New house planning: How to get started

by Bob Hummer 04/02/2024

If you’re building a new house, planning begins long before you break ground. There are many steps involved, each with the potential for either hindering or enhancing your experience and process. To make sure you’re approaching the home building journey the right way, here is a short guide to the most important planning steps:

Compare multiple contractor bids

In most cases, hiring a general contractor is the most expensive part of building your new home. Picking the right contractor is a complicated process itself, but it’s crucial to compare different options carefully to find somebody affordable, trustworthy and efficient. Make sure to budget for every detail, and contact references to narrow down your options.

Comparison shop materials

Usually, the general contractor is in charge of choosing materials, amenities and appliances for your new home. However, it’s in your best interest to be involved in the process as well. Make your specific preferences known, and stay firm on your budget needs.

Choose your lot

If you haven’t purchased a lot for your new home, now’s the time to find one. Speak with real estate agents in your area to get a better idea of land costs in the locations you’re considering for your new home. You’ll also need to research details like zoning, building codes and soil condition before you break ground.

Create or pick a house plan

Most new homes are built from stock house plans provided by builders or designers. While it might seem simple to pick from a catalog, finding the perfect plan requires careful consideration. If you’re having trouble deciding, you can always consult a designer or builder for advice, suggestions or modifications to an existing plan.

Choose your team

You’ve probably already chosen a contractor, but there are other important players in this particular game. For instance, you’ll likely need a builder, surveyor, excavator and an architectural engineer. Assemble your perfect team and decide how much direct involvement you want to have in the process.

Craft a contract

It’s essential to get everything in writing. Come up with a contract for the general contractor or builder, home designer and everybody else involved in the process.

New home construction contracts typically include a detailed list of all parts of the new house puzzle. This is where you make specifics like building materials and budget needs explicitly clear to prevent delays and confusion. If you need help drafting a contract, speak to a real estate agent or real estate lawyer for guidance.

Are you ready to put your new house plans into action? Keep these tips in mind to have the best possible home building experience.

About the Author

Bob Hummer

Bob Hummer brings a wealth of experience with him; a practitioner in real estate in Northern Virginia since 1978, a Life Member of both the Million Dollar Sales Club and the Top Producers Club with over 2,500 Satisfied Families and President, Prince William Association of REALTORS in 1991. His experiences range from helping buyers and sellers attain their goals; to renovating historic homes on Capitol Hill; to counseling and assisting homeowners facing the loss of their home due to foreclosure. Since 1996, he has presented his free monthly Home Buyer and Home Seller seminars at the Woodbridge campus of Strayer University. In June 2023 he completed the Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist course and was awarded the designation CPRES. His goal is to assist individuals who inherited real estate and wish to sell. A former "Military Brat" and a retired Air Force Hospital Administrator, Bob has made more than 26 moves during his life and is extremely familiar with all aspects of a family relocating - whether it is across the street or across the nation.