Before the build

Featured: Before the build

Before the build

You decide you need a new home.

Story: Bridget Broihahn

Photos: Bridget Broihahn

You decide you need a new home. The one you’re in just doesn’t work with your family. You go out and look around at local homes that are for sale. It hits you: There is just nothing that appeals to you. You decide to build a new home; that dream place that perfectly reflects you and your lifestyle.

Luther Ware, the drafting a design representative at Alexander Lumber, said he understands the excitement people buying a newly built home experience. “When you build your own home, you should really live in it,” he said.

Ware also gave the “Top Ten” things to consider before you build a new home.

Location, location, location! “What area do you want to live in,” Ware asked. He said for future new homeowners to consider the proximity to their jobs, schools, and extended family. He also said that if the owner plans on reselling the home that location can make a big difference in the resale value.

Home is where the heart is. The builder that creates your home is preparing the place where your family will sleep, eat, laugh, cry and love. Memories will be forever made in its confines. Do not trust this special place to just anyone. Talk to people in the trades and ask their expert advice. Ask people who have recently built a home. The more research you do, the better. Ware said to check the builder’s reputation and make sure they are reputable.

Big or small, considerate it all! Think about what rooms do you want to really live in. Many home builders are making good use of space so that all areas are utilized. Elaborate hallways, foyers and auxiliary rooms may not be the best use of space. Do you need a dining room? Or can that space be added to a daily living area, like the kitchen family room or living room. Elaborate foyers with high ceilings and plant shelves are stunning, but how much time will be spent there? If you’re an empty nester, how many bedrooms do you really need? Do you want an open floor plan? Or do you like private and separate rooms? Ware said to consider who your family lives and what will work best for you.

Rough in now, and make it easier later. “If you are planning on having a basement and you’re not finishing it out right away, consider roughing in the plumbing now. It’s a lot more expensive to do later,” Ware said. He also mentioned that if you plan on selling your home on down the road, the resale will be higher, as this is an added selling point.

The buck stops here. Let’s face it, whether you will be financing your new home, or downsizing and paying for your new home outright, a budget is something to consider at length before the process gets going. If you need help, contact a professional. There is a lot to consider besides income, like outstanding debt, future expenditures-such as college-and much more. It’s not just about the mortgage, it’s about the expenditures of the family inside the house. Many financial institutions have tools to help you with this. Busey Home Mortgage has mortgage calculators. Go to

Windows of opportunity. Ware said that windows will pay for themselves, so get the best you can afford. “There are many types and styles. Make sure you select ones with an R-value that will save energy and help you save money,” he said. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the better insulator the window will be for your home. You will be pleased with reduced energy bills and a better environmental impact. Plus, they make for a cozier and quieter home.

Surpass the code. When it comes to floor systems, Ware said that a home should not have what is called, “bounce.” Think of walking in a room and the china clatters just a little in the curio cabinet. That is bounce or what is known as deflection. Most builders and framers will go with what is the required building code in a given area. Typically, 2 inches by 10 inches wooden floor joists are code, but for a little more investment, Ware recommends 2 inches by 12 inches joists that will offer less bounce. There is a lot of mathematical configuring that goes into this process. Fortunately, engineered lumber suppliers provide span tables that show builders and framers how to upgrade their floor joist plans to achieve a stiffer floor frame. To make it simple, think of increasing the joist’s depth, reducing the spacing between joists, and shortening the joist’s span across an area. These supports will take out most-if not all-of a floor frame’s bounce under the weight of the structure (dead weight) and furniture and foot traffic (live weight) effects on the home, which is referred to as “load.” “You don’t want your floor to bounce.  2 inches by 12 inches in your floor system gives you a more solid floor,” Ware said.

The lot counts for a lot. When building a new home, Ware said to consider how the house will be oriented on that particular lot. Think about what direction particular rooms and windows will be facing. “Trust me you will not enjoy your patio if it is facing west on a hot summer day,” he said.

The lost art of porching. Many people are revisiting the idea of a front porch, which has recently taken a back seat to the deck and patio. However, a porch gives a friendlier look to a home and is very inviting. Ware said to look at the home plans. “You need a porch which is at least 8-feet-deep. You will not be able to have any furniture or even be able to sit comfortably on your porch, otherwise,” he said.

Rethink the garage. Ware said to realize a garage can really affect your façade. “If it is a front loader, and a third car garage, the whole front will look like it’s a garage,” he said. Think about how it will sit on the lot for landscaping purposes. Many families use their garage as an outdoor room, so situating it properly is important. Also, work smart storage structures into your garage for extra storage.

For more information on Alexander Lumber, go to, call then at 217-352-5175 or visit them at 1720 W. Anthony Drive, Champaign.