This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on March 27, 2019.
Austin-based architect Tim Brown believes a home’s greatest asset is the land that it rests on.
Following that belief, the homes that Brown, owner of Tim Brown Architecture, creates enhance the natural environment they occupy. The Texas A&M grad, who started his business in 2009, also believes every home should possess aesthetic beauty, energy efficiency and be a custom fit for the homeowner.
Here then, in his own words, are Brown’s five essential steps every homeowner should consider when building a home.
1. Deciding on the perfect piece of land
Other than the obvious location, look at the topography of the land. Does it have a drastic slope? The more grade change, the more costly the foundation will be. Also, look at the views and features, like large trees, creeks with streams that hopefully do not flood. Lastly, does the land provide good solar exposure and natural breezes? Most of the time there is no perfect piece of land, but good detective work upfront can mitigate some regret in the future.
2. Choosing an architect
Prior to speaking with an architect, look at their work. Does it speak to you and the style you desire? Not every architect is the same. Typically, each has a specialty in the type of work or style. Once you have had a conversation with them, ask to speak with past clients. This says more than an interview with just the architect provides.
3. Knowing which builder is right for you
Like architects, not all builders are the same. I always recommend that you go with your gut on this decision. Do not always go with the least expensive company. Look at their work, how do you get along with them, do your personalities match. You will be working with them for a long time and you want it to be a pleasant experience. Lastly, always ask for references. You will know pretty quick if you want to use them, so do not ignore your gut feelings.
4. Set realistic design expectations
Most homeowners understand this, but not always. Everyone wants a great design and a high-quality build. You cannot have the moon if all your budget will allow for is a boulder. Keep your expectations in check as far as your budget and a realistic dream. Be careful with the cost per square foot calculation. Spaces in your home are not calculated in a linear fashion. Bedrooms are much less expensive to build than kitchens and baths. Just because you shave square footage from the bedrooms does not mean you will save as much as cutting a bath or built-ins.
5. Be flexible
A custom home is a special thing and unpredictable from a cost and scheduling standpoint. Keep in mind that a custom home has never been built before, therefore, spending a lot of money can be a stressful venture. Instead, direct your emotions to the right place. If the builder is behind from a week of rain, this does not mean they planned incorrectly or are not doing their job. Nine times out of 10, the homeowner is in the money-driver’s seat, so be flexible with costs.