Our home build process

Well we have finally made it to the finish line and we are in our new home! For those of you who do not follow me on social media, I'll give you a quick synopsis. We weren't planning on moving/building but when the housing market started going crazy, we decided to see what we could get for our house. We knew we'd need a little more space in the near future and a neighborhood that had better schools. Well to our shock, our house sold in the first weekend and we decided to build. We lived with my parents for seven months while our house was being built.


When we first started this journey, SO many people told me how they'd never build and all these horror stories about building. Now I'm not going to say everything with this process went perfect for us (as you'll see below), but I would absolutely build again in the future. I loved being able to pick out everything for the house and watching it all come together. I also think if we weren't building during Covid, the process would have gone even smoother and been even more enjoyable.


This was our first time building a home and while I'm still no home building expert, today I wanted to share what we loved about the process, mistakes we made and things we overlooked. We've been in our house for a little over two months now so I feel like we've had a chance to notice things we missed when thinking through the building process. Hopefully if you're on the fence about building, this will be an insightful resource to help your decision. Or if you're in the process of building, you can learn from things we did or more so didn't do.


I can't wait to share more about the house with you! I will definitely be sharing more as we decorate the house and make it a home. Until then I'm always here to answer questions if you have them!


All my love,

Annemarie


Before I get into a specific list, I'll preface by saying we did not use a custom home builder. While we were able to change a lot and really make the house cater to our needs, it is not a custom home. Our main strategy going into the process was to upgrade on things we wouldn't be able to change in the future. The majority of our budget went to the kitchen followed closely by our bathroom - rooms that are expensive to go back and renovate after the fact. For cosmetic things (lights, mirrors, etc.) we went with all the included options because we knew we could switch those out easily. Builders often times upcharge for lights and other items so they can make a margin.

Bathroom before - builder grade lights, no mirror installed

Bathroom now - we installed mirrors, light fixtures and towel rings after we moved in

Things we loved about the process:

-Catering the floorplan to our needs: while we didn't use a custom builder, we were able to make adaptations to the floorplan. If you're building, make sure you speak up about things you want in your floorplan. Unless it's an outrageous request, most homebuilders will try to make it work for you. We really wanted a playroom for Tatum so we took some space out of the kitchen to create an additional room downstairs.

-Picking all the designs selections: if your builder has an online design studio, I HIGHLY recommend you look at that before your design meeting. I spent hours looking at all of the options and finishes that our builder offered using the online design center. The amount of choices can get really overwhelming so it's important to look at it often to get a feel for what you like. Utilize Pinterest and other social media to create a style board. When we went into our design meeting, I had everything already written down to ensure we didn't get overwhelmed during the meeting. It also helped to ensure all our selections meshed well together. Our builder pulled all of our selections and created a story board during our design meeting which was so helpful - picture below.

Design meeting selections

-Checking in on the house: luckily we lived close by to where our new house was being built. We were able to drive by pretty often and it was always so fun to walk around and see the progress. It really felt like we were able to follow along every step of the way.

Checking in on the house

-Selecting where to put lights/outlets: Y'all this might sound so silly but I had particular places I wanted outlets and if we hadn't built our home, there definitely would not be an outlet in some places I wanted them. I envisioned a multi-rattan light fixture in our dining nook and so we were able to have it wired for six different pendants. I'm not sure how much something like that would cost to go back and do it so I'm so happy we were able to do it during the build process. I also love sconces. I was able to get wiring for sconces in the living room, my office and the guest room. That is something I know Duke would not let me go back and get wired had this not been a house we built. Other places we added extra outlets were: our closet, our bathroom (the outlets included were up by our vanity but we have a towel warmer we plug in), extra outlets outside both front and back, and by the staircase inside for garlands.

Multi light fixture with 6 different electrical wirings

Sconces in the guest room

-The end result: Seeing the end result of all your choices is so rewarding. It really makes it feel like your home knowing all the thought you put into it. We were able to come and write different quotes and Bible verses that are special to us during the framing process. It's so special knowing those words will forever be apart of this home.


Tips and things we didn't think about:

-Do your research: Before we even started the build process, we looked at so many different communities and builders. Once we had narrowed it down to a few communities, we would ride through the neighborhood at different times of the day (especially night). We wanted a place that felt like a friendly community and safe neighborhood.

-Ask about little details: This can be a hard one because there are SO many details that go into a house - it's easy to overlook something. The reason I bring this up is because our floorplan is actually a model home in a neighborhood about 30 minutes away. We took the time to make the drive over there and walk through the model home multiple times. If you have the opportunity to do this, I highly recommend it. It really allowed us to get a feel for the home. Keep in mind though that model homes usually have a lot of upgrades that don't seem like upgrades. For example, the model had a wide front staircase on the front porch. I thought that was something that came standard with the plan - it did not. We realized it halfway through the build and had to request a change order because I really wanted wider front stairs. Change orders normally come with a fee. So just be sure if there's something you see on the plan/model you really want speak up so everyone is on the same page. Two other examples that seem small but weren't covered in our design meeting were the garage door and skirting. We assumed a certain garage door came with our elevation but it didn't. We also didn't want lattice skirting we wanted vertical board but we didn't go over that during the design meeting. We spoke up about both of those details and ended up getting the garage door and skirting we wanted. Again those are VERY tiny details but Duke and I are particular about our style. Long story short try to make sure you review even the little things and speak up for yourself.

Vertical board skirting with old garage door

New garage door

-Decide what you can DIY: I talked about this a little bit already but we were able to save money on a lot of things knowing we could go back and do it ourselves once we moved in. We didn't purchase any light fixtures through our builder, we got all of the included fixtures. Builders don't have the greatest selection of light fixtures and often times they are more expensive than you can find in stores. Our builder also offered things like built ins in the mudroom and laundry room but they were pricey. We knew we could go back and do custom built ins after we moved in so we decided to save that room in our budget. And not to get too into the weeds, but really look at the costs for each selection. The owner bath came with tile floor so upgrading the tile from level A to level D was not a huge cost. However, the mudroom came with laminate flooring so upgrading the laminate to even a level A tile was VERY expensive per square foot. We selected the included laminate and have already gone back and done a tile floor for a fraction of what it would have cost if the builder had done it.

New tile floor in mudroom

-Set a budget but leave some wiggle room: I won't talk too much about budget because I know it varies so much from family to family. I just want to touch on it because the amount of money we spent in upgrades and design choices was more expensive than I imagined. That's why I recommend setting a preliminary budget but leave yourself some wiggle room and know that the base price of your home will almost certainly increase as you go through the process. There were several things we had to pass on due to budget. The price tag can skyrocket very easily so always be conscious of your budget and know you will probably have to make choices between things you want so try to prioritize as best you can.

-Expect delays/setbacks: With any large project, there are going to be things that happen that are out of anyone's control. Duke and I went into the process knowing that there would be some setbacks and telling ourselves we needed to just go with the flow. I think if you go into the home building process expecting it to be perfect, it adds a lot more stress. Now that's not to say you shouldn't speak up on certain things but going into it with some flexibility allowed us to enjoy the process and not get too worked up over things we couldn't control. There were delays due to weather and Covid. Appliances were a huge issue and we ended up having to change our appliance brand very late in the process. We also still do not have a refrigerator but again, we're rolling with it :)

-Soundproofing: This is one thing we did not do that we wish we had done. Any shared walls where you think you may want some soundproofing, I recommend doing it. Our half bath shares a wall with our living room and if it's quiet you can usually hear someone using the bathroom. We've already looked into having someone come in and put in some soundproofing foam into the wall. Just something to think about as I'm sure it's easier (less expensive) to do it during the build process. I'm thinking adding some soundproofing in the laundry room would be a good place too depending on where it's located in your house.

-10 ft ceilings: Probably the only specific design selection I'll talk about and I'm not sure if this is an option all builders offer but if it is, I HIGHLY recommend you consider it. It completely changed the feel of our house and I can speak to that because the model had 9ft ceilings. It makes our house seem so much bigger and open. With the 10ft ceilings, we also got bigger windows which makes our house really light and bright. I will say, based on my research with all the builders we spoke with, the cost of 10ft ceilings can vary a lot from builder to builder, but if it's something you can fit into your budget, do it :)


I think that's it! I'm going to do a check-in at one year as I'm sure we'll continue to discover things as we get even more settled into our house. Now who's ready for some DIY blog posts!

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