Creating Realistic Expectations for your new home building project can save you a lot of time, energy and heartache. This is one of the most problematic issues I have encountered in my 35 years of home design. There are three major areas where most clients make false assumptions that can hamper a successful design process.

Friends and Family Connection

If only I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “ Yes, but we have an Uncle that does ___”. While many of us may know someone related to construction, it is unrealistic to assume this connection will yield double digit percentage savings. In fact unless you are building as an owner/builder utilizing a special connection may even be frowned upon your builder as it may cause more trouble than it’s worth to him. Being an owner/builder also yields many difficulties that I will detail more in the next section.

Using a friend or family member may cost you more than any imagined savings as their handling of a job as a favor can mean time delays and costs for you.

Are you really Smarter than an 8th Grader

We all naturally imagine we are smarter than the next person. I wish this was actually true. If every contractor and design professional you meet with tells you typical costs per square foot are $200, why would you still talk about a $150 per square foot budget as attainable? Failing to come to terms with prevalent costs and your actual budget can be extremely painful. I have worked with many clients that failed to do this. They ended up six months down the road with house plans that are useless to them and countless hours expended by their contractor and his/her sub-contractors for a pointless exercise. Please don’t make this mistake.

Eyes are too big for the Stomach

Similar to the other mistakes, setting a realistic program and budget are essential to a successful home design effort. I once had clients that had put together an extensive list of rooms and features they wanted for their new home. Their list included six bedrooms, game room, theater room and much more. Their list from my experience dictated a home of over ten thousand square feet yet their desired square footage was less than eight thousand. Better sill, their budget wouldn’t build a six thousand square foot home. I asked them “ Which home do you want to build?”.

When putting together your wish list, critically analyze how essential each space is and how it fits within your budget. Always keep in mind that consumers typically see their home costs go another ten percent above their original contract amount. Will you really use that dedicated theater room or will it simply become a rarely used extravagance? Do I really need a Great Room to seat ten people when that need may only occur a few times a year?

In Conclusion

Setting realistic and achieve able goals in building your next dream home can save you from unnecessary frustration and cost. Not to mention countless hours and months of time chasing a rabbit that isn’t real. Designing and building a new custom home can be a rewarding and even fun experience if you do.

This is the third article in a nine part series entitled “Custom home design’s rewards and challenges”. For more information on avoiding cost overruns, review this article.