Building a home can be exciting, scary, confusing, and altogether time consuming. My Pinterest dreams are going to come true! I can’t wait to buy all the things for our new home! We can make it just like we want it!
Which slowly turns into…..
How do we find the money for this?
How much are we talking here?
Where do we begin this process?
Who can we trust?
Where is the best place to build?
Why don’t people meet outside of normal working hours?
There are so many questions you will ask yourself along this process. Some questions you will find the answers to quickly. Others you will research, ask, and ultimately satisfy yourself with a made-up version of an answer!
My husband and I went on this very journey in the beginning of 2018. We were first time home builders with no experience whatsoever. We were solid members of the home buying club but wanted something uniquely ours. We learned a lot during the process with the help of family, professionals, and the internet! Here are a few nuggets of information that helped us along the way, tips for any novice looking to build a home.
1. Take pictures of other homes.
Write down the specifics of what you like about them. If you are techie edit the photo by circling or adding an arrow to help you remember.
For example, a house down the street from us had the garage lighting that I envisioned for our home. I snapped a quick picture and sent it to our electrician, he then knew exactly how I wanted the lighting set up and what it should look like.
2. Pinterest and view HGTV with caution.
There is a reason why photos on Pinterest and home renovation shows do not display price tags as they are showing you such eye candy. Big bucks! Apparently ship lap is ultra pricey, who knew? Joanna Gaines makes it seem so mainstream! Take inspiration from these sources but understand they are not reality. You will have to find a way to make those visions fit in your budget, which thankfully there are many budget friendly options that are also stylish.
3. Decide on a color scheme and overall style.
Research different home styles and narrow it down to one or two. All of your material selections need to circle back to the style you have chosen.
For example, we chose modern farmhouse as our style. When choosing the exterior material we went with concrete siding instead of brick, because siding is indicative of the farmhouse style. We also wanted some modern aspects to our home, one way we achieved this is all of our plumbing fixtures are very square and modern looking.
4. Shop and purchase your own fixtures.
This can be overwhelming at first but worth it in the long run. Just make sure you have some space to store finishes if you purchase them before they are needed at the jobsite. We ordered or picked up all of our own plumbing (faucets, sinks, drains) and lighting fixtures (exterior lighting, fans, pendants). Each item that the builder will install in the home will incur a 10% fee from the builder. Anytime we purchased an item we would turn the receipt into the builder along with any information about installation or specs. Before you purchase anything look over the house plans to determine what you need and talk with your builder about the specifics of what is needed for each space.
For example, a farmhouse sink changes the dimensions of the cabinets and the countertop which needs to be communicated with individuals providing those materials.
5. Use a notebook.
In the beginning, I would write down questions, ideas, and finishes that I wanted to incorporate. I drew various pictures of how I wanted the kitchen open shelving and closets to be done. I took the same notebook with us to pick out finishes, meet with the builder, and anytime my husband and I debriefed about any of the project. It was so nice to have a specific place where all of this could be stored and it really came in handy! Notes in your iPhone will work too but there is something about writing things down that works better for me.
6. Dedicate time each week to visit jobsite.
I made time to visit the build at least once a week, typically after work on Friday after a full week of jobs had been completed. This gave me a good picture of what had been done that week and how things were progressing. Usually all of the trades were gone at this point so it was easy to walk around without being in anyone’s way. My husband has a more flexible schedule and began going every 2-3 days after the house was framed in. He went in the afternoon and was able to communicate anything important to the subs, take pictures of problems, and monitor progress more closely. It was very helpful that he was able to be there so often, he caught a lot of things that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
7. Make compromises daily.
Unless you have an unlimited budget, the finished product will not be 100% as you have envisioned but it will be close. There will be many compromises made along the way to stay on budget, get the look you want, and make your partner happy. Compromise creates harmony!
8. Let your partner do what they do best.
My husband is a very detailed oriented person. I let him take the lead on communication with the builder, additional trips to the jobsite, coordination of materials, and the budget. I am a visual person that thrives off of planning. My husband let me take the lead on coordinating the schedule for material selection (ex. Cabinets chosen by May 1st) , choosing paint colors, and communicating design to subs (professionals hired to do each job). We both took on the job of choosing finishes that went with our overall design; this in and of itself was a large job that was easier done with two heads!
9. Choose a flat builder’s fee.
If your builder offers to charge a flat fee for their services instead of a percent of overall cost, take advantage of this. We did not see the value in this decision until the percentage of our build exceeded that flat rate. We ended up paying our builder more because we decided to add several things to our build later on. This could be a difference of several thousand dollars. There will always be hidden costs and add-ons later in the game, but hopefully they will add to the value of your home.
10. Don’t forget about landscaping and window treatments!
In the beginning of your build these seem so far off and typically get the shaft in terms of budget. Budget for these items upfront so move-in doesn’t sneak up on you. They can be large ticket items that seem unnecessary but…. you can’t get an occupancy permit until you have a yard and you can’t take a shower (with confidence) in a bathroom with no shades!
I hope that these tips are helpful as you begin your journey to build or renovate a home. Everyone's experience is different! At the end of the day you will have a home that you can be proud of and spend many days and years enjoying with your family.
Hi I'm Kelsey.
I help busy women embrace cooking at home with my fuss-free family recipes!