Building a home is a huge undertaking.
I don’t think I fully realized the enormity of the experience when we began the journey this time last year. It was something I’d wanted to do forever, but it was more of an “in my dream life” scenario than one I truly saw happening.
But then it did and we just found ourselves in this whirlwind of deadlines and elevation selections.
There are so many things to consider when building a home–where to build, what to build, how to build it, you will be making decisions about every element of your living space.
While building a custom home on a lot of your choice is a lot different from building with a builder in a predesigned community, there are still a number of things you will be in charge of muddling through.
And, if you’ve never been involved in the process of building a home before, you can feel like you’re really scrambling through blindly.
My best advice would be to get a Realtor.
A lot of people don’t use a Realtor when building a home because the builders seem to make it easy for you to go in alone -like shopping for a new car or mattress -but the truth is that they are there to rep themselves and you will be better off if you have someone there to rep you.
We didn’t learn of the importance of this until it was too late and, while I would still probably elect not to use one in this situation, I would encourage you to at least consider it for yours.
That said, we didn’t mess it all up, in fact, there were a lot of things we did just right!
10 Smart Things We Did When Building a Home
Spent a lot of time selecting a lot.
One thing that promoted us to move from our previous location was that the woods around our home were removed to add new homes after 9 years of living there. We missed our trees so much!
When we came to this neighborhood, we wanted a spacious lot with as much privacy as possible. We didn’t want to be surrounded by other homes and we wanted to back to woods as much as possible –woods they wouldn’t be removing preferably.
The lot we choose is on the end next to a preserved area of woods and, to our utter delight, they just came in and did a whole reforestation project behind and alongside our house recently. So happy to be surrounded by nature again!
Chose to upgrade our flooring.
We have a dog and kids which means someone is always tracking something in onto our floors. I was adamant about upgrading to hardwoods on our entire first floor. It makes is much easier to clean messes. And, since we don’t wear our shoes upstairs it means our carpet stays super clean.
Got our lights prewired throughout.
I was shocked to discover that light fixtures are not standard to your home –you have to pay extra for them!
We chose to get each bedroom, the family room, and the dining room prewired for overhead lighting. I didn’t want to have to rely on lamps in our rooms and a dining room lamp just seemed very Count Dracula to me. Having them prewired by the builder meant that hanging a fixture was a quick DIY job as opposed to an afternoon of measuring and drilling and trying to figure out how to make electricity work without killing ourselves.
Had prewiring done to mount our television.
So there wouldn’t be a bunch of ugly cords dangling from the TV to the various outlets and cable boxes. It makes the entire thing look more clean and organized.
Monitored the process throughout.
We were fortunate to live only a couple of miles from our new home while it was being built, so I had time to visit regularly and speak with the contractors about various elements as they were being done. Even if you aren’t nearby, it’s important to communicate with your builder –they will disclose things about the process and keep you updated frequently if you express an interest.
Took lots of photos.
Not only is it fun to look back on the process, but it can be an important key to understanding what’s behind your walls. For example, when we wanted to mount another television, we could easily look at the photos and see where the studs were located. It also helped us know where we could easily expand and upgrade things in the future without having to tear into or relocate expensive elements in our walls, like plumbing.
Skipped the fireplace.
We’ve never been a huge fireplace using family. Our previous home, where we lived for about 11 years, had one and I can count on two hands probably how many fires we actually burned. When we sold the home, it just turned out to be an additional expense to us (we had to have the flue repaired) and it wasn’t even an element we enjoyed much. We decided not to pay for that feature in our new home and, based on the way our furnishings fit, I am happy we went without. It saved us a few grand too!
Purchased with an unfinished basement.
We intend to finish the basement in the future, but by not doing it with the builder’s predetermined plans, we will be able to take advantage of more space and design it in a way that will better fit our family for years to come.
Upgraded to the extended island.
It means the kids can easily be in the kitchen with me while they’re eating. We spend a lot of time in the kitchen doing food prep so it’s nice that they can enjoy breakfast there in the morning or quick dinner before practice there in the evening. They will often sit and chat with me or do homework while I’m making dinner or cleaning up and I love that there is space for them to do that right in that space.
Had extra lighting put in the kitchen.
There are few things more depressing than dingy kitchen lighting. We had that at our other house and I always felt super depressed to be in there. I love that we have pendant lights, recessed lights, and various other lighting fixtures around our kitchen to make the space bright no matter the time of day.
Want to learn more about our home building journey? Learn more here: Building a Home: 12 Things the Process has Taught Me