You’re the kind of person who doesn’t like the same old, same old. You’re an original and you love things that are one-of-a-kind. Perhaps it’s obvious in the way you dress or in the work you enjoy or the things you do for fun.

So, when it comes time to purchase a home, you’re looking for something out of the ordinary. Maybe that something is a custom home – one that’s different from the rest and one for which you can have a hand in the design.

To you, the whole process of building a custom home is exciting and not at all a burden. You’re anxious to choose the right lot and to work with the architect and builder to craft a home that will tick all the boxes in regards to your needs and wants.

But where do you start?

Which comes first? The architect or the lot?

So you’ve found that perfect lot for your perfect house. It’s the size and shape you want and has the perfect view. That’s great, right?

Well, not necessarily, which is why it’s often recommended that you hire the architect/builder (sometimes they’re the same person or your builder may have one on staff) before you purchase the lot.

Why? Well, there are a lot of things that need to be determined about the lot before that first shovel-full of dirt is moved. For example, you have to determine ingress and egress (how you’ll get in and out of the property), which direction the house will face, and what’s available as far as utilities are concerned, like public water and sewer.

It is an architect’s job to help you determine the opportunities available at a particular site and then, from there, you can work on design together.

If you’ve recently begun shopping for an architect, be sure to check out more than one. Ask lots of questions about his/her experience, be clear about your budget, and be prepared to share not only basic plans (number of bedrooms and bathrooms, etc.) but also images (photos, blueprints, etc.) you’ve collected showing homes and styles that interest you.

The design process

If you chose an architect through an interview process, then chances are that person already knows the basics of what you are imagining as your dream house. But now, as you get more into the design nitty-gritty, you can hash out some more particulars.

A lot of what you choose and don’t choose will depend on your budget. For example, you might be picturing your home in stone or brick, but then discover that a wood-frame house is what you can afford. You might want a marble bath, but just can’t handle the extra cost. Your architect can go through each room in detail so that you know at the beginning of the process what will work for you.

Often, the buyer thinks they know exactly what they want in their house, but after discussion with the architect may change their mind and/or see things differently. That’s okay. That’s what the architect is there to do – guide the design process.

Choosing a Vancouver custom home builder

Once you’ve consulted in depth with the architect and have decided on all the specifics, he or she will draw up blueprints that you can take to the Vancouver-area home builders that you are considering. It’s always a good idea to check out more than one builder as this relationship will be an ultra-important one and you want to make sure you’re on the same page and can work together towards the ideal outcome. Your architect can certainly do the interviews with you, if you prefer. For more information on this, check out our 5 Steps To Ensure Successful Construction.

As with architects, it’s important to interview your potential custom home builder in depth. Ask your architect to help you put together a list of questions and – certainly – ask for references and speak to previous clients. A reputable builder should be eager to provide contact information for former customers and should certainly be able to offer you more than just pictures of houses his/her company built. You should also ask those references if you can stop by and look at the work the builder has done to determine quality and skill.

Put it in writing

Once you’ve made your choice and discussed specifics, you should receive a detailed contract that includes information about every aspect of your custom home. It should be specific as to what services will be performed and what materials are to be used, should include a timetable, and should also include a schedule of progress payments, all of which protect both you AND the builder. If it’s impossible to include some details (like appliance or HVAC models and makes), instead include allowances with specific dollar amounts.

Visit, visit, visit!

A good Vancouver custom home builder won’t mind that you’re stopping by the worksite, as long as you’re not underfoot or wandering in places that could be dangerous for you. It’s expected that you’ll stop by several times a week and it’s likely that the architect will stop by at least once a week. After all, this is likely one of the largest – if not THE largest – investment you’ll ever make, and you want to make sure it’s going off without a hitch. If you do surmise a problem, don’t hesitate to speak to the owner of the building company or the architect and voice your concerns before it’s too late to make changes or adjustments.