If you’ve been planning your dream home as long as you can remember, it’s a big deal when you finally decide you’re in a position to build it. That said, it’s important to keep your project within your set budget. If you’re building your ideal custom home, but want to make sure you stick to your budget, here are a few tips to consider:

Have a clear vision

The easiest way to spend more than you planned when you’re building is to be indecisive. If you don’t have a clear vision for your dream home, it can be easy to purchase items you don’t need, or that don’t quite fit the home you’re planning on building. So, before you even start building, be sure to have a very clear picture in your mind of what you’d like your home to look like when it’s done. Here are a few ways to help clarify that vision:

Visit houses

Your builder will probably offer up a few homes to tour before you sign a contract with them, but know that you’re not limited to looking at just those homes before you start building. Tour as many homes as you possibly can to get a clear picture of what you like, and what you don’t. Most homes for sale have at least one open house, and if you’re friendly with your realtor, you can ask them if they’ll take you through a few homes to gain inspiration. Make sure to look at homes you like, and that seem to fit your personal style, but don’t be afraid to branch out either. While you’re just gathering ideas, it can’t hurt to see if there are some different design aspects in other home styles that could fit your new dream home.

Do your research

In addition to checking out homes in the area, do some online research as well. Sites like Pinterest and Houzz offer all of the inspiration you could ever need, and most home-selling websites like Zillow and Trulia offer virtual tours of homes on the market. Use all of these resources to your advantage to gain a clearer picture of what your final product might look like. Then, you can use that gathered information to present your builder with a clear outline of your goals and vision for your custom home.

Set a budget

Once you know what you’re looking for in your custom home, it’s time to set a budget. There are a few tricks to setting a home budget that you can stick really close to, but the biggest thing to remember is to be realistic. Building any home is a big undertaking, and you want to know without a doubt that you can see your project through to completion. So, even if you don’t follow any of our other suggestions on setting a budget, at the very least do your best to fully evaluate your finances and choose a budget that’s sustainable through the entire project.

Separate wants and needs:

If there are key things your dream home absolutely needs to have, put them on a list. Maybe you’ve lived in a cramped kitchen for so long you can’t possibly imagine living in another home with a small kitchen. Maybe you have three kids and need them all to have their own rooms. Whatever they are, make sure the aspects your custom home truly needs are clear and easy to identify. Then, make the things on that list your first priority when you’re considering budget, and let everything else come later. Some of your wants—like a jacuzzi or an outdoor kitchen— can be let go or compromised on, but those needs you separate out should stay the same.

Set your budget a little low

Another good way to guarantee you don’t exceed your budget is to set it a little low. If there’s a number you know you can’t afford to go above, try to set your budget below that, so if anything unexpected happens, you have the funds to address the issue. While you don’t want to set your budget so low you’re not able to build the home of your dreams, keeping a little cash in reserve will help ensure you don’t exceed what you can afford.

Hire the right people

Once you have an idea of the design for your home, and you’ve set a budget, the actual building of the home is out of your hands. That’s why you need to make sure you hire the right people for the job. You’re going to need a team of qualified experts who are dedicated to building your dream home, while still being respectful of your budget and your concept. Three key people to have on your team:

A builder

Your builder is your number one go-to person. This is the person you’ll be talking to just about every day for the duration of the building process, and the person in charge of creating the custom home you’ve always dreamed of. The best way to stay in budget when building a custom home is to hire the right builder: someone who will do their best to stick to your plan, your budget, and your timeline. With a quality builder, you’ll be informed upfront about any unexpected or additional fees, and won’t need to worry about too many problems cropping up.

Once you’ve found a builder that you think could be the perfect fit, be sure to check their references and ask about previous clients whose homes you can see. Don’t choose a builder until you’ve seen what they can do, and you’ve talked to homeowners who’ve worked with them before. This will ensure you’re hiring someone trustworthy, who will do right by your dream home concept and your budget.

Interior Designer

If you’re considering hiring an interior designer to finish the inside of your ideal custom home, that’s another person you’ll want to hire carefully. Interior designers are a great choice if you want to decorate your home a certain way, but aren’t sure you’ll be able to stick to a certain color scheme or style concept. There are interior designers to fit every budget and style choice under the sun, so don’t settle for someone who continues to show you pieces above your budget or not to your taste. Follow a similar hiring process as your builder, but be sure your interior designer has a very clear picture of the vision you’re going for, and won’t stray outside of your budget.

Financial Advisor

Another great way to save money building your ideal custom home is to talk to a financial advisor. Many people see financial advisors as just another unnecessary expense, but a financial advisor can help a lot during the homebuilding process. They’ll be able to give you an exceptionally accurate picture of your finances, and they may even find a bit more money for your home project. They can help keep you on track when the shopping starts to get out of hand, and they can reassure you that some of your larger home purchases fit within your budget. If you’re at all concerned about sticking to the budget during your home building process, it can’t hurt to talk to a financial advisor.

Think about taxes

Another good way to save money when you’re building a home is to think about your taxes. There are a number of different tax credits for homeowners building their own homes, and depending on the state you live in and your financial status, you might qualify for a substantial credit just for building your new home. A few key tax credits to take advantage of:

First-time homeowner credits

Believe it or not, the government offers a tax credit for first-time homeowners. There are stipulations of course, but it never hurts to see if you qualify, because the credits can be substantial. This is another great reason to consider speaking to a financial advisor when you’re building your home: they may know of credits that you’ll qualify for that can save you a bit of cash.

Energy efficiency credits

Another tax credit you may qualify for when building your custom home is an energy efficiency tax credit. The government awards a tax credit to homeowners who build homes that comply with certain energy standards. If you were planning on purchasing energy efficient appliances anyway, this is an easy way to qualify, but you’ll also want to talk to your builder to see what other small changes you can make to qualify for this tax credit.

Know when to splurge

Finally, it’s important to remember the end goal of all of this budgeting: you’re building your dream home. If you don’t splurge on something every once in a while, you might not end up with the home of your dreams. Make sure you’re allowing yourself to splurge—when it’s right. If you’ve always dreamed of a home with granite countertops, leave yourself room in the budget to splurge on those. It’s purchases like that which make your dream home truly your dream home. If you’re scrimping and penny-pinching on every single item, not only will you end up with a home that’s likely to be less than what you were imagining, it probably won’t be the fun process you’d pictured either. Make room in your budget for the items you really want, and that will make your dream home come true.

If you’re ready to make your dream home come true, give Whitmore Custom Homes a call. We’re here to help you realize your ideal custom home, and because we use top of the line project management software, it allows you to see cost to date, change orders, allowance budgets and schedule whenever you want making it much easier to maintain your budget. To take a look at some of our past projects, visit our website. For more information on building a home with us, give our office a call at 616-499-6209 or contact us online today.