Thinking about building a custom home along the Colorado Front Range? If you’re like most people, the idea sounds wonderful — a dream come true — but it may also feel overwhelming. You probably have many questions about the planning process and the amount of time it will take to finish your new home.
For Gowler Homes, the whole process is 12–15 months in total, including design, permitting and construction. Construction alone takes 7–9 months, with design time being 4–5 months.
1. Securing the Money (2 to 4 weeks)
You don’t actually need the money up front, but it is smart to get prequalified with an experienced lender before you set off on your custom home–building journey. Meet with a few lenders and discuss your goals. Let them know that you’d like to purchase land, secure a construction loan, and then finally obtain a permanent loan for your home after construction is complete.
Your lender will let you know what information is needed for you to prequalify for a loan and will also help you determine how much money you can borrow and how much cash you’ll have to contribute to your project. Depending on how quickly you can compile the data and documentation for the lender, most banks can issue a prequalification within a matter of days or just a few weeks.
If you are building in the greater Colorado Springs area, we have a list of preferred lenders. If you’re not sure how much a custom home costs or how much you should budget for your project, check out How to Budget for a Custom Home.
2. Finding the Land (1 to 6 Months… But Maybe Longer!)
Once you have financing in place, you can begin searching for the perfect piece of land to build your new home on! Finding the right lot for your dream home could happen in as short as a month, or you could be in the hunt for months, or even years, before you find “the one.”
I suggest hiring a real estate agent who is familiar with the land market in your area. If you are working with a good agent, you could be looking at land within a few days and making an offer or writing a contract on land right away. This is another great reason to have your financing secured before you start looking for land—you will be able to act as soon as you find the right lot.
A typical escrow period for land (the time between going under contract and closing) is about 30 to 45 days. Make sure that you negotiate enough time to do proper due diligence (soil testing, well permit, etc.) before closing. Involving your builder is recommended because then he or she can advise you on the site conditions, utility infrastructure, and overall suitability for building.
If you are looking to buy land in the Front Range, we have an in-house Realtor who would love to help you find the perfect lot! You can connect with our real estate team by clicking HERE. We have also prepared a Land-Buying Checklist to help you know what to look for and what questions to ask.
3. Planning & Design (4 to 6 months)
Now that you have financing lined up and the perfect lot to build on, the next step is to come up with the perfect plan! The planning/design stage can be broken down into floor plan design, site planning and engineering, material and finish selections, and lastly, estimating/budgeting. The truth is, the planning process is probably more important than the building process. A detailed, well-thought-out project will be easier and faster to build and will result in fewer changes and fewer time-consuming mistakes and costly redos. Our planning/design phase looks like this:
Step 1: Needs and wants discovery meeting, resulting in a project summary document (1 to 2 weeks)
Step 2: Sign the design agreement
Step 3: Floor plan/architectural phase (6 to 10 weeks)
Step 4: Site planning and engineering, and material and finish selections (4 to 6 weeks)
Step 5: Budgeting and estimating (3 to 4 weeks)
Total planning and design time line: 14 to 22 weeks (4–5 months)
4. Permitting & Getting the Loan Approved (4 to 6 Weeks)
Our design process culminates with a budget review meeting in which we reveal and review the full design package: plans, selections, and budget. As soon as we sign the construction agreement to build what we just designed, two things will then happen simultaneously: 1) We provide the plans, specifications, budget, and contract to the lender, who then orders a preconstruction appraisal. The lender will do their final underwriting and prepare the loan to close. 2) We submit for all permits, including the building permit and the septic permit (where applicable). This process usually takes 30 to 45 days.
5. Building (6 to 9 Months)
The building timeline can vary depending on the season, weather conditions, site conditions, and size and complexity of the home, but is typically 6 to 9 months (from breaking ground to move in).
Things That Can Slow Down the Building Timeline
Delays, both avoidable and unavoidable, can occur during any construction project. Although we plan our schedule carefully to minimize delays, the timeline for your new home might be extended due to:
Changes are a natural part of the building process. After all, it’s not always easy to imagine how a certain feature will look or fit in your new home, even if you’ve seen floor plans and drawings. Although we’re happy to make any changes you want, change orders delay the building process and add to your costs. The more change orders you place, the longer it may take to finish your home.
Difficulty Finding a Site:
Location is the one thing you can’t change about your new home. If you decide you need more space five years from now, you can always add on to your house. Upgrading the style of your home is just as easy. Should design trends for kitchens in custom homes in Colorado Springs change in a few years, it will be fairly easy to renovate the space. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do if you decide you don’t like your home’s location. If you have very specific requirements in mind for your new property, it may take a little while to find a lot that checks all of the boxes on your list. Fortunately, our real estate team enjoys a challenge and will work tirelessly to help you find the perfect spot to build your new home.
Trouble Obtaining Financing:
Financing troubles may delay the start of the building process. Problems are easy to avoid by making sure that you have a good credit score before you start talking to new home builders in Monument, CO. Realtor.com offers a few tips that can help you improve your credit score in the months before you plan to buy a home, including fixing credit report errors, paying debts and opening new lines of credit.
Despite satellites and weather technology, it’s not always easy to predict the weather, particularly months in advance. Drenching rains that cause flooding, or snow, rain and wind storms could delay the construction of your new home by a day to a few weeks or more. Luckily, most of our homeowners are never affected by prolonged weather delays.
Material Shortages or Delays:
Your new home might also be delayed by manufacturing or transportation issues or delays. Depending on just how important the delayed product is, construction may only be minimally affected. For example, if the special order sink for your guest bathroom will take longer than expected to arrive, work can still continue on the other parts of the room. Unfortunately, if your kitchen floors can’t be installed as planned, the installation of the cabinets, counters and appliances will also be delayed.
Is It Worth It to Build a Custom Home in Colorado?
If you’ve ever lived in a home that looked just like the other houses on the street, you’re probably already convinced that building a custom home is a good idea. Although cookie-cutter homes can certainly be comfortable, they’re designed using the one-size-fits-all approach. The trouble is, your idea of the perfect home may be very different from your neighbors.
When you live in a newly built or existing home that’s just like every other home in your neighborhood, you learn to make compromises. So maybe the kitchen is bland or the family room only offers an impressive view of your neighbor’s backyard, at least you’ve got a huge walk-in closet in your bedroom!
Compromises are unnecessary when you build a custom home. You can get every single feature you’ve been envisioning since you first started thinking about your dream house. Do you want a two-story family room with a stunning stone fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows? Maybe you’d prefer a home that’s big enough to fit your entire family for the holidays yet still feels cozy. No matter what your preferences, your Colorado design-build team can help you turn your dreams into reality.
Do you think you might like to age-in-place rather than fly away and start a new life in Florida or Arizona? Your custom home builder in Colorado Springs can design a home that meets your needs now and when you retire. We can incorporate features that make your home more accessible, such as curbless showers, wider doorways, and hallways, or pull-down shelving in the kitchen cabinets. A bedroom with an attached bathroom on the first floor can serve as a guest suite now and become your bedroom should you develop mobility issues in the future.
Building a custom home can also benefit you financially. The value of your home will be higher if your house is thoughtfully designed and well-constructed. You’ll also enjoy an excellent return on investment should you ever decide to sell your home. Quality construction and custom features make these homes particularly appealing to buyers.
Are you ready to make the move to a custom home? Learn more about Gowler Homes’ design and build process.