Building a custom home in Houston is one way you can effectively invest into the long-term health, happiness, and comfort of your family. It’s also a massive undertaking.
Over the course of a year or two, you will experience a lengthy, nuanced process that requires you to make multiple decisions as you plan, design, and initiate the construction of your new luxury home. This all may sound a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never built a house before.
However, one of the biggest hurdles is knowing what you need to know—and identifying gaps in your knowledge—so you can gather the right data and insight from your builder, your architect, and other sources to make informed decisions and have a smooth, manageable custom home building experience in Houston.
What Do I Need to Know About Building a Custom Houston Home?
During the design phase, you'll want to start thinking about your personal preferences in terms of materials, color schemes and architectural features. However, there’s a lot of ground that must be covered first so you have a solid foundation for your new construction project in Houston. Here are a few areas and topics to research early in the custom home building process to ensure your design is feasible, cost-effective and well-suited to its surroundings:
1. Appropriate Square Footage
The square footage of your new luxury home in Houston will influence almost every aspect of your project, as well as your quality of life for years to come. Before you start designing, you should have an idea of the approximate square footage of your new home and how you’ll use it. This goes hand in hand with your lot size. Depending on the square acres you have available, you should stick to a certain size when building your house to meet setback requirements, preserve enough land for exterior living spaces and address other concerns. Besides the size of your lot in Houston, you also need to figure out your current needs and future goals to determine the appropriate square footage and layout for your luxury home.
2. Desired House Style
If you dream about building a house, chances are you have a specific look in mind. If not, you’ll want to select on a particular style of house before you start the process. Knowing what type of architecture and aesthetic appeals to you will provide important direction for your architect and Houston home builder. Meanwhile, given your preferred house style, they can point you in the right direction when you're researching different materials and features during the design phase. By having a shared vision, your team can collaborate to develop a clean, cohesive design that suits your tastes and preferences.
3. Specifics of Your Location
When it comes to designer homes construction in Houston, you also want to learn the ins and out of the job site before you begin building. This refers to several things. For example, the location of your land could impact accessibility for your crew during construction or require the creation of a new driveway or access road. In certain neighborhoods, you also must be aware of the local homeowners association and any guidelines that pertain to new custom design construction. If you haven't already acquired land for your project, reach out to your home builder. Based on the size and style of the house you want and other factors, they can refer you to certain neighborhoods or communities with available lots that fit your vision.
4. Flood Risks and Environmental Hazards
Before building a house in Texas, you also want to investigate the potential risks associated with a particular area. A big one to be aware of is the flood hazard. For example, if a geographic area is designated as a 100-year floodplain, that means there’s a 1% annual chance of flooding; areas designated as 500-year floodplains have a 0.2% chance of flooding in a given year. You can find information on specific flood zones and flood maps via the FEMA website. If you are building in a floodplain, you want to take steps mitigate your risk and protect your new luxury home. Additionally, environmental hazards, such as contaminated soils or polluted water sources, can also impact the cost of your project and the type of site prep necessary.
5. Detention Requirements
Next, you should find out what local planning and building codes you must follow for your project. For example, the city of Houston recently adopted new storm detention requirements for single-family lots that went into effect in April 2021. According to supplemental changes made to the Infrastructure Design Manual, tracts that are between 1 and 20 acres must have a minimum detention volume of 0.75 acre-feet per acre. The required rate, however, increases in proportion to the percentage of impervious cover on the lot. If you’re building on a tract that is more than 20 acres, you’ll want to refer to the criteria laid out in the Harris County Flood Control District’s (HCFCD) Policy Criteria and Procedure Manual (PCPM). The minimum storage is 0.65 acre-feet per acre, but your rate may increase depending on the calculations derived from an impact analysis, or drainage study.
6. Estimated Timeline
A couple of other things you should know before starting on your custom home is the estimated timeline for the project and how quickly you would like it to be done. On average, it takes about 18 months to two years to design and build a luxury home, from start to finish. If you’re not on a timeline, then you can discuss an optimal schedule with your architect and builder so they can coordinate with you and each other for the design and construction of the building. However, if you are hoping to have the project complete by a certain date because you’re moving or there’s some other driving factor, make sure you communicate that to your custom home building team. Trying to expedite the project may come with additional costs, such as paying overtime for labor or putting in rush orders for materials.
7. Your Budget and Neighborhood Comps
One of the keys to a successful and efficient new custom home build is knowing upfront how much you want to invest in the project. This will guide the planning and design phase and give your team the information they need to help you navigate the selection process, prevent overages and implement cost-saving measures. In addition to establishing an estimated budget, you should assess the value of nearby homes in Houston that are comparable in size and style to what you are attempting to construct. You want to avoid purchasing land and creating a luxury home in a neighborhood with lower comps that could devalue your property.
Building a New Luxury Custom Home in Houston
Purchasing land and building a custom home from scratch can be a uniquely rewarding endeavor. You have the opportunity to create a residence tailored to your particular lifestyle needs, tastes and long-term goals—a place you will love for years to come. If you don’t know where to start, don’t hesitate to contact our team of professionals at Southern Green Builders. With more than 30 years of custom home building experience, we know what issues are commonly faced by prospective homebuyers and how to help you navigate this complex process and make the most of your time and investment.