Many people dream of building their own custom designed home but don’t for a variety of reasons. The complexities of the construction process can seem overwhelming. Some people assume you have to be rich to build your own home, others just don’t know where to begin.
Actually, building a home can be both fun and affordable. This is especially true for modern home buyers since there are a variety of high-quality, modular and prefabricated homes which can literally be had “out of the box”. These prefabricated homes (often referred to as prefab homes, modular homes, or manufactured homes) combine the best of high-end architecture with eco-friendly living.
If you decide to go with a modern prefabricated home, the tasks involved in building a home become even simpler than a traditional stick-built home. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t work involved, but it is a very logical, step-by-step process.
1. Crunch the numbers. Think about what you can afford. Talk to your banker or mortgage lender and find out what you qualify for. It might be a good idea to get pre-qualified so that when you find the right property, you can get things rolling without delay.
2. Buy your land. Obviously you must own the land before you can build the house, but what many people don’t realize is that the lay of the land will help to define your housing choices. The layout you ultimately choose will depend to some degree on the topography, exposure, and location of the property. Be sure you pay attention to local building regulations, soil conditions/drainage, and CC&Rs. An experienced real estate agent who has assisted other home buyers with land or lot purchases for either prefabricated or custom homes should be able to assist you with this process.
3. Find a prefab design company. This is really when the fun begins. There are many choices out there, so do your homework. You will quickly realize that there are modern prefab designers and architects out there for just about every need and pocketbook. Check out companies such as Clever Homes, Michelle Kaufmann Designs, Marmol Radziner Prefab, and the Dwell Homes by Empyrean. Even IKEA is assembling homes for the European market. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them eventually make their way over to our shores.
4. Organize the team. Once you’ve chosen your prefab home design company, you’ll need help! Some prefab companies will handle this for you (for a fee), but many require that you line up your own professionals. At a minimum you’ll need a general contractor to prepare the site and assemble the home once it has been delivered.
5. Get permits. You will need building permits and perhaps design reviews, depending on your neighborhood. Your contractor may handle some of this for you, although you will be responsible for the permit fees, etc.
6. Have fun. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Just be sure to arrange contracts with everyone and get everything in writing!
Building a modern prefab home requires careful coordination and patience however the result is often well worth the wait. Proper due diligence and planning should result in a fabulous prefabricated home with architectural and “green living” flair which you can enjoy for many years.