Building a New Home: Where to Start, Who to Hire & What to Know

If y’all have ever considered building a new home, let me tell you, there is a lot more to it than purchasing a plot of land, snapping your fingers, and building whatever you want. There are layers and layers of details. And what they say is true, good things take time. 

How much time exactly? That’s just one of the many questions I’ll be answering for y’all today. We’ll be talking about:

  • Who is involved in building a new home
  • Which roles you should hire first
  • How long it takes to design and build a new home
  • When to start planning and building your new home
  • How to assemble the best team for you

Whether you’re considering building your forever home in the next few years or wayyyy down the road, this is one to bookmark for later! Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive in.

Our clients’ Lake House New Build

Who is involved in building a new home?

Banker or Mortgage Lender: I bet y’all didn’t expect this one to be on the list! While your baner or lender won’t be directly involved in construction, it’s wise to work with them early to secure the amount of funding you’ll be able to access. This will guide your conversations with the other professionals on this list and help determine what is and isn’t possible.

Architect: The architect is the one who designs the footprint and physical structure of your home, of course, following safety codes and the style you’re after. They will work in tandem with the interior designer and builder.

Interior Designer: The interior designer is the one responsible for designing the living experience inside of your home. They’ll create a furniture layout (yes, even during the pre-permit documentation phase) to help determine where electrical, lighting, and plumbing should go. We’ll also select the materials for countertops, flooring, etc.

Structural Engineer: A structural engineer may be involved in your project if your architect thinks it’s necessary. Their involvement is limited to ensuring the plans are structurally sound and to code. 

General Contractor or Home Builder: Your general contractor/home builder is the one responsible for the physical construction of the home. They will follow the design plans and specifications created by the architect and interior designer, and they may or may not also be responsible for ordering and procuring materials (tile, hardwood flooring, etc.). They’ll also bring in other necessary trades, like plumbers or electricians, to get the work done.

Our clients’ Lake House New Build

Which roles should you hire first?

First: Architect and Builder 

Oftentimes people just buy a lot and assume they can build whatever they want on it, but that’s not always the case. If you don’t have a plan for the home yet, then the architect should be nailed down, but these two roles should really be hired in tandem. 

The builder can help with the lot lines and building envelope, and by letting you know how big or wide the structure can be…which is important for the architect to know when creating the home’s footprint. 

Second: Interior Designer

Many times, the builder will have an interior designer they work with, or if not, some recommendations. In some cases, you might work with a design-build team (like Superior Construction & Design) that includes General Contractors and Interior Designers. This is an advantage because you’re keeping all of the decision-making, invoicing, and communication under one roof! 

Note: It’s also ideal to bring in an interior designer before the architectural plans are finalized. This lets us fine-tune the flow, lighting plan, and other details to create your ideal living experience. We’ll also work together to make materials selections that are aligned with your budget before any ordering takes place. 

Optional: Structural Engineer

A structural engineer may be necessary, but this would be something to ask your architect. They typically notate if something needs to be verified by an engineer on the plans. If this is the case, you probably won’t have to call around or vet trades. Your architect and builder will likely have a structural engineer they can recommend to you or bring on as needed.

Part of a designer’s job is designing custom architectural elements, like this fireplace and built-in. These are important details that are planned and solidified well before any foundation is poured. From the Lake House New Build.

How long does it take to design & build a new home?

Design Phase

When people ask how long it takes to build a new home, they usually don’t realize that planning has to come first…and that can take a while. I’ve seen some homeowners spend 6-12 months on the design plans alone. And to be honest, this is well worth the wait. If you’re building a forever home, y’all will want every detail nailed down!

Build Phase

The build phase can also take about 8-12 months. This will depend on how much of the home is custom, where you have sourced materials from (are they crossing an ocean?), and the availability of skilled trades and labor. (Unlike what you see on TV, our teams have real lives and do not work from sunup to sundown. Sorry!)

When should you start planning & building your new home?

This is where a little backward calculation comes in handy. I usually advise clients to start a building in the spring. If you start later in the year, and don’t get it dried in (under the roof) before November, you get into the rainy season and your home could sit there for a while. Trust me, you don’t want that. 

So, let’s say y’all take my advice and plan to start construction by March/April. Well, now you have to factor in the planning time. I suggest you start planning at least a year in advance of when you would like construction to start. That means recruiting your team and getting a plan in place by spring/ summer of the year before. 

Of course, this is just an estimate based on what we’ve seen over the years. It’s possible that your project could happen faster. But as I always say, prepare for the worst so that the only surprises are happy ones!

Our clients’ Lake House New Build

How to find and assemble the right design & build team?

1 / Seek Out References

In my experience, the best thing you can do is hire someone that you have personal recommendations for. Maybe a friend or family member has used them and raved about them. A personal referral can’t be beat. 

If this isn’t possible, seek out one professional first — either the architect or builder. Once you have done your due diligence to vet them and find the perfect team, it’s likely that they’ll be able to introduce you to other professionals they know and trust.

2 / Look at Examples of Their Work

As you’re vetting candidates, I recommend looking at their portfolios, especially your architect or interior designer. If their style is drastically different from yours, they probably aren’t the best fit for you. Yes, many of us can design in different aesthetics, but if your style aligns with these experts’ sweet spot, that’s a perfect match.

3 / Really Get to Know Each Candidate

If you get a reference from a friend, family member, or team member, don’t stop there. Speak to the potential candidate in person. As you’ve seen, building a home is a 1-2 year commitment, and you want to make sure that you have a strong, trusting relationship with the people building your forever home.

4 / Talk to Their Prior Clients

Lastly, ask to speak to prior clients. Hearing about their experience and the expert’s communication style will tell you a lot about what it will be like to work with them. If all several or all of the above conditions have been met, you have set yourself up for success!

Alright, that’s it for now. That was a lot of information, wasn’t it? I hope this was helpful, and if you’re not ready to soak up all this knowledge right now, bookmark it for the day when you’ll need it. 

Have any other questions about building a new home? Ask me in the comments below! I love hearing from y’all. 😉

6 replies to “Building a New Home: Where to Start, Who to Hire & What to Know

    • You’re right Lisa- I think many don’t realize just how many pieces there are to the project! thanks for stopping by the blog- see you next week??

  • Elizabeth was our general contractor when we built our home on my family land almost 12 years ago and I have never once had any regrets. I was nervous hiring one of my dearest and best friends for such a job, but when it was business, it was pure business and our friendship was not in the equation. She is definitely a professional who knows her business! Forever grateful for her advice and direction on our home!

    • Oh friend- thank you so much for your kind words. They mean the world to me!
      I’m so grateful for the opportunity- and how in the world was that 12 years ago??

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