Is there anything more exhilarating than building a house? Whether you’re building a cute cottage, a tiny home, or a luxurious mansion, chances are that you’re already armed with magazine clippings, Pinterest boards, and a few paint and tile samples. New construction homes come with a unique set of challenges, so you’ll need a few professionals to help ensure that your floor plan, materials, and general aesthetic make sense given your tastes, needs, and budget. To help you get an idea of what decisions you’ll need to make, here are some things to consider before building a house in Ontario or Quebec.
1. Buy the right lot
Before you even start building a house, you need to find a place to build it. Here are a few things to think about when searching for the right lot.
Think about the type of new home you want to build and where it would make the most sense. You probably have an ideal location in mind – after all, most people don’t want a cottage built in downtown Toronto. If you’re on the hunt for a peaceful forest backdrop or a sunny beachfront, be sure to check with the city to see if they plan to build anything else nearby. You don’t want your idyllic setting to be replaced by a subdivision or plaza in a few years.
While you’re on the hunt for the right piece of land, think about your needs. If you’re planning to have children, check out nearby schools. If you don’t drive, make sure you have access to reliable public transportation and that stores aren’t too far away. And if you’re someone that likes to host community gatherings, make sure that your future neighbours are okay with it.
Soil type and topography
Of course, the location of your lot is going to impact the land you’re building a house on. For example, if you’re aiming to build a waterfront property, you’ll need to anticipate runoff, soil erosion, and even flooding, which are all things that can make construction difficult and damage your foundation over time. Take some time to inspect the soil and surrounding areas so you know what to expect.
Next you’ll want to see what type of lot you’re dealing with as it’ll impact your ability to get a bank loan and your project timeline. If you’ve got a lot of capital and don’t mind waiting for utilities and basic services to be hooked up, then aim for an unimproved lot. Otherwise, go for a build-ready lot.
Zoning and ordinances
Before you make a decision, make sure that you’re purchasing a residential lot. This is crucial – you don’t want to invest thousands of dollars into a property you can’t build your dream home on. In the same vein, be sure to request a copy of the land survey or have a surveyor determine the exact boundaries of the lot after purchase. This’ll help you avoid boundary disputes and related issues.
You’ll also want to figure out which municipal and city ordinances apply to your property. Keep an eye out for things like emergency services, recycling and garbage collection, and road repairs. It’ll help you get an idea of what limitations apply to your property and who to call if you have questions or concerns.
Deeds and homeowner associations
Last but not least, if you’re buying an empty lot in a subdivision, you may have to join the local homeowner association. In some cases, this means paying membership fees and adhering to a set of rules (usually related to the home’s exterior appearance). Some lots also have deed restrictions that outline everything from the removal of trees on the property to the maximum height of the new construction. Be sure to ask the seller if there are any other restrictions that apply to the lot.
2. Get house plans for your new construction
Scandinavian. Dutch colonial. Ranch. Art Deco. There are lots of beautiful architectural home styles to choose from, each with its own unique features. Your house plans will make or break the type of home you want to live in, so make sure you work with a professional that’s familiar with designing and building a house in the style you want.
Choose the right house plans
If you have a limited budget or don’t want to design a custom new home from the ground up, consider going with ready-to-build house plans or existing floor plans. Some architectural firms like Drummond House Plans sell house plan designs, which you can use as is or adjust to better meet your needs.
If you’ve got a specific idea in mind, you can always get a fully customized floor plan designed by an architect or an architectural technologist. They’ll work with you to design your dream home and ensure that each element fits your aesthetic, needs, and budget.
Take time to review your house plans
Yves Carignan, CEO of Drummond House Plans, reminds prospective homeowners that both patience and good planning will be needed while building a house. “Generally, I advise people to try to get their house plans done at least a year before they intend to start building their new home,” he says.
According to him, this is the best way to ensure that you won’t have any regrets. Getting your house plans done in advance will give you time to go over them and make adjustments as needed before construction begins.
“Once you have the first draft of your plans in hand, you can iron out all the little details that come to mind before construction starts. There is time to determine things like if the electrical outlets and light fixtures are in the right place. You can think of all the annoying things in your current home that you want to correct in your new home. You can show your friends and family the plans and discuss them. [Maybe you’ll] see something in their homes that you hadn’t thought of before. You can measure your furniture and make sure that it will fit in your new home. […] You can think about how your need for space may change and factor that into the plans.”
If you’re worried about the rising cost of materials and want to get started as soon as possible, you may want to pull back. “You rarely save money by trying to move too fast. Having to redo plans, change a build along the way, or simply regretting your decision can be very expensive!” says Carignan.