How to Build a House — A Full Guide Through the Process

Are you looking for information on how to build a house? When you picture your dream home, you probably know what you want it to look like. Does it have large windows that bathe your rooms in light? Is it in a kid-friendly neighborhood with tall trees? Maybe there’s an art studio or workout room. You know what makes a home perfect for you, but sometimes it’s hard to find on the market. That’s why many people choose to build a custom house instead. Building your dream home can seem daunting, but our easy-to-follow guide takes out the scare-factor of how to build a house. Are you ready to make your dreams a reality?

Whether you have a list of must-haves for your dream home or are looking for inspiration, the design experts at brick&batten create stunning custom exterior designs. Using blueprints or even a sketch of your home, our virtual designers turn your desires into a cohesive exterior design ready to be executed.

How to Build a House: The Complete Guide

Getting Started: Plan, Plan, Plan

Building a home isn’t a quick process, so do your homework to keep the project running smoothly. Before you can think about picking out countertops, know how “custom” you want your home to be. There are several types of new construction to choose from:

  • Spec Homes: A spec home is designed and constructed without a specific buyer in mind. If you can get in early on these “pre-construction” homes, you can sometimes choose finishing touches like paint color, flooring, landscaping and appliances.
  • Tract Homes: Developers sometimes divide parcels of lands into lots and construct multiple homes in the same style with shared amenities. Like a spec home, if you get in on the project early, you can sometimes choose customizations.
  • Fully Custom Homes: The most personalized option is also one of the most involved — and the most satisfying! Homeowners purchase a plot of land and work with a builder and other professionals to plan and design a completely customized house.

Build Your Budget: Know Your Options

Instead of taking out a traditional fixed-rate mortgage for your new home, you most likely will be funding the project using a self-build loan or a construction loan. These loans require a lot of materials upfront, including a project timetable, budget, floor plan and materials list. Construction loans can cover the plot of land you plan to purchase, or they can be used for the construction alone. Once your home is built, some construction loans can be converted to mortgages.

As you file for a construction loan, having detailed plans is helpful so you know how much work you need to do. Not only do the virtual designers at brick&batten create a design plan for the exterior of your home based on blueprints, but we also provide a detailed shopping list so you can know exactly what you’ll need to buy.

Turn your home blue prints into a visual design

When building your budget, try to balance your wants with a realistic assessment of what you can afford. In 2019, the national average cost of a custom home ranged from $150,000 to $440,000. Getting pre-approved for a loan can give you a ballpark of your maximum budget. Be wary of loans that you can’t afford, and talk with a financial adviser.

Gather bids from at least three contractors. Start with recommendations from friends, and check their portfolios of custom homes. You can even compare prices online. Budget for the cost of buying land if you haven’t settled on a lot, and include a buffer for the changing costs of materials and design modifications along the way. Take your time. The budgeting and pre-construction process can take several months to a year or more, but it’s worth it to avoid pitfalls.

Putting Down Roots: Choose Your Lot

Before you can build your house, you have to know where to put it! When choosing a lot, factor in your needs. Consider things like school zones, accessibility, and your lifestyle. Does your family need a large lawn for playing backyard soccer, or are you looking for a low-maintenance landscape?

Work with a real estate agent. As you narrow down your choices, bring your builder and architect in to make sure the land works with your vision. They can tell you if there are restrictions that would make construction more expensive, such as zoning issues, steep grades or remote locations. Your architect can also factor the lot’s sunlight and airflow into your plans to maximize energy efficiency.

A blueprint of a custom home by renovation headquarters

Drafting Your Blueprints & Sketches

Now that you know where your home is going, you can start putting your dreams to (drafting) paper. As you draw up blueprints with the help of your builder and architect, consider the home’s lifespan. Will it need to accommodate a growing family, or should it be built for aging in place? Is your house a hub for guests or a relaxing retreat? Consider the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the number of stories and any eco-friendly modifications like solar panels or smart-home customizations. Work with an architect to ensure the feasibility (and cost) of your plans.

A blueprint of a traditional home by Family House Plans

Feeling overwhelmed at this stage? Some builders have stock plans. These pre-made blueprints and layouts can be built as-is, or you can modify them with your customizations.

Whether you’re working from pre-made plans or creating your own masterpiece, factor in the real world. Take into consideration the resale value of your design down the road. Work in modern or current design trends that lend curb appeal.

Turn Your Blueprints & Sketches into Realistic Renderings

A new trend that many homeowners are opting for is to have their blueprint or sketch turned into a realistic rendering. The exterior design pros at brick&batten use your blueprints or home sketch to design your future home, providing a realistic rendering and a helpful shopping list so you can bring the rendering to life. This is a great opportunity for designers to help you build your house.

It’s an essential step in the planning process to ensure your home is as beautiful as possible and that there are no surprises after your home is built. Having the help of an exterior designer can maximize your home’s curb appeal and reduce the risk of having to fix costly mistakes that didn’t look quite how you envisioned them in the blueprints.

Getting started is easy. When you place your order, just upload your blueprint/sketch with a few details about your project and the brick&batten team will create a custom design like the one below.


Your Perfect Lineup: Partner with Pros

For such a big project, you don’t want to go it alone. Build a team of professionals who can guide you through the project, keeping you on time and on budget. Your dream-team should include:

  • A home builder: This licensed general contractor can help you how to build a house with budgeting, adhering to zoning laws, securing necessary permits overseeing subcontractors and so much more. Your builder will be your go-to point of contact. Seek recommendations for someone trustworthy.
  • An architect: If you and your builder are creating blueprints from scratch, an architect can apply for the permits to get your plans approved. Architects can also help you maximize the functionality, energy-efficiency and layout of your new home.
  • Interior Designer: Interior designers can transform the feel of your home’s indoor spaces by helping you select finishes like flooring, tile, fixtures, color schemes, furniture and artwork.
  • Exterior Designer: A virtual exterior designer like brick&batten plays an essential role in bringing out your home’s full potential. They do this by creating a realistic rendering from your blueprint or sketch. The design team also helps you figure out exterior paint colors, finishings, light fixtures, furniture and more.

Bring on the Build: The Construction Process

Once your team is in place, the building the house can begin. The physical process of constructing a house takes three to six months.   Your builder or general contractor will handle overseeing the process and working with subcontractors at each stage. In the United States, residential construction follows this standard process:

  • Preparing the site: No matter how perfect your lot is, it will have to be prepped for construction. Crews clear out debris like rocks or trees and grade the land (aka make it level). This step also includes installing utilities and acquiring permits for zoning and grading.
  • Setting the foundation: The construction team digs a hole to accommodate basements or crawl spaces. Then they install footings for support, followed by concrete foundations reinforced with steel rods. Once set, the foundation is waterproofed and must pass a city inspection.
  • Framing the house: At this stage, your house starts to take shape. Your construction team installs the wooden frame of the house, including floor joists, subfloors, roof trusses and wall studs. They also install exterior walls and doors. They wrap the outside of the home in a waterproof barrier to protect the structure from moisture, mold and rot.

  • Installing plumbing, Electrical and HVAC: At this stage, your builder works with subcontracted plumbers, electricians and HVAC specialists. This stage can be time-consuming because each requires a separate inspection.
  • Adding insulation: After all wires, ducts and pipes are in place, exterior walls, basements and attics are typically insulated, helping to moderate your home’s temperature and save energy costs.
  • Hanging drywall: Next, drywall panels are installed, taped, textured and primed. During this step, you can start to get a feel for the layout and flow of your new home. Typically, outdoor finishes such as brick, stucco or stone are added, too.
  • Installing interior finishes: No, you’re not quite done quite yet. But key elements of your home’s design, such as paint, interior doors, baseboards, windowsills, kitchen cabinets and counters and hard-surface flooring are all installed at this stage.

  • Adding exterior structures: At this stage, driveways, walkways and patios are put in place. Additional grading drains water away from the home and you can start to add landscaping for curb appeal.
  • Put fixtures in place: The finish line is in sight! Light fixtures, toilets, faucets and other hardware are added at this stage, along with more fragile items like carpeting, mirrors and glass shower doors.
  • Occupancy Certification Inspection: Your home has to pass a final inspection for you to receive what’s called a certificate of occupancy, giving you the green light to move in.
  • Your final walkthrough: Before you move in, do a thorough walkthrough of the home along with your builder, making note of any damage that needs to be repaired and requesting any final adjustments or tweaks.

And, just like that, you’ve built a house! It can be a long, daunting process, but the end result is well worth it. Do your homework and hire professionals you can trust. Working with builders, architects and design experts can make the process easier in the long run and bring out your home’s full potential. In the end, you get to have your dream home made just for you and your family.

Looking for an exterior designer to help with your home project? Learn more about brick&batten’s exterior design service today.