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5 Tips for Building Your First Home in Indiana

Building your first home in Indiana is a long, complex process. You’ll need to buy a lot, get the permit you need, comply with local regulations, and choose a home design you love. Then, building will take around six months to a year. You’ll need to decide on flooring materials, paint or wallpaper colors, light and bathroom fixtures, and more. Constructing a home takes some effort, but it will be worth it when you walk into the new house of your dreams. Here are some useful tips to make building your first home easy and affordable.

Home budget | Energy Diagnostics Inc

1. Create a Budget

Before you talk to a builder, you need to know what you can afford. Contact your bank to find out what loans you can qualify for. You may need a short-term construction loan to pay for building your home. When it’s finished, you can refinance the loan and get a traditional mortgage. The long-term monthly payment for your loan should be at least $300 per month less than your typical rent payment. In addition to the mortgage, you’ll need to pay for maintenance, property taxes, and other expenses that come with owning a home.

When you know how much you can afford, you can consider the location and design you want. Larger homes with garages, basements, multiple bathrooms, porches, and other features will cost more. The type of soil on the property and the amount of trees and undergrowth that need to be removed can influence costs as well. Most builders can estimate your new home’s cost per square foot and help you choose affordable materials. 

2. Look for Lots in a Few Neighborhoods

You may be looking for a place that’s close to your work, a great school district, a home in the city, or a secluded vacation house. You should look for lots that fit your needs in a few different neighborhoods. To choose the area that’s best, take a drive and see for yourself. If possible, visit during summer and winter to find out what the scenery looks like with and without snow. Drive around at different times of day to see what the area is like after dark and during rush hour. If possible, talk to some of the people in the neighborhood and ask them if it’s a nice place to live. More specific questions could include:

  • What are police response times like?
  • Does the city fix potholes, utility problems, or other issues promptly?
  • Are there any day cares or attractions for kids nearby?
  • What about fun places for adults?

Keep an open mind, and remember that with a little work, a place that looks overgrown or neglected today could make a beautiful spot for your home tomorrow.

construction worker | Energy Diagnostics Inc

3. Get Help From Your Builder When You Choose a Lot

Speak to your builder about the type of home you want, and then let them help you choose the perfect lot. That way, you’ll have a good idea of what home design you want, and you can choose the lot that suits your design best. A builder can help you assess the quality of the soil, the position of the lot, how much leveling or grading will be necessary, how much a driveway and sidewalks will cost, and more. 

A builder can also let you know how much construction will cost so that you can choose a lot within your budget and check local regulations to make sure that you can build the home you want. Some municipalities and homeowners’ associations restrict certain paint colors, the sizes of sheds, where residents can park, and more.

Solar energy house | Energy Diagnostics Inc

4. Consider Energy Efficiency 

Building an efficient home will reduce your utility bills and increase resale value by making it more appealing to buyers. A green home also helps the environment by reducing waste and pollution. You can even qualify for tax credits. Building a green home is more expensive, but the environmentally-friendly features can often pay for themselves over time, especially with Indiana winters’ high energy costs. 

If the lot is suitable, building a basement is one of the easiest ways to take advantage of the planet’s geothermal energy. Temperatures underground stay constant all year, keeping basements warm in winter and cool in summer. A basement also gives you a convenient place to store extra items and install your water heater and the indoor part of your HVAC unit. In a home with more than one story, an HVAC zoning system can help you save money. 

A single thermostat controls multiple HVAC systems, letting you decide on the best temperature for each area. That way, you can avoid heating or cooling unoccupied zones. You can control many of these systems with your smartphone or a remote control. Dual- or triple-pane windows have argon gas between the panes for additional insulation. You can also choose windows that block UV rays to protect your furniture from fading and prevent skin damage. 

landscaping | Energy Diagnostics Inc

5. Plan the Landscaping Carefully

Decide where you want the driveway to be and whether you want a shed, a garden, trees, bushes, or other features. That way, you’ll be able to start landscaping soon after you finish the outdoor walls. Do your best to preserve any large trees on the property. They provide shade and increase your home’s value. Decide if you want fencing and choose a design that complies with local laws. 

Planting bushes near your home will help shield it from cold winter winds, and choosing plants that are easy to maintain lets you save time and money. Look for hardy, drought-resistant species that can thrive in cold weather. Instead of grass or sod, have your new lawn planted with clover or another low-growing species to skip lots of lawn care. You can also choose synthetic grass. Many realistic-looking options are available. 

Native flowers will be more resistant to pests, and they can help sustain bee and butterfly populations. Many types of nut trees do well in Indiana, and they can provide snacks along with shade.

To learn more about building your first home, contact Energy Diagnostics. We can help you build an efficient, affordable home.