Here's to smoother bidding and construction
• Determine if you are ready to dive into the custom home building process. Designing, bidding and building can easily take one to three years.
• Establish a budget and confirm finances for the entire project.
• Select possible overall architectural style (contemporary, Mediterranean, Tudor, etc.). Make sure the style you like fits in the possible neighborhood or area.
• Finalize the lot or land and purchase.
• Get a survey.
• Interview and hire an architect and interior designer, and a landscape architect if needed. (See other box for tips on that.)
• Estimate with your design team the square footage of the entire house, and then approximate sizes for each room. Designate certain rooms to have the best views, if applicable.
• Develop preliminary design with your design team.
• Develop the floor plans and elevations through a series of meetings with your design team. Depending on the size and budget of the home, this can be a two- to six-month process.
• Choose all materials and finishes with your design team. Depending on the size and budget of the home, this can take two to 12 months.
• Receive all completed drawings from the design team.
• Confirm that all financing is in place if necessary.
• After researching referrals, place all of the plans out to bid with at least three builders.
• Interview and choose a builder. (See other box for tips.)
• Submit plans for building approval.
• Revise the architect's plans, if requested by the building department.
• Prepare building site for work.
• Break ground.
• Begin building; count on a year or two to complete.
• Request final inspection.
• Receive certificate of occupancy.
• Move in!
Pick a designer and architect
Style: Choose a design team that understands your taste and design style. Go to other finished homes or review their portfolios.
Know-how: Select a design team experienced in luxury new home construction. Both the architect and the interior designer should have a minimum of 10 custom homes.
Local experience: The architect should be familiar with the local building department.
Fees: Determine how the design team will be paid and for what scope of services.
Choose the right builder
Dollars: If you put the extra time into having all of your design work and material selections completed before the bid process, the more accurate and "apples to apples" your bids will be. Although you want the best price for construction, the next three points might be more important.
Quality: Obtain referrals from your design team, friends and family. Check out the craftsmanship of other homes that the builder has built. Make sure those clients are happy.
Compatibility: Discuss how involved you want to be and if you feel this will be a good fit with the builder. Assess your personality with his or hers.
On time: What is this person's record with completing other homes on time?
Michelle Jennings Wiebe, special to the Times