Information and advice on the home construction process in Dallas, Texas.

Building a custom home is really an astounding experience. It is something very different from buying a prebuilt construction. You can choose your favorite flooring, siding, and furnishings. 

There are many decisions that you have to make along the way. And if you’re looking to build the house of your dreams and avoid future regrets, then you have to make the best decisions.

In this post, we’ll be sharing a few experience-based suggestions and tips that you can follow to prevent post-construction regrets. Also, you can save a lot when you consider these factors. 

‘Everything is Included’ Doesn’t Mean Upgrades are FREE!

Don’t fall into the trap of the ‘Everything is included’ statement when you sign a contractual agreement with a contractor. Why? Because the base price you pay for the construction covers the cost of the structure and standard finishes. 

But if you’re looking to build a custom home with everything of your choice, then you have to keep the upgrade cost in mind as well. 

Let’s suppose if you choose to go with custom flooring or marble of any specific brand, or let’s say you want to install expensive kitchen cabinets or sidings, then you have to set your budget accordingly. 

We’d suggest, keep a column for upgrades in your construction budget separately so that you don’t have to face surprises when you’re planning to start a life in your newly-built home

Apart from that, you can also discuss your requirements with your contractor before the whole process begins and demand an upfront cost estimate for your desired construction. 

Keep Record of Everything

Let’s suppose you have hired the best home builder in Dallas.

You have clearly discussed your requirements.

The construction work begins.

Things are going fine until you get to know that you’ll be having a replacement contractor for your work for some reason. 

The new contractor isn’t aware of your discussions and commitment you have had with the previous person.

What would you do? 

To avoid this, make sure you capture and record everything that is building in the process. While it may seem like a strange idea at first, it will be a total savior if, for some reason, things move in an unexpected direction. 

Pick Your Lot Early

Choosing a lot for a custom home is one of the essential steps of the home construction process. Make sure you pick your lot early. If possible, choose your lot when the builder opens up the face of the building. 

Keep Compounding Costs in Mind

Another important thing you should keep in mind while building a new home in Dallas is compounding costs. While it may be tempting to upgrade a few things (and you’ll get a very reasonable estimate for a single update), things don’t always go as planned. 

How? Let us explain.

Let’s suppose you want to upgrade a shower in your bathroom and replace it with a walk-in shower. 

You have requested an estimate from your contractor and got a quote of $3,000. That seems doable. After all, you’re building a new home that is already worth thousands of dollars, and $3,000 is something anyone would love to spend for a breathtaking walk-in shower. 

But wait.

A contractor called and asked if you want to have the exact shower you saw in the pic with two faucets installed, then you have to pay another $1,500 for that.

$1,500? Oh! It is pricey. But, that’s fine. After all, who doesn’t like to have a luxurious shower in a newly-constructed home?

But, that doesn’t end here. 

Add $3,000 for the floor tiling and another 1000 bucks for matching sanitary – Bamm! Now a simple shower upgrade is costing you more than $8,500. 

So you see, compounding costs are real. 

No, we don’t want to demotivate you. Just ensure you have this factor in mind before you opt for any upgrades for your newly-built home. 

Research Your Floor Plans

One thing you won’t be getting from your builder is a custom floor plan for your house in Dallas. So if you’re looking to add your unique style to your dream house, you have to research your floor plan

You can also take a cue from websites like floorplans.com, ePlans, dreamhousesource.com, etc. 

These websites have plenty of unique design options that you can use to build your custom home. 

Take Your Time

Building a custom home in Dallas is a time-consuming process. The most important tip you should keep in mind is to take your time. Whether it’s about creating a house map or choosing cabinets, make sure you spend sufficient time for each process to avoid post-construction regrets. 

Remember, you’re spending your entire life savings on your custom home. It should be perfect both in terms of aesthetics and functionality. So do not rush and give your custom home project the time it deserves. Collect expert opinions, do your research, and then make decisions. 

Do Not Increase the Number of Rooms

Unless you have a big family to accommodate, do not increase the number of rooms in your home to cover space. Fewer large rooms with lots of space for living areas and parking will give you plenty of options to experiment with. For instance, you can design a beautiful garden outside with eccentric lighting. Similarly, you can have an extra room adjacent to your living area for a personal house theatre. Possibilities are endless. 

Less is More

When it comes to building a custom home in Dallas, less is more. Minimalist homes are modern and trendy. Instead of keeping your entire focus on having more rooms and covered areas, try to make your home look and feel more functional and feature-rich. Do not leave everything on the builder. It’s your home and investment. Participate as much as possible. 

The Bottom Line

While building a custom home in Dallas is an arduous task, it is worth it. It is the best thing you can do for your family. Everything starts with a plan. So make sure you invest your time in creating a fail-proof construction plan that is doable and strategic.

We wish you all the best!

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So you’re thinking about building a custom home in North Texas?  Consider that one attractive option is to buy a piece of rural land for your new home, rather than build in a subdivision or in populated areas.  

There are literally millions of acres of land available to purchase in and around the DFW metroplex, located within a 1-hour or 2-hour drive from either Dallas or Fort Worth.  Easy commuting distance.

Whether for your primary residence or for a weekend retreat, or even as an investment property, if you’re going to build on rural land in Texas be aware of the following considerations when buying that land:

  1. Choose your location before choosing your custom home builder – Custom home builders are often limited by their working relationships and the limitations of their trades.  They tend to prefer building in a limited geographic area because it is where they know their trade partners are reliable (which is largely what protects a custom home builder’s reputation and success).  With so much land around and available to purchase in North Texas, you don’t want to limit your choices.
  1.  Property use – If you only intend to use the property to build a residence, then your requirements are fairly simple.  However, if you have intentions to do anything in addition to that, such as farming, ranching, hunting or fishing, then each of these activities dictate different features needed in the land you buy.  Think carefully about what you might wish to do with the property, both now and in the future.  For example:
    1. Farming requires relatively flat land with access to water, great drainage, located outside any flood plains.
    2. Ranching requires soil conducive to growing good feed as well as water resources for the livestock.
    3. Hunting/fishing requires specific resources such as lakes or running water, abundant wildlife, and that you take into consideration other people, animals and structures located near your property, as well as any local laws or environmental regulations that may be in effect.
  1. Property size – 5 acres may be suitable for a home, but if you want to hunt, farm or ranch you need much more land.  Buy with the future in mind, not only with today’s conditions in mind.
  1. Easements – Property easements have to do with accessing the property from the public road, and can have a significant effect on a property’s value.  Property will either have a “Fee Simple” title, meaning you have direct access to a public road from the property, or may instead have a “Deeded Easement” which means the land is accessed by crossing another property.   You should work with your lender or real estate agent to understand what type of easements a property has if it does not come with a “Fee Simple” title.  
  1. Amenities – Amenities are valuable and come in many shapes and forms.  Anything that is already in place such as fencing, stock-tanks, barns or other existing structures, roads and any other type of infrastructures can significantly add to a property’s value.
  1. Utilities – Not every rural property has all the necessary utilities for a home, and you must anticipate additional costs that may be needed to bring electricity, gas, sewer and water to the property if it does not have any of these already. When accurately anticipated, these costs can be rolled into the financing provided by most lenders.  For example:
    1. Is there a septic tank already, or must you have one built?
    2. Is there access to a water line at the road, or will you have to drill a water well?
    3. Is access to electricity nearby, or how much will you have to pay to bring it to the property?
    4. Same with access to natural gas, or cost to add a propane tank if necessary?
  1. Property values – Many factors can influence the price of a property.  Features such as access to water and utilities, attractive topography, tree cover, etc. all add up to make a piece of land more valuable.  Be aware that some properties can also be influenced by their potential for other uses, such as recreational or even commercial ventures.  Make sure you are not paying for features that are not relevant to you.  Compare the price of the property you are considering to other rural properties around your desired areas, to ensure it is not being inflated by nearby businesses or population centers which might use it or other nearby land for commercial purposes, or which might encroach on your property or affect your quality of life.
  1. Deed restrictions – Investigate these to ensure you won’t be prohibited from any desired activities.  General deed restrictions may include items such as no feedlots, no subdividing the property, no raising of poultry or swine, no mobile homes allowed, etc.  It is important to work with your lender, realtor, builder and/or the local appraisal district to educate yourself on those activities that are and are not allowed.
  1. Agricultural property tax exemptions – Commonly called “Ag exemptions”, these are widely used and can save landowners many thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes over time.  Some common agricultural exemptions include:
    1. Owning cattle or other livestock on the property
    2. Leasing the property to another for their livestock use
    3. Raising honeybees
    4. Adding various types of wildlife

If the property does not already have an Ag exemption, be aware it will take you 5 years to be granted one (so start inquiring now).

10. Environmental regulations – Check for endangered species in the area which may prevent you from subdividing or developing or building on the property.  Also check for abandoned chemicals or hazardous waste on the property, as it is very common for rural Texas lands to have old trash dumps or burn pits which may contain any variety of chemicals or contaminants.  Should you have to remove such hazards it may be extremely costly due to environmental regulations.

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It’s unfortunately far too common that people will end up working with builders that are far under or above their budget because they don’t fully understand the costs associated with a custom house.

In this article, we’ll discuss these groups of builders, the differences between them, and the costs associated with each one to paint a picture of what exactly you can expect price-wise when building your custom home in the Houston area.

Production Builders

Production builders are going to be the cheapest option when building a house, but it’s important to understand why this is the case. Production builders will often build hundreds, if not thousands of homes per year and will typically build in new developments.

Because of the scale at which production builders operate, they offer very little customization options and will typically finish their homes with cheaper materials to cut costs. For example, production builders will typically use cheaper doors, appliances, and usually use carpet instead of hardwood to keep their prices lower.

In regards to customization, a production builder will provide you with a limited amount of pre-designed floorplans to choose from, accompanied by a limited amount of finishes to go along with that. With this, you can expect to pay around $100 to $150 per square foot to build a production home in Houston. So, for a 2,000 square foot production home, you’d be paying anywhere from $200,000 to $250,000.

Dallas Custom Builders

Custom builders are a step up from production builders, what they allow you to do is make your house Custom, just as the name would suggest! With a custom builder, you typically will find yourself working with an architect to make a custom plan for your own home, rather than working with pre-designed floorplans. In addition, custom builders can build on any land you own.

With a custom builder, your house truly is custom. Because of this, a lot of the costs will be determined by you and where you choose to spend or save money. However, it’s important to note that a lot of the builders in this category will tend to spend a little less on architecture and interior design. 

Building with a custom builder will typically cost around $150 to $250. With this, you may be getting less skilled tradesmen working on your home, along with cheaper appliances and finishes. If you’re accustomed to more luxury features, these builders may not be exactly for you.

Custom Plus Builders

Custom Plus Builders are a step above custom builders, but a notch below luxury custom builders. Custom plus builders follow all the same building protocols as regular custom builders, but really shine when it comes to things like architecture, finishes, appliances, and the tradesmen hired to do work on the house.

Custom plus builders hire well regarded, experienced tradesmen and award-winning architects to work on their homes. These builders also have more of a budget when it comes to nicer appliances and features, allowing clients to experience some of the luxury elements of a luxury custom home while still maintaining some of the affordability of a regular custom home. 

Because of the added quality that comes with a custom plus builder, it would cost you about $200 to $250 per square foot to build your home with this kind of builder. A typical 4,000 square foot home here would cost about $800,000 to $1 million.

Ultra-Luxury Builders

These builders are the best of the best, usually with multiple awards and the greatest workers in all categories. These homes use the latest technology and will go above and beyond when it comes to luxury. 

Usually being built in high-class neighborhoods and coming with features like walk-in closets, huge yards with great views, and top-of-the-line appliances and architectural features, building a custom home with ultra-luxury builders will cost you north of $250 per square foot. Multiplying this price per square foot by the average house size in this category of 7,000 square feet, you get a price tag of $1,750,000 starting.

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When you’re looking for a builder to help you on your journey to creating your own custom home, it’s important to be certain that they’re the perfect fit for you. Without someone who can understand exactly what you want, it can be hard to make your custom house into a true home.

There are many important factors to look for when searching for a custom builder, so we’ve compiled 5 of the most important features to be on the lookout for in your search.

An Established Portfolio

The first thing to look for when searching for a custom builder is a well-established portfolio. It’s important to make sure that your builder has their work and finished projects on display, so you can not only be sure of their skill but also be able to tell if their style matches yours.

Make sure to do a good amount of research on your builder and the work they’ve done. Check out their website if they have one, maybe their Facebook profile, their Houzz profile, or even Pinterest pages of theirs to get an idea of the work they do. 

Finding a builder with an established and diverse portfolio is a great sign that you’re going down the right path in your search, and it’s always important to know what kind of results you can expect from your custom builder.

Credible Reviews

Just as important as having a well-established portfolio, credible and honest reviews are another big thing to look for in your custom builder. 

It’s almost second nature for us to check the reviews for any kind of product before buying, and it should be no different with a builder. Reading the opinions of others is extremely important in determining if a specific custom builder is right for you.

Just like with a good product, you’ll want a builder who has honest, good reviews. When researching a builder, be sure to check their reviews on Google, Houzz, Facebook, or Yelp if they’re listed on there. 

Be on the lookout for credible and honest reviews that prove the builder does good work, but also keep an eye out for a negative or non-positive review or two, this provides a sense of honesty and reality. Someone with no reviews or all perfect reviews can definitely be a red flag, so be sure to be diligent in that regard. 

Flexible Customization Options

If you’re looking to build a truly custom home, then you’ll want every aspect of the home to be able to be customized. Many larger production builders will provide different floorplans and can allow for clients to alter a few rooms or details within the footprint of the house, but won’t allow for the footprint itself to be changed or customized.

Although the route of full customization can be long and difficult, considering nobody has ever built your custom home before, partnering with a builder who can deliver a fully custom experience is extremely important if that’s the route you want to take for building your home.

Customer Centric Process

Building your own custom home is a significant investment, so you want to be certain that the builder that you’re working with has processes that are centered around you. There are two sides to any relationship, and you should be sure that your builder provides staff that is there for you, respond to your calls quickly, and care about you as a customer and not just their own office and overhead.

If a builder takes forever to return your calls, hardly answers any questions, and doesn’t seem to want to give you the time of day, what do you expect their work on your home is going to be like?

A Knowledgeable Staff

During the process of building your home, you may not be speaking directly to the builder’s staff all that often, but it’s still incredibly important to make sure their team is knowledgeable and great at what they do. 

The person you’ll be interacting with in the process of building your custom home the most is the field superintendent. This is who you’ll be talking to on daily basis about your home, so if you have the ability to handpick or get to know your field superintendent, definitely be sure to select someone you can be sure is top-notch at what they do, communicates well with you, and has a good chemistry with you and the team. 

Hopefully with these five tips you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of what a great custom builder looks like. Be sure to do your research on a builder and their work portfolio, and never settle for someone who seems like they won’t put you as a customer first!

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Building a custom home requires a huge investment of both time and money, so our objective with this article is answer the top ten questions that people most frequently ask their home builders. 

How Long Will It Take to Build My Home?

On average, from opening to final closing of the contract, the time period is about 8 months. However, the time required for the actual construction of the house is considerably shorter, usually only taking 4-6 months.

2. Can I Walk Through My Home While It’s Under Construction?

Generally the answer to this question is yes, but with conditions. For insurance reasons, most custom home builders will only let you walk around the construction premises if you’re accompanied by a representative of their company.

3. Can I Use A Realtor?

Yes and no, most home builders will only allow the use of an agent if they were the ones to set up the appointment for visiting a model home of the home builder’s, or if they procured the deal themselves. Otherwise, in most cases, the answer to this question will be no.

4. Is It Possible to Get a Discount by Not Using a Realtor?

Sometimes, but don’t expect to get the entirety of the 3% the realtor would’ve taken. Such discounts are usually only given if there wasn’t an agent in the picture from the start, and most builders will do this to protect the realtor from being cut out of the deal after having already invested their time and effort.

5. Is the Price Negotiable?

Most often the answer to this question will be no, but there are a few cases where there is room for negotiation on prices, such as at the end of fiscal quarters, or if the builder has some completed model homes that haven’t been purchased yet.

6. Do Builders Offer Price Incentives or Discounts?

Yes, but they’re often quite small and will sometimes be contingent on using the builder’s preferred lender or construction partners.

7. Do I Have to Use the Builder’s Preferred Lender?

No, but as mentioned in the last question, doing so may allow you to negotiate a discount on your home. It is perfectly acceptable to go to another lender to compare rates to your builder’s lender, to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

8. Can I Choose My Own Colors and Other Options?

If you are building a truly custom home, the answer is yes. However, if you are buying into a development where construction has already started, your choices may be limited because many of the materials used in building take weeks or longer to arrive, so may be difficult or even impossible to change the plan once the building process has begun.

9. Is It Possible to Push Back the Closing Date?

This answer is almost always going to be a hard “no” for this one, because every day that the house remains unpurchased after construction costs the builder a substantial amount of money.

10. Can I Close Early?

Usually, this will also be a no because builders want to ensure they have all the time they need to deliver a completed house with minimal flaws, so closing early is rarely an option.

These seem to be 10 of the most commonly asked questions of home builders. With this information, we hope to provide you with a better idea of what the processes surrounding buying and building your own home are like.

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