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Building a New Construction Home in the Washington, D.C. Region

If you have a vision for your dream home and you want to see it fulfilled down to the very last detail, your best option may be to partner with a custom home builder and begin either remodeling an existing home or designing an entirely new one.

Working with a custom builder gives you unmatched creative control over your home’s architecture, floor plan, and features — and when you work with the right builder, it can be a smooth and even enjoyable process. Here’s what you need to know about finding, vetting, and working with a custom builder for your new construction home in the greater Washington, D.C. region


What to know about custom home costs and timeframes

Given how much time, money, and energy you’ll invest in building your new construction home, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that you partner with a transparent, conscientious, and reputable builder. You need a custom home builder who’s going to keep the new home construction project within your budget, specifications, and timeframe, with no unpleasant surprises.

Design and construction timelines vary, of course, but a custom home can generally take about six months to design and plan, then about a year to build.

Although it’s typically more expensive upfront to build a home than it is to buy an existing one, you have a lot of control over a custom home’s cost by adjusting details of the design, finishes, appliances, and so on. 

Agreeing upon a detailed, complete scope and budget upfront will go a long way toward keeping development within budget. In the long run, a new construction home is often a good investment when it comes time to eventually sell the home.

The Northern Virginia and the Great DC region is a great places to build because home values tend to hold strong here. Thanks to the high proportion of federal, healthcare, and defense workers that the nation’s capital consistently employs, housing is always in high demand here.


The home building process

When building your own home, you’ll need to:

  • Find the land to build on (or the home to remodel)
  • Find a reputable builder — we’ve listed several at the bottom of this page
  • Secure a contract that guarantees your timeframe and costs
  • Pay for the land and construction with cash, financing, or a mix of both
  • Choose every feature and element of the new structure
  • Stay in touch with your builder for updates throughout construction

If you’re looking for land to build on, an experienced real estate agent can help — they often know about lots and potential teardowns that aren’t yet listed on the public market.

Building a home requires input from experts in several related fields, and a good builder will typically assemble and manage that team for you, including an architect, a landscape architect, civil engineer, project manager, and possibly interior design experts. Many builders also name preferred lenders, as financing a new construction home comes with specific requirements and processes.


Vetting a potential builder

Before you agree to work with a specific builder, it’s worth taking a little time to vet them — due diligence at this stage could save you a lot of time, stress, and energy later.

Ask your potential builder for references. The first thing to take stock of is a builder’s track record. That means viewing a builder’s portfolio and checking up on the quality of their finished homes, of course, but you’ll also want to hear what recent clients say about the process of working with that builder. When talking to one of the builder’s former clients, ask these questions:

  • When did you work with the builder?
  • Did they stay within budget?
  • Did the final result meet your expectations?
  • Did they complete work on schedule?
  • Do you have any advice for someone who’s considering signing a contract with this builder?

Some builders have a model or custom home available for you to tour, so that’s another way to get a sense of the builder’s quality standards and attention to detail.


Mitigating your risk & setting clear expectations

The last thing any homeowner wants is for their home to take months longer to build than expected, racking up significantly higher costs than anticipated. Fortunately, there are several ways to prevent this kind of scenario.

If possible, a home builder should be chiming in during the design process to provide feedback on what different design decisions will cost. A good builder will work hand-in-hand with designers to make sure that the design matches the home’s budget.

A real estate agent who’s experienced in new home construction will be able to help you limit your risk of going over time or budget by helping you get a good contract in place — one in which the builder assumes the risk of going over time or over budget.

Another good way to minimize unpleasant surprises and maintain peace of mind is to agree on when and how you’ll receive updates from the builder. This is especially important if you’re far from the site while the home is being built. Ask for regular progress updates with photos from your builder.

Finally, make sure you’re fully happy with the home’s design and features before committing. While changing your mind in-process is possible, it can be costly and can lengthen timeframes.


How to get a great return on your investment

When designing your home, a great builder can help you foresee life changes and design your home to accommodate them — so you don’t outgrow the home in a few years or find it lacking features that you need years down the road.

Even if you’re building a home that you plan to live in personally for many years, it’s smart to factor in the home’s eventual resale value. New construction can be a very smart investment in the long run. A good home builder — or a knowledgeable real estate agent — can help advise you on ways to optimize your new construction home for its eventual resale in the specific community where you’re building.

If you’ll be living in your completed home for years, work with a real estate agent who doesn’t just tell you what the current state of the market is, but also makes informed forecasts of the area’s future housing market. If there’s any kind of housing market shift, you’ll want to be on the right side of it.

Looking to build a new construction home in the Northern Virginia or D.C. region?

If you’re looking to build a new construction home anywhere in the greater Washington, D.C., area, seek the advice of Nadia Khan. As a leading authority in the local residential real estate market, Nadia will provide you with expert market analysis, unparalleled service, and a seamless transition.

Experienced & reputable builders in the greater Washington, D.C., region

Work With Nadia

Whether you’re buying or selling a home (or both), your success hinges upon the expert advice and services provided by your real estate agent. I’m committed to providing my clients with professional services based on my experience, knowledge and skills.

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