A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your New Home

So, you’ve decided to build a new custom home. First, congratulations! Designing and building the home of your dreams is truly an amazing and rewarding experience.

You may be wondering, though, “What’s next?” Do you start by engaging an architect to design your home? Or should you talk with a builder? What about things like permitting, engineering, etc.? And how on earth can you make sure this all stays on budget?

These are all great questions, and we are so glad you asked! Let’s dive into the process of building a new home step-by-step.

Step 1: Find Your Land

One of the first steps in building a custom home is to find a lot or property to build on if you don’t have one already. When looking for a property, a few things to consider are as follows:

Site Preparation – Are there trees that will need to be taken out? Will much dirt need to be added or removed? Will you need a retaining wall? Something to keep in mind is that the more site preparation is required, the more time and cost will be added to your build.

Sun Exposure – Do you want a south-facing backyard? Do you prefer shade for your outdoor areas? How much natural light do you prefer throughout your home? Consider where your home will be situated on your lot, as this will determine the sun exposure of your indoor and outdoor living areas.

Site Requirements – Familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of your site, including any zoning or building requirements for your property, as well as any easements or architectural guidelines to be mindful of. This will ensure there are no surprises along the way.

If you are planning to build on an acreage, check out our Super Practical Guide to Planning For Your Acreage Home for more helpful tips on finding the right property.

Step 2: Determine Your Budget

Before you speak to a builder about your new home, you will need to know your budget. The single biggest mistake clients make when planning their new home build is to either underestimate their budget or to refuse to disclose one. However, it is important to know what you can afford and what you would like to spend, keeping in mind that these two numbers may not be the same.

Once you have decided on a budget, it is important to then share this information with your builder. By discussing your budget openly at the beginning of the design process, you’ll be able to find out if what you’re after is achievable. This will help to set realistic expectations for your new home right from the start, so you don’t find yourself constantly redesigning and struggling to hit your target budget down the road.

Having a loan pre-approval prior to starting can also be helpful to ensure you know exactly what size and style of house you can afford and what inclusions will fit in your price range.

Step 3: Choose A Builder

When it comes to building a custom home, there’s a lot to think about. Choosing the right builder for your new home is essential to having a successful home-building experience. But how do you know who the best custom home builder will be for your project?

Here are some helpful tips on how to choose the best home builder for your new home:

Quality is Key

Quality is key when it comes to building a custom home. Ask to tour past completed homes of your perspective builders as well as for permission to speak with previous clients. Look for clear examples of how they execute their projects, manage their client’s expectations, stay on budget, and service any warranty issues after possession.

Experience Matters

Simply put, a builder’s level of experience really matters. How long has the company been in business? What type of building experience do they have? The right builder will not only be able to build a beautiful home, but they will also build it right, ensuring service issues are kept to a minimum for years to come.


The right home builder will be committed to honoring your investments throughout the entire building process. Transparency, honesty, and open communication are foundational for a rewarding building experience.

Step 4: Start Designing!

Each builder’s design process looks slightly different, but they will usually start with a preliminary design meeting to review any conceptual ideas you may have. From there they will work with you to craft the initial floor plans for your new home.

Throughout the development of your design, a builder can offer their vast expertise in building custom homes to collaborate with you and further refine the plans for your new home. They can also provide insightful feedback on the mechanical and structural components of your home, ensuring those details are carefully thought through and accurately reflected in the design.

Step 5: Apply for the Development Permit

Prior to finalizing the construction drawings for your new home, a development permit may be required. This permit will confirm that the requirements and planning policies of your city or jurisdiction have been considered with the plans and design of your new home. Through the development permit process, they will confirm that the desired development of your property can take place.

Step 6: Finalize Drawings

For your home to be built and priced correctly, you must have detailed construction drawings, which will include all the necessary details and information required to construct your new home. A set of working drawings will include things like a detailed floor plan, exterior elevations, building cross sections, electrical plan, foundation plan, plot plan, and miscellaneous construction details. These working drawings are required to apply for the Building Permit with your local council or authority and will be used for the construction of your new home.

At this point, your builder will also obtain the structural engineering, roof truss and floor joist layouts, and the energy engineering for your new home, all of which will also be required for permitting.

Step 7: Sign Building Contract

A building contract is an important and legally binding agreement between two parties that outlines the scope of work, risks, duties, and legal rights of both the builder and the client. There are two types of contracts commonly used by builders and which type you sign can have a significant effect on the final price of your home.

Cost-Plus Contracts

In a cost-plus contract, you as the client over the entire cost of the build, materials, labor, licenses, etc as they come up, and then at the end of the build, the builder adds their margin on top which can be anywhere up to 18% of the total build.

Cost-plus contracts often lead to a higher contract price as there is no incentive for the builder to spend time sourcing the best price or negotiating a better deal. In fact, once a margin is added it is in the builder’s interest to have a higher cost price.

Fixed-Price Contracts

A fixed-price contract is where you and the builder reach a fixed price before building has begun, and the builder is required to stick to that price. In this case, the margin is built into the contract.

Which Type of Contract Is Best for You?

In our experience, we have found that fixed-price contracts are almost always the best fit for our clients. With a fixed-price contract, you can still have full control, customization, and cost transparency of your selection items, without the added stress and complexity of navigating a cost-plus arrangement.

For fixed-price contracts, builders need to have every item planned and accounted for in the total construction contract prior to signing. If additional construction costs arise that were not accounted for, those extra costs are typically absorbed by the builder, which in turn provides them with an incentive to be cost-efficient, well-prepared, and organized.

Step 8: Apply for the Building Permit

A building permit will also be required prior to starting the construction of your new home. The building permit ensures that your new home complies with the relevant building codes and regulations. Through the permitting process, your city or jurisdiction will check that your new home:

  • Is designed and constructed soundly.
  • Has been engineered properly.
  • Has an appropriate degree of fire safety.
  • Is adequately sewered and drained.
  • Meets energy and water efficiency standards.

Typically, your builder will apply for the building permit on your behalf. Your builder will provide all necessary documentation, including the working drawings and relevant reports, to ensure the local authority is able to issue approval to begin the construction of your new home.

Step 9: Start Construction

When the Building Permit has been approved, it is time to start construction! The construction schedule may differ slightly from home to home and can be influenced by factors such as weather, layout, and trade availability, however, the order of construction is generally as follows:

  • Excavation
  • Foundation
  • Backfill
  • Framing
  • Rough-Ins
  • Drywall
  • Millwork
  • Finishing
  • Countertops
  • Tile & Flooring
  • Finals
  • Possession!

It is exciting to see your home come to life! Most builders will schedule periodic walkthroughs with you so that you can see the various stages of your new home build first-hand.

Step 10: Best. Day. EVER!

Once your home is completed, it is time to celebrate and move on into your new home sweet home. Best. Day. EVER!

Upon completion of your new home, your builder will also provide you with a new home warranty protection, which includes the following:

1 year – Materials & Labor Coverage

Covers any defects in materials and labour related to how the home was constructed and materials used. This may include things such as flooring, staircases, baseboards, cabinets, railings, and other trim and fixtures.

2 years – Delivery & Distribution Systems Coverage

Covers defects related to the electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning delivery systems.

5 years – Building Envelope Coverage

The building envelope is the shell of the home, including the roof and walls. It is the separation between the interior and exterior environments of a building, which protects the indoor environment and facilitates climate control.

10 years – Structural Defect Coverage

Major structural consists of the frame, including the roof’s structural integrity, and the foundation.

Want to learn more about designing a new home? Download our FREE guide to discover the secrets to building your perfect home.

About Us

Ready to bring your vision to life? Braemyn Homes is Calgary’s preferred custom home builder. Our clients can expect the highest standard of excellence delivered with exceptional craftsmanship and superb customer care. Call us at (403) 606-2923 or fill out our contact form to see how we can help you make your dream home happen.

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