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How to Start the Process of Building Your Own Custom Home

Working with the Right Custom Home Builder in Maryland is Easier than You Think

Perhaps you have decided that purchasing a home from a production builder isn’t the right choice for you. Maybe you’ve realized that you are at the stage in life where you and your family place more emphasis on items like uniqueness, customization, customer service and the ability to be heard.  Congratulations – you’ve already made the first step in deciding to build a custom home. Now the fun of custom home building begins.  

Starting The Process

You may have some elements of the process in place – perhaps you currently own a lot, have your heart set on a specific floor plan, or you’re starting completely from scratch.  Whatever the case, we’ll go through the steps of building your custom home. This is not a direct roadmap so feel free choosing certain phases in the manner that works best for you.

Selecting a Custom Home Builder

If you happen to have found a quality custom home builder (and you’re already on our blog… nice to meet you), they should be able to help guide you through the process.  A strong custom home builder in Maryland is familiar with the steps on which you’ll need to embark, and have the resources and relationships to bring to bear.  

To make the right choice, you’ll want to really study the company.  

  • Are you comfortable with their quality of construction?
  • Do they use forward-thinking and exciting construction techniques, or are they mired in the traditional custom home building methods of 20 years ago?  
  • Do they have the home-building experience necessary to build something that will stand the test of time?  
  • Have you met the principals and will they be the ones on site?
  • Do they do the small things, like caulking around each fixture to ensure the utmost efficiency in your home
  • Heck, are they as excited to talk to you about your new home as you are and can you see that passion in the way they talk?

We could expand this into an ever-growing list of questions, but the point to take home is that you must be comfortable with your builder.  You must trust that they have the experience to get the job done right. In short – you have to connect.  This is a 6-18 month process and so you’ll want to love who you’re working with.

Interviewing Realtors

Do you need a realtor to build a custom home?  It entirely depends on your unique situation. If you have already interviewed a couple of custom home builders in Maryland and made a selection, the builder may be able to help you secure the lot, financing, floorplan, etc.  But if you are unclear on who the best builders are and want the advice of a professional to make recommendations, this could be a good place to start.  If you need assistance in finding a unique lot to build your dream home, finding a realtor with a deep market knowledge and experience in land acquisition is a powerful tool.  If you have a house to sell, you’ll want to engage a real estate professional to assess its worth and develop a strategy of how and when to put it on the market.

Finding a Lot

Some people start with identifying the layout of their dream home and then find the appropriate lot to accommodate it.  Others prefer to first find the site on which their custom home will sit and then design the home around the landscape.  Either way, you’ll want to set some goals defined for yourself.  Is your preference to be in a neighborhood? What will that neighborhood look like – a planned community with amenities and access to retail?  Or is it a smaller enclave of homes that offer the richness of neighbors, but a bit more space between the homes? Or would you prefer to embrace ultimate privacy and purchase a site that has acreage spanning in every direction?  Once you’ve identified your ideal home-site, work with your builder and/or realtor to help find it. Before purchasing the lot, you’ll want to understand what it means to build on it and any potential limitations. Learn if the site utilizes well or septic, how the land perks, if there are any building restrictions (both in terms of home size and orientation as well as covenants), etc.  Go look at your prospective home site at different times during the day – evaluate how the sun rises and sets and work with your builder to discuss how to best situate your custom home.

Selecting a Floor Plan

If you’ve chosen your home builder, they will have a catalog of homes to choose from.  Perhaps one of those house plans works perfectly for your needs or it may need some adjustments to suit your exact lifestyle. If your builder doesn’t have the right plan for you, you can look at purchasing plans from websites like such as home plans or dfdhouseplans or consider a more hands-on approach by hiring a local architect.  

If your spouse’s brother is a renowned architect, known for progressive residential design, you’ve already found the right professional. For everyone else, it will be much like the rest of the process.  Interviewing a couple firms and individuals that have or can create a plan you’ll love. If you’ve already selected your homebuilder, they’ll be able to direct you to professionals that have helped them design plans of their own.  

Securing a Loan

How much home can you reasonably afford?  Well, the first thing that you’ll want to do is talk to a loan officer.  And this, like everything else… is no different. Talk to a couple professionals (again, your builder or realtor should have some recommendations).  Understand what a prospective mortgage balance means relative to your monthly payment, and how much cash will you be required to put down. Are you going to purchase the lot first and then close on a construction loan for the build?  Is the land going to be a cash purchase, or will you have a loan on that piece as well? If you’ve already made the selection on the home and have it priced, you may be able to streamline costs and close on the lot and construction loan all at once.  Talk to your loan officer and builder about your options.

Do the fun stuff!

At this point, you’ve earned a little fun. Get a sense of your design style and what you like by exploring Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram and more. Learn what you don’t like and use all that information to guide your conversations with the professionals you’ll engage.

Congratulations, you’re on your way.  North Market Construction would love to hear your story and share our own.  Give us a call today and let’s see if we can help make a custom home a reality for you and your family.