Planning Your Dream House While Keeping Your Sanity

Use this checklist to keep yourself grounded as you start the process of building your dream house.

After building a life and saving for years, you’re finally ready to jump in and build a house unique to you. It’s an involved process. There are many different details that require attention, and new questions to consider. Use this checklist to keep yourself grounded as you start the process of building your dream house from scratch.


Define Your Goals

A custom-built home is a huge goal on its own, but to achieve this goal, make a list of smaller goals to help you define it. This list should include what you want the house to look like, where you want the house to be, and how much you are willing to spend. Your list should be laid out in identifiable steps. Define your budget. Lock down a location. Make sure there are two bathrooms on the second floor.  Knowing the details of your plan will make the overarching plan ("build a dream house") much easier. 


Dream House Above Green Grass Field


Create Your Budget

Start by detailing your budget. Break it down into specific details. If you budget every job that needs to be done, it will give you more control over the project and more flexibility. Mark off exactly what you plan to spend on each element of your design. This way, you know where every dollar is going. If you end up needing more money for one area and less for another, you can shift without compromising your overall budget. Plan wiggle room too. When you’re building a house, it’s almost guaranteed there will be extra costs you didn't anticipate.


Budget planning


Find a Location

Once you decide on a budget, pick the  plot of land for your new home. Look around the surrounding areas and see how you fit in. Do you like the center of town? Does the area have good schools for your family? Don’t be afraid to build on a developed piece of land either. Often, land that has a distressed house on it will come at a great price, and all you need to do is allow an extra week or two for demolition. Demolition will eat into your budget, but if there’s a worn-out house on your favorite plot of land, why not go for it?


 Home for Sale Sign


Hire an Architect 

Building a new home from scratch will require a team, and the sooner you start building that team, the better. Get an architect involved as soon as possible. This step can even come before you decide on the exact location for your home. If an architect is with you from the beginning, they will be familiar with what you’re looking for and can make suggestions that support your vision for your dream home. Once you’ve chosen an architect, keep going. If you nail down your designers early, they can begin collaborating on your house sooner. The longer your team can work together, the better your house will turn out.


Builder team


Spend Time With Your Designers

Spend time with the people designing your new home! You’ve hired them to work for you, and their designs will only be what you want if you communicate effectively. Take time to sit down with them and understand their plans. If their plans don’t match what you want, say so. A few hours with your designers early in the process will save you lots of grief, frustration, and confusion once you’re further along. 


Interior designer with two clients


Details, Details, Details

The elements of your design that are going to make it distinct to you will be small, but important. The details matter. Reference your list of goals when you talk with your designers and review blueprints. Never let the details fall to the wayside. You have the most control before  the big pieces start being put together. 


Couple embracing in front of new big modern house


A new house is a big deal. It’s an even bigger deal when you’re designing it from scratch. Use these bits of advice to keep sane and be confident as you begin plans for the home you always dreamed of. 

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

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