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A custom home in Asheville
A custom cabin in Asheville built by Kaizen Homes

In a lot of ways, building a custom home is like having a baby. You can expect it to take nine months (or even longer in some cases), and the truth is that you’ll probably never feel 100% ready for such a monumental undertaking. And with the chaos of the coronavirus and resulting supply chain disruptions? It’s easy to resign yourself to putting off your dream home for another time. Here are three reasons that might be the wrong decision.

  1. Lead times are already lengthy

If you started the building process right now, it could be almost a year before your home is move-in ready. That’s partly because the nationwide labor shortages impacting all kinds of industries are particularly acute in construction. According to the 2020 Construction Outlook Survey, compiled by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), hiring is the biggest obstacle in 2021 for 72% of construction firms.

Moving into a custom-built home is incredibly exciting, but attempting to rush the process can have drastic consequences. For instance, the best contractors will be in high demand. A tight timeline could compromise quality by forcing your builder to rely on whoever is available. When you get started early, you give your builder the time to focus on quality above all else. Clearly, that should be the top priority when you’re talking about your dream home.

  1. Material prices are finally receding from record highs

When the pandemic arrived and hand sanitizer and toilet paper began flying off the shelves, lumber seemed far from essential. Demand was slightly down until people sheltering at home realized they could be there for a while. Eventually, home improvement projects and new construction took off and demand for lumber skyrocketed. Unfortunately, labor shortages and transportation difficulties meant that supply couldn’t keep up. 

Lumber prices began rising shortly after the pandemic. Their meteoric ascent didn’t peak until this past May, when one thousand board feet hit $1,686. That figure is around 400% higher than the $333 seen just 12 months prior. According to the National Association of Home Builders, lumber demand alone has increased the cost of building a custom home by more than $35,000, but we’re beginning to turn a corner thanks to increasing sawmill output. We won’t see pre-pandemic levels anytime soon, but prices are nearly 40% lower than the high in May. As mills ramp up production to meet demand, costs will continue to slowly recede.

  1. Starting early means less stress

You might not have to construct your house yourself, but it will feel like it when you’re making all the decisions that go into building a custom home. They’ll range from major (do you want solar?) to minor (do you like this doorknob?), and while many of these decisions will be fun, the sheer quantity can add plenty of unwanted stress to your life. Hopefully, you’ll work with an experienced and trustworthy builder who can help you navigate them, but you’ll inevitably spend lots of time on the phone or at the construction site making sure everything is coming together exactly as planned.

Ultimately, the more time you allocate for the construction process, the less stressful it will be. Giving yourself ample time means unforeseen circumstances like a materials shortage or a bad hurricane season remain small setbacks. In a frenzied rush, they’ll balloon into full-blown crises that test your resolve (and your relationship with your spouse). Having plenty of time also gives you the flexibility to make changes and additions if you so choose.

There’s a lot going on in the world. Even if life seems to be returning to normal, building a custom home will upend it all over again. The juice is worth the squeeze, but you can avoid undue headaches by giving yourself and your builder as much time as necessary. Instead of putting it off for years and then rushing toward the finish line, start now. Embrace the process. You’ll be settling into your perfect forever home sooner than you think.