small builds: five key things to do

Let’s say you selected a small bungalow house, have building plans in hand and want professionals to build your dream. Why not stack the deck in favor of a joyful outcome?

Whether you plan a primary or secondary dwelling, you will need time to make decisions, seek approvals and course-correct. With these caveats, we delve into five key things to do.

Maybe you selected the B-53 bungalow for your house build, which ranges from 777 to 884 sq. ft. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Maybe you selected the B-53 bungalow for your house build, which ranges from 777 to 884 sq. ft. (Tumbleweed Houses)

1. Finish planning — Have you checked local zoning and building codes online or with city hall officials? Even with an initial thumbs-down, please don’t fret. You may adjust house plans, get another set and/or seek professional design help to comply.

Bring those B-53 or other building plans along, to confirm code compliance with City Hall. (Tumbleweed Houses)

Bring those B-53 or other building plans along, to confirm code compliance with City Hall. (Tumbleweed Houses)

2. Set a budget, add 30 percent — Are you creating a materials and labor budget? As a time saver, both Lowe’s and Home Depot will price out your full materials list. Some house plan sellers also offer build-costs, including local materials and labor estimates (see Houseplans).

Make sure you have budgeted well. Otherwise you may be forced to downgrade to a play kitchen! (Hayneedle.com)

Make sure you have budgeted well. Otherwise you may be forced to downgrade to a play kitchen! (Hayneedle.com)

3. Figure out financing needs — How much have you saved up? Do you have a decent credit score? Determine if you want to apply for a construction or home equity (asset) line/loan. It’s not too soon to start checking terms online, visiting banks and pre-qualifying for short or long-term financing.

Why not pursue a construction loan? It might work for your specific circumstances. (Let's Just Build A House)

Why not pursue a construction loan? It might work for your specific circumstances. (Let’s Just Build A House)

4. Start downsizing — If you are moving into a smaller primary residence, are you ready to downsize? Work incrementally and over time through all your possessions and sell, donate, recycle or toss stuff out. Remember to keep only what you’ll actively use or truly cherish.

This garage sale aimed to sell furniture and kitchen items. They sold within a couple hours! (The Comforts of Home)

This garage sale aimed to sell furniture and kitchen items. They sold within a couple hours! (The Comforts of Home)

5. Select contractors — How are you going to select contractors? Have you gotten references, met contractors and checked their licenses? Do you understand the risks of owner-builders? Please visit your state’s contractor licensing board website, for consumer and contractor requirements.

Here's the California website where you may check contractor licenses and consumer info. (Contractor State Licensing Board)

Here’s the California website where you may check contractor licenses and consumer info. (Contractor State Licensing Board)

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