Many of our regular readers already know that here at RR we were already pretty busy with projects in several countries scattered across the globe before the recent Presidential Elections and Superstorm Sandy.
NOW, we have so many projects tabled that we’re running out of room!
We’re getting hundreds of requests a month from families looking for the peace and security of owning their own affordable, sustainable home. Until recently, many of these families were “sitting on the fence”. But now, with “the state of the (fill in the blank)… families are making hard decisions and now they are beginning to pave the roads.
The number one question we get asked is:
“Where do we start?”
Building your own home starts with PLANNING. I can’t stress that highly enough. While your new home isn’t going to build itself, it’s certainly not going to DESIGN itself, either.
Planning your home is a series of processes that begins with defining what you need, deciding who will help you achieve it and then… doing it by following the plan.
Look, you show me a family that failed in their attempt to build a home and I’ll show you a family that didn’t have a good plan.
In order for your new home to be cost effective and even (gasp!) easier… you have to plan properly. How is this achieved?
Budget for LOTS of design time. Figure out exactly what you want, balanced by what you can afford.
Changing the color of an appliance is no big deal. Sure, the color option may add a few bucks, but changing WHERE that appliance lands in your kitchen can give you a budgetary heart attack. Take the time to insure that you have everything where you want it to be.
Contractors may tell you that they can move things around later. They LOVE that. It’s that “movement” that puts their kids through college or buys them that fancy new work truck. Instead, I want you to concentrate on putting YOUR kids through college, not his/hers. Capishce?
Spend TONS of time doing research to source those things that you can’t live without. Don’t just look at things you know you want. Look at everything that you can. I know it sounds like a “side-step”, but it isn’t. You’d be surprised how many times we make an suggestion for a change and the family says;
“We never even thought of that.”
Draw it all out so many times that you can do it in your sleep… and then do exactly that. SLEEP on it. Mull it over in your head.
“What could we do differently? What will need to change as WE change as a Family?”
If you do this properly, the cream will start rising to the surface. You’ll start seeing things that you KNOW are RIGHT for you.
Once you have your plan, STICK TO IT.
Trust me when I tell you that all those “last minute changes” are budget busters. It’s not just the new materials and the new labor costs, it’s the revision and change orders that come with making modifications to your build DURING the build. You want to make ALL of your changes on the dining room table, on PAPER.
I cannot stress this highly enough.
And keep in mind that the paper on the table represents a living, organic thing that you will incorporate into your life. It’s like getting another hand, or another set of shoulders. It’s an extension of YOU. Every change you make to it will affect you, just as assuredly as putting on a coat in winter.
Think about WHERE your materials will come from. The rule of thumb is;
“If I can’t drive across town and get it, it’s too far away.” Shipping costs time and money. More importantly, try to buy your materials from local small businesses. There’s a reason that our economy is getting pounded. We’re buying everything from multi-national big box stores, right out of a shipping container from China.
All I want out of that container… IS the container.
If I source my materials locally, it also means that I have created a relationship with guys and gals who can help me LOCALLY if I get into trouble.
If you have the time to do your research and shop, you can get what you need without pressure (because you have plenty of time) and you get to help you local economy too. Part of building a home is establishing and protecting a community that will become an asset when times get hard.
Start with FUNCTION and then work on form. I know that most people do it the other way around, but I find that by defining what you need and THEN defining “which one” , you avoid many of the pitfalls of “impulse additions” that can kill your budget.
Okay, “Sunday Sermon” is over.
Now, go out and play with the family! Have fun! Life is about enjoying those you love. Don’t forget that.