Building a home, especially if you're preparing for a project for the first time, can feel daunting. Clients of home builders sometimes wonder how they can contribute. Here are four ways you can help your project move forward.

Come Armed with Ideas

One of the greatest fears of all home builders is that they'll be dealing with a client who will "know when I see it." Let's be blunt: good ideas don't coalesce out of the ether.

Save things on Pinterest, bookmark pages in your web browser, and clip pictures out of magazines. Unapologetically take photos when you see homes you find amazing. Every time you feel excited or inspired about an idea, capture it in images and writing. When the time comes to sit down with your team of home builders, lay these items out for them to review so they can see where you're going with the project.

Commit to a Floor Plan

It will take some time to work through the details of the plans, but you don't want to drag a builder too far into a job until you have things squared away. Many folks engage designers and architects to assist them with their projects. It's also a good idea to have an engineering study conducted at your build site. Use all of these inputs to bring together the plans in a useful manner so your builders can start executing them.

Money, Money, Money

For the vast majority of customers, financing is going to be part of the equation. Talk with an officer at your bank to figure out how much money you can commit to your job. Make sure to leave 10 to 20 percent of your total budget as slack to handle potential issues that might come up as work proceeds, too.

Structuring Payments

It's also a smart idea to work out with the home builders how portions of money will be advanced. Most folks advance part of the total house cost to pay for materials and labor. As the job moves forward, the next portion will be activated under specified circumstances, such as once the foundation has been poured.

This approach serves several purposes. First, it insulates you from financial exposure, keeping too much of your money from hanging out there too soon. Second, it provides incentives to the home builders to make progress. Also, many banks prefer to have some structure in place before they approve financing. 

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