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How to Purchase Online House Plans - continued

No matter what you like or where you're building, home plans require careful consideration before purchasing.

Financial Considerations

Figure out your budget before shopping for your lot and house plan. As a general rule of thumb, your building site should cost no more than 20% of the total cost to build.

Make sure you know how much you can afford to spend. Investigate your options by making an appointment with a bank or loan officer. Many banks provide attractive loans that initially finance the lot purchase as well as the construction cost, and then convert automatically into a mortgage. Also, find out if the bank reserves the right to approve the builder you choose.

Make appointments with local contractors and builders in your area. They should be able to give you estimates on the average cost per square foot to build the home. You should also get estimates on the cost to install the driveway, utility hook ups, and septic tank installations or sewer connections.

Choosing a Contractor

Choosing a building contractor is probably the most important decision you will make. The builder is responsible for constructing a high quality house, coming in on budget, getting the house built when you need to move in, and coordinating the multitudes of subcontractors it will take to get the job done.

We know firsthand that most home contractors are dependable and trustworthy businessmen. However, there are a few guidelines that you should follow to protect yourself and your investment.

* Always obtain more than one estimate.

* Never choose a contractor based solely on lowest price.

* Don't rely on possible legal remedies as your protection against someone you aren't comfortable with. It's better to just not hire that particular contractor.

* Research a builder's background before hiring. If your state has a licensing board for contractors, call to find out if there are any outstanding complaints against that license holder.

* Call your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints on file.

* Don't be afraid to thoroughly interview contractor candidates. Ask what kind of worker's compensation insurance they carry and get their policy number and insurance company contact information so you can verify everything. If they are not covered, you could be liable for work-related injuries incurred during the project.

* Be sure that the contractor also has an umbrella general liability policy.

* Don't hire the contractor who only suggests changes that will reduce the price and possibly the quality of the house, or the contractor who does the opposite and only makes suggestions that will result in expensive changes. There should be a balance.

* Choose a contractor based heavily on past performance. Ask for names of clients and follow up with phone calls and drive-bys, if possible. A good contractor will be happy to provide as many referrals as you want.

* Choose a contractor based on recommendations from local business owners he deals with such as bankers, material suppliers, and local officials.

* Choose a contractor who appears knowledgeable, has a helpful attitude, and will have your best interest at heart.

* Never pay a deposit to a contractor at the first meeting.

* Finally, don't be rushed into making a decision, no matter how competitive the market may seem.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for when buying a new home plan and starting the building process, get out there and do it. We also have some great ideas and suggestions for Choosing the Right House Plan as well as information to help you understand how to read your new blueprints, if you want to prepare a little more!

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