An acronym for build on your lot, BOYL homes are becoming increasingly popular as homeowners come to understand the vast advantages of a newly built home over an existing one. From energy efficiency to complete control over customization, new BOYL homes provide many benefits to the people who inhabit them. And while the prospect of building your own home on your own lot may seem daunting and, quite frankly, expensive, it’s actually a fairly straightforward process that can be scaled to fit your budget.
But just like the old chicken and egg conundrum, many prospective home buyers want to know which comes first: the home plan or the lot? The answer is either one, as there’s not just one way to go about building your own home on your own piece of property. In fact, there are four! Here are the four possible paths to your BOYL dream home.
- Start with the land.
Maybe you’ve got some property that’s been in your family, or maybe you bought it some time ago because you liked the location, and you’ve decided that now’s the time to build a home on it. Or, maybe you’d like to build a new home right next to your current one and move into it. If you already own a lot, then you’ve cleared one big hurdle in your BYOL project.
However, some prospective homeowners don’t already have their lot but want to start with it. Perhaps they’re interested in property that has a certain type of view: mountain, water, or something like that. Maybe they’d like a specific topography, or a specific orientation to the sun. In these cases, starting with the land means buying the land first, a process that can be done with either a realtor or a builder as your guide.
- Start with an architect.
If you’re looking to build a home with a specific character and feel, then you may want to bring in an architect to turn your vision into reality. He or she will likely come up with some plans and may even recommend the right type of lot for the proposed home. While starting with an architect will undoubtedly get you the beautiful home you’ve been dreaming about, right down to the last detail, this may also be the priciest option. You can expect to pay tens of thousands of dollars in architectural fees, so if you want to start with an architect, be sure your budget allows for this type of expense.
- Start with a floor plan.
If you know the approximate style of the BYOL home you’d like to build, then maybe starting with a floor plan is right for you. In fact, this approach is ideal for the prospective homeowner who isn’t afraid of a little solo research, as there are literally hundreds of floor plans that you can peruse and even purchase online. Find the one you like, bring it to a builder, and you’re well on your way. What’s great about floor plans is that even though they provide a basic overview of what your home will look and feel like, there’s still plenty of room for customization so that you get the exact home you want.
- Start with a builder.
The advantage of starting with a builder is that they’ll already have many floor plans from which you can choose, and some may even have lots as well. There are many home builders out there, though, so how can you be sure that you’re choosing the one that will get you the best BYOL home? Here are a few questions to ask:
• Are there model homes that you can look at? For many prospective BYOL home buyers, actually walking through a finished space is incredibly helpful in understanding what a floor plan will look like when it’s built. This also can give buyers a better idea of what specific touches they’d like in their home.
• Can the builder customize a floor plan to your specifications? The plans should be a starting point, not a final blueprint. If a builder isn’t willing to make adjustments to suit your needs, then he or she may not be the right one for you.
• Does the builder have a civil engineer on staff to make sure all regulations are followed? You’ll want to make sure you can get all the necessary permits to build your home and live in it.
• How will your utilities be hooked up? Depending on how far your lot is from a main water system, you may need a well and a septic tank. You’ll also need to inquire about electricity, as well as things like cable and internet access.
• Can the builder complete the home within your time frame? You might ask about the builder’s average completion times on similar homes, keeping in mind that homes built from existing floor plans typically take less time than completely customized homes.
• Can the builder complete the home within your budget? Again, the closer you stick to an existing floor plan, the less you’ll pay, on average. Be sure to talk with your builder about your exact budget to determine how much customization and how many premium materials you can afford.