Building a custom home may be one of the biggest decisions and investments you will make in your lifetime… and one of the most exciting! It’s a chance to create vibrant spaces and experiences that fully embody your lifestyle and goals.
Of course, getting from an empty plot of land to your dream home takes vision, time, a well-defined process, and a talented team you can trust. Today, I’m arming you with information and sharing the process and nuances that go into building a custom home. But first…
The back exterior of The Jersey Palm Project, a new construction project located in Mantoloking, NJ that we completed in 2020.
When building a home, you may be surprised at…
1. The Number of Decisions to be Made
Most people are surprised by how much work is actually involved in building a custom home, from big decisions (like floor plans and plumbing) to little decisions (like door hardware and outlet locations). The number of decisions required for a simple renovation totals in the high hundreds. Apply this to a whole home being built from the ground up, and we have well over a thousand decisions to make!
Pro Tip: Having a designer on your team will ensure swift and professional decisions that help keep your project on budget and on schedule.
2. Normal Delays & Timing for a Custom Home
It is natural for unexpected delays to pop up, especially at the beginning of the project, when permits are required to start working on the site. Building a custom home generally takes a year or more to complete, based on the size of the home. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. 😉
3. The Value of an Interior Designer
Having an interior designer on your team is a bigger advantage than most people initially realize. Not only do we design for the home and life you want, we also eliminate decision overwhelm, manage your budget for long-term value, coordinate with trades, and keep you blissfully at peace during an intensive process.
From concept to construction, this project started with a clear vision to achieve the look and feel of the space.
Let’s Build Your Home
Step 1: Start with an Interior Designer
The first step to building a custom home isn’t necessarily finding a builder…the ideal scenario for your best final result is to work with an architect and interior designer first.
Why? Because we ask the deep questions that get to the heart of your lifestyle. We want to know how you plan to use the space, your daily routine, special events, and more. This information is essential to developing our design concepts, which serve as the basis of the entire project!
We’ll then collaborate with you and your architect to build out the structure and flow of the home. These account for your desired functions, aesthetics, and the design elements that come with them (like plumbing, lighting, built-ins, electrical, etc.).
For example, if you want a zero-clearance shower and you bring the design team in after framing, it’s going to add extra work (and expenses) all around. If the construction team knows this information in advance, they can sink the foundation to accommodate it.
Here are a few more progress shots from The Jersey Palm Project. Because we were brought onto the project from the get-go, we were able to design certain elements like the coffered ceilings, the exact location for hanging light fixtures, and the built-ins (which you can’t see in this photo, but are flanking either side of the wall). Since the construction process and design concepts were intertwined from day one, the final design was beautifully executed!
Step 2: Design Concepts, Budgeting & Sourcing
“Wait, Janelle… surely Step 2 should be hiring a builder?” Nope, we’re not quite there yet. You see, a builder can’t give us an accurate quote for your project until they know exactly what they’re building. The finishes, materials, and features you select (marble vs. corian, coffered ceilings, built-ins, wainscoting, etc.) all play into that quote.
So, how do we know what materials will be in your home?
The preliminary concepts we created for you in the beginning of the project set the stage for the overall look, feel, and function of each space in your home. These concepts inform the specific materials we’ll source for your fixed elements (flooring, countertops, etc.) which informs the overall investment schedule.
Once the budget and concepts are approved, we’ll hop to it!
We’ll start sourcing and acquiring quotes for all the items and materials. Again, this includes thousands of decisions and is important to do before hiring a builder. When we source to a specific budget, we’re less likely to have to go back to value engineer after we get the builder’s quote. For a new construction project, we’re able to budget and select every single construction element in the space — with confidence.
Then, we’ll put together a detailed construction specification binder that we use to get an accurate construction quote when bidding out your project.
Wainscoting, marble flooring, and floor-to-ceiling millwork — all elements established before we ever broke ground on this custom home.
Step 3: Bringing in the Builder
Once we’ve reached this step, we start to vet and get quotes from potential builders. Another benefit of working with an interior designer and architect first? We can recommend companies we’ve worked with before and trust. (Who doesn’t love a good referral? I sure do!)
After we submit requests for bids, we’ll communicate those quotes to you and work together to decide who to add to your dream team.
Once your builder is on board, we work seamlessly with them to ensure everyone involved is clear on all design specifications to accomplish the end goal… your gorgeous custom built home! Teamwork makes the dream work… so you don’t have to. 😉
We work closely with all parties involved and make frequent site visits to ensure everything is on track. It’s truly incredible to see a project of this size come to life right before our eyes. Knowing just how much work went into each phase makes the end result that much more gratifying.
Step 4: Construction Begins on Your Custom Home
Your custom home is underway! At this stage, your builder will begin construction, and we’ll continue placing orders for materials to make sure they’re on-site before they’re even needed. We track and receive shipments, do quality inspections, resolve any manufacturer errors, and meet frequently on-site to make sure the design is going according to plan.
This step of the process is where having a trusted, experienced team is worth our weight in gold. You can continue your normal life, while we handle all the little details, avoid problems before they start, and execute your vision for the home of your dreams.
Of course, this is the longest step in the whole process – we’re building a brand new HOME, after all — but a little patience and peace of mind will make it feel like a beautiful adventure.
From framing the walls, to adding electrical and plumbing, to adding millwork and other finishing elements, these photos show a progression of nearly 1 year in the making.
Step 5: Furnishing Your Custom Home
Next step — furnishings! This the step that ultimately transforms your house into a home. I know our team excels in every aspect of the design process, but the photo-finish results you see in our portfolio? Those happen once the furnishings are layered in, and though optional, I highly suggest working with us through this step!
We will continue our full-service interior design process while construction is underway. Yes, this means planning, acquiring, and installing your furnishings and decor. Using the approved design concepts from Step 1, we’ll source all of your furnishings, oversee shipments, and again, do a quality check so you don’t have to!
Then, we’ll coordinate with the build team to prepare the final, glorious installation. For a single room, installation usually takes a day. For a custom new build like the Jersey Palm Project, we’ll reserve several days to make the magic happen in every single room. Prepare the bubbly…
Hello, dream home! The final installation and reveal day is when months and months of hard work finally come together. It’s a truly special moment and a day that our clients — and our design team — remember forever.
So, what do you think? Are you excited to build a custom home filled with vibrant color, comfortable spaces, and the lifestyle that feels most authentic to you? Or maybe you have a smaller renovation in mind with equally big goals? (Fortunately, most of what I shared with you today can be applied to any design project with construction or renovation!)
If so, you know where to find us. 😉
If you’re not ready just yet and are still in the idea phase, our Interior Design Project Planner is a great place to start. Download it, grab your favorite pen, and start dreaming.