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3 Easy Steps To Start Your New Dream Home Project

Updated: May 4, 2023

You want to design and build a new house. Now what?!! It can be overwhelming to think of all the "to-do's" required to pull off a successful project!

In this post, we break down the first 3 "Must-Do" steps to kick start your project. You'll be well on your way to a successful project. Complete with immediate action items you can start as soon as TODAY.

Here's the secret to success - The trick is to make sure these first steps are executed properly. They lay a strong foundation for the rest of your project (no pun intended).

Download Now: Step by Step Planning Guide that covers the WHOLE new home design + build process from start to finish

Step 1: Figure Out What You Want For Your New Home

Put together a Wish List of everything you want in your new home.

OK, this part is FUN! And you can start this TODAY. This involves documenting EVERYTHING that you want in your new dream home.

Ok, well this sounds fun, but....


  • Communication: A wish list is a powerful communication tool. As you start your project, you'll need to communicate your vision to professionals. Think people like your home designer, interior designer, new home builder, renovator. The better they understand your vision, the higher quality their advice will be. For example, in helping you get your budget, providing you design options and advice, etc.

  • Helps You Keep Organized: The number of details in a new home design can be overwhelming. Putting your wish list in ONE centralized place gives you a way to organize all these details and ideas. During various phases of your project, this wish list will become a "go-to" resource for decision-making.

  • Helps You Figure Out What You Want: Not sure what you really want in your new home? Starting the process of a wish list will help you figure this out. Many homeowners start seeing patterns and trends within their wish list. Even if you can't personally see these trends, I promise you, they exist. Your designer should be able to spot these.

How To Start a Wish List For Your New Home

There are two different types of wish lists you need:

  1. Aesthetic Wish List

  2. Functional Wish List


For your aesthetic wish list, gather as many photos as you can of both interiors and exteriors that you love.

Put them all in one centralized place. It can be a digital file (like on your computer or phone). Or in a physical format (like a file folder, sticky notes on a magazine).

It doesn't matter, as long as you have everything in one (or a few) centralized place.

Here's some ideas of where to get these photos:

It doesn’t really matter how you do this, as long as your photos are all captured in one place. Start surfing those photos! I promise you, it's a lot of fun.


Write down everything you want your new home to do for you. Include items or "must-haves" that are difficult to capture in a photo.

Here are some examples to get you started:

  • How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms?

  • What features do you want in your new kitchen design? What kind of appliances?

  • What are the "rooms" you want in your new home design? For example, an office, formal dining room, formal living room, play area for the kids, etc.

  • Is there a particular floor plan design you really love? Or maybe just a few design features?

  • Is there a particular minimum or maximum square footage for the new home?

Start this list either manually (in a notebook) or digitally (on your computer or phone). One of the best methods is to have it on your phone. This way, if you see something you love while you're on the go, you can just quickly add it to your list.

Again, it doesn't really matter how you capture your wish list. Just as long as it is captured somewhere! Start your Functional Wish List today!

Step 2: Confirm your Budget Range

How much does building a new home cost?

The purpose of this step is to get an idea of the RANGE of costs that your new custom home will fall within.

I want to make it clear this is a budget RANGE.

It is not an exact number.

It is not your final budget.

Don't worry, all of this will come later.

But first, it’s important you know your project is financially feasible before starting to spend money on design and plans.

There are three main goals at this stage:

  1. To ensure that what you want matches what you can afford.

  2. To ensure your Budget Range is realistic.

  3. To make sure you're comfortable with the Budget Range.


To get a budget range for your project, you will need to consult with three different people:

#1: Your Financial Adviser

Your financial adviser will be able to help with the following:

  • Confirm how much you can afford

  • Help you decide the best way to fund your project. For example, if you should use your own money (investments, savings, etc.) or borrow money to build (mortgage, construction loan, etc.)

  • Help you plan the cash flow for your project (the amounts of money you'll have access to at different parts of your project...more on this later).

#2: A Custom Home Designer

Why a custom home designer? Doesn't a designer... design homes? Yes, of course.

But an experienced custom home designer needs to bring more to the table than that. They play a key role in developing your budget and helping you stay on budget.

They should also be able to talk rough budget ranges of how much your project will cost (yes, even before design starts)

Here are some of the things that your designer should discuss with you:

  • Your Functional Wish List: This will help determine the size requirements for your new home, which will drive your budget.

  • Your Aesthetic Wish List: This will help determine the level of finishing, which will drive your budget.

  • A Realistic Budget Range: It's OK if you don't know what your budget range should be at these early stages. Most homeowners don't know. This is completely normal. . An experienced designer will be able to help you calculate this, even with limited information. They should also educate you regarding what is (and is not) included in this number, and the factors which will drive your budget up and down.

An experienced designer will be able to help you with all the above, and prior to entering into a full design contract with them.

Get Help Establishing Your Initial Budget Range - Book A Complimentary Consultation With Our Team

#3: A Custom Home Builder

A custom home builder will be able to get a very rough sense of budget, and also the construction process

- Like the custom home designer, a home builder can give you their perspective on rough budget ranges.

- Can give you examples of what your budget range will get you, by showing you examples of their previous projects

- Can explain the overall construction process, so you know what to expect.

Make sure you check out our other video which goes into detail about how to get an initial budget. I’ve provided the link down below, and will also link it at the end of this video

Step 3: Confirm What You Can Build On Your Land

Regardless of what you WANT to build, you need to confirm your development will be approved.

Every property (and thus new home build) has some level of Governing Authority which dictates what can be developed. Often, there are even multiple layers of Governing Authority and regulations your development must follow.

Yes... this even applies to acreage properties! Surprisingly, some acreage properties have more restrictions than properties inside major cities.

Without checking this, you don't know if your project will be approved by the Municipality (or even worse, you find out after you spend money on design and permits!)

How To Check What You Can Build On Your Land:

The best way is to talk to a custom home designer familiar with your area’s Zoning Bylaws.

Using your address, they can perform a Site Feasibility Review for your property.


Depending on where you're building, a Site Feasibility review will be slightly different for each project. Here are some things a Site Feasibility review will consider:

  • Floor Plan Design: Minimum and maximum square footage? Where can the house be located on the site?

  • Architectural Design Guidelines: Which architectural styles are allowable? What roof lines are allowed or disallowed? Materials that are allowed or disallowed?

  • Parking: Detached vs. attached garage? Accessed from the street vs. accessed from the lane (alley)? Mandatory standards for new driveway design, etc.?

  • Trees: Which trees are you allowed to remove? Is there a City fee for removal? Which trees do you have to retain? Requirements for new planting?

  • Legal Requirements: Are there any caveats, easements, or right of ways that may affect development?

  • Environmental Regulations: Are there protected creeks or bodies of water which limit where you can develop? Forest fire hazard areas? Geotechnical conditions?

  • And much more: This is a very partial list of potential development restrictions.

  • his step involves looking at how the Zoning Bylaw affects your project, and confirming the following…

The goal is to identify all of the above, plus any other applicable regulations. Don't skip this important step. It could mean having to redesign your home halfway through the permit approval process.

Click here to Get a Complimentary Site Feasibility review for your project


a word of advice

Some homeowners try to do this step themselves by speaking to City Hall. And you’re more than welcome to do that. It’s a great starting point. But please keep in mind it’s NOT the Municipality’s job to perform comprehensive reviews on your property.

Also, if there are different "layers" of regulations, that particular department may not consider the other "layers' of regulation that may affect your property. Therefore, you may be getting only partial advice.

Thus, it’s always highly recommended having an experienced custom home designer review this – it will ALWAYS be more comprehensive.


Some Final Tips...

If you already own land to build your new home...

  • Get a Site Feasibility review complete as soon as possible, and before investing further into the project.

If you're actively in the process of buying land...

  • Get a Site Feasibility review complete before you finish the purchase transaction. If it's a competitive offer and you're in a time crunch, let them know. Most experienced designers can turn around a Feasibility review fairly quickly.

  • Chat with a designer regarding your wish list. They should be able to help you reverse-engineer the process. For example, based on your wish list, they will be able to give you a high level overview of basic characteristics to look for during your search

And there you go! Now you know the first three steps to getting your Dream Home project off the ground. If you need more help, or are interested in working with my team and I for your custom home project, you can reach out to us at

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