by Christy Heitger-Ewing | The Home Aesthetic 

Some people are planners while others like to wing it. Some people make decisions with their gut while others research a topic at length. While there is no right or wrong to any of these approaches, the fact of the matter is that in today’s custom home buying market, homeowners must plan ahead. If you don’t, you’re bound to be frustrated, disappointed, and disheartened by the entire process.

“Right now, you can’t just call up a builder and say, ‘Hey, we want to get started tomorrow.’ That’s not going to happen,” says Joe Garcia, owner of G&G Custom Homes. “In today’s world, you have to plan 6-12 months in advance.”

Planning on the front end can save weeks, if not months, of valuable time. For instance, if a homeowner shows up with drawings in hand, they are already ahead of the game.

“The design process alone can take two to three months,” says Garcia.

By the time you price out the house and sign a contract, that’s another month. Financing may take an additional month and a half. This is why it takes close to a year to build a home today. According to Garcia, you’re looking at 18-20 months before you’re able to move in.

“That wasn’t the case a few years ago,” he says. “I used to be able to build a house in nine or ten months, but now every [subcontractor] is so busy.”

As a result, this leads to potential gaps between jobs. So, let’s say it takes five or six weeks to lay a foundation. Once that’s done, the framer may not necessarily be ready to go because he may be finishing another job; that delays the project by a week or two. The same is true of other subcontractors where, say, the framing is complete but the plumber or HVAC guys aren’t ready to step in.

“In the past, a house wouldn’t sit still, but that has changed these days,” says Garcia.

Then there are the supply chain issues. Because the lead time is so far out for things like windows and appliances, it’s key to start making decisions right out of the home-building gate. Back in the day, homeowners selected appliances later in the process because that was something that didn’t get installed until three weeks before the move-in date. Again, times have changed. Currently, some appliances are taking as long as 12 months to arrive.

“What’s crazy is if it takes you 12 months to build a house, that means you have to pick appliances as soon as you start!” says Garcia. “A lot of people just aren’t thinking that far ahead but they really need to be.”

With production houses, homeowners often go in early to pick out everything upfront before even breaking ground on a house. It’s difficult to do that on a custom home because there are so many pieces involved. However, in today’s home building market, it is becoming a necessity.

Garcia suggests showing up to the first builder meeting with photos in hand from Pinterest or Houzz that show your preferences for both exterior and interior options. This can help both you and your builder keep the building process moving.

“Come with pictures. Come with a plan,” says Garcia. “The key is to plan ahead, armed with as much information as possible. If you’re thinking of building a home next year, you need to start looking for a builder now.”

Connect with G&G Custom Homes at to start a conversation and get planning for your new home build.