Common Questions

Chances are good this is the first home you’ve built! And, our expectation is that we’ll do it right, and this will be the last home you build as well. So, let’s take some time and make sure we answer all the questions you might have.  

Below, you’ll find some of the most common questions homebuilders have. Some of these answers are specific to our process, but some of the questions and answers apply to whatever builder or situation you choose. Ultimately, our hope is that we’ll help you make the best choice available – whether you work with us or someone else, we want to help you build better living! 

General questions about homebuilding

How Long Will it Take to Build My House?
In general, expect a typical home to be build, from design set to move-in, in 9-12 months. Building a home is a complex process! And, because we create customized floor plans and offer a variety of options for your home, the timeline is going to differ based on a plan you choose.

However! Because of our panelized process and our experience, Heartland’s approximate timeline from house set to completion is only 14 weeks!

What are my responsibilities throughout the building process?

Your responsibilities throughout the custom homebuilding process can be categorized into a few key areas:

Decision Making and Selections:

You’ll be involved in selecting finishes, fixtures, appliances, and materials throughout the construction process. These decisions will impact the aesthetics and functionality of your home, so it’s important to be prepared to make choices within your budget.

Communication and Approvals:

Maintaining clear communication with your builder is essential. You’ll need to promptly review and approve plans, material selections, and change orders to keep the project moving smoothly.

Financial Oversight and Approvals:

You’ll be responsible for managing the budget and making payments according to the pre-determined schedule outlined in your contract with the builder.

Site Visits and Inspections:

While the builder will oversee construction, attending periodic site visits is recommended. This allows you to monitor progress, ask questions, and raise any concerns. You may also be required to be present for specific inspections by local authorities.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Be prepared to make timely decisions. Delays in selections can slow down construction.
  • Ask questions and clarify any doubts you have.
  • Maintain a good working relationship with your builder. Open communication is key to a successful outcome.
  • Understand your contract thoroughly.This will outline your rights and responsibilities, payment schedule, and change order procedures.
What are some key considerations when designing a custom home?

Designing your custom home is an exciting opportunity to create a space that perfectly fits your lifestyle and needs. Here are some key considerations to guide you through this phase:

Functionality and Layout:

  • Lot size and orientation:Carefully assess the dimensions and sunlight patterns of your building site. This will influence the placement of your home and the way you utilize natural light.
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms:Consider your current and future needs. Will you need guest rooms or a home office?
  • Traffic flow:Design a layout that promotes smooth movement between rooms.
  • Room sizes and purposes:Plan the size of each room based on how you intend to use it. Ensure adequate space for furniture and activities.
  • Storage solutions:Built-in storage solutions throughout the house will help you stay organized and clutter-free.

Lifestyle and Preferences:

  • Universal design principles:Consider incorporating features like wider doorways and accessible showers for future needs or potential resale value.
  • Energy efficiency:Think about features that can improve energy savings, such as insulation type, window placement, and energy-efficient appliances.
  • Smart home features:Do you want to integrate smart technology for lighting, security, or temperature control?
  • Indoor-outdoor connection:If you enjoy spending time outdoors, consider features like a large patio, screened porch, or easy access to your backyard.
  • Personal style:Choose architectural details, finishes, and fixtures that reflect your taste and create the desired ambiance.

Budget and Long-Term Value:

  • Prioritize your must-have features:Allocate your budget strategically, focusing on the most important features first.
  • Life cycle costing:Consider not just the upfront cost but also the long-term maintenance and potential upgrades for various materials and features.
  • Resale value:Striking a balance between your personal preferences and features that are generally appealing to potential future buyers can enhance resale value.
What financing options are available for custom homes?

Financing a custom home can differ from financing a pre-existing house because the construction phase adds another layer. Here are the main options to consider:

  • Construction Loan: This is a short-term loan, typically lasting 12-18 months, that covers the expenses of building your custom home. It’s interest-only in the beginning, meaning you only pay interest on the loaned amount, and then converts into a permanent mortgage upon completion. This option requires a down payment, often in the range of 20-30% of the estimated total project cost (land, construction, and permanent financing).

  • Construction-to-Permanent Loan (C2P): This is a single loan that covers both the construction phase and the permanent financing for your home. It simplifies the process by requiring only one application and closing. Similar to a construction loan, it starts with an interest-only period during construction and then transitions to a regular mortgage payment schedule after completion.

  • Renovation Loan: If you’re planning to build on existing land and incorporate some of the existing structure, a renovation loan might be suitable. This option is typically for projects with a significant renovation component and may have different requirements than a standard construction loan.

  • USDA, FHA, and VA Loans: These government-backed loans can be used for custom homes under certain qualifications. They often have lower down payment requirements compared to conventional loans but may have stricter eligibility requirements regarding income, credit score, and location.

Here are some additional points to consider:

  • Talk to a Lender Early:Financial institutions specializing in construction loans can give you personalized advice based on your project and financial situation.
  • Compare Loan Options:Interest rates, fees, and down payment requirements can vary between lenders. Get quotes from multiple lenders to find the best deal.
  • Factor in Additional Costs:Remember that construction loans typically only cover the building costs. You’ll need to factor in the cost of the land and any closing costs associated with the permanent financing.
In general, will I be able to make changes to the plan during construction?

Making changes to the plan during construction of your custom home is possible, but it’s important to understand the limitations and potential consequences. Here’s a breakdown of what to consider:

Minor Adjustments vs. Major Revisions:

  • Minor tweaks:Small changes like moving a light fixture or adding an extra outlet are usually achievable with minimal impact.
  • Major modifications:Extensive changes involving walls, plumbing, or electrical work can be complex and costly.

Impact of Changes:

  • Cost:Any deviation from the original plan will likely incur additional costs for materials, labor, and potentially even repurchasing supplies.
  • Timeline:Changes can disrupt the construction schedule and potentially delay completion.
  • Permits and Inspections:Depending on the nature of the change, additional permits or inspections might be required.

Mitigating Disruptions:

  • Clear communication:Discuss your flexibility for changes upfront with your builder and architect.
  • Change orders:For any agreed-upon modifications, have a formal change order documented that outlines the specific change, cost impact, and timeline adjustment.

Alternatives to Mid-Build Changes:

  • Thorough planning:The more detailed and finalized your plans are before construction begins, the less likely you are to encounter a need for major revisions during the building process.
  • 3D modeling:Utilizing 3D modeling tools can help you visualize the final product and make adjustments before construction starts.
What are the permitting and approval processes involved?

The permitting and approval processes involved in building a custom home can vary depending on your location but generally involve several steps. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

  • Understanding Local Requirements: Every city or county will have its own building department that oversees permitting and inspections. Start by contacting your local building department to understand the specific requirements and application processes for your area.

  • Building Permit: This is the primary permit required for construction and authorizes the building of your home according to the approved plans. The application process typically involves submitting detailed construction drawings, stamped by a licensed architect or engineer, along with proof of property ownership, site plans, and fees.

  • Zoning Approval: Ensure your planned home adheres to zoning regulations, which dictate factors like building height setbacks from property lines, and allowable uses of the property. Zoning variances might be required if your project doesn’t strictly comply with regulations.

  • Subdivision Approval (if applicable): If you’re subdividing a larger property to create your building lot, you’ll need subdivision approval from the local planning department.

  • Additional Permits (depending on the project): Depending on your specific plans, additional permits might be required for things like electrical work, plumbing installations, mechanical systems (HVAC), septic systems (if not connected to municipal sewer), and swimming pools (if planned).

  • Inspections: Throughout the construction process, authorized inspectors will visit the site to ensure compliance with building codes and safety standards. Common inspections include foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and final inspections before occupancy is granted.

Here are some additional tips for navigating the permitting and approval process:

  • Involve your builder early: An experienced custom home builder will be familiar with the local permitting process and can guide you through the steps.
  • Allow ample time: Obtaining permits can take weeks or even months, so factor this into your overall project timeline.
  • Be prepared with complete documentation: Having all the necessary documents readily available will expedite the approval process.
  • Maintain clear communication: Stay in touch with your builder and the relevant government departments to track the progress of your permits and approvals.
Who should I talk to as I think about designing and building my own home?
Here’s a breakdown of who to talk to and when:
Initial Inspiration and Needs Assessment:

  • Real estate agent: If you haven’t secured land yet, a real estate agent can help you find a property that suits your needs and budget. They can provide insights into zoning restrictions and potential buildability of the lot.

  • Home magazines, websites, and shows: Browse through these resources to gather inspiration for design styles, features, and floor plans. Consider creating a mood board to visualize your dream home.

Design and Planning:

  • Architect: An architect will translate your vision into a functional and aesthetically pleasing design plan. They can ensure the plan adheres to building codes and regulations, navigate the permitting process, and create detailed construction drawings.

  • Interior designer (optional): An interior designer can help you select finishes, fixtures, and furniture that create a cohesive and stylish interior space that reflects your taste.

Building and Construction:

  • Custom home builder: A licensed and experienced custom home builder will handle the actual construction process. They will secure permits, hire subcontractors, manage the build according to the plans, and ensure quality workmanship.

Additional Specialists (as needed):

  • Structural engineer: For complex designs or challenging builds, a structural engineer can provide expertise on foundations, load-bearing walls, and ensuring the structural integrity of the home.

  • Geotechnical engineer: They can assess the soil conditions on your building site and recommend the most suitable foundation type.

  • Land surveyor: A land surveyor will accurately measure and map your property, which is crucial for planning the home’s placement and landscaping.

Questions about Heartland Custom Homes

What sets Heartland apart from other custom builders?

We pride ourselves in building customers their dream homes. We also strive to incorporate our core values of Integrity, Quality, and Service, in our everyday actions.

All this means is that we want to build a personal relationship with you along the way. We want to learn your aspirations for your new home, whether you’re interested in a large family room to gather and host, or a split floor plan to provide privacy for guests… we are here to listen and work with you every step of the way!

Do I need land before scheduling a consultation?
No land, no problem. One of the great things about building with us is that we have exclusive lots available for purchase. If you do have another property in mind, or are still searching for land, we are still more than happy to schedule a consultation with you.
How Long Will it Take to Build My House?
In general, expect a typical home to be build, from design set to move-in, in 9-12 months. Building a home is a complex process! And, because we create customized floor plans and offer a variety of options for your home, the timeline is going to differ based on a plan you choose.

However! Because of our panelized process and our experience, Heartland’s approximate timeline from house set to completion is only 14 weeks!

What areas does Heartland work in?

Heartland is happy to service Portage County and surrounding areas. For inquiries about your specific location, please call us at (715) 344-8886.

Do you have pre-existing floor plans to look at?

Yes. Consider looking at our For Sale page, on the bottom. There’s some information there.

In addition, during the Discovery Phase, we will consider your housing needs to help you choose the option that is best for you. There are several floor plans ranging in square footage that we can look at to form a better idea of your plan for your future home.

Does Heartland have land for sale?

Yes, we have several exclusive lots available that you can view here.