What is the process of building a custom home?

  • There are 7 steps for a positive custom home building experience with BrightLeaf Homes
  • You’ll have expert guidance from a BrightLeaf staff member throughout the process
  • Collaborate with your design team so your custom home perfectly aligns with your personal style

What is the process of building a custom home?

Building a custom home can seem intimidating at first and you might not be sure where to start. This is a step by step guide of what you will experience before, during, and after building your custom home with BrightLeaf.

After reading this, you’ll have a clear understanding of where and how to start your journey for an easy, efficient and enjoyable build experience.

BrightLeaf’s custom home building process is broken down into the specific phases below to keep you, the homeowner, confident and informed throughout the project:

  • Understand your budget and finance options
  • Identify the right lot to build on
  • Prepare your lot for building
  • Design and configure your dream home
  • Build your dream home while learning why it’s being built that way
  • Familiarize yourself with your high-performance home before moving in
  • Schedule check-ins after move in to make sure you’re happy and your home is everything you ever dreamed of

Step 1: Determine a budget and financing for your custom home build

Deciding to go the custom built home route is exciting, but there are a few steps to complete first. We strongly recommend determining how much you want to spend on building a custom home before engaging with a builder. Having a budget beforehand prevents disappointments and sets realistic expectations for yourself and our team when it’s time to begin the process.

We also suggest you research your finance options beforehand so that way the process has a smooth and swift start when you’re ready to begin building. Decide if you will be paying with cash or if you will be pursuing financing through a lender. BrightLeaf can recommend construction lenders our past clients have worked with who will help you determine the best construction loan option for you.

Step 2: Speak to a BrightLeaf Home Consultant to help with your builder research

You want to hire the right builder to deliver your custom built home. It’s a big decision that requires research and time before landing on the best fit for you.

Reach out to a BrightLeaf Home Consultant for an intro call when you’re ready to begin exploring builders. During this call, we discuss your home needs and goals, in addition to happily answering any questions you may have about the early stages of building a custom home.

This call helps us understand the general size, rooms, features, and style you’re looking for in your home – the appliances, countertops, etc. so that we can give you a high level idea of what the costs to build a home like this would be.

After our call, we’ll schedule a time for you to drop by BrightLeaf’s office so you can meet with us in person and continue to explore your potential build. At this meeting, we will present more refined, approximate construction costs based on your intro call by using our own historical cost data so you’ll have a good indication of what it will cost to build the type of home you’re looking for.

In addition, we’ll review the area you’re looking to live in as each municipality has its own fees associated with a custom home build. These details will all have a significant impact on the cost to build your home. Since we are still working out the fine details of your project, and each home we build is custom tailored to clients’ needs, the initial figure we provide at this meeting is about an 80-90% idea of what it will cost to build.

After this, you can join us for a finished home tour to see the quality of work we produce for yourself. We welcome you to check out our reviews on Google and Houzz and to speak with our past clients about their experience building with BrightLeaf.

Curious What Your Home Options Are?

Schedule a call with a BrightLeaf Home Consultant today to discuss what your options are for custom home building.

Schedule A Call to Discuss Your Home Options

Step 3: Finding the perfect lot for your custom built home

If you already own a lot that’s ready to build on, skip ahead to Step 4: Pre-Construction and Design. If you need a lot for your custom home, keep reading to learn about how we can help you locate and purchase land to build on.

When you’re ready to begin searching for the perfect lot to build your custom home on, you’ll sign up with a BrightLeaf Realtor to assist and represent you in your search. Finding and determining the right lot to build on requires expertise, experience, and skill. Our agents are experienced and specialize in lot location for custom home builds.

Your BrightLeaf Realtor will use our LotFinder Navigation service to hunt down and analyze on and off-market opportunities based on your location preferences, needs, and budget. They will help you to begin visualizing each lot’s potential, helping you see the positives – and sometimes unexpected negatives.

Any properties that fit your criteria are analyzed to ensure you can build the type of home you’re dreaming of. We also take the time to understand the land development and soft costs associated with building on the lot as these can vary drastically from city to city and even block by block. As part of our LotFinder Navigation service, we’ll research items such as:

  • Permit fees
  • Demolition and/or deconstruction costs
  • Topography
  • Soil quality
  • Zoning restrictions
  • Municipal requirements

Finally, after weighing all viable options, you’ll select the lot you want to build on. Your BrightLeaf Realtor will facilitate the negotiations and assist in purchasing the property.

Now you’re ready to start designing and planning out your new home!

Step 4: Pre-construction and design for a custom home

Already have plans? No problem. Reach out to us today to talk about how we can build them for you! If not, read on below…

The ultimate goal for pre-construction and design is to nail down all the fine details so we can configure and price out the home you are looking for and understand the costs associated with your build. At the end of this phase, you will have a full set of permit-ready construction drawings and a clear figure of what it will cost to build your home.

Our team of experts will get everything ready to submit for a permit and complete any necessary research on the lot you are looking to build on so you can understand the feasibility of what can and can’t be built on the property as well as the cost associated with prepping your lot to build on it.

The benefit of building with BrightLeaf is that we coordinate and facilitate all of this for you so you can focus on the exciting parts of your project, like planning and designing your home.

You’ll work with our in-house team of experts to design your home. Walking you through every step of putting your home together, we create floor plans, an exterior, and assist with picking out all the finishes and fixtures – all included in the price to build your home.

We help you understand the costs of customizing every aspect of your home so you can be in control of your budget. All selections for your home are made in our project management platform where you can:

  • Pick all of your finishes and digitally sign off on each so there is no question about what is included with your home
  • See pricing in real-time and the impact on your budget as you pick different options
  • Keep track of all your project details and communication with our team, all in one place

Designing a Custom Home Is An Exciting Project

The nitty-gritty details like specific outlet placement, storage space, and floor plan layout all make a difference once you actually move in. Download the 15 Design Elements You Need to Consider Before Designing Your Custom Home so you’ll have a strong plan for the small details you’ll want to include (or exclude!) from your home’s design.

15 Design Elements You Need to Consider Before Designing Your Custom Home

Questionnaire and Design Kickoff Meeting

First, we want to understand the overall design and finishes you want to put into your home. We’ll send you our client questionnaire to fill out to get the ball rolling. Your responses give us a deeper understanding of how you envision your family living in your custom built home so we can design a home that is just right for you. From the number of beds and baths, to the amount of entertaining you plan on doing, we want to gather as much information as possible before our architect even puts a pencil to paper to begin drafting your dream home.

You’ll meet with our architect and interior designer at the design kickoff meeting to go over your home’s needs and your design style. After this meeting, we’ll launch your project into our project management platform where you can review, approve, and manage your plans and selections. Our project management platform also remedies conventional building pain by providing:

  • Budget adherence
  • Schedule adherence
  • Daily photo and written updates during construction
  • Clear, consistent communication
  • Convenient, organized information about your project

This platform will be your primary method of communication with your design and build team throughout the project so you know your custom home’s progress at any point.

Architectural Design

Our architect will set a program that contains the goals of your home using your questionnaire responses in combination with your input from the design kickoff meeting. Once approved our architect will begin drafting the conceptual design of your custom built home.

When the conceptual design is ready, our architect will share it with you along with feedback on how the size, layout, and different design elements will affect the cost of the build. Our architect will then work with you to balance the build cost with the design until we have a finalized plan.

Interior Design and Finish Selections

Your interior designer will customize your selections and allowances based on the set program and goals, starting with the exterior first. They’ll be creating a room finish schedule for your review and approval which will all be easily tracked in our project management platform.

During this phase, interior elevations for areas such as the bathrooms, kitchen, fireplaces, etc., will be created so that you know exactly how these spaces will lay out. Once the schematic design plans have been fully approved, we’ll schedule your curated design presentation to review all selections.

Your interior designer will be looking at your Pinterest boards, other imagery you’ve provided, notes from our design kick off meeting, and your questionnaires to get a feel for your overall design aesthetic. Using these as a guide they’ll select finishes and fixtures consistent with your style for the entire home. At the curated design presentation, your interior designer will review what has been selected to give both a holistic view of the design and also confirm that the choices made are in line with your vision for the home.

After the curated design presentation, a list of everything that was chosen will be compiled so that the details can be entered into our project management platform for official approval. If some finishes or fixtures need to be re-selected, your interior designer will work on gathering alternates and set a follow-up meeting to discuss. The goal is to have all finish elements aligned with your design style and approved. These details are then handed off to our construction team to start making your dream home become a reality.

As we begin wrapping up the design phase, we will submit for your permit.

Design to Construction Handoff

Your price has been finalized during pre-construction so that you can move forward with confidence when you sign the actual agreement to build with us.

We can provide a solid price for the cost to build your home since everything has been picked out, priced out, and agreed upon during the Pre-Construction Phase. Having all elements picked out prior to starting construction also helps us build your project on a more efficient timeline rather than experiencing selection related delays.

Explore The Benefits of Custom Home Designing with BrightLeaf

Step 5: Building your BrightLeaf custom home

Experience our efficient build process through daily photos and jobsite log updates via our project management platform. Stay in the loop with personal, bi-weekly educational jobsite tours with your dedicated project manager where you’ll learn about the advanced building materials, techniques, and technology that goes into your BrightLeaf home.

Now that the design phase has been completed and the permit has been approved, it’s time to demolish or deconstruct any existing structures on your lot.

We will stake out the foundation, excavate, and pour the foundation and slab. Next it’s time for framing, starting with the first and second floor, then finish with trusses before we install the roof, doors, windows and siding.

After framing is complete, your home’s mechanicals will begin installation such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. We continue with insulation and air sealing, followed by drywalling before the finishing of construction begins.

Hardwood or carpeting, tile, and trim are ready for install now in addition to painting the walls. The finishing touches of your BrightLeaf custom home happen at this point with cabinets, appliances, hardware, lighting, and other remaining details.

The only remaining items before your home orientation session is to complete a punch list and a professional deep clean.

Searching for a Builder That’s Right for Your Custom Home?

Finding the right builder to work with can feel as daunting as building the home itself. This guide shares the fifteen most important questions to ask a builder before you hire them to help make sure you’re choosing the right one for your custom home project.

Download Your Builder Research Guide

Step 6: Key handoff and post construction

Your project manager will organize a home walk through with you to review a punch list once construction is complete. They will also take this time to familiarize your family with your high-performance home before moving in. You’ll be given a homeowner’s manual that includes:

  • Trader partner contact info
  • Appliance manuals
  • Warranty information
  • Maintenance instructions

Our obligation to you extends well beyond move-in day, though. We’ll be back for regular check-ins to ensure your home is exactly what you expected. At these check-ins, we’ll perform an inspection of your home, attend to punch list items, and answer any questions you may have. These check-ins occur at 30 days and 1 year post move-in.

Your home is covered with a 1 year warranty with the exception of your mechanicals which are covered for up to 2 years. The envelope of your home – the roofing, windows, siding, and foundation – is covered for 10 years. That’s how confident we are in the construction of your home.

Building with BrightLeaf

Now that you have a step by step plan of building a custom home, you can begin your journey confidently. We hope this information helped your builder research and understand what it would be like to build a custom home with BrightLeaf.

Even if you’re still in the very early stages of research, we’d be happy to chat about your home building needs or answer any questions. If you’re ready to jump to Step 2, call us now to learn more about your BrightLeaf building options or schedule a call for whenever is convenient for you.

Begin Your Custom Build Journey

About BrightLeaf

BrightLeaf is an award-winning, custom home builder specializing in sustainable, modern energy-efficient homes as well as remodeling and renovations. We are also a  full-service real estate brokerage that can help you buy and sell in the Greater Chicagoland Area.

Live or thinking of living in the Greater Chicagoland Area and need one of the following services? Click on the link to book an appointment to talk to a BrightLeaf Home Consultant.

Custom Home Builder Services

Remodeling & Renovation Services

Buying Or Selling A Home

LotFinder Navigation Service™

Find + Refresh Service

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