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Building A Custom Home In Austin, Texas: 7 Steps To Success
Austin, Texas is becoming one of the nation's most popular places to build a custom home. There's the culture, the lifestyle, the weather, and of course ... the affordability.
When building a custom home in Austin -- or anywhere else, for that matter -- there are no hard and fast rules that apply across the board. The very nature of a custom home means it is different from others, so the building process often varies from home to home.
With that being said, there are certain steps you can follow to ensure your home building process is a smooth one:
1. Determine Your Budget
Having a custom home built may be the biggest financial decision you ever make. So before you start talking to builders or looking at lots, you need to determine your budget.
Start by adding up your monthly expenditures. Leave housing out of the equation for now -- just focus on food, shopping, lifestyle, car payments, insurance, investments, etc. Compare these figures to your monthly income to see how much of a house you might realistically afford.
If you currently own a home, this calculation will be much easier. You simply have to ask yourself, "How much more could I comfortably pay each month for a larger mortgage?"
2. Determine Your Location
When choosing a location for your new home, start with the obvious questions. Is it close to work, school and shopping? Are there major roadways, railroads or other noise-producers nearby? What are the taxes like? How are the school systems? (Quality of schools is important whether or not you have children, because it affects your property values.)
Once you've answered the obvious questions, move on to the less-obvious ones: What kind of development is planned for the foreseeable future? Will that beautiful meadow across the street be a parking lot in two years? As of this writing, there's a lot of development and expansion happening in Austin, Texas, so be sure you get a long-range picture of your preferred location.
3. Make a List of Builders
Once you've decided what part of town you want to live in, you can begin making a list of builders who work in the area. You might start by using the search engines, or by visiting some of the online directories of home builders, such as Reals.com, AmericanBuilders.com or BuildingOnline.com.
Once you have a list of some of the top builders in your chosen area, start your fact-finding mission. Request brochures, visit model homes, surf their websites. Do whatever you can to gather information on each builder's reputation, expertise, price range, floor plans and other important criteria.
4. Decide On a Builder
Choosing your custom home builder is a major step. But if you've completed the previous step and conducted some thorough research, you'll have a much easier decision to make.
Once you've established that a builder has a good reputation and a genuine commitment to your happiness, you need to ask the big question: "Does this builder create the kind of home I can see myself in? Does it feel right to me?" Take your time answering these questions and making your ultimate decision.
5. Choose Your Lot
Before you can start looking at floor plans for your new dream home, you need to choose a lot. Floor plans are often dependent on the lot you choose, so the lot usually has to be decided on first.
The reasons for this are sometimes obvious and other times not. Obviously, a longer home will require a longer lot. But there may be other considerations at work. For example, maybe the developer wants to stagger one-story homes and two-story homes throughout the community for overall appeal.
These considerations will vary from builder to builder. For now, just realize that the floor plan will usually depend on the lot you choose. So remember to ask plenty of questions about this along the way.
6. Pick a Floor Plan
One of the great things about a custom home is that it's, well … custom. Sometimes a custom home builder will offer basic floor plans that you can modify as you wish. Other times, the floor plans are created "from scratch" in coordination with an architect. Either way, you have an opportunity to build a home around your present and future needs.
This step of the process will involve many questions. How much space do you need? How many rooms? One story or two? Any special features, like a wraparound deck? This can often be the most exciting part of the home building process, because it involves turning your vision into a reality.
7. Negotiate the Contract
Be sure to get a written contract signed by the builder and the architect / designer (if there's an architect involved). A contract for new home construction should describe the project in detail, and it should include a listing of all the features to be included in the home. Ask for a contract amendment if the project changes later on, and make sure you get all of your questions answered before signing.
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