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Addressing The Most Common Fears of Building a New Home in Northern Virginia

October 27th, 2023

By Sofia Alonso

5 min read


Building a new home in Northern Virginia is an exciting venture, but let's face it, the process can be fraught with fears and uncertainties. From worrying about spiraling costs and endless timelines to the anxiety of not knowing what your dream home will actually look like, the concerns are real. These fears can make the journey to your new home feel more like a maze of questions and potential pitfalls rather than a straightforward path to a dream realized.

As a design-build firm with over 20 years of experience creating homes in Northern Virginia, we at AV Architects + Builders understand these fears well. We've guided countless clients through the home-building process, addressing their most pressing concerns every step of the way. In this article, we'll talk about the three most common fears people have when building a new home and the advice we have for squashing these fears. We'll demystify these concerns by  offering practical solutions and expert advice to help you navigate the complexities of building your dream home.

By the end of this article, you'll be armed with actionable insights to conquer your fears and make informed decisions. We'll show you how to avoid the pitfalls of allowances and change orders, how to set realistic timelines, and how to visualize your future home with confidence. Our aim is to transform your home-building journey from a daunting task filled with uncertainties to a rewarding experience that leads to the home you've always wanted.

So, if you're ready to tackle your fears head-on and take the first confident step towards building your dream home in Northern Virginia, keep reading. We promise, it's a journey worth taking.

The most common fears people have when they begin exploring the idea of building a new home are:

  1. How much is it really going to cost?
  2. How long is it really going to take?
  3. What is it really going to look like?


New Home Fear 1: How Much Is It Really Going to Cost?

The Problem with Allowances and Change Orders

Many people who begin this journey do so by reaching out to multiple builders to receive a prospective quote for the cost of their project. A common mistake that some people make is being drawn in by the lowest quote and falling trap to the attractively low number. While it is important to explore multiple options and compare prices, processes, and projects, it is critical that you don’t fall prey to this sales strategy. 

The reason some builders are able to present suspiciously low quotes is because they most likely base their quotes on "allowances." Allowances are portions of the total budget that are allocated to any given category of the project, such as the: windows, cabinets, lighting, tile, appliances, etc. Using allowances to create project quotes then is more likely to lead to "change orders" in construction. Change orders are any adjustments made to the original starting budget while construction has already begun. 

The Solution to Staying in Budget: Fixed Cost Estimates

To avoid the trap of change orders, it's crucial to work with a builder who doesn't rely on allowances to determine the project's budget. At AV Architects + Builders, for example, we make all material and selection decisions during the design phase, before ever breaking ground on the construction of the project. This approach provides a more accurate and reliable cost estimate, avoiding change orders completely. 

What is Fixed Cost Pricing?


Fear 2: How Long Is It Really Going to Take?

The Risk of Underestimated Timelines in New Construction

Another common fear of building a new home that strikes a similar stress point with the cost of the project, is the timeline. Receiving a quote for your project timeline that is significantly faster than the others you’ve seen should raise alarm bells because it is likely too good to be true. An underestimated timeline can jeopardize the project, leading to budget overruns, temporary housing issues, and increased stress. Time is money, and delays can result in additional costs.

When builders underestimate the timeline of a project, it can lead to more issues than just exceeding your initial budget, but also impact your temporary housing during construction and your overall expectations of the experience. We all know time is money, so the longer it takes beyond the initial timeline, the more it’s going to cost beyond the initial budget. Additionally, a strained timeline can put pressure on the builder to finish the project, which can in turn lead to cut corners and a loss of quality in your new home build. 

The Solution: Realistic Timelines and an Experienced Builder

To avoid the fear of time in your new home project, it's essential to work with a builder who provides a realistic timeline for the completion of your home. In order to determine a realistic project timeline, a builder will require sufficient experience estimating trades, material shipment and deliveries, and the local permit processes. An inexperienced builder or one not established in your desired area may not have the necessary insight to estimate a realistic project timeline. The right builder will help manage expectations, provide an appropriate timeline and therefore reduce the risk of unexpected delays and unforeseen costs.

How Do I Choose the Right Builder?


Fear 3: What Is It Really Going to Look Like?

The Challenge of Visualizing a New Home Design

Unless you are building a production grade home, there is usually a sense of mystery and uncertainty about what the final product will look like. Custom homes in particular induce the most stress due to their nature of never having been built before. This uncertainty in the look of the final product often arises due to a lack of visual representation to the client.

Some people get plans from an architect then find a builder and some people approach a builder directly who then contracts an architect to create the plans. Both of these options have the potential to create a disconnect between the architect and the builder where the builder then makes assumptions on the design which leads to you feeling surprised by the look of the home you eventually move into. 

The Solution: Invest in Technology and Design

To avoid the classic visualization obstacle with building a new house, remember these three tips:

3D Design Tools and Virtual Reality: Don’t rely on 2D floor plans alone. Look for a builder who uses technology to aid in your understanding of the floor plan. The best way to show this is through the use of 3D models and even virtual reality goggles. These tools can help you better understand your floor plan and visualize the end result.

What are 3D Design Tools?

Detailed Recipe in Design: You may have heard the saying “there are many ways to bake a pie.” Well, the same goes for building a new home, there are numerous ways to build a house. To ensure you get exactly what you want, find a builder who can create a detailed "recipe" that includes all the specific instructions, measurements, and visual aids to accurately portray the vision of your project. Creating a recipe in the design phase can help the builder avoid assumptions during construction. 

Invest in Architecture: Some people think that working with an architect to create their home is a waste of time and money when many builders tell them that their home designer will suffice. The reality is that the architectural services are really only 10% of the total project cost. By investing 10% of your budget in architectural design, you can guarantee you’ll actually be happy with the remaining 90% which is your final product. 

Should I Hire an Architect?


The Most Common Fears of Building a New Home

Building a new home is a significant life event filled with excitement and, understandably, some fears. In this article, we've tackled the three most common fears people face when embarking on this journey: the fear of spiraling costs, the fear of endless timelines, and the fear of the unknown final product. We've provided practical solutions and expert advice to help you navigate these concerns, turning what could be a stressful experience into a rewarding one.

Remember, fears are natural but they shouldn't paralyze you. The key to overcoming these fears lies in meticulous planning, clear communication, and choosing the right builder who can guide you through the complexities of the process. With the right approach, you can turn these fears into checkpoints that lead you to make informed decisions, ensuring that your dream home becomes a reality.

If you're ready to take the plunge but still have lingering fears, the next step is crucial: selecting a builder who can offer fixed cost estimates, realistic timelines, and advanced visualization tools. At AV Architects + Builders, we specialize in alleviating these common fears by providing a transparent and streamlined process, backed by over 20 years of experience in the Northern Virginia area.

We are AV Architects + Builders, your trusted partners in making your dream home a reality. With our expertise and commitment to transparency, we aim to transform your home-building journey from a maze of questions and fears into a straightforward path to a dream realized.


9903 Georgetown Pike Suite 201
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 865-5065