Building a house is an exciting, scary, satisfying and sometimes frustrating endeavor. The more you prepare in advance the more you can ensure an enjoyable process. Before even sitting down with a designer, an architect, a timber framer or a builder, start thinking about these points:
What type of house do I want?
Single story, multiple story, open concept or distinct rooms, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms? Make a list of “must haves” and a list of “if I could have it I’d like” items. Start saving pictures of both houses you like and ones you don’t. Look at pre-designed house floor plans for ideas.
What's my style?
Where is my house going to be located?
The site plays an important part in decision making. On a sloped site it makes sense to have a walk-out basement. Are there views you want to take into account when determining what rooms are located to take advantage of them? What rooms do you want to have southern exposure? Do you have a good sunrise or sunset view? Close neighbors you want to block out of sight? Your climate is a consideration as well.
What is my time frame?
Building a house can take a while. Do you have the time and temperament to handle weather delays? Delays due to material delivery problems?
What's my budget?
This is an important question to think about. How much are you comfortable spending? If you build a house that costs more than your comfort level allows for you probably won't enjoy it as much as one you can afford without losing sleep over at night. Be sure to include a contingency amount in your budget so unexpected costs don't cause major problems.
How involved do I want to be?
Are you excited at the prospect of picking out paint colors and tile and counter tops and bathroom vanities, or does the thought make you cringe? Do you want to be as involved as possible or be called when it’s done? Thinking about the overall process as individual separate steps can make the whole project feel manageable, but how involved you are throughout is your decision.
How do I find an architect, designer, timber framer, builder?
Ask friends and family who they worked with. Research companies on line. The Timber Framers Guild has lists of professionals on their website. If you’ve decided on a timber frame house often a timber framer and designer work hand in hand, and have architects and builders they’ve worked with in the past and can recommend. On the flip side, many architects and builders are not familiar with timber framing and may not have suggestions for a timber framer or designer specializing in timber frames. Do you already have a floor plan you like? If so, it may need to be modified for a timber frame but can serve as a good starting point.