Many people who build a new home will borrow money from a bank, credit union or mortgage lender to fund their project. The lender will decide what they can afford to borrow based on their monthly income, existing debt, anticipated home-related expenses, and credit score. The lender will be interested in the value of the finished home because they don’t want to lend more than what the house can sell for. They will want floor plans and elevations and will have the design of the prospective home appraised to determine its value. A lender will usually require that the borrower contribute a percentage of the cost of the home in the form of a down payment.
For an existing home, equity that has been built up may be borrowed against to fund remodeling or an addition to that home, in the form of a home equity loan.
Before approaching an architect or builder, it’s helpful to meet with a lender in order to know how much can be borrowed.
The architect will design your new home, remodel or addition and may also guide their client through the bidding and construction processes.
The builder actually constructs the new home, remodel or addition. The builder and their crew will likely do some of the work themselves but will also subcontract out parts of the job that they don’t have the in-house expertise to do. Trades (subcontractors) that are frequently “subbed out” include concrete, cabinets and other millwork, electrical, plumbing and heating/cooling, as well as specialties such as sound or security systems.
The builder will have a contract with each of these subs, and the lender will likely require lien waivers from the builder, showing that the subs have been paid for their work.
The builder will typically have certain material suppliers that they like to work with. The homeowner will likely have little to no involvement with the supplier of materials such as trusses, lumber and sheathing but may work directly with suppliers of cabinets and counters, floor finishes, and plumbing fixtures, who may have showrooms where homeowners can view their products.
MUNICIPALITY, COUNTY AND STATE
The local municipality, county and state will also be involved in the project by way of ordinances and code requirements. The municipality will usually have rules about what and where you can build on your property. The county may have rules about private sewage systems, and building near flood plains, bodies of water or wetlands. The state has mandatory building standards in the form of the Uniform Dwelling Code. Depending on the nature of your project, a building inspector may be required to inspect the project at certain stages of construction.
The project team may also include the following:
An interior designer can help with the selection of cabinets and countertops, flooring, tile, light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures (although an architect may also help with these selections). An interior designer can also help select and purchase furniture, window coverings, and paint colors.
A landscape architect is a specialist in the grounds surrounding the home. They can help with the design of patios and other outdoor paving, trees, shrubs and flowers, decorative or retaining walls, outdoor lighting, and water features.
Depending on the structural complexity of a project, a structural engineer may be involved. They will usually be a subcontractor of the architect.
ENERGY MODELER / CONSULTANT
The services of an energy consultant may be included on projects where the client has a strong interest in energy efficiency. The energy consultant can work with the architect and builder to suggest the best ways to build an energy-efficient home and may do energy modeling to predict the energy performance of a new home, possibly modeling different floor, wall and roof assemblies.