Building a Custom Home in Houston – Marwood Construction

10:14 Oct 2023
Building a Custom Home

Building a custom home for most people is like scaling the Mt Everest of personal dreams and achievements. A life achievement milestone that makes a statement.

To design and build a “one of a kind” custom house can be a majestic and life affirming quest to fulfill.  

Affluent homeowners have many options in selecting luxury homes including buying an existing house on the market, purchasing custom house specs that house builders are offering and contracting with a custom home builder for building a custom home.

Although there are production builders with their pre-designed standard models that only allow you to select your own colors from their predetermined product lines, they will not allow a buyer to make major changes.  

There are also semicustom house builders that will allow you to make minor modifications to their stock plans, but if you are not in love with the base house plan, it is likely that you will find that it is not cost effective to make wholesale changes to the builders plans to achieve your design goals.

This leaves you with choosing from an exclusive select group of general contractors for building a custom home in Houston.

These special and exclusive custom home builders personally participate to define the owners signature lifestyle unlike any other product that can be purchased or produced anywhere in the world.


Learn the insights of a master builder’s details of building a custom home in Houston

These are the following essential elements as defined by a master builder with more than 40 years of experience and care.

Research and Planning

If you only do 1 thing, doing your due diligence and proper planning is critical to successfully building a custom home in Houston.

Even if you have previously designed and built a “one of a kind” luxury house, this step should not be ignored. As they say, the devil is in the details and ignoring the details can send your project to hell.

The research and planning can take many shapes and forms, from intensive reading and preparing detailed questionnaires to the endless hours of viewing and piecing together design idea books with design and product ideas to share with your design team.

The point is that you should always do some reading, product selecting and design planning.

This alone will assist you in attracting and communicating with your professional luxury house design team tasked with the duty to assist you with the creative and artistic factors of building a custom home in Houston.

Take in consideration your lifestyle and how you and your family intend to use your luxury house.

Plan your wish list around a full spectrum of wants, wishes and needs, from your family growing up in this house to your bucket list amenities.

Make it as comprehensive as possible, you can rule them out as non-feasible later in the design process when you are limiting yourself for financial reasons.

The point here is to allow yourself to imagine the ideas before you eliminate them so not to regret having considered them at a later date.

Building a Custom Home

Develop Your Design Team

Your principal design team consist of your custom builder, architect / designer and an engineer.

Depending on your needs you may also want the services of an interior designer and / or a landscape architect to supplement the luxury house design process with more detail.

During the first stage of this process your research included gathering a short list of professionals to interview during this stage of the custom home building process.

Armed with your design idea book, your questions and some alternative building site locations, you dive in head first to explore the best personal fit for this collaboration effort.

The most effective method to conduct these interviews is in a friendly setting for the owners. I subscribe to placing your professionals in a somewhat uncomfortable situation during their interview to determine how they react to adversity. 

This can give you a real time idea of what it will be like when challenges take place during the project.

I have seen a couple start naturally arguing just to see how their consultants would react.

The primary idea is to find a method to make your assessment in determining if your professional service providers will work as a team and that you will enjoy working with them throughout the entire process.

Review the architect’s / designer’s portfolio and have some open discussions about their creative process and design philosophy.

Probe them with questions concerning their tolerance of accepting constructive criticism of their work. No one enjoys working with a touchy artist. 

Ask your prospective luxury home builders about the different methods available to clients for contracting their services.

Ask them the difficult questions about how they handle change orders and how they resolve conflicts and disagreements with their clients.

When you have your list narrowed down to a few select names, meet with both the architect/designer and the custom home builder to decide how well they will collaborate on preparing the construction documents for building a custom home in Houston.

The luxury house design journey is fun but challenging due to the uniqueness of the imagination.

Future Home Site

Many people will purchase the house lot before they hire their design team. This is understandable due to the rare opportunities available in selecting a premium lot.

By having your team selected beforehand they can be extremely helpful in assisting the owner with the right building site for your luxury house design plan.

A preliminary luxury house design (shape and form) can only truly be defined when the building lot has been purchased.

Your custom builder can assist you in your lot selection by researching the deed restrictions and property building setback requirements and physically staking out the house on the lot for the owner to understand it better.

They can also be instrumental in establishing the home finish floor elevations, driveway configuration, utility accessibility and mature tree preservation.

The custom house building site is a critical part of the house building process for many reasons.

First the house site is the largest single purchase that is made during the “one of a kind” custom home building process and requires careful evaluation for considering the multiple factors for choosing a specific lot.  

Secondly, the custom homes orientation can be a major factor in energy efficiency depending on the suns southern exposure and window openings planned.

Thirdly, Houston has many storm water drainage issues. Understanding the history of area flooding and water run off is essential in planning an effective drainage plan.

The major defining factor should be the neighborhood and the adjoining homes and properties.

In other words, how well will your intended modern luxury home’s design architecturally blend with the existing luxury homes.

Building a Custom Home Houston

Budget and Working Drawings

At this point you have a home site, a conceptual drawing approved, conceptual budget and you are well on your way to completing the luxury house drawings.

Your Houston custom builder is preparing a high confident budget price for the working drawings and the engineer is modeling the load members for compliance.

You are working on product selections such as plumbing fixtures, cabinets, exterior stone or brick.

The more of the selections you can actually finalize the more assurance you will have in your custom builder’s price.

In the absence of these selections, you will be provided a set of fair market allowances as a portion of the overall construction budget.

With the construction budget and the completed plans you now can finalize your financing.

This traditionally consist of funding to acquire the building lot and the allocation amount required to fund the construction of your Houston luxury home.

Your lender will require that the construction cost is paid in progress payments and that the custom builder provide proof of payment for materials and labor as the project progresses.

The final luxury house drawings will require the owner’s approval and the general contractor will submit the engineering and drawing to the local building department for a permitting.

The building department will usually review the complete documents by passing them around throughout the different departments such as; electrical, mechanical, civil and structural for each department’s approval and comments.

Custom Home Construction & Warranty

The final phase of building a custom home is the actual construction of your luxury house.

Your involvement does not end with the luxury house design phase completion. You will be required to attend progress meetings on site, complete your product selections, review details of shop drawings of products that are being fabricated for your specific luxury house.

These meetings also provide the owner the assurances that the luxury house is being built to their quality standards and their design expectations.

There is nothing worse than building a “one of a kind” luxury house that does not meet the owners’ expectations.

It is important that the owner continue to be decisive and deliberate in the required task of colors, product selections and progress meetings to avoid unwanted delays.

A word regarding owner risk management. The owner and custom builder will be required to both carry insurance on this luxury house under construction until complete.

The Houston custom builder will need general liability insurance and someone will be required to maintain builders risk insurance until the home construction and final city inspections are complete.

The owner will be required to maintain property casualty insurance until the construction is complete and the homeowner’s policy goes into effect.

The State of Texas requires that general contractors provide a minimum insurance on new custom home construction.

I would recommend that you make this part of your due diligence discussions when you are hiring the general contractors.

Not all home warranties are created equal.

My best advice in your luxury custom building experience is to enjoy the process.

If the process gets to be too stressful, have a conversation with your professional advisers in an open conversation to reduce the unwelcome stress.

Your professional advisers are hired to make your luxury custom home building experience satisfying and a positive memorable experience.

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