If you have ever thought about buying land and building your dream home, doing your research up-front is critical. Once completed, in theory, your new home will be just right for your family’s needs. To get to that point, however, there are several potential pitfalls you must avoid.
Things to Consider When Building Your Own Home
- When you head out to buy property for your new home, you must consider practical things like access to roads (frontage), availability of water (Can you tie into city water? Will you need a well? If so, will the property support it?), and other utilities like electric and internet service. You must also understand the environmental regulations in NC that may impact homebuilding, such as stormwater management, erosion control, and wetlands preservation.
- Before starting construction, it’s important to understand local zoning and building codes to ensure your plans comply with regulations. You do not want to face fines or even legal action for noncompliance. You also need to check and see if the property is governed by an established Homeowners Association. If so, the covenants and by-laws may dictate what you can (and cannot) do on your property.
- Don’t forget the permits. Obtaining the necessary permits and approvals can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. If you hire a general contractor, they will typically handle this for you. If you choose to act as your own general contractor, you must be licensed by the North Carolina Licensing Board for General Contractors and obtain the necessary permits to perform construction work. In either case, it is important to understand there may be project delays and cost overruns due to hold-ups in the permitting process. You must also build in delays for the necessary inspections.
- Building a home on your own property can raise legal issues related to property rights, boundary disputes, and easements. Do your research ahead of time. If your neighbors own land but are not living on site, potential disputes may not come up right away. It’s important to consult with a lawyer to ensure that your plans comply with local laws and regulations; he or she can also work to prevent future disputes.
- Cost overruns are very common with custom builds. Have a contingency budget in place to address challenges. In addition to shifting material and labor costs, you may forget to account for certain purchases (blinds, outside light fixtures, or even a mailbox), or you may change your mind about finishes or furnishings.
- In today’s labor market finding and retaining qualified contractors and sub-contractors can be frustrating. Building a home requires a high level of expertise and coordination between contractors and subs. Without the proper experience or oversight, construction challenges can arise, leading to delays and additional costs.
- Disputes with contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers may result in legal action. This can include things like breach of contract claims, payment disputes, or construction defect claims. Subcontractors or suppliers may place liens on the property if they are not paid for their work by the general contractor. Homebuilders must ensure that all parties are paid in full to avoid liens.
- Finally, consider resale value. Building a home that is unique or not a conventional style for the area could make it hard to sell in the future. Consider how potential buyers may view your “perfect” home.
If you are looking to buy land and build a home in NC, speak with an experienced real estate attorney to ensure you understand and follow relevant laws and regulations. It will save you headaches down the road. Make an appointment today.
I’ve had two homes built and, to me, the most important thing is to know what you’re paying for. I’d rather build a 2000 square foot home with upgraded materials, than build a 3000 square foot home with builders grade material for the same price. Most homes are built with OSB instead of plywood. Many bathrooms have fiberglass units which are low quality. Most kitchen cabinets are MDF, thermofoil or particle board rather than real wood. You need to know what materials you’re getting. The builder grade stuff will not last nearly as long as good materials.