Hoping to build your own home some day? Does it seem like a dream? It’s best to start planning as far ahead as possible. Here’s why:
The excitement and potential around building your own home are pretty special, but there is a lot of work that needs to go into the process before you ever get there. If any process deserves a long lead time, home building is it.
Considerations around location, availability and zoning of available land, whether to share or become part of a community with others, whether to build in an income component, and the type of structure you would build are just the starting points.
With land availability increasingly scarce in some areas, and energy costs rising, it’s important to get all of these things as right as you can.
1) How do you want to live?
- Are you building for where you are now, or where you will be in a few years or more? Are you building a family home or for a single/couple? Will you work from home?
- Do you like the idea of building a home with a community of other like minded folks?
- Does your household have special needs?
- With rising costs for home ownership, does it make sense to build in an income/rental component?
2) Where do you want to live?
It’s never too soon to start looking at available land and considering your options.
Urban or rural?
In an urban environment you will likely have to take land that’s available or find a property with an existing older home and rebuild. The rebuild may be the preferable option for most in order to be in the neighbourhood of choice and also for the property not to be subject to development costs which can be as high as $25,000-$30,000 in the city of Ottawa. If the property has an existing home on it, regardless of condition or age, the development fee is waived.
In rural areas or smaller towns it is still a good idea to pay attention to development fees. Using Ottawa as an example, the $25,000-$30,000 development fee within city limits could be reduced to as little as $3,500 in the surrounding townships.
Other factors to consider:
– Lay of the land. This is important for some because it may dictate the style of foundation. For example, if you want a walkout basement, a sloped piece of land is necessary. On the flip side, if no basement is preferred, then a relatively flat piece of property is required.
– Orientation. In order to maximize solar gain, it is important to have access to the sun and this means designing the house to face within 20° of due south. In a town or city, streets that run north to south are preferred instead of east to west for privacy reasons. For example, if a street runs east to west, a house on the north side of the road has its south side facing the street. As living areas would normally be placed on this side of a home, there is a potential loss of privacy particularly if the home needs to be positioned very close to the road.
– Water quality. It’s a good idea to research depths of wells if the property is located outside of a municipal area. Deep wells (greater than 250 to 300 feet deep) normally have higher concentrations of minerals which may require a large water treatment system. Well records in the province of Ontario are public information so it’s very easy to see the results.
3) Budget: To build & to live
There is a budget for building, and then there is a budget for living, and as energy prices rise the latter is getting more attention from homeowners.
EkoBuilt offers pre-existing energy efficient house plans to suit many different lifestyles, including tiny/coach house options. Many of our clients like to start with one of our plans, and then customize to best meet their personal needs and preferences, but we can also start from scratch. Working with pre-existing plans provides great benefit in terms of proven models of energy efficiency, layout convenience, and – of course – budget.
EkoBuilt also offers a key array of house performance models for your home, including Code Plus (a home built to the Code standards projected for 2030), Passive House (a home that is 90% better than Code), and even Net Zero (a home which produces as much energy as it uses).
The best investment you can make is in the most energy efficient home that you can afford to build, as you will get the best return on that same investment. Imagine simply not having to worry about steeply climbing energy bills.
4) How will you build?
Finding a builder who understands what you want to achieve and can work with you to do so, is critical. At EkoBuilt, we welcome clients who want to save on the build cost by doing some or all of their own work, when circumstances allow. We also work with clients who need us to do everything from start to finish.
The earlier in the process that we can have a conversation, the more we can help you consider the best and most cost effective ways of achieving your dream. Make time to sit down with us today, even if you can’t foresee being in a position to build for two or three years.