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Tips for
Building Your
Dream Home

with Colorado Builder, Darren Mann

Tips for Building Your Dream Home with Darren Mann

Deciding to build a new home is an extremely exciting endeavor. It allows you to create a space that is tailored specifically to you, your needs, and your style. There’s a whole world of opportunity, and if you approach the process with the right plan, it can be a very rewarding experience. The key to that success is to have the right tools and expectations when beginning the job. Colorado builder, Darren Mann, helped us to compile a list of suggestions for successful home building and what to expect when working with a builder in Colorado.

“Set the right expectations, have a solid plan, a solid team, and an open line of communication. These are the keys to success for any project.” - Darren Mann
1. Establish a Vision

Picture your dream home. What do you see? What direction does the lot face? What rooms are you spending the most time in and why? How does your house improve your daily routine? Are you planning to entertain and how often?

Darren Mann also suggests taking the opportunity to evaluate your current home. What do you like about it? What are the problem areas? How would you improve these? Think about everything from the flow of the house to the storage. Write all these thoughts down so you can see the big picture.

In addition to envisioning your dream home in “the now”, think about the future of the home.  By doing this, you’re often able to eliminate or more clearly think about the purpose and longevity of each room. If you’re about to be empty nesters, do you really need a living room, media room, and family room? Probably not. This helps you to evaluate the distribution of your budget which is especially important if that is a key factor in your building decisions. By building a smaller yet more purposeful home you can stretch your dollar to include more detailed finishes and even furnishings. Darren Mann says that so often, people go overboard and allow little to no room in their budget for the final touches which can go a long way in personalizing and defining the home.

Start compiling inspiration images. This will better refine your vision and help your design and build team better understand that vision. Look at exterior and interior images, floor plans, and design details. Pinterest is a great platform for your inspiration board. You can create a “board” for each room and eventually share that with the designer and builder.

Darren Mann suggests taking your time with this phase. Mull things over and know that things will evolve throughout the design and building process.

Inspiration Image for New Custom Kitchen

Image of Budgeting Materials for New Home

2. Establish a Budget & Budget More than You Expect!

This goes hand in hand with Step 1 of establishing a vision. Budget will dictate a lot of the decisions when it comes to building a home. In addition, it is important to know that it will likely cost more than what is bid by the builder. The builder will always do their best to provide an accurate bid, but there can often be unforeseen costs or decisions that have not been made about finishes or materials that can add to the overall budget. For example, the builder may put a placeholder in for cabinetry costs because those selections have not been made. That placeholder could vary greatly depending on the cabinets you choose to buy for the design. Over the course of the build, these unforeseen costs can add up to quite a lot. Darren Mann suggests keeping that in mind and planning for it.

3. Find Your Team.

Finding the right team to refine your vision and bring it to life is a crucial step. Some clients prefer to hire an architect and a builder independently of one another. Others hire a custom builder that has an architect or engineer on staff. Whatever direction you choose to go, these will be the experts that help you define your plan and your budget. They will put that plan to paper, evaluate your costs, find solutions to potential problems within the design, and help to ensure that things move smoothly throughout the construction phase.

When looking for your team, know that you will be working together for the long haul. Make sure its a good fit and consider these factors when making your selection:

Credentials – Always make sure your builder is adequately licensed and insured. Insurance you’ll want to look for includes general liability insurance and worker’s compensation. It’s also worth asking if they use independent subcontractors and verify their credentials as well.

Previous Work – Browse through their portfolio of homes constructed in the past. Evaluate the quality of their work and check the resale value of those homes.

Style – When looking at their portfolio, make sure that your styles and aesthetics align. You may want something they are not experienced in building, in which case you may have greater success with a builder or team experienced in that particular style.

Personality – Is this someone you feel comfortable with? You will be working together for many months, and you need to make sure you can openly communicate with them. Communication is key. They will be leading a team that is constructing your home. You want to make sure they are communicating with that team effectively.

Darren Mann says, “Communication is key on both sides of any project. It is important to understand that sometimes being brutally honest and having an open line of communication is in the best interest of the project. We want things done right and we want to know you feel good about them.”

Clear communication and outlining your desires and expectations will be a big part of the next step.

4. Establish and Understand Your Contract

It is extremely important that you establish expectations from both sides before beginning a project. List in detail all your expectations, and the more detailed the better. This not only gives clarification on what each party expects of one another, it gives an estimated cost for the project and a breakdown of all the proposed expenses. Make sure this breakdown includes information about the following:

1.) Utility information regarding connections etc.,

2.)Information about what areas of the home will have access to those utilities and central ac/heat.

3.) information about the garage or basement. Will it be finished or unfinished?

Also, look for a timeframe for construction and be sure that the contract includes warranty and insurance information, payment schedule, and detailed plans for the project. Have your lawyer review this contract and make any revisions that are needed. Those revisions will need to be agreed upon by both parties.

In drafting this contract and finalizing plans with your builder, it is also important to know what opportunities you may have for grants. If you’re building a green structure, you may be able to offset some of your costs depending on where you live. Speak with your team and lender to find out what grants, credits, or rebates you may be eligible for.

5. Financing

When building a new property, it is most likely that you will need a construction home loan to finance the building process. This type of loan is structured differently than your normal home loan. The lender will release your funds in payments versus all at once. For this reason, it is important to make sure that your payment schedule in your contract is clearly stated and matches up with the agreement made with your lender. Your contract is also important in determining the size of your loan. The estimated costs and construction plan will be used for all financing decisions.

Another point of consideration with construction loans is that they typically require a higher upfront deposit. These are considered riskier, and you often need to expect to have a down payment of at least 20%.

6. Expect Delays

As the construction process begins, be prepared for delays. This is unfortunately almost always part of the building process. Darren Mann says it is important to understand that your builder will always do their best to stay as close to the projected timeline as possible, however, there will inevitably be delays. In addition to that, it is important to understand that these delays can at times add to the overall cost of the project.

Knowing that there will be delays, homeowners should avoid building with a big event in mind. While most delays are within the scope of a few months, you need to be prepared that things could take longer.

7. Stay Involved

Another key element in managing project expectations and the outcome is to stay involved. Understand that decision-making and planning continue far beyond the initial planning phase, and you as the home-owner you need to be a part of those decisions. Some owners have expressed that they have decision fatigue by the time the process is over. Darren Mann says that is part of the process. “It is important to take your time, evaluate the outcomes and cost, and have an open line of communication with your builder and team to see that those choices best fit the project.”

Image of Home Builder Installing Drywall

Image of Colorado Custom Build Interior

8. Continue to Look for Ways to Save

As mentioned before it is important to budget more than you expect with any project. That being said, as plans evolve throughout the construction process, always be on the lookout for ways to save. Darren Mann says your builder can be a valuable source of information in finding cost-savings solutions or alternatives. He says it is important to shop around and get multiple quotes on items such as fittings, fixtures, and materials. Over time every little bit of savings adds up.

9. Keep a Positive Attitude

Building a home is not for the faint of heart. It is generally a bit hectic and often involves delays and sudden changes to plans. Understanding that and hiring experienced professionals you trust will make the process a lot less overwhelming. Have a clear vision and extra money in your budget to help manage those obstacles, and keep a positive attitude.

10. Good Luck!

We hope you found this article helpful and feel more prepared for the process of building a home! It is a truly rewarding experience – especially after all the thought and effort that goes into the process. There’s nothing like seeing your dream home come to life!

A Little Bit More About Darren Mann:

Darren Mann has been in the construction industry since 1978 with experience in all aspects of commercial and residential construction. He has managed multi-billion dollar projects for big-name clients throughout the country. We appreciate Darren Mann’s insight and suggestions for this article about the process of building a new home and creating a successful relationship with your builder.