So You Want To Build A House…

So you want to build a house

When I look back at the first time I went to renovate my house, I can’t help but think about how I had no idea where to begin. I had spent years saving and finally had enough money to make that big step. But there were so many things I wanted to do: I had no idea where to start, no idea how much it was all going to cost – I was completely lost.

I bought tools as I went, gathered information, and did all the work myself from floor refinishing to framing to drywall and even making kitchen cabinets from scratch. This is how I started in the industry and what forced me to learn quickly. 

Years later, after completing many projects, I continue to see owners in the same position I was when I started. I see a lot of people make a decision to build and who have no support in how to properly plan their project. Embarking on the daunting task of building/renovating your home entails much more risk and involvement than most people realize.

The first step most people take is deciding how much money they can invest in their new home. It’s great to have a number, but there is a lot more to it than that. The first thing you should do is think about the commitment you are about to make and how it is going to affect your life. Building a house is a dynamic process: it’s stressful, risky, time consuming, costly, and ever-changing. All of these are more pronounced now than ever before.

You will need to consider different building systems and choose the best one for your project, learn about developing industry standards and regulations, explore various styles and designs, interview contractors, and look at and understand more numbers than you can imagine. How do you know who to trust? Who is bidding low just to get the job? Who is overcharging you because you’re new to the game? How much should you spend on floors?

You need someone who is on your side and who knows all the facets and subtleties of construction. Someone who can decipher quotes, budgets, specifications, and endless jargon. That being said, if you’re armed with good information and realistic expectations, the buying and building process doesn’t actually have to be distressing!

I wish I had been coached through all the steps that go into the design-build process before I started my own project. I would have shopped around, saved a lot of money, and been happier with my final decision. No matter who you hire, you will (probably) end up with a shiny new house, but it can be a challenging process, and the final product can be drastically altered if you have solid support and guidance along the way.

Year after year as a builder, I’d have clients come to me with designs that were already outside their budget. Even with my cost-saving suggestions, they were still nowhere close to budget. I would work with homeowners who didn’t know how to plan their projects properly. Maybe they didn’t know how to get what they wanted from designers. Or maybe what they wanted was unrealistic. Maybe they just didn’t have enough availability. Or maybe they just weren’t sure about permits, contract types, or what their options were, and so too often would take shots in the dark, ultimately hurting rather than helping themselves.

I found myself wanting to help as a builder, but always finding it was too late in the process (even though the owner felt they were only just getting started!) So, I created markeHOUSE to help owners through planning, Owner Representation, or full project management. But I understand that most homeowners cannot afford a dedicated project manager. It is the homeowner who has to be their own project manager. So I distilled down all I’ve learned acting on behalf of owners and put into a simple-to-use program so that anybody can run their project like a pro. provides all the information and tools needed by homeowners who are building for the first time. It not only coaches homeowners through Design, Construction, and Management but also includes the ever-so-critical and often overlooked Planning stage and Closure. Afterall, it’s the beginning and ending phases where you ensure you get what you want.