Builders constructing roof frame
Builders constructing roof frame

5 things to consider before you build in Cincinnati

Not finding anything you like in the housing market? Maybe it’s time to build your own.

In Cincinnati, when you’re looking at homes, it’s easy to fall in love with the Italianate and Victorian homes that are the city’s trademarks. But old houses can also mean old pipes, old roofs, and fixtures that might look charming, but weren’t meant for 21st-century lifestyles. Sometimes, instead of settling for what’s on the market, building from the ground up can be your best bet. But before you get swept away with visions of designing your dream home, here are some things to consider.

1. You're probably going to need a construction loan

Unless you’re flush with cash, building a home probably means a construction loan is in your future. Unlike mortgages, construction loans are loans that bring you through the entire process of buying and completing construction with a single loan. Borrowers pay only interest during the construction period. Your lender pays your contractor directly as the work on the home is completed. To get a construction loan, you’ll need to provide your lender with a budget for construction, as well as clear building plans and a timeline for when the project will be completed.

2. Building outside the city can have its advantages

If you’re truly a city mouse or are already attached to a lot, building right in the city may make the most sense for you. But if you’re willing to look just outside the city, places like Butler, Clermont, and Warren counties have been booming as destinations for new construction—so much that there are now often shortages of lots to build on. When you build outside the city, you’ll likely have larger lots to work with, giving you more space to dream and build.

3. You’ll need to know who you’re hiring

The contractor you choose will be the biggest factor in how fast your home gets built, and whether it’s done on schedule—and on budget. Their skill level and commitment will also determine how well the work is done, and whether the result is just how you imagined it. Be sure to get a few different quotes before you decide on a contractor and look into their previous work and reputation. Note that your loan provider must also approve the builder. Most mortgage loan officers will work with their clients to get the information needed for the builder review.

4. Deadlines will be fluid

Building a home is a huge project. You’ll make decisions on everything from the number of rooms to the type of cabinet pulls you want in the kitchen. And while many people are eager to move in as quickly as possible, construction projects often hit snags along the way—sometimes even before your contractor breaks ground. Keep an eye out for issues that can affect your overall timeline, including delayed delivery of materials, delayed permits and inspections, and contractors taking on multiple jobs at once. Prepare yourself for delays and have a contingency plan for if (or when) move-in day gets pushed back.

5. Rehab is also an option

If you want the flexibility to design your home and also love the feel of historic architecture, you may want to consider restoring an older property. You can completely gut an older house in many cases, allowing you to reimagine the interior.

And depending on the home and how you renovate it, you may qualify for a construction rehabilitation loan to help you keep the historic charm while creating a livable interior. But a word to the wise: When rehabbing in a historic district, there may be limitations on what you can do to the home’s exterior. Check-in with your neighborhood historical society to see what the standards are.

Anyone who has built their own home will tell you that headaches along the way are inevitable, but if you do your homework and keep your eyes on the prize, the reward of moving into a home designed just for you can be priceless.

The information on this page is accurate as of January 2021 and is subject to change. First Financial Bank is not affiliated with any third-parties or third-party websites mentioned above. Any reference to any person, organization, activity, product, and/or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement. By clicking on a third-party link, you acknowledge you are leaving First Financial Bank is not responsible for the content or security of any linked web page. Member FDIC / Equal Housing Lender.

Loans subject to credit review and approval.


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