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Building Your Dream Home from Scratch

You found a special piece of property (raw land) and you are thinking of building your dream house on it. Where do you start? I’ve got 4 steps to build your new home.

Step 1: Set your Priorities and Get in Sync

Everyone who is living in the home should make a list of every room in the house and then for each room, list out the things you want in each room. Next, go through each list and number each item in the priority sequence before sharing it with your spouse or business partner. This list makes it easier to break down where you’ll spend money and where you’ll save money. It also helps to tie break fights.


If quartz countertops were #1 on your kitchen list, but your spouse wanted granite and listed as #5, you win your quartz because that piece of the puzzle was a higher priority than it was to them. 

The entire building process will be about compromise. Getting clear on what the top priorities are will keep the process smooth as you build your dream home

Step 2: Budget. Did I mention Three Budgets?

  • Your Build budget — This one is the easiest as it’ll be how much you’re comfortable taking as your construction budget plus your land cost and your down payment. Average cost per square foot to build ranges from $150 to $300 depending on location and customization. A very custom home could be higher.

  • Your Furnishing Budget — Even if you buy no furniture, at the very least you’ll need window coverings. They can really add up so it’s important to budget for these at the start of the project.

  • Your Finishing budget — When you’re done with your builder, you’ll have a beautiful home on a dirt lot. Once the build is complete, you’ll need to address the outside of the home: driveway, decking, fencing, patio, and landscaping.

Step 3: Assemble your Dream Team

Here are the people you’ll need to hire at this stage:

  • Architect — who will prepare the plans depending upon the customization of the home.

  • Home designer or home decorator — Having a designer on your team will pull together a far more detailed plan than just a blueprint. Your decorator will assist you in the many decisions you will have to make with the interior of your new home. Using a decorator at the beginning of the process can save you money by preventing expensive change orders with your builder later in the construction process.
  • Your builder — I highly recommend having your renderings in hand from your architect/home designer before getting a detailed build quote as it’s much more accurate with fewer surprises. To find a builder, ask an experienced local real estate agent for a list of names.
  • Your Realtor — You’ll need one for your land purchase and maybe for the sale of your current home.

  • Structural Engineer — Most often either the Builder or Architect will have someone they work with, and I typically recommend trusting their judgment.

  • Your Landscaper designer — You won’t need them until the very end of your project. It can be a great idea to have them involved right from the start as the Architectural plans are being drawn up and budgets decided.

Step 4: Find your Land

Your realtor will know of great plots of land as soon as they hit the market (or even before).

I have found my perfect piece of land in New Mexico and have completed all four above-listed steps for the build of a summer home. Ask me a year from now about my experience in building a home from scratch and words of wisdom. We start digging in the Spring of 2022.

~ Robert Bullock