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Before You Start Building

There is a lot to consider before you begin building, from conducting a soil test to find out if the house will require more than a standard foundation and percolation test to determine what kind of septic system you need (of course if you need it!), to developing your plans in details in accordance with the building codes and obtaining building permit.

Decide Your House Design and Get The Plans

Before deciding on your house design and how you will build it, check out some of the new, and not so new, ideas that are out there. Before you decide to work with an architect, you have to know what you want. Is it a traditional, or contemporary style, cottage, ranch-style rambler, or might be something new? You can find a lot of plans in the internet featuring one basic design or another. You may find something that suits to you and order a complete set of plans for $1,000÷$1,500.

The easiest way to pass all requirements is to hire a local architect, who provide the plans in accordance with building codes and city requirements and who is familiar with quirks of the building inspection department. In other case you can use a ready-to-build (pre-designed and pre-approved) plans, which already permitted by the city authorities. Even when so-called pre-designed buildings and pre-approved plans are sold with the assurance that they will satisfy building codes, there are likely to be areas where a local inspector will want some changes. In this case, usually, you have to work with a structural engineer to specify foundation depth, beam sizes, and other technical information required for a building permit.

Your house plans should be approval by city building department before you start building.

Zoning, Building Codes, Permits and Inspections

The main zoning categories are commercial and residential, but there are also many subcategories. Zoning regulations control what can you build on your site.

Building codes regulates all aspects of construction and includes control all major structural components, insulation, thermal quality of windows, ventilation, electric, plumbing, and more.

On a new house or large addition you have to get a building permit. In many areas, you may also need special permits and inspections to make sure that electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling work is up to code.

Inspections is the most important part of your building process, which should be done on each studies of construction before next study run. Inspectors have the final say is that study of construction (foundation, framing, etc.) is complete and meet the building codes or not. To avoid extra expenses, save time and money, as well as reduce problems with city inspectors, you can hire a professional for a whole project (builder), or for some parts of the project (contractor) to manage and supervise a job and contact with inspectors.

Budget Your Building

You may have a castle in mind, but you need to keep a realistic view of cost and labor. Assuming similar square footages of living area, building up is generally less expensive than building down. So, in other words, building two-level house (building up) with a given amount of floor space will be less cost than building a one-level house with basement (building down). Square footage, walls design, roof lines, using energy efficient materials, and finishing needs your special attention in your budget as well. However, financing might be awkward because lenders may hesitate to provide money for a house that may not to be finished in a few years.

Optimize What You Want and What You Can

There are many alternatives how to build your dream home and there are some benefit ideas for you:

  1. Check out pre-approved plans to meet your needs and save time and money or hire the local architect for custom house plans

  2. Hire the pros to handle parts you feel beyond your skills

  3. Budget your building

  4. Ask at least 2-3 estimates for each type of work

  5. Use prefabricated parts as possible (roof trusses, frame details, etc.) to save time/money

  6. Select finishing materials at low-cost

  7. Control and correct each study of construction in time and money

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