I’ve spent so much time talking about the mentality of building a custom home because I believe it’s critically important to have the right mindset before you start; even before you decide to start.
Here are five questions to ask yourself before deciding to build a new home:
It takes a village to build a new custom home, and while you are most certainly the customer and eventual homeowner, you’re not necessarily the “boss,” if you know what I mean. The team we assemble at WhiteStone Custom Homes includes knowledgeable experts, not just in the actual construction but the planning, organizing, implementation, design and facilitating aspects of such a significant project.
You will have people making suggestions on everything from flooring and landscaping to roofing and kitchen cabinets to faucets and all the way down to the nuts, the bolts and the pitch of the roof.
All of these people will be working for you, but they will all be working under their own steam and in conjunction with one other, meaning you won’t necessarily be in control of all situations at all times. Not everybody is okay with that, particularly when they’re spending new custom home dollars.
I always say that building a home is first an emotional decision, then a physical operation. That’s because the desire to build a new home doesn’t necessarily come from the smell of fresh lumber or the desire to put on a hard hat, but the stirrings of change within a particular individual, couple or family.
Building a new custom home is exciting and it should be exciting. You should be excited about it. It’s also about change- a lot of change. You may be going from 1,500-square feet to 4,000-square feet, from single story to two-story, from apartment or townhouse to a freestanding dwelling. These changes are adjustments and require a particular level of energy to commit to.
Let’s shift from the emotional to the physical and ask, “Do you straight up need a new home?” This may seem like a simple question but the fact is many people who think they “need” a new home just want one. They want what their neighbors have, what their friends or other family members have, they want to keep up with the Joneses, or simply be the Joneses. That’s more want than need, and can lead to trouble when the design team start drilling down to details.
However, if the emotional want is matched with a physical need, then the motivation for building a new home becomes clearer and the process simpler. If you need a bigger house, a newer house, a smaller house, a different style of house, one with features you’ve always wanted and now can afford, such as a view of the setting sun, a better neighborhood for your family, a pool or garden or backyard barbecue outdoor living area, or lush landscaping, then the decision to build a custom new home simply makes more sense.
No home is perfect; there is always compromise. If you are a perfectionist who can’t understand, abide or compromise, then the build is going to be long, arduous, unpleasant and, ultimately, unsatisfactory. Not because everyone didn’t try to please you, but because perfectionists simply can’t be pleased.
In the next section, I talk about your “building family,” but here I want to talk about your actual family, particularly your spouse. Do you argue most of the time? (And for the record, most of the time is 80 percent or more). If so, building a new home is probably not for you.
If you’re fighting under ideal conditions, before you start to design and construct a new home, then imagine what it might be like when the imported Italian Tile shipment is delayed by a few days, which sets back the schedule a week, which impacts the roofing team, and the tile crew, creating a ripple effect that ultimately creates stress, challenge and delays for all involved.
Building a new home can be challenging for all couples, even the healthiest, friendliest and easiest going. But for those who already argue a significant portion of the time pre-construction, the challenges can turn the construction itself into a nightmare, which bleeds into your enjoyment of living in the home once it’s actually built. Are you prepared for that? Is your spouse?
Or, think of it this way; if there is a screaming match every time you and your spouse and your family go out to eat, how much more intense are those battles going to be every time a decision needs to be made on a new home?
I ask these questions of every client, whether formally or informally. Look, we’re a small family business with an A rating with the Better Business Bureau. That’s because we really do treat your family like our family, to the point where we, a). Want to see your dream of constructing a new home become a reality but, also, b). Don’t want to sell you on something you don’t really want, need or are ready for.Building for Success: It’s a Family Affair
Think of building a home like taking a long trip with your extended family. Not just your wife and grown kids, but their spouses, in-laws, stepchildren, etc. Now add your travel agent!
Building a home takes time; from planning to conception to construction to completion, it’s a months-long effort full of ups, downs and compromises. What you want is a team, a “building family,” as we like to call it, that you’d actually like to go on vacation with for an extended time.
All parties need to go along to get along, to understand each other, to enjoy spending time with each other and, ultimately, to make important compromises based on price, technology, tools, skill, resources, etc.
I’m not saying we have to be best friends, but there should be a certain level of respect, understanding, and yes, companionship if we’re going to build a house together.Parting Words
Listen, not every home builder is going to run you through a questionnaire to see if you’re up for the challenge of building a custom home with them. Most likely they assume you’re grown, sane adults who can handle the stress of building a custom home.
But, we build showcase custom homes and that requires a higher level of commitment from you and equally from us. We also consider you a part of the WhiteStone family, and like all good family, we want to make sure you know what you’re getting into before you start the process, not midway through!
This is a book I want to be able to hand to my family; my brother or sister, parents or uncles, nieces or nephews. So, I’m speaking to you as I would speak to them. If I could tell them what I’ve learned after doing this for over thirty years, this is what I would say. I wouldn’t let my family rush into building a custom-designed home, so I’m not about to let you—my building family—rush into it, either.