Designing a Custom Home

Presented by Mike Hines of Build Cincinnati

Building a custom home is an exciting experience.  YOU get to make everything just the way you want it.   What could be better?  To keep this process exciting and engaging, we pride ourselves on preparing our buyers for what’s in store for them.  To do so, we’ve outlined the typical steps leading to your new home.  Below, you’ll find the typical steps for designing your custom home…

Builder and Buyer Introduction: Although many clients jump directly into the design meetings, it is best to organize your thoughts and floor plan ideas with the builder.  Architects and designers charge by the hour so the more prepared you can be by consulting with your builder on price, size and plan type, the more efficient and productive subsequent meeting will be.

1.         Introductory Design Meeting:  Your first meeting with the architect or designer will be discussion about what you’re looking for.  Starting with floor plan that is similar to what you want is always helpful, but not necessary.

                 Typical Deposit required to start designs: $5,000

2.         Preliminary Design Review (2 weeks later): The architects will deliver a preliminary floor plan

3.         Design Tweaks (1-2 weeks for each substantial change): Every time you make a significant change, the architect will have to rework your plan and meet again.  Best case those changes are back to you within 7 days, but occasionally it can take up to 2 weeks for changes.


4.         Design Development Drawings & Pricing (2 Weeks): Once the plans are given the green light, the architect will start phase 1 of the design development drawings and the builder will price the plan. Once a rough price is given, the builder would need either:

a.     Contract: A contract would need to be executed prior to finalizing the drawings.  Often times, the builder can offer a contract price with the design drawings.

b.     Phase 2 Deposit: $5,000 – If the buyer would like to finetune the drawings and work on price, the builder would need an additional deposit for additional architect and engineering fees.

5.         Construction Drawings (1-2 Week): Final approved drawings with the architects seal and approval are necessary for permitting. Includes:

a.     Zoning and Engineering

b.     Teardown Permit (if applicable): Simultaneous to construction drawing and permitting


6.         Permitting: Depending on the municipality, permitting and zoning can take anywhere from 1-2 weeks.

a.     Hamilton County – Averaging 2 weeks

b.     Warren County: Averaging 10 Days

c.     Butler County: Averaging 2 Weeks




Build Time: 6-9 months (Dependent on size of home and cooperation of the weather)


From start to finish, the entire process usually averages 8-10 months.  Larger homes above 4500 square feet could have a longer build time.  Builder will estimate each home individually for accuracy.

Download a PDF of these steps by clicking:  StepsToBuilding.pdf