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How to Build Your Own Dream Home on Your Own Lot

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Do you have a new home floor plan that you love or land that inspires you or both?

If you dream of designing a new home that takes full advantage of the unique geography and views of land that you love, then you’re a candidate for a build-on-your-lot home, sometimes known by the acronym BOYL.

Building a home on your own land can sound like a pricey prospect, but rest assured that new homes can be built on your lot or land across a wide range of budgets. Here are four steps to help you figure it all out:

1. Choose a Starting Point

The process of building a home on your own lot can begin in any one of four places:

With land you love.

If you own land already or are inheriting some, you’re one step ahead of the dreaming stage. If you haven’t found that perfect lot yet, you can work with a Realtor who specializes in land purchases or contact a builder who can help you locate the right spot for your home.

For instance, Paul Schumacher, founder and owner of Schumacher Homes, says two-thirds of their customers already own land or are in the process of acquiring land, plus they will provide Realtor recommendations to the other third.

With an architect.

Depending on your budget and the level of customization you’re looking for, you can hire an architect to transfer ideas from your wishlist to a blueprint. Rob Rutherford, owner of Nelson Homes in Arrington, Va., says having floor plans drawn by an architect could cost $5,000 to $6,000, while Schumacher says architectural fees can go up to $35,000.

With a floor plan.

Internet search yields dozens of companies that sell floor plans that you can bring to a home builder for inspiration or to customize for your land. Floor plans that can be used for review, but not for building, cost anywhere from $150 to $500, while complete sets that can be provided to a builder for construction cost from $1,000 to $2,500 or more.

With a builder.

Most homebuilders offer floor plans of their own that you can have built as designed. Depending on the builder, you can often customize the design to your specifications. Todd Bennett, a regional manager with Lockridge Homes in South Carolina and eastern Georgia, says his company has about 60 floor plans available with a variety of elevations, while Schumacher Homes and Nelson Homes have hundreds of floor plans.

2. Study Your Land

The next step in the process of building on your own land is for you or your builder to work with a civil engineer to make sure you’re following the regulations for the jurisdiction where your land is located, says George Fritz, COO of Horizon Builders in Crofton, Md.

“You need to know how you’re going to get power to your house, whether you need a well and how you’ll handle sewage,” says Fritz.

Rutherford says his company schedules a site visit, arranges utilities, helps customers get their zoning approved and permits for constructions and hires an excavation company to build a road if necessary.

“We always look at the land with our clients to talk about how the house they want to build would fit on the property and how it would be positioned,” adds Schumacher. “We need to do that early in the process in case the plans need to be modified and to estimate costs.”

3. Customize Your Floor Plan

The next step is the fun part: customizing and designing the home to fit your lifestyle.

Schumacher says his company has portfolios of homes on their website that include characteristic architectural elements for specific locations. For example, in Louisiana, the home designs have a French country influence, while the homes in Wilmington, N.C., have a southern coastal style.

“We have floor plans that range in size from 1,000 to 6,000 square feet that function as a starting point and then we can customize everything inside and out,” says Schumacher. “A lot of buyers come in with ideas from websites like Houzz and magazines and we discuss everything they want to do with the home and give them a price quote.”

However, Schumacher says less than one-half percent of people who build a new home hire an architect.

“It’s much more common for people to choose one of our floor plans or to come in with a plan from a service,” he says. “If they bring one to us, we’ll see if we have something similar that can be modified.”

4. Discover How Long it Takes to Build on Your Lot

Building a new home takes four to six months if your home builder has already built your floor plan, but it can take significantly longer if you’re having a completely new design built or if you’re asking for extensive customization. So, if you have a specific time frame for moving, you’re likely to be better off with a semi-custom design rather than a completely custom-designed home.

“If you’re adding space to the house, we can usually turn that around quickly, but something more complicate

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