The Reality of Home Building: 5 Things to Think About

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Homebuyers today face a decision: Do you buy an existing home or do you build a new home? With tight home inventories, it makes it hard to find the perfect house. If you can’t find the right house, you have to define what you want and decide if building a home is right for you. With existing homes, you look, you buy, you move in. Building a new home is much more work. But for many, the advantages of building a new home make the effort worth it. You are able to design a home for your lifestyle. You can pick the colors, the finishes, and style. You even choose the building lot. And by choosing to use modular construction, your new home is safer, more energy efficient, and just more comfortable to live in. Here are 5 home building realities you need to know when starting down the path of building your new home. 

Reality #1 – Know What You are Getting Into 

One of the single biggest things that homebuyers note about building a new home is that they didn’t realize the sheer amount of decisions to be made. When you buy a new car there are 2-3 options packages and possibly a few standalone options to choose from. When building a new custom home, everything can be a decision. What style of light in the dining room? What color are the faucets? What style of tile? What color is the grout? What is the pattern of the tile? Does the tile color match the grout color? Decisions can be stressful in a marriage. And everything costs money. Figure out early on what is important to who and who will have the final say… and define a budget. The best thing is that with a new home, everything is new. It comes with warranties. The stress is in the initial decision making. 

If you would decide to take the route of buying a used home, there is less stress… initially. You aren’t deciding on so many little things, just a few big things. Do I like the location of the home? Is the kitchen large enough? Does the master bathroom have the tiled shower that we always wanted? While buying an existing home is less effort to begin with, it typically makes up for it later on. Depending on the age of a home, buying an existing home means buying all of its problems. About half of the items in an average house needs replaced during the first 30 years. The big dollar items include the roof, the heating and cooling system, and the home’s appliances. Every item that needs replaced means decisions need to be made and money is needed to pay for the repair/replacement. 

Reality #2 – Building is About Relationship  

If you are like most home buyers, you don’t build a home very often. Most buyers will potentially build a new home 1 – 3 times in their entire lifetime. Building science and building technology are real. Products, methods, and materials change and improve over time. Finding builders and contractors that you like and that have the knowledge you can depend on is important. When you decide to create a relationship with a home builder/company, it is at least a two year relationship. When building a home it takes time to design it, build it, and then work through the warranty period. Building a home isn’t like buying a new mobile phone where you are in and out of the store in 45 minutes.  

The person you are going to be working with is going to be a trusted adviser on one of the biggest financial decisions you will make. It is important to make sure you can work with them over the long haul. Ask questions and make sure you are comfortable with their answers when deciding on who will build your new home. 

Reality #3 – You Must Think Through Design First 

When working with a builder, are they or their staff able to assist you with design? Are you a competent designer? Professionals that design and build homes every day have the experience you will depend on to help you design a home that works better for you. It goes back to Reality #2, you need a relationship with someone whose experience you trust to help you design a better home 


Have you thought about your furniture placement in the house? How will you use the kitchen? What is the flow of the home? Many home buyers forget about the actual building site itself and how important it is to the design process. The orientation of the home on the building site and it relationship to the sun are important aspects for building energy efficiency into the home. In addition, it is critical to how you will design outdoor living spaces for the full enjoyment of the exterior spaces of your new home. 

Reality #4 – Communicate Everything, Don’t Assume Anything 

When building a new home, communications is everything. Setting expectations is the most important thing a home builder can do. Sometimes those expectations aren’t what the marketing brochure looked like. However, missed expectations is the number one cause of friction in the home builder/home buyer relationship. (for example, many think that the day after a modular home is set on the foundation that they are moving in within days. The reality is that at the end of the first day it will look like Lowes threw up on your living room floor. All of the items to finish your home onsite will be scattered and ready for installation/completion in the coming weeks). Ask questions! When there are changes, document them and sign them. During the home building process dozens, if not hundreds, of things are happening. It is easy for the home builder and home buyer alike to forget or misunderstand something. Follow the rule that if it isn’t in writing it was never said.  

Building a home is process of bringing together 10,000 parts in the construction of a home over months. Even with modular construction, when the process is much faster and better controlled, things change. Document everything. Use pictures to convey ideas. The more detail the better. Even then, misunderstandings will occur. That is when you depend on Reality #2, the strength of the relationship to get you through.  

Reality #5  Mistakes Happen 

Building a home is a big effort. Just like in life, no matter how hard everyone tries, mistakes are just going to happen. They just are. There is no such thing as the perfect house (Notice I am following Reality #4 now and setting expectations). Building a house involves a lot of people and lots of moving parts. There will be small things that happen and major things that happen. Relying on Reality #2 means you will work with your builder to resolve them as they pop up.  

Check out some of the bloggers that have documented their home building experience. During the stress of the home building experience everything may feel big. However, work to keep perspective through the process. After you move in, you will be enjoying your new life in your new home.  

The Modular Advantage 

Modular construction is the modern way to build new homes. Setting expectations for a different process of construction is vital. Modular has been quietly becoming a preferred way to build for many builders and home buyers. Because of the efficiency of the building process, you can get the superior quality of modular construction at no extra cost! You can expect more from your home when it is built using modular construction. 

About the Author
Ken Semler

Ken Semler

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Hi, I am Ken Semler the founder of Impresa Modular. I am passionate about our company and the homes that we provide. Modern modular construction enables us to deliver healthy, safe, and energy-efficient living spaces. Impresa Modular is a licensed/registered/certified builder/contractor in almost every state. I believe that modular homes provide the best way to deliver virtually unlimited design flexibility at the greatest value.

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