I haven’t met anyone yet that doesn’t love the thrill of the chase, the joy of finding that perfect home, or that first pass of the bulldozer for your new homes building pad. But very often, sometimes long before that moment, we lose sight of some very important pieces to this puzzle.
There are three things that are key in my mind to a successful and productive home selection process if you don’t know these three things, and have them written down you inevitably fall short of your expectations in the final product.
Home buying or home building either one requires focus, and it requires a set goal. Most people see that goal as a number of bedrooms, or a neighborhood they want to live in, but I say that it should be more than that, it should be more detailed and more intentional, thus the three things.
So here are the three things that Meg and I are considering as we make plans to build our home, and how I believe that they will help you in just about any purchase you ever make.
1) TIMEFRAME: This is a huge factor in any purchase, but especially in the search for a home. Whether buying or building your timeframe tells you everything about what you can and cannot do. It sets the field, and it defines the level of compromise you will be willing to make with the other two elements I’m going to share. You must define your timeframe and then depending on how long you have, set some intermediate goals within that overall space. This will give you benchmark points that help you to know if you are on or off of schedule overall before you get to the very end.
A schedule, which is ultimately the vehicle we use to define a timeframe and set goals/benchmarks along it, is a simple thing to create. If you are purchasing a home it might look like a set of dates with a number of homes that you want to look at by each of those dates. You could then include some time for closing, and final details, as well as move in. If building the schedule becomes even that much more important because you are in complete control of the timeline, and your decisions with your designer or homebuilder are key to how quickly they can move your design process and subsequent construction along. For those building I would set a timeframe in number of months. If it’s July of 2014, and you want to be in your home by July of 2015 then you’ve got 12 months. Make sure that your designer/homebuilder agree to the schedule and work with you on it. You can then set goals with the team you’ve hired so that you have goals for each month of the process. I promise this sounds like a lot of work, and this is not nearly as much fun as picking out bathroom fixtures or going shopping for furniture. But it’s worth it and it’s part of the recipe that will take you from we like this home to we love this home!
2) BUDGET: You knew I would go there… Budget is probably the number one hardest piece of the puzzle for those building or buying a home. There are so many little things that come up in the day to day process of finding a home or designing one. Then you catch yourself stuck in that moment where you’re out of money, but that fixture is exactly what we want, so it goes on the credit card, or pulled out of savings. It’s very easy to spend thousands more than planed especially when building a home, because all the pieces aren’t right there and easily identified.
One of the ways to define your budget is to determine an ultimate “not to exceed” amount. This is your bottom line, if you spend more than this you’re losing money on the deal. Then once that initial budget amount is reached pull back 10-15%, this is your contingency. You have 15% of your total budget dedicated to the unforeseen expenses. Then go through the remainder of your budget with your team, realtors, designers, architect, home builder, whom ever. Detail the rest of that money into the design, you can show a spreadsheet or just a general list of items and costs, depending on how involved your process is. For home buyers the list of items and costs will usually work great, if you’re building I recommend a full breakdown and cost estimate from your designer/builder. This will ultimately lead to you picking and choosing where you want you’re money to go. Unless your Mr. Trump, or related to him in some way, you probably won’t have the money to get everything you want exactly as you want it. Thus the compromise comment in the budgeting paragraph. Staying focused on your budget and making those hard decisions of where to spend the money will be easier with the next and final piece of the puzzle.
3) DEAL BREAKERS: Yep, just like a mate, your home buying/building experience has deal breakers. Even the most laid back and easy going shopper wants something specific. SO write it down. The first thing you should do, especially if you have a wife, husband, or significant other working through this process with you is to write down and discuss your deal breakers.
It can be white countertops, or 4 bedrooms, it can be a neighborhood, or certain kitchen appliances. But you will have deal breakers, and they will be important to the process. So every one involved should take a moment, a day, a week, to write down your deal breakers. This isn’t a dream list, this isn’t a Pinterest Board, this is your I can’t live without this in my life list. It’s the big stuff, it should be simple, straight forward and clearly defined. These are the things that you spend your money on, these are your priorities. Before you go looking at houses, before you run off to hire John Doe Custom Homes, you need to know that if it doesn’t have these 5-8 things you don’t want it… No matter how good the deal is.
To help you out in this, think of the things you love about where you live now, those are probably deal breakers, they are a part of your culture now, a part of your family process. Next think of the things you really wish you had, these are probably deal breakers as well. Now all of this must be considered within reason, you need to discuss these with a good friend who will; “put you in your place”, as Meg likes to say. Don’t be silly, and don’t be stupid. A hummer, or a private lake isn’t usually a legitimate deal breaker. So start there and see where you end, if your list is longer than a page, you’re probably asking too much, and you need a real honest review session. If it’s two items you might not be digging deep enough. I can’t tell you a magic number there isn’t one, but you’ll know it when you reach it because in that list will be a home, it will be all you know you want and need.
Are there other ways you have organized your process for a home?
From The Farm
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