the pride of ownership.
The reasons we have listed out above are not intended to be in priority order. That’s also the beauty of a custom home: Every customer has a different requirements and priorities and it is up to you to define what those are. More on building your vision and requirements is to come…
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