by Jody Kerzman  | Photography: Rachael Neva Photo

Have you ever thought about building your dream home?

Most of us have, and a few of us will make the dream a reality. But if you’re in the dreaming stage now, experts say there are some important steps to take before the walls go up. Heather Welle and her husband, Travis, are with E-Homes, a custom home builder in Bismarck, North Dakota. Heather says education is important for all potential clients. She shares five tips to educate yourself before the building begins:  

  1. Location. Heather says location is key when building a home. Know where you want to build, and know what is and isn’t allowed in that neighborhood. Some neighborhoods have covenants that require all homes to be a minimum size. So while you might be able to afford the lot, can you afford the house too? Are outbuildings, fences, camper pads, or sheds important to you? Educate yourself on covenants prior to purchasing. Heather says it isn’t uncommon for customers to start looking for a lot years before they’re actually ready to build.
  2. Style. What style of home do you want? Do you want a walk-out basement, a split level, or maybe a patio home? Your dream home’s style might require more work to the lot. Heather says things like bringing in fill dirt, special excavations, and soil types can all play a part in the style of home that’s built. Another example: basements are not allowed in homes built in low lying areas along the Missouri River. So if a basement is on your list of must-haves, you’ll want to take this into consideration. Heather encourages her clients to share their Pinterest boards and dream house photos with their builders. That will give them a better idea of what all your dream home involves.
  3. Finances. Heather explains this is about more than just how much money you can borrow to build your home. She says homeowners need to understand everything that is involved with construction financing. She encourages her clients to meet with a lender or even multiple lenders before purchasing a lot or deciding to build. It’s important to understand what kind of loan you qualify for and if there are additional costs associated with loans as they relate to a lot purchase, construction loan, and permanent financing.
  4. Builders. Heather says before choosing a builder, educate yourself about builders in your area. Attend events such as the Parade of Homes to see the quality of work you can expect from each builder. Speak with others who have used the builder, and find out their experience. Ask builders about their process, their expected timeline from start to finish, and if they can build the style of home you want. Know what kind of customer service you expect, and find a builder that can provide it.
  5. Must-haves. What things are must-haves in your home? What things are you willing to live without? If a tiled shower and gas fireplace are on your list of must-haves, find out how much they’ll cost. Heather says those things add up quickly, and even people with million dollar budgets often end up trimming their list of must-haves. She suggests sitting down with your builder and going over every item, from flooring to siding, carpet and bathroom fixtures. Knowing how much your dream home costs might help you decide what’s really important and what you can live without.

Bottom line: educate yourself. It might just lead you to your dream home.   

Click here to see more photos by Rachael Neva Photo.