Building a custom home in the mountains is one of the single biggest decisions you will make in your life. Actually, it is the first of a million decisions you will have to make in the process of building your own home. The stress of renovations is nothing compared to the stress of building a home from the ground up. It takes time, money, and sometimes a little of your sanity but the end result is a home designed just right for you and your family. To help you get started, here is a guide to factors you should consider before and while you are building.
Choosing a builder
Choosing a builder is the most important decision you will make when building your home. Your builder will help you establish a budget and timeline, draw up your floor plan, choose materials, as well as manage and coordinate all the subcontractors for the various aspects of your home’s construction. There are a few things you should consider when choosing a builder.
- Research, research, research. Research the builders in your area. What is their reputation? Do they have a good standing with the Better Business Bureau? Drive to see some of the homes they have built and talk to previous clients. Be thorough.
- Ask questions. Have they built homes in the area before? Have they built homes similar to yours? How long have you been in the business? Are you licensed? Do you offer any new home warranties? Asking questions is a great way to learn more about the builder’s resume, but also gauging if they are annoyed by your questions or how they answer will tell you whether you want to work with them.
- Communication styles. You will talk to your builder often for an extended period of time, so it really is important that you understand their communication style. It takes time to assess your builder’s personality beyond the initial pitch.
Finding a lot
Finding a lot is a decision with a lot of considerations as well. For mountain homes, the view is an important consideration — but not the only one. Below are some of the decisions that should go into choosing a lot.
- Roads. Mountain homes are often built quite steep to frame a breathtaking view. Consider the road to the lot. If it is steep, in rainy weather and snow it might be dangerous to leave your home without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Roads outside city limits or a private community might not be cleared in the event of inclement weather.
- Construction cost. How many trees do you have to clear? How much grading will be required? Or you may have to build a well and put in a septic system that affects where you can put your home because a septic tank must be a set distance from your home depending on the state you live in. If you have already chosen a builder, having them look at potential lots can be beneficial. They may be able to see things you had not considered.
- Distance to conveniences. While mountain lots can be a beautiful landscape to build, you might consider the distance from everyday conveniences like restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations. You also have to think about your work commute and school bus routes that you might live too far outside of for your children to ride in.
- Utility costs. Depending on the location and elevation, it might cost more to pump water up the mountain to your house resulting in a higher water bill.
- Views. Most of all make sure the lot has the right view. If the lot doesn’t have the view or feel like a part of the mountain, it might be good to keep looking.
Design a floor plan
Once you have chosen a lot, designing a floor plan with your builder should be at the top of your list. The key to a floor plan is finding the sweet spot between too big and too small. You want room to grow and thrive, but not so big you struggle to maintain it. Open floor plans are a popular design function and can save you some money. Consider your day to day life when deciding where rooms are located. While a laundry room out of the way on the bottom floor sounds great, in practice—lugging clothes up flights of stairs can become a nuisance.
Consider the cost
There are a lot of factors that go into the cost of building a custom mountain home. It can be difficult to hammer down a price, even a ballpark of one, without a general idea of what you want your home to look like. Here are some of the factors that attribute to the cost of your custom home.
- Floor plan. Mapping out a floor plan is the start to develop any sort of cost understanding. The square footage of a home is often how builders and realtors start the pricing of a home.
- Consider your design style. Certain design styles lend to features that can either lower or raise your overall cost. For example, high ceilings that house rustic reclaimed woods, and stone will increase the budget.
- Building materials. The materials you choose will play a large factor in the cost of your home. Choose materials that are within your budget and set priorities for which areas of your home you won’t compromise or skimp on materials. Traditionally, the rule is to put the most money into your bathroom and your kitchen.
- Location. The size and location of your lot will be a factor in your budget. The higher the lot the harder construction can be and specialized equipment may be required to transport your materials.
Plan your budget
Once you and your builder have mapped out the plan for your dream home, and the cost of features you chose, it’s time to start a budget. Your budget is incredibly important because it will be the deciding factor in every decision you make for the entirety of the project. Budgeting is a balancing act of priorities. What are the features most important to you? For example, if you really want marble countertops or a tile shower, you might consider going with a cheaper flooring option. Your builder will help you map out a budget that works once you have decided on the overall budget amount.
Create a realistic timeline
It is easy to watch HGTV and assume that building a home takes no time at all. Just a plan, a few snags to solve, and then a few commercial break later, you have a custom-built dream home. The reality is far from the TV version. Your timeline will probably be closer to a year. Developing your timeline is important because it will help you to have an end goal and date in mind. It will help you to stick to smaller project deadlines so you stay on schedule for the end date. But it is important to realize that your timeline is really just a loose structure. You will be held up by late deliveries, permits, inspections, and inclement weather.
Have a Clear Vision
Designing a home that fits your needs sounds great. You don’t have to settle for a home that has almost everything you want. The problem? Most people don’t have a clear vision of what they really want. It is also common to have an idea for your home that is completely different from your spouse’s. When you are building your dream home in the mountains talk, research, and ultimately—prepare to compromise.
Whether your custom mountain house is your forever home or a seasonal getaway, it is built for your needs. The key to building it is to anticipate your future needs in a home. If you are older, steep stairs might continue to be an issue. It is also smart to use neutral colors and invest in fixtures. As beautiful as a design is, 5 to 10 years from now, you are going to want a change. The best thing you can do for your future self is to stick with colors and fixtures that are easy to match.
There is a lot to consider when building a custom mountain home. That is why one of the best things you can do is to take your time, weigh your options, and consider the aspects of your mountain home that are most important to you. When you are ready, Blue Realty is here to help you find the lot of your dreams and start you on the road to building a home in the mountains.