Custom Home 101 (Everything That Goes into Building a Home From Scratch)

Updated July 15, 2019

Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

A custom home is a beautiful thing. Some custom homes may seem similar at first glance, but no two are truly alike. And while it may seem easier at times to simply buy a home that is already made, a custom home offers so many endless opportunities to create a home that fits you and your family’s lifestyle.

So, without further delay, here is custom home 101 — what you need to do before picking your design and build teams.

Brainstorm and Ideate Your Perfect Home

The purpose of building a custom home is to create something truly unique to the needs (and wants) of you and your family.

If you don’t have kids, then you only have to worry about crafting a space that fits what you need out of your everyday life.

If you do have kids, that’s great too! A custom home allows you to factor in the needs of your entire family. You can incorporate a patio or deck for family time in the summer, as well as an indoor space with the same purpose. All the while making sure you have some time for yourself by creating a luxurious bathroom and master bedroom.

Whatever you want, you can have (as long as it still fits within your budget).

Early on in the process — in fact, before even meeting with a design and build a team — you should start looking through sites like Pinterest and Houzz to gather some ideas on what you may want to include in your home.

While yes, you maybe don’t want to copy a home you like verbatim, you can still take elements you like from different homes and alter them a bit to fit your style and tastes.

A design and build team will help you fine-tune your main goals and ‘must haves’ for the house, but you need to come to them with at least a broad idea of what you’re looking to accomplish.

Think About Your Budget

Another area that your design and build team will help you with is the budget. That said, it’s a good idea to start fleshing out how much you’d like to spend on your custom home early on in the process.

You don’t need to calculate every little detail and create a thorough estimation, but you should be shooting for a ballpark figure that you would consider acceptable.

Find the Best Location and Land For You

What many people find intriguing about a custom home is the fact that you can go out and find land to build on. Perhaps you’re not sure of the exact plot of land you’d like, but early on you should determine what city or town you’d like to live in.

Do you want to live in a neighborhood, or would you rather find a large area to call your own? The country or the suburbs?

It’s a tough call, as you can always change up your home in certain ways to keep it fresh, but the location of your home is permanent.

When looking for land to build on, keep these three things in mind to ensure the quality of the land:


From one building site to another, the soil can change dramatically.

It’s a good idea to meet with whoever owns the land, or a have contractor look at the piece of land before purchasing it. There are several factors that can go into the quality of the soil. Unless you’re an expert in the area, you’re going to want to consult with someone familiar with building custom homes.

Sometimes you can get land cheaper if the soil isn’t as strong, but you may use the money you saved on the initial buying of the land for construction issues later on that may come up because of it.


The slope of the property can also have a large effect on the cost of your home. If you end up with a plot of land that is on a slope, it will cost more. However, sloped properties do lend themselves nicely to some creative architectural designs.

However, you will have to be prepared to pay more for your home to be built there. But, if it’s in your budget, an experienced team of designers and builders will have no problem bringing your home to life.


If there is one thing that people tend to forget about when looking for land to buy, it’s where the placement of the property is relative to the sun.

Natural light is a big part of custom homes, as it can help you cut down on energy bills and also looks fantastic.

Typically homes have the primary living spaces — living room, kitchen — in the back of the house. So, that means the back of the home faces south, where most of the sun’s light comes from during the day.

Keep that in mind when deciding how to position your home — the architect and designer will help you make sure you achieve the lighting you want.

It’s also wise to make sure you visit a lot during the afternoon and morning to see how the sun would affect your home.


Allow your creativity to flow and work alongside our team of talented and experienced designers who are determined to create the best modern and sustainable home for your budget.

Shop Around to Find the Right Design and Build Team

Every decision you make with your custom home is an important one. But one of the most critical decisions you’ll make is who to partner up with to design and build your dream, custom home.

This means checking out reviews, past work galleries, as well as the ‘about us’ section of their website. You want to make sure that they are a good fit to work with in terms of the style of home you want.

It’s also smart to meet in person with the team to get a feel for their working style and whether or not you’re a good fit for one another. This is very important because you don’t just want the finished home to look spectacular, but you want to journey there to be pleasant and as stress-free as possible.

So, don’t be afraid to do some research.

Working With S9 — Our Process

Once you do decide on a design and build firm to take on the task of creating your home, you’ll have to follow their process as well.

While every home builder has its process, here is a look at ours so you can get a feel for how it all works.

Consultation – During our consultation phase, we’ll sit down with you and discuss what your dream home looks like and how we can help create it.

Architectural/Design Agreement – We won’t get started on building until you are completely satisfied with the outline. We want to make sure that you are as excited about your home as we are.

Product/Material Selection – With sustainability in mind, we’ll research fiscally appropriate vendors, as well as recommend products that will increase the energy efficiency of your home long term.

Pricing & Budget – With extensive knowledge of our industry, we’ll discuss how to construct your modern, sustainable home while making it affordable for you.

Pre-Construction – We’ll make sure that all our I’s have been dotted and T’s crossed before getting into the final stage of the process.

Construction – Watch your home come to life as our construction partners craft the perfect home we carefully designed for you.

If You’re Interested in Working With Sustainable 9, Contact Us Today!

Not only do we believe in the power of creating a custom home — one that is absent from the ‘cookie-cutter’ homes we see so often today. But we also believe in helping our clients lower their carbon footprint by building an energy-efficient, sustainable home that they’ll love forever.

View our past projects here and check out our contact info here. We look forward to hearing from you!


A custom-built home means you don’t have to sacrifice the details that make your home one-of-a-kind. View our award-winning work and get inspired.

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Sustainable 9

It’s not just a vision for tomorrow: Sustainable 9 Design + Build creates homes for tomorrow today, reflected in its enduring commitment to green, high performance, energy-efficient homes that are stunningly designed and custom-built.

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More energy efficient than a standard new construction home* *based on HERS ratings


0% Stinky. Committed to - reducing or eliminating VOCs and toxins in the homes we build* *Receiving the EPA's Indoor AirPlus certification on every home we build


Tighter and less leaky than a standard new construction home* *based on blower door test/air leakage results

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