Feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure what you should do BEFORE you meet with your home builder for the first time? No worries! I’ll guide you through this! By the end of this post, you’ll have a solid plan and easy tasks to complete to help you prepare for a PRODUCTIVE first meeting with your builder!
Below is a list of specific steps to help you organize your thoughts and documents … as well as a FREE bonus exercise that will be instrumental in guiding your wants and needs! You’ll feel more confident and organized with a folder full of necessary documents when you walk into that first meeting! YES!
7 STEPS TO PREP FOR A PRODUCTIVE FIRST MEETING WITH BUILDER
Ok, these steps may seem a little time consuming, BUT I *promise* that doing a little bit of ‘homework’ before your first meeting with your builder will save time and money down the road!
The more open, honest, and clear you can be with your builder BEFORE construction starts … the more accurate the cost estimates (which means easier to stay on budget) and the faster (and smoother) the build process will go!
Real life example: I KNEW I wanted custom trim work (lots of it!) throughout my home … I was clear with my builder about the extent of trim work I wanted so he could provide an accurate estimate. This led to a higher house cost estimate, BUT a lower estimate would have been pointless when I busted through my the ‘house budget’ by adding upgrades (said custom trim work!) that I knew I wanted in the first place! Does that make sense?!
Related Post: 8 SAVVY WAYS TO STAY ON BUDGET WHEN BUILDING A HOUSE
STEP 1: CREATE ‘HOME BUILD’ FOLDERS
I recommend you create the following folders to ORGANIZE the home build process:
- a physical folder that you can add any printed (physical) documents to
- a ‘Home Build’ folder in your email to organize any emails related to the building process
- a Google Doc or Word folder to store any notes you type up re your build. If I’m the only weirdo who types up ALL notes for everything in my life, you can disregard this last suggestion!
STEP 2: GET (VERY) CLEAR ON YOUR BUDGET
Get VERY clear on your budget for your new home construction! I highly recommend getting preapproved for a loan BEFORE meeting with your builder so you know EXACTLY what you’re working with financially!
Be confident in your max budget … no matter how high or low it is. Be VERY honest and clear about your budget with your builder. Hiding anything from him can be detrimental! He can’t keep you on the budget if he isn’t entirely sure what the true budget is!
Related Post: HOW TO FINANCE YOUR HOME BUILD: TWO LOAN TYPES
STEP 3: FLOOR PLAN BRAINSTORM
If you (like me) have an idea of your desired house layout in your head, get it on paper! You don’t have to be a fabulous artist … just sketch out a general idea of the plan you want for each level of your home. Tip: the first floor is the most important when determining your home’s layout … the second floor is highly dependent on the first floor layout.
It’s 100% OK if you don’t have a clear idea of a floor plan! Search online for floor plan ideas and make sure to either print out the plans you like or save them in some way (i.e. email plan to yourself, save to your desktop, or save in the website if this is an option). Your builder will help you sift through the plans to discover the best floor plan for your family!
You can get an idea of my custom floor plan in MY HOME TOUR.
STEP 4: GATHER DESIGN INSPIRATION
Now it’s time to gather design ideas for the interior and exterior of your home! This is the FUN part of this whole process!
Create Pinterest boards, Houzz folders, or Instagram collections to organize your design inspiration and ideas! Or, of course, you can physically rip pages out of physical magazines (yep, they still exist!).
If you are unsure how to use Pinterest, Instagram, and Houzz, I have a great post that will walk you through it: HOW TO USE PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, AND HOUZZ TO FIND DESIGN INSPIRATION.
You’ll want to gather ideas for exterior materials, interior materials, trim work, closet systems, bathroom ideas, floor plan, finishes (e.g. flooring, counters, etc.), and decor that inspires you!
Make sure to share these boards/photos with your builder so he/she has a VERY good idea of the style (and the caliber) of home you are going for (this helps when creating your cost estimate).
STEP 5: CREATE A LIST OF MUST-HAVES IN YOUR NEW HOME
Create a list of ALL things that you MUST HAVE in your new home construction! You’ll also want to make a list of things that aren’t important to you (because these aren’t worth spending money on).
Consider your lifestyle and what’s most important … do you need a large kitchen because you love to entertain? Do you have a large family and require at least three bathrooms? What rooms are most important to focus your square footage? Think about things you LOVE about your current home and things you do NOT love about your current home!
Here is a post of mine that can give you some ideas: 4 THINGS I WOULD DEFINITELY CHANGE IF I BUILT MY HOME AGAIN (AND 4 THINGS I WOULD NEVER CHANGE)
STEP 6: CREATE A LIST OF QUESTIONS FOR YOUR BUILDER
Your first meeting with your builder might be long and overwhelming, so make sure to create a list of questions ahead of time. Write the questions down (or type them as I would!) so you don’t forget any of them. This is a MUST if you want to prepare for a productive first meeting with your builder!
Some questions to get you started:
- How often do your clients stay on budget?
- Do you only work with certain vendors, or can I choose items from any vendor?
- How do you typically handle payments? Does the client carry the construction loan or do you carry a loan and the client takes over at closing?
- What’s included in the total price (permit fees? Site improvements? etc)
- How do you handle change orders?
- What is the follow-up policy? Do you come back for the first year and fix items?
- What is an estimated timeline to build my size of home?
Related Post: HOW TO CHOOSE A CUSTOM HOME BUILDER
STEP 7: BRING ALL RELEVANT DOCS TO FIRST MEETING
This is where those folders (from Step 1) really come in handy! This is how you’ll organize all of your information so you can easily just grab the folder(s) and bring them to your meeting!
Things you’ll want to bring (if applicable): loan pre-approval letter, sketches of a floor plan, printouts of floor plans you love, land records and size of lot you’ve purchased or intend to build on, photos of the caliber of finishes you want, photos of exterior look you want, etc.
Recommended Post: HOW TO AVOID CUSTOM FLOOR PLAN MISTAKES
All right, girl (or guy), you are now armed and ready to meet with your builder! You can walk into that meeting confidently with all of your documents in tow! Believe me, your builder will be THRILLED that you have done your homework!
If you want to dive deeper into planning for your build, be sure to download my *FREE* Custom Home Build Prep Guide and learn the 5 crucial steps to prepare for a home build with less stress, more confidence, and without blowing your budget!