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Complete Guide to Starting the Custom House Building Process in BC

Imagine taking the first steps into your brand new custom home in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

The scent of pines fills the air as you step into the entry room. Sunlight streams in through large windows, offering glimpses of endless mountains or serene waterfronts.

3171 Shayler Ct by Bercum Builders Inc, award-winning Okanagan Home Builder

But before you reach this moment, there’s a journey to embark upon – a journey filled with careful planning, strategic decisions, and the expertise of professionals who will guide you through every step of the process.

Before any construction begins, you’ll need to go through a number of steps – including budgeting your project, designing your home, finding a lot, and getting approval from local authorities.

To help you understand what your journey will look like, this guide walks you through each step of the custom house building process in British Columbia.

Preconstruction Steps

Define Your Vision

Before engaging with architects or builders, you should define a clear vision for your custom home.

For inspiration, tour communities, read magazines, and browse online directories to find examples of homes you love – and collect photos along the way.

Get specific on your must have’s, nice to have’s, and non-negotiables. If you’re living with a family or partner, talk to them and make sure your design meets everyone’s needs.

Space Requirements & Layout

Get realistic about the number of bedrooms you need now and in the future – especially if you’re planning for a growing family. Your new home should not only meet your basic needs, but also enhance your lifestyle – with enough room for your family, your guests, and your pets.

Whether it’s the living room, kitchen, backyard patio, garden, or garage, your home should have enough space to create an enjoyable and functional living experience. Think about where you’ll need extra storage for your summer and winter gear, and where you’d like to have additional privacy.

Your home’s layout should enhance your daily routines and activities. If you’re planning on building your forever home, you may also want to consider the reality of aging, opting in for an easily-accessible design.

Your Preferred Architectural & Design Styles

Picture your ideal home in BC. Is it sleek and modern, with clean lines, a contemporary style, and large windows to enjoy BC’s natural surroundings?

Perhaps you’re drawn to the traditional charm of a farmhouse design, or the classic simplicity of a single-story rancher.

Your chosen architectural style sets the tone for the entire project, which means you’ll want to be as clear and specific as possible. Beyond mere aesthetics, your home’s architectural style shapes the very essence of your living space – while serving as a reflection of your own style and personality.

Interior Design Preferences

Next, you’ll want to imagine the look and feel of your dream home’s interior spaces.

Imagine what each space should look like for you and your loved ones: a serene bedroom retreat, a lively & functional kitchen, and welcoming living areas for relaxation & entertainment.

Consider which colors, materials, and finishes will create the ambiance that resonates most with you. Whether it’s a cozy warmth, a vibrant energy, or a colorful playfulness, your interior design choices set the tone for daily living.

Energy Efficiency & Environmental Considerations 

Beyond aesthetics, consider your home’s energy efficiency. Choosing a sustainable build with energy efficient features will lower your utility bills and reduce your environmental footprint.

If you’re concerned with reducing your carbon footprint and staying ahead of the BC Step Code, you may want to consider going net zero.

Programs like CleanBC Better Homes and Better Buildings offer financial incentives to help households save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through high-efficiency heating equipment and building-envelope improvements.

Backyard pool in an Okanagan custom home

Determine Your Budget / Financing 

Oftentimes, homeowners will underestimate just how many costs are involved in building a home from the ground up.

When you’re building custom, it’s important to establish a realistic budget and set aside room for contingencies. Entering the process with a clear understanding of your investment capacity will help you to make informed decisions and reduce the risk of unexpected surprises.

Start at the End Result 

Picture yourself getting the keys to your custom built home. You step foot into your freshly built digs, and you get to reflect on the entire process.

As you look out into this moment, can you pinpoint what will be most important to you on that day? Will it be completing the project exactly on budget? Or are you more concerned with securing the lakefront view of your dreams before summer?

Strategize & Prioritize

Start by prioritizing features based on your budget constraints. What feels like a non negotiable? What can you potentially live without?

Consider the delicate balance between your financial resources, and the overall scope of your dream project.

Building a custom home typically takes 12 to 24 months, and can come with an array of unexpected costs. You’ll want to plan for unforeseen site costs such as foundation issues, building regulations, or additional labor.

Cash or Construction Loan 

Next, you’ll need to decide on whether to use your personal savings, or a construction loan to get started on the build.

While cash is coined as “king”, and can reduce interest costs, it may also limit your liquidity.

Construction loans on the other hand will require a downpayment of 20-25%, and often come with higher interest rates than traditional loans.

Getting Approved 

Whichever route you decide, be prepared for a thorough loan approval process, including credit checks and financial assessments.

It’s important to shop around and explore various loan types, such as construction-to-permanent loans – a type of financing that allows you to finance both the construction of a new home and its permanent mortgage, in one loan package.

You’ll want to do your research in this stage, and be prepared to show detailed plans and cost estimates to the appropriate lenders. It’s also important to do your due diligence to understand all the necessary terms and repayment schedules.

Remember Your Contingency Fund 

As mentioned above, it’s imperative that you locate a contingency fund within your budget.

Your contingency fund should allot for design and planning costs, architect fees, permits, and other initial expenses, in your budget. If purchasing land separately, be sure to account for the land cost and verify if the purchase is included in the construction loan.

Typically a contingency fund will account for around 10% of the total project cost, to cover unexpected costs or changes during construction. It’s better to be safe than sorry in these situations, and your future self will thank you for reducing any unnecessary financial strain.

Remember to lean on your financial advisors to ensure that your budget is aligned with your long-term financial goals.

Find a Lot to Build Your Own House

Once you’ve gone through the steps to strategize, envision, and budget for your future home, it’s time to select your picture perfect location.

Conduct thorough research to ensure the best possible spot for you and your family. 

Start by exploring neighborhoods with available lots, considering factors like proximity to amenities and neighborhood ambiance.

Take into account your natural surroundings – is it located by a body of water? Are there plenty of surrounding trees? You may want to consider the level of privacy you’ll have, how much noise you’ll be exposed to and different times of day, and if there is potential for extreme weather.

Remember, this is potentially your forever home, so you get to be as picky as you like.

Additionally, you’ll want to assess the specifics of each lot you’re considering.

Ensure it’s suitable for a single-family home and evaluate its size, slope, and orientation for construction feasibility and optimal sunlight exposure throughout the day.

It’s also worth inquiring about future development plans in the area, so you can anticipate any potential changes that may affect your property.

Other points to consider are the potential resale value of the property, and any legal considerations that may impact the lot. This includes building codes, zoning restrictions, and any necessary permits or insurance that may be needed before purchasing.

Custom home by Bercum Builders on Shayler Court

Hire Your Builders

Hiring your team is one of the most crucial steps in the homebuilding process. Your building team turns your dream home into reality – so it’s important that you choose wisely. 

Start by researching builder reputations in your area to get insights into their reliability, quality of work, and customer satisfaction. Browse their project portfolios to see if their style and craftsmanship matches your vision.

Read through online reviews, check testimonials from their previous clients, and look into their credentials, licenses, and certifications.

Most custom home builders, like our team at Bercum Builders, will have a team of architectural designers and structural engineers to make sure your blueprints meet all of your local building codes and pass through the approval process with ease.

Building Permit Approvals and Stress Tests

Once you’ve selected a builder, it’s time to get a building permit from your local municipal building permit office. For example, if you’re building in Kelowna, you will get your permit through Kelowna City Hall.

Some of the documents required for permit approval include architectural drawings & schedules, engineering drawings & schedules, title documents, owners authorization, water & septic letters, and BC Energy Step Code compliance with an Energy Advisor.

Through the approval process, you might discover the need for final engineering adjustments based on feedback from the city. Once you’re approved, you can proceed with the house construction process with confidence, knowing that your custom home project is in full compliance with regulations and building code standards. 

House Construction Process Overview

Here are the steps involved with a typical construction process for a new home.

Hire a General Contractor

If you’re working with a custom home builder, they will act as your general contractor and set up all of the necessary subcontractors to bring your vision to life with quality and integrity.

If you’re going at it alone, you’ll need to find a general contractor to oversee the project. Look for experience, references, and a portfolio of successful projects.

Site Preparation

First, the property must be cleared to remove any existing structures, trees, and debris to provide a clean slate for construction.

Next, the land gets graded to create a level surface for the foundation and help with proper water drainage.

Your builder team will excavate trenches for utility lines, creating channels for water, gas, and electricity lines to your future home. They will dig spaces for sewer or septic systems to accommodate waste disposal needs based on your local regulations.


Reinforced footings are strategically placed to bear the load of the structure and provide stability.

Next, builders pour concrete with meticulous attention to detail to create strong and durable foundation walls. Curing time is crucial to allow the concrete to reach optimal strength before moving on to the next construction phase.


As the framework of your dream home takes shape, each step of the framing process brings you closer to the realization of your vision. It begins with the installation of initial wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducting, laying the foundation for functionality and comfort.

Thorough structural inspections ensure that every aspect of the framing meets stringent safety and building code standards, guaranteeing the structural integrity of your home.

Next, the installation of insulation plays a crucial role in enhancing energy efficiency, regulating temperature, and minimizing heat loss or gain.

With the arrival of drywall, both interior and exterior walls become a blank canvas, ready to receive further finishing touches that will bring your design to life.

A protective layer of house wrap is meticulously applied, shielding your home against moisture and contributing to its longevity.

Finally, heating and cooling systems are strategically installed to optimize energy efficiency and create a comfortable living environment tailored to your needs and preferences.

Interior & Exterior Finishes

As your custom home nears completion, attention turns to the finishing touches that will transform it into a masterpiece of design and functionality.

Exterior siding or finishes add aesthetic appeal and provide protection against weather elements.

Inside, plumbing and electrical fixtures are carefully installed, ensuring functionality and compliance with safety standards.

Your flooring materials are then installed, chosen according to the design plan, creating a basis for the overall aesthetics and functionality of your living spaces.

Interior doors, light fixtures, kitchen, and bathroom cabinets are added, bringing your interior design vision to life.

Walkthrough & Final Inspection

As the final steps unfold, the focus shifts to ensuring every detail meets exacting standards. Scheduled inspections by local authorities ensure adherence to building codes and regulations, providing peace of mind that your home is built to the highest standards of safety and quality.

A comprehensive walkthrough with your builder offers the opportunity to address any remaining concerns, ensuring that every aspect of your vision is realized.

Finally, thorough electrical, plumbing, and environmental tests are conducted to verify the seamless operation of all systems, guaranteeing a safe and comfortable living environment for you and your family.

With each meticulous detail attended to, your custom home in beautiful British Columbia stands as a testament to craftsmanship and excellence, ready to welcome you into a lifetime of cherished memories.

Summing It Up 

From breathtaking natural surroundings and outdoor adventures to thriving cultural scenes in cities like Vancouver and Kelowna – living in British Columbia is a wonderful place to create long-lasting memories in a home you absolutely love.

If you’re starting a custom home construction project, preparation is the key to a seamless and successful journey.

It’s essential to cultivate a vision, consider your budget, hire a great building team, and plan for any unforeseen circumstances. With proper research and the right strategy in place, you’ll be ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime – making your dream home a reality in beautiful British Columbia.

We’re here to make the process a smooth one for you. Head to our website today. Let’s build your dream home together.

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