Your Forever Home. Your Dream Home. the place you’ll raise your family. Every family is different, and a custom built home can be tailored to meet your family’s unique needs and those special touches. You deserve to live in the space of your dreams, but before you turn that into reality, you’re going to need some education.

From loan approval to move-in, from the frame to the finish, there are important things you need to understand before you break ground. A custom home can be the biggest purchase of your life, so it truly makes a difference to become informed of the process, and pitfalls along the way. Here are four pieces of advice to keep in mind if you’re planning to build a custom home.

Set your budget in advance…
And reserve an extra 10%. When building a custom home, the upgrade possibilities and personal details can be limitless. One upgrade here, expensive hardware there, and suddenly you’ve added $50,000 to your build. If you make a list to go to the grocery store, why aren’t you making a budget for your home?

Give yourself a range, and break it down into categories. In each room, have your “musts” and your “likes”. If there is something that you need to be top-of-the-line, add that first. Prioritize your list, so you know where you need to cut if you have to.

Know how construction is financed

Almost all of us will be taking out a home loan for a custom house unless you’re lucky enough to have it all in the bank. New home financing is a little trickier than existing home financing because there are more options. Some loans are temporary construction loans that will convert into typical mortgages, and then some don’t. For those types of loans, you will need a separate mortgage loan after the construction has been completed.

One thing to remember is that construction loans are not as readily available as they once were, particularly because they’re considered riskier than existing home loans. If you aren’t sure if you’re credit-worthy for a construction loan, now is the time to seek financial advice.

Choose your contractor wisely
HGTV might go out of business if there weren’t construction horror stories. One of the most important decisions you’ll make is the contractor for your house, and it’s best to go in deliberately. Always ask for references – and check them. Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau. If you’re moving to a new area, talk to area realtors, as well.

There are no stupid questions about your dream home
You are the one who will be living in it, it’s your money paying for it, so don’t be afraid to speak up and communicate with your contractor and designer to make sure that everything is meeting your expectations. Not sure if you’ve designated enough storage space? Ask to review the plans and discuss your options. Worried that the countertops you choose might clash with the cabinets? Ask the designer or builder for a second opinion. Once you move in, it’s a lot more difficult to make changes.