I had dreamed for years of constructing my perfect home. However, I’ve learned it’s quite a challenge, requiring countless decisions — from picking the ideal plot of land to choosing floor tiles for the bathroom.
If you’ve lived in apartments in a big city all your life, like I did, building a home may seem daunting at first. You likely don’t know what will work well or what won’t in a house.
Learning By Renting First
That was my perspective when moving from the city to a home in the countryside. At first, I decided to rent a house for a few years. It was an entirely new experience for me. In those years as a renter, I learned a lot about what being a homeowner entails.
For instance, I realized the larger the house, the more maintenance is required. And the bigger your yard, the more time needed to keep it tidy. Most importantly, I recognized what features I loved in a home, and what I disliked. However, I still wasn’t ready to build a place of my own. Constructing anything seemed like too much of a challenge at that stage.
Consulting with a Custom Home Builder
While contemplating whether to build, I consulted with a custom home builder. They offered to design a home for a fee, without requiring me to commit to the full build. I decided it was worth getting their professional perspective, like working with a UX designer. However, the experience didn’t go as hoped.
The architect presented a few designs that weren’t what I envisioned, and the costs were shockingly high. It became clear our visions weren’t fully aligned. I needed to take a slightly different path to achieve my dream home.
Opting for a Prefabricated Modular Home
That’s when I opted to build a prefabricated modular house. For those unfamiliar, this is when the modules or pieces of the home are constructed offsite in a factory. They are then delivered and assembled on location. It’s a quick way to build, but of course offers less customization than ground up construction.
It’s like buying a car — you select among a few model ranges, colors, and option packages the manufacturer offers. In my case, the company had only three or four modular home designs. I didn’t get to customize much beyond that. The house came with nearly everything, from layout to bathroom tiles, pre-determined. Which ended up being perfect for me, as I wanted to limit choices at that stage.
The Ongoing Work as a Modular Homeowner
Even with construction handled, I still had plenty of work to do. Finding affordable land was simple enough. But then I had to decide on home placement, get approvals from the homeowners association, and arrange electricity, water, sewer and more. It was an interesting project, but immensely time-consuming and tiring. And we hadn’t even broken ground yet!
Now with some exposure to the process, I see many parallels between building a home and developing software.
Parallels to Software Development
First, creating fully custom software makes little sense before trying available off-the-shelf solutions. If you need CRM features, use an existing platform first. See where it falls short for your specific needs. Choose the one that best fits, and customize it through automations and integrations. Note the pros and cons once you’ve used it for a while.
Next, model any missing components in no-code tools like Airtable or Notion. Don’t recreate the full solution — just prototype the parts that don’t exist or underperform. This will demonstrate how to structure the workflows and data for your ideal process. And you gain the flexibility of designing it yourself without the downsides of full software development.
Consider hiring an in-house developer, an agency, or freelancers to build small additions to fill gaps in existing tools. Working with technical teams will teach you a lot. You’ll need to make decisions about data governance, compliance, security, scaling, and reliability even for small projects.
This process likely takes years, which is normal. It’s about learning over time what works best, not rushing to a solution. Taking an iterative approach allows your true requirements to emerge.
There are many opinions out there about internal software tools — CRMs, project management, document sharing, no-code, low-code, custom development, and more. It’s easy to see them as competitive options. But in reality, each has an optimal role depending on where a company is in its journey.
Being strategic about selecting the right tools at the right time as an organization evolves is key. Like building a custom home, creating business software that truly fits takes an intentional, stepped approach over years. The end result for both is worth the effort and patience.
Originally published on Medium.com