Considerations When Building a Custom Home

  • By 7052540976
  • 15 Nov, 2017
A custom home from J. Thompson Builders in Iowa
This custom home has a welcoming front entrance.
Some of these considerations may not be in the forefront of your mind, but there is a long list of aspects you need to consider when building a new home. These should help to get you started thinking about some of the most important pieces of the home building process.

Get Inspired!

This is YOUR custom home! Don't slack on planning  your dream project. Before you even think about committing to building a new home, spend an extensive amount of time planning. Creating a Pinterest board or even a physical dream board are great ways to organize your ideas all in one place and determine what styles you like and what elements are important to you. Share these boards with your builder when you're ready.

Room Decisions

The ideal placement of the rooms in your home will vary based on your habits, family dynamics and your hobbies may even come into play (a mudroom might be important for not only families but also those who get dirty at their jobs). For many families it's bet to place the laundry room in an easily accessible place near bedrooms, the kitchen is best located near the entrance where you carry in groceries, and you'll want to place bedrooms away from noise and traffic.

What rooms are necessities? For those who never use a dining room, you may only need an eat-in area in their kitchen or a dinning nook. Even if a room sounds like a fun addition to the plan, consider if you'll really use it, but also make sure to include rooms and spaces you know you will use.

The Lot

Regardless of the house plan you have in mind, have you thought to consider if it will fit well on the lot? Your house plan selection must take the lot into high consideration. Not all houses will fit well on certain lots and you want to make the best use of your land. If you have a scenic surrounding landscape, you want your house to be situated so it takes advantage of it.

Lighting Choices

You can never have too many lighting choices! Add lighting options in every spot possible, but also don't forget about natural lighting. Include lots of windows -- including skylights -- in your house plan to take advantage of natural lighting opportunities.


Keep resale in mind whether you think you will sell or not. Even if you plan to stay in the home indefinitely, plans and life circumstances can change the plan. A timeless design sells, and so does energy efficiency and low maintenance home.

The Ever Evolving Family

How will your family change throughout the years? Do you even know? You can't make all the predictions, but you can consider what your family will need over the years, including after retirement, once you welcome grandchildren or elderly parents into your home, etc.

Is it Negotiable?

What are your must-haves, your non negotiables, and what are the things you can give up? Because you may not have unlimited funds, you will likely have to make compromises on what you want, and what you can settle for. Make sure you provide your builder with your list of non negotiables.

Energy Efficient?

Energy efficiency is not only great for resale but also great for your finances. Select energy efficient appliances containing the Energy Star logo. Not only will you save money on your energy costs but you may also qualify for energy efficiency rebates and tax credits. There are often federal opportunities, or as well your state, city or local utility company may offer rebates and tax credits. 


Have you considered what it may cost to maintain your home after it is built? Cheap materials are cheap up-front but cost more in the long run. If you invest in quality materials in the beginning when designing your house you'll save money over time. Also opt for other low maintenance options such as countertops that resist staining, low-maintenance flooring options, and finishes resistant to smudges and scratches.


Don't neglect budget considerations before you are too far into the process. Consult with not only your banker but also a financial advisor to help you determine what you can afford. Know that while building the financing is different than a traditional home mortgage. When you are shopping around for a loan (highly recommended) make sure you ask questions about the differences between the construction loan and the home mortgage loan. Most often a construction loan has a shorter term and a higher interest rates. And at the end, when your home is finished, you'll need to refinance the construction loan into a home loan.

The Move

Everyone loves to move, right? Few do. But being prepared for the move can put your mind at ease a bit. Ask your builder for a realistic estimated move-in date so you can start preparing for it months in advance. Create a back-up plan for if that move-in date changes, including temporary house and storage space.

The Contract

Read all contracts multiple times before signing. Ensure you understand what you are signing. The contract should everything you've discussed previously (take notes if you must in order to remember what is discussed). Because once you've signed a contract you may not be able to get out of it or make any changes.
Are you ready to start planning your new custom home? Get inspired by the examples in our Custom Home Gallery !

J. Thompson Builders Blog

By 7052540976 16 Jan, 2018
Building a custom home for you and your family is an exciting time, if you are willing to put in the work. Here we are covering some of the basics you need to know when planning a custom build.
By 7052540976 19 Dec, 2017

A person’s home is one of the most important places to them, a space they find comfort, rest and relaxation. Naturally, we are under a lot of pressure to make it perfect for the clients we work with. Our recent project in the Woodland Creek neighborhood of West Des Moines, Iowa has been a fun challenge for our team. We are working with a universal design!

The clients for this project are a retired couple who wanted to move from their small town to the growing city of Des Moines to be closer to their kids and grandkids.

They wanted a home that they could grow old in and still be able to access and use the entire house as they age. It became apparent to them that having J. Thompson Builders create a custom universally designed home to fit their needs was their best option.

Universal design is becoming a significant choice in newly built homes. Not only does it allow for adjustments to help the aging community live comfortably in their homes, it also can be a good fit for people with disabilities. With universal design, your home is customized to fit your lifestyle.

The home we designed for our clients is a traditional ranch style home large enough to host family gatherings. The main level measures to 2,200 square feet, with the addition of the finished basement the total square footage comes to approximately 4,000.

When considering their long-term needs, we decided to design wheelchair accessible cabinets and an island in the kitchen. There will also be a zero threshold entry into the home, meaning there are no steps from the street to the front door. Due to the prevalence of basements in the mid-west a majority of homes these days are built with at least one to four steps leading up to the main level, making entry challenging for a sector of our population.

A unique feature in this home will be a residential elevator to carry you from the main floor into the finished basement. Once in the basement we have made sure there is plenty of living space and necessary facilities for the homeowners to have everything they need on either level. 

By 7052540976 15 Nov, 2017
Some of these considerations may not be in the forefront of your mind, but there is a long list of aspects you need to consider when building a new home. These should help to get you started thinking about some of the most important pieces of the home building process.
By 7052540976 15 Oct, 2017
This home is being built with our client’s specific wants and needs in mind. The homeowner
requested a single family home with a modern contemporary house design. Previously, he lived
in a townhome and desired a more private, spacious residence. A main floor living with a large
space to entertain and big volume ceilings were a must on the client’s list.

The client decided building as opposed to finding a pre-existing home was a better solution for
him because he wants something specific to his needs. He already had the perfect location in
mind and it was time for him to own his dream home.

The area is ideal for this client because it allows him to live in close proximity to his hobbies and
interests and it also allows him the ability to walk to nearby restaurants or bike to the
surrounding shops. This homeowner will be close to everything. He truly loves the location!
The design concept picked is pictured below. In sticking with a contemporary influence, the
design has clean, simple lines that will result in an extraordinary modern home. We combined
elements of residential and commercial materials and design to bring our client’s unique requests to life.
By 7052540976 15 Sep, 2017

You decide that you are ready to build a custom home for you and your family. Now it is time to figure out how to finance your dreams!

Let’s start with the basics. As with any loan process, do your research. Talk to several mortgage companies that specialize or have a strong understanding/history of working with construction loans. Ask questions and voice your concerns. Companies of course want your business, but they also want to make sure they are a good fit for you and what you are wanting to accomplish. Reviews and referrals are strongly regarded these days. They want to make sure you have the best experience possible.

There are several main differences between a construction loan and a regular existing home loan. An individual construction loan may require a longer credit history  or a higher credit score as well as more money down and along the way. It is more of a process, but it is most certainly worth it. With the right builder, the more involved process becomes a piece of cake; but, that is an article for another time.

Home loans can have a 30 year term whereas a construction loan typically has a max of 1 year. “The rates on this type of loan are higher than rates on permanent mortgage loans. To gain approval, the lender will need to see a construction timetable, detailed plans and a realistic budget, sometimes called the “story” behind the loan,” as reported by  bankrate . While your home is being built, it is typical to make interest-only payments. 

If you are thinking, “I don’t have enough money to pay off a newly built home in 1 year!” Don’t panic.

A popular option is the construction-to- permanent financing sometimes called “one-time close,” a “single close,” or an "all-in-one" loan. Upon completion of construction, the remaining loan balance is converted into a permanent mortgage with terms up to 30 years. Like most loans, “the rate and other terms of the permanent mortgage are set up-front when the entire loan package is closed” according to the  National Association of Home Builders .  Construction/permanent loans are offered by many different lenders, including banks and mortgage companies and are a great option for those of us wanting to finance their home purchase over an extended period of time.

Another option is a stand-alone construction loan. This type of loan can be beneficial if you currently own your home and want a smaller down payment option.   Read more about stand alone construction loans.

There are many different loan options. What makes sense for one person doesn’t make sense for everyone. Make sure you find the right product for you and your particular project. If you want to talk over some options, contact us! We would love to hear your ideas and figure out how we can build your dream home.

View our work , read our reviews on , and visit our Facebook page to get inspired!
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Aug, 2017
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By Jeremy Thompson 01 Jul, 2017
With more and more people working from home or taking at least the occasional “work from home” day, the home office has become an essential part of a home plan. Even if you don’t work from home ever, the home office is still a great area to work on creative projects, store important files, or […] The post Designing a Home Office: Increasing Productivity, Inspiring Creativity appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 15 Jun, 2017
We’ve offered you lots of advice over the years about building a custom home. Here is a condensed version of some of the most important tips to follow. Get on the fast track to planning your new custom home! 7 Tips for Building a Custom Home Pay attention to your subdivision covenants. Yes, these are […] The post Building a Custom Home: 7 Quick Tips appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Jun, 2017
Whether building a house or undertaking a remodel you have the opportunity to design your house to suit your tastes and needs. There are many flooring options available, each with unique characteristics and design. Since flooring is a long-lasting part of the house it is important to choose the right floor for each room that […] The post 5 High-Quality Flooring Options Available for Your Home appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
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