Common Issues Faced with Building A Custom Home – Part I

A Look at the Common Mistakes People Make with a Custom Home Build

Thinking about building your own home in Ontario? While designing and building a house from the ground up is the best way to ensure that you get your dream home, it can be a terrifyingly complicated process if you aren’t properly prepared.

Custom home builds come with a unique set of challenges and concerns that you need to be aware of before diving in. So, to ensure you’re properly prepared for these challenges, here’s a look at the common mistakes people often make when building a custom home.

Why Are Custom Homes More Advantageous Than Pre-Built Homes?

Custom homes are like no other. They are truly unique and built to your personal preferences. With a custom home build, you get to design your own space, from the building materials to the layouts of the rooms and the style of the finishes.

You can build a modern green home with energy-efficient windows, doors, and lighting. And you can add details that will make it feel like home.

But to ensure you get your dream home without stressing out too much, consider these common issues and how to avoid them.

Common Issues – Things to Consider Before Going Through with A Custom Build

To ensure your custom home build goes smoothly, and stays on track and within budget, avoid the following common mistakes homeowners make when building their homes.

Skipping the Inspection

Hire a licensed third-party home inspector to conduct a thorough inspection before moving into your new home. An inspector will find any problems with your home that the builder can fix before closing. The cost of hiring an inspector is worth it in case your home isn’t up to code or has issues that will end up costing you more later on.

Only Thinking about Price/Costs

When building a custom home, you shouldn’t hire a builder just because they are the cheapest. The same goes for materials. While it’s nice to save money, you could end up spending more money in the long run if you make decisions based on price alone.

If you can find an affordable builder who is also reputable with plenty of excellent references, or you find a quality material that is on sale, then go for it. But remember, your home is an investment, and you should prioritize quality over price.

Buying the Lot before Getting a Breakdown of Servicing Costs and Site Prep

Before you can start building your dream home, you first need to buy the lot where your new home will set.

Maybe you’ve found that perfect spot near the water and close to amenities. But have you thought about the costs of building a house on that lot?

People often forget about the costs of site preparation and connecting services to it. Site prep includes municipal zoning and environmental remediation. Factors that can influence the price for site prep include:

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  • Whether you’re building on a flood plain
  • Nearby tree, water, or streamside covenants
  • Removal of hazardous waste, such as underground oil tanks and asbestos from existing structures.


Connecting municipal services to the lot (if there are none already) can also be expensive, especially if the lot is on difficult terrain—i.e., rock that needs to be blasted. These services include electricity, gas, water, and sewer.

So before buying a lot, visit it with your builder and conduct a feasibility analysis of the site so you will know what costs to expect if you decide to build your custom home there.

Imposing Home Design on a Site Rather Than Adapting the Design to Your Property

You can save yourself a lot of time, money, and stress if you adapt your home to your property. For example, your municipality might have limits on the size of houses and outbuildings that can be built. And if your property has a lot of trees, consider incorporating them into your design instead of cutting them down.

Failing to Plan

You should be planning your home with professionals throughout the design process. Custom home builders are there to work with you through each stage of the process to help ensure you get your dream home. And you will also want to work with a designer, architect, inspector, electrician, and other trades specialists.

Starting a Design before Setting a Budget

Every aspect of your home design, from site prep and outdoor landscaping to the final details inside your home, will be based on your budget. And many design problems can occur when there are no clear budget boundaries.

So before you even start planning your custom home design, you must set a realistic budget with extra room for unexpected costs. Otherwise, you could risk having mounting expenses that you can’t afford, and there could be a disconnect between you and your designer.

Not Being Realistic or Anticipating Delays

Plan for delays, especially if you are building your own home in Ontario, or any other part of Canada, during the colder months. Delays are an inevitable part of construction, whether due to bad weather or red tape. So add buffer room in your timeline to save yourself money and stress.

Not Incorporating Green Building Factors into Your Home Design

Green buildings provide significant cost savings for homeowners. And it’s easier to incorporate energy-efficient building features in the design stage of your custom build so you can enjoy the many benefits living in a green home—cost savings, comfort, health, etc.—while still getting the style of house you love.

These green design features include:

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Using the Builder as a Sole Resource for Guidance on Your Home Build

While your custom home builder will be able to guide your home design, you should also get a recommendation for a designer who matches your design preferences. You may also want to start working with an architect to design the blueprints for your home.

Thinking Only in the Short-Term

Do you plan to live in your custom home for the rest of your life? If so, you should design your home to accommodate your current and future needs, so you can avoid major renovation costs down the road.

Consider building your home to be more accessible, keeping in mind the likelihood of experiencing reduced mobility as you age.

Elevated front porches and second-floor master bedrooms may be nice to have now, but they won’t be very accessible if you have limited mobility in the future.

Not Double-Checking the Windows

If you want energy-efficient windows, you need to make sure they are correctly installed. Otherwise, they will lose their energy-saving benefits from faulty installation, putting your home at risk of drafts, water damage, increased utility costs, and not being as comfortable as it should be.

To avoid a faulty window installation, ask thorough questions about the installation process and double-check the answers with local window professionals. Or, simply have the window professionals install the windows for you.

Proper installation of energy-efficient and architectural windows and doors will help your custom build look great, stay comfortable, and feel like your dream home no matter the weather outdoors.

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