By Rob Haslett

1. Create a custom home building journal as soon as possible. This is very helpful if you have a home building project or if you just want to organize your details in one place. You can track essential home details such as ownership information, budgets, renovations, improvements and more.

2. When you’re deciding on a contractor or custom home builder, examine the homes they have built, in person. Reach out to references and past clients and try to learn more about the builder. Are there any complaints or reviews on Facebook or Better Business Bureau?

3. Insist on a home that is built to last – not a quick-and-sell build. Let’s be honest, it’s one of the most expensive things in your life, but it’s not the best time to be frugal. Quality and time will produce the best results.

4. Don’t overbuild. Compare the home you’re planning with others on the same street. You don’t want to be the most expensive house on the block; you won’t get your money back when you sell.

5. Don’t select a builder based solely on bid amount. Don’t necessarily select the one with either the highest or lowest bid. A high bid doesn’t guarantee a superior product, and the lowest bid could mean that you’ll be hit with extra costs as construction progresses. Often, the low bid is intended to win the contract, and the additional fees will be added later.

6. Make a priority list and a wish list. A home building project is a massive undertaking, and there are often unforeseen circumstances where additional costs may arise. To stay on budget as your home takes shape, veteran homebuilders prioritize the items “you can’t do without” and create a wish list for the “rest.”

7. Ask what the builder charges extra for and how markups work. With additional fees, it’s good to know where they are coming from and how they are handled. How the additional charges were processed is an excellent question to ask the builder’s references. It can be a stressful situation for both parties.