Custom Home Design & Preconstruction Checklist

This is blog post 1/3 on designing and building a new custom home – click [here] for part 2 and [here] for part 3 to read on about what you should consider.

When you start the process of building a custom home, the sheer number of decisions and factors you must consider can get overwhelming in a hurry. The whole idea of building a new house is to get exactly what you want but trying to balance all the different options available can get difficult and stressful.

R. L. Rider Remodeling wants the custom home process to be enjoyable and exciting, not stressful! That starts with asking the right questions from the start which is what this checklist is about. If you live in the East Lansing, Okemos, Lansing, DeWitt, or surrounding areas we can help you directly. If not, no problem, feel free to print this list and use it as a guide as you start planning your dream home and searching for a local contractor that can best help you.

It is important to remember there are tradeoffs to every decision, but by prioritizing your desires and working with an expert on budget your perfect home can become a reality.

Location –

the first and most important thing to consider is where you would like your new home to be built. Answer these questions to get an idea of potential sites that may interest you.

  • Which town or metro area to do want to live in or near? Consider any jobs, family connections, etc.
  • Do you want to live in an urban, suburban, or rural environment?
  • What size lot do you want? Large lot sizes in the city or added acreage in the country add privacy and space, but typically add expense as well.
  • What kind of weather do you prefer? All four seasons or endless summer? (Year-round summer = $$)
  • What school districts are available to your children if you were to live on a given site?
  • What kind of access to amenities and necessities like the grocery store, hospital, etc. do you want?

Site Characteristics –

once you have narrowed down where you plan to build, you can start to dial in the features of your specific site that you would like to have.

  • Is your site flat, sloped, hilly, or quite steep? The steeper/rougher the terrain, the more expensive it is to clear the land to begin your project. It is also good to consider every season e.g. Michigan winters make steep, hilly terrain difficult to plow and drive through.
  • Are there any natural characteristics your property has that you’d like a view of? Examples such as a river, lake, forest, mountain range, fields, etc.
  • Do you want lots of large trees for privacy and beauty, or big, open spaces? Or a mix of both?
  • Is there foliage currently on the site that can be utilized in your plan, or perhaps must be removed?
  • Do you want a large yard with a conventional grass lawn or cool landscaping (consider maintenance)?
  • Are you a gardener, food grower, or landscaper? Does the site support your hobby well?
  • Are there any man-made structures that you will need to work around e.g. power lines through site?
  • Is there any issue with standing water or drainage?

Infrastructure –

depending on where you choose your lot, the infrastructure will largely be chosen for you. There are some important considerations and cost impacts that will depend on your decision.

  • Will you have access to a city/municipal water connection or will we need to dig a well?
  • Will you have access to a city/municipal sewer system or is a drain field necessary?
  • Does the site have available power lines nearby or would alternative measures be required?
  • Would you prefer alternative energy such as solar panels if viable?
  • Would you like an emergency backup generator on site?
  • How will you heat your house? Gas, electric, wood-fired, etc.
  • Does your site have access to a gas line or would you need a storage tank?
  • Are the roads you would usually take in good condition? Are they paved or dirt?
  • What kind of driveway would you want? Is it viable to drive in all seasons where you plan to?
  • What internet and/or TV options are available at your home?
  • Are there any other eco-friendly considerations you want to include in your home?

These questions are a good place to start your custom home planning process. This is part 1 of 3, to read on to part 2 click [here] and for part 3 click [here].