Frequently Asked Questions

Home Building Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions regarding building a home. The intent here is to provide additional information for you to help you through the entire process. The frequently asked questions also include information on buying a home as well.

Q. Can I modify a standard house plan to personalize my home? A. Yes. Most house plan websites provide detailed information regarding modifications and changes to their plans. There is an additional fee for this service.

Q. Are modular homes acceptable in every location? A. No. You must consult with your local zoning department. Sometimes, the county will accept them, but the city will not. Check first before begin your project.

Q. Can the modular home floor plans be modified? A. Yes. To a limited degree. The engineers can make minor changes like enlarging or reducing the size of a room. The can also rearrange some rooms. You need to check with the manufacturer.

Q. Should I try to build my own home if I do not have any construction experience? A. Yes. If you use a building consultant who will walk you through the entire process. You will save time and money. Do not try it alone.

Q. How much time do I have to spend on building my own home? A. This depends on whether you are building your home yourself or with a building consultant. If you do it yourself, it will be a full time job. With a consultant, you can expect to spend 2-3 hours per day managing the project.

Q. Where do I find good subcontractors? A. Check other housing projects to measure the quality of work by the subcontractors. Check with the local home builders association to determine who their members use.

Q. What if my subcontractors refuse to execute a formal contract? A. Be careful. Many small subcontractors shy away from formal contracts because they are intimidating. Your attorney could prepare a one to two page agreement that is acceptable to both parties. You must have an agreement detailing the services rendered and the price to perform the work. A handshake is not good enough in today’s world.

Q. How do I know what inspections are required? A. When you apply for the building permit, they will tell you the procedure for requesting inspections. They will also tell you at which stages of construction the inspections are required.

Q. When a new home builder gives me a $/s.f. price to build my home, how do I know what it includes? A. You must request a set of detailed specifications from the builder to determine if his selections match your criteria. Also, you need to determine if the price is based on the heated area only or are there other areas included in the total square footage that makes up the total cost of construction.

Q. How difficult is it to obtain owner-builder financing? A. If you are experienced and knowledgeable or you are using a building consultant, there are lenders who will work with you. Make sure your credit rating is good.

Q. How much should I allow for closing costs in my budget? A. They will vary from lender to lender. As a rule-of-thumb, you can use 3-4% of the construction loan amount and you will be close. There are too many variables that enter in to the closing costs to accurately predict what they will be.

Q. Who pays the bills? A. You do. You control the money and monitor the costs as the project progresses. When you pay your subcontractors and suppliers, be sure to get paid receipts, waivers of lien are preferable, to ensure that all of the bills are being paid in full in a timely manner.

Q. Who is responsible for obtaining insurance? A. You are if you are either doing it yourself or using a building consultant. A new home builder will carry his own insurance, but you still need builder’s risk insurance. The lender will require it.

Q. How do I find a competent home inspector? A. You can check with your local realtors for recommendations since they use them all of the time. You should select one that is certified and/or licensed.

Q. What guarantees are there when buying an existing home? A. None. If it is a new home construction that has been for sale for awhile, there may be a builder’s warranty still in effect. However, it may be limited. You are buying a home in “as-is” condition. This is why a home inspector is important.

Q. Where do I find houses to buy on a lease-purchase program? A. Check your local newspaper classifieds. Many sellers will specify it in their ads. Also, if you find houses that have been on the market for awhile, call the seller and offer to purchase the home on a lease-purchase basis. You never know the outcome until you ask.

Q. Do I need a realtor to buy a home? A. No. If you are comfortable in spending the time to research to locate homes, inspect the ones that you like and ensure that the title is clear, then you can proceed on your own. Realtors, as buyer’s agents, provide a valuable resource and service to you in selecting your home.