Owner Builders – The Most Common Design Mistakes Made in Custom Home Design!

In my professional experience as a Home Construction Consultant, Developer & Construction Loan Expert I have had the pleasure of touring and viewing thousands of homes all throughout this beautiful country of ours! It never ceases to amaze me when I encounter that home that is so unique that I wonder to myself “Wow… the owner of that place will lose money when he tries to sell that house!”

9 times out of 10, when I see homes that make me think this it is because they have made a HUGE mistake in the features and design of their home! As a savvy consumer and soon to be Owner Builder it is my desire that you never become an example or statistic of “bad design” so let’s jump right in.

1. Do not design a home that is too unique no one else can appreciate!

For example, the dome shaped or triangular all-roof houses are in my professional opinion too unique! And for the sake of this conversation, “too unique” is defined as anything so far from the general consensus of public opinion on home design that if you ever had to sell the home people would be turned off by it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching all of the really cool and hip tv shows that feature people and their wacky homes. However most of those people are fairly wealthy and for those that are not, they plan on living in these homes forever. Unfortunately for those who do not plan on living in the homes indefinitely they will be in for a rude awakening when it comes time to sell and the potential buyers are few and far in between.

Let me explain! Now by all means I understand that you want a unique home that to some degree is different than maybe what the tract homebuilders are offering and different than other stuff you have seen, I am with you on that! I personally love pushing the envelope on design and cutting edge features in the home projects I develop and/or build however there is a line that we cannot cross.

2. Not using a Landscape Architect to design the landscaping.

I can’t tell you how many times I have shown homes that looked horrible from the curb but once you got past the door you were blown away by the interior! Never the less, in most cases, the indelible impression made first by the curb appeal or lack thereof stuck in the mind and overshadowed everything. Such as the case for you when you forsake having a landscape architect design how your yard will look. Some families I have consulted with have viewed the landscape architect as an expense, but after counseling with them many come to see this as the investment that it really is. Homes that have nice landscaped, well manicured lawns sell faster and for top dollar as opposed to homes that don’t have that curb appeal and well maintained lawn. Landscaping in the last several years has really caught on with more people spending lots of time outdoors. Nowadays, I have seen cases where people have spent huge sums of money on their landscaping and outdoor amenities such as patios, gazebos, pools and outdoor kitchens.

3. Designing a HUGE home that is too basic and/or box-like in it’s architecture!
Just because a home is big does not give it a pass to be box-like with no character! In the workbook section of the soon to be released “How to Build Your Custom Dream Home for Less” Owner Builder System I show photo examples to really drive home this point. I am really dumbfounded when I see these really large box-like structures as I just can’t believe that the designer and owners actually like what they created! Maybe beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder after all, however unfortunately the beholder isn’t buying houses! (I digress…)

I can recall a home over 30,000 square feet and it literally looked like an over-sized tennis shoe box in the middle of a field. There were no architectural elements to give the home an identity, such as gabled roof lines, bay windows, brick accents or trim elements. It didn’t even have any landscape to dress up the exterior and break it up a little bit, just (4) perfectly straight walls and a roof, Yuck!

One of the most important aspects of building your Custom Dream Home is doing what I call grassroots research, which is visiting as many open houses and model homes that you can that are comparable in price to the home you are planning to build. This will provide you with a really good road map and point of reference for design standards and benchmarks in that price range so that you can compare that to what you would like to design and build.

4. Cutting corners on the material selection to save a few bucks here or there! It is said in business that 1 of anything is very bad; you always want more than 1 way of getting business, more than 1 replacement for an employee etc. Well in custom home design, nearly anything that is white is bad unless we are talking about trim, cabinets or similar areas. Do not cut corners to save dollars on your home by choosing cheap counter tops, flooring, light fixtures and other design elements. The key to building a Custom Dream Home that is really custom is having a sound plan from the start so that you can get the amenities you want and deserve without sacrificing the integrity of the home.

In many cases, it is better to build a smaller well-equipped home than it is to build a larger home that is plain! I trust that you have found great value in these tips and I look forward to providing you with more informative articles and insights that will help make the planning of your Custom Dream Home a breeze! I wish you the best on your Custom Dream Home project and here’s to great design…

In my professional opinion, if you are building a Custom Home then there are some basic prerequisites that the home should have like solid surface counter tops, really nice carpet, hardwoods, tile flooring and separate showers to name a few. I am amazed when I tour a 7,000 square foot custom home only to see that the Master Bathroom has an all-white ceramic tile shower and linoleum flooring! Give me a break! Now maybe I sound a little overboard here but unless there are medical reasons for these types of selections and/or other important constraints you are setting yourself up for failure if you ever have to sell a home that has these types of material selections.