Over the next few months, we’ll lay out the key steps you need to take to build the custom home of your dreams. It won’t always be easy and it may take a while, but, at the end, if you do it right, you’ll have a beautiful home that you and your family can enjoy for many years and that leaves a little bit of you on the local landscape.

So, what comes first: the builder or the architect? The answer is – it depends. If you plan on building a cutting-edge architectural masterpiece, then the answer is most definitely the architect. The top-tier architect will then point you in the direction of the builder who is best able to execute their complicated and innovative plans. However, if your aspirations are to build a more conventional luxury home, either traditional or contemporary in style, then it’s usually best to find a reputable builder who can help you pull together a design team that suits you and the needs of your family. A reputable builder will also be able to educate you about the process and give a good indication of the likely price per square foot in your local area for the type of home you wish to build.

Finding the right design team (builder, architect, designer) is the key to a successful build. A team with a proven track record of working well together can make the difference between an efficiently-run and enjoyable experience and your worst nightmare.

1. Finding a Custom Home Builder

Finding a custom home builder can feel like a daunting task. A lot of your time and money will be invested in the project and everyone has heard horror stories of cowboy builders completing shoddy work at inflated prices, or worse, not completing work. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is never truer than in the building industry. If you want a high-end custom home finished to flawless standards, then picking a budget builder would be a big mistake.


2. Finding a Lot to Build Your Own Home

To find the perfect lot, head out on a rainy-sunny day and follow the rainbow, you’ll find your dream spot right at the end of it. Failing that, you’ll need to compromise. Before you drive yourself and your realtor crazy looking at every possibility in a large area, think seriously about what is important to you and separate search characteristics that are set in stone from those you’re willing to flex.


3. Finding Architects and Designers

The simplest way to put together a design team is through your builder. He should be able to introduce you to a number of architects and designers in your area that he’s worked well with on other projects and who he thinks will be a good fit for you. The alternative is to do the research yourself through online searches on Google / Instagram / Houzz, local design magazines, referrals from friends or, in the case of architects, by looking at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) directory.


4. Designing Your Dream Custom Home

Designing a luxury custom home can be a lot of fun but it takes time to do it properly. You should allow three to four months for the design process, which will normally begin with a series of meetings with your architect.


5. Finding a Landscape Architect

Engaging a landscape architect early in the design and build process is a good idea. Not only are landscaping lead times often quite long, but many cities require driveways and grass to be in place before they will issue a Certificate of Occupancy, allowing you to live in your beautiful new home. This is certainly true for Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills.


6. Breaking Ground

Breaking ground and seeing the foundations start to take shape on your own home is exciting. That said, the large costs associated with excavating, foundations and framing can seem like a far less enjoyable way to spend money than on the shiny fixtures, fittings and fun stuff you’ll enjoy when your home is complete. However, this stage of the building process is fundamental to the structural integrity of your home and the overall success of the build. This stage is what separates the average builders from the excellent builders.