Designing and building a new residential project is a complex and oftentimes overwhelming process. But it’s also an exciting journey and a once in a lifetime opportunity. The key to a smooth and enjoyable process is PROPER PLANNING.

When tackling a project as important as your home, it’s important beforehand to prepare yourself as much as possible for the road ahead. We’re talking big pictures stuff here. This section and the following two sections will help you do that.

The next two sections dive into some of the key processes and players involved in creating your project. By familiarizing yourself with the various steps in the process, your roles and responsibilities, and key action items in each step, you will already be one step ahead of the game. The more knowledgeable and prepared you are ahead of time, the less stressful and time consuming the whole process will be AND the better the chances of ensuring a successful project. Plus, it’s a big investment. You want to get it right the first time.

But first, before you even begin preparing and learning about the process, there are a few very important decisions to make. You need to confirm your doing this project for the right reasons, have the right goals in mind, and truly believe this project is right for you – right now. Because all the time, energy, and money you put into this project won’t matter if it’s not something you truly want and need for yourself.

You may have glossed over these when you first decided to go on this journey, but it’s well worth taking a step back and going through them now.

…And it starts with understanding your ‘WHY’.





Before you embark on your exciting journey, it’s really important that you explore your options and understand WHY you want to pursue this project in the first place.

It’s hard to fully understand what you want out your new residential project without first assessing your current situation.

  • What do you like/dislike about your home or the way you live that makes you want a change?
  • What do you wish could be different?
  • How do your future life goals/plans affect your current housing situation?

Getting to the root of what you need and want to change about your current living situation starts to formulate your ‘why’. It becomes a reminder that your investment of hard-earned money and time will be going to the right cause, because without understanding your ‘why’ your project won’t be rooted in any measurable metric. You can create a nice looking house, but without understanding why you want it, that’s all your house will ever be, just a house. But, you want a home. So, you need a metric or way of defining what would make a successful home. And that’s where setting project goals comes in…



Understanding your ‘why’ – your purpose for the project – will help you start to define your project goals and increase the likelihood of a meaningful and successful project.

By knowing specifically what you want to accomplish, you won’t get distracted and try to have it all – opting for things simply because everyone else has them or to please other people. Instead, you can focus on a specific plan of action that will get you what you specifically want.

These aren’t just goals about what the house looks like, but also how much it costs, how it’s constructed, how it performs, how it adapts to your needs. These goals are wholly dependent on what you want to achieve and what you want out of your new home.

Knowing that your project goals support your ‘why’ will not only motivate you and keep you going when times get tough but also help influence later decisions and remind you of the initial vision you first set out to achieve.

So, now is the time to set your project goals if you haven’t done so already. Check out our course on Setting Project Goals to get started.



Once you’ve firmly realized why your current housing situation needs to change, you can start to decide WHAT kind of project is right for you.

As you know, there are various ways to improve your living conditions.

  • Build a new custom home or spec home
  • Buy an existing home
  • Rent another place
  • Add on to an existing home
  • Renovate or do an attic conversion
  • Build an accessory structure, like a backyard studio

It’s important to explore your options to ensure you’re making the right decision. Just remember, trying to determine what the best option is isn’t always black and white. And that’s OK. Seeking the advice and guidance of a professional (contractor, architect, building official, or realtor) may help you make a decision. Here are some ways these professionals can help early on:

  • Contractors – Contractors provide cost estimates and constructability advice that can help you determine if your construction project is affordable or not, and if there are any constructability issues that you may not be aware of.
  • Architects – Architects can provide design advice, space planning, and feasibility studies to see if your project requirements can be achieved with your existing home or even new lots.
  • Zoning/Building Officials – Sometimes a simple phone call to your building or planning department will confirm whether you can build an addition or accessory structure on your property or not.
  • Realtors – Realtors can help you find potential new homes or land that could meet your needs and determine if they are in your budget or not.




  • Determine your ‘Why’.
  • Define your project goals and objectives.
  • Determine which project type is best for you.

Need more help? Here are additional resources related to this section.




All downloadable resources can be found in our Resource Library. Sign up to gain exclusive access.



Over To You…

After going through the content and resources in this section, you should have a better idea of the importance of understanding what’s driving you to pursue your project. Remember, we’re talking big picture stuff. Understanding your current situation, your project goals, and your reasons for wanting one project type over another are the early fundamental elements that when thoughtfully considered can drastically build self-confidence in your project.

Once you feel confident in the determinations you’ve made about your project, you can move on to the next section and start preparing for your exciting journey ahead.


Next Section: Prepare >