Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Avoid Going Broke When Building a Custom House

Part of the American Dream is building your own custom house in the suburbs and raising a family. In this economy, however, renting a home is becoming the new norm. If you are one of the lucky few who have saved up the money and decided it is time to build your dream house, congratulations. But there is still a lot to consider. Don't become one of the hundreds of families who ends up living in a low-rate apartment or with their parents or in-laws for years on end because they've run out of funds for their custom housing projects.

Don't just make one budget.

You probably have a ballpark idea of how much money you plan to invest in your new custom house. However, a project of this size requires a lot of micro managing. Consider the example of planning a wedding. Yes, you have an idea of how much you can spend on the whole shebang. But to maintain that, you need to decide how much of that budget you will spend on each aspect of the wedding: 50 percent on food and venue, 3 percent on invitations, etc.

The same goes with a house building. You must figure out how much you are willing to spend on each variable. Create a budget for the site, construction, furniture, etc. It is also wise to budget in an emergency fund to cover extra expenses that almost certainly will pop up during your building endeavor.

Consider your location.

In addition, your geographic location affects the cost of everything from materials to labor. If you are building a house in Los Angeles, expect to pay a great deal more than someone building a house in Wichita. Developing price estimates from information gathered online may put you tens of thousands of dollars off budget because you didn't take into consideration how much products and services cost in your particular area.

Keep the Architectural Digest at a distance.

Building a custom home is exciting, and you will probably dive into it head first, stocking up on glossy architecture and interior design magazines for inspiration. Keep in mind that you bought them as a source of inspiration, not as a catalog. The homes and rooms shown in those magazines may be beautiful, but that is because they are the best (read: most expensive) that the design world has to offer. Think of it as flipping through the pages of Vogue. Appreciate the aesthetic of the spreads, but don't consider them all realistic shopping choices.

Hopefully, these tips will give you the foresight you need to stay out of the red when building the custom house of your dreams. Do your homework before ever meeting with a loan officer or mortgage broker to determine how much you will really need. It requires a lot of consideration and patience, but it beats driving past the shell of a home you wish you could be living in, but couldn't afford to finish.

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