After going through the home building process, my husband and I get a lot of questions about building our home. When we started, we certainly weren’t experts! We were actually pretty clueless. So I’m sharing what we learned in hopes that it might help someone down the road.
1. Do your homework. This may sound like common sense, however you would be surprised how many people dive into home building before really knowing what they want. Research different builders in your area and talk to their past customers to find out the good/bad/ugly. Also, find out what kind of a reputation your builder has with your city. My husband’s uncle works for our city, and we relied heavily on his advice. He told us which builders to steer clear from and who might be worth considering.
2. Watch HGTV with your significant other. Come on, Lauren, really? I know… this might seem like silly advice, but I can’t tell you how many episodes of Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper, Love It or List It, House Hunters, etc. we watched in the last year. It was a lot! But what that did for us was create a conversation about what we liked and what we really didn’t like. It helped us to create a cohesive vision for our future home which I believe saved us from quite a few arguements down the road.
3. Establish a budget. No one likes talking about money, but it has to be done. My recommendation would be to give yourself some wiggle room within your budget so if you do go a bit over, you’re not stressing. For our project, we ended up spending about 10% more than we originally budgeted. Those darn upgrades!
4. Meet with potential builders and discuss your budget. Take the time to get to know your builder before you hire them. Remember… you’re going to be working closely with them over the next 6 months or longer, so it’s important to have a good working relationship. Talk to them about your budget and your goals for your new home and any non-negotiables. If you know you need a three car garage, let them know that. Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you are looking for. From there, your builder should be able to recommend the size of home they would be able to accommodate within your budget.
5. Find a floor plan you love. Some builders will already have established floor plans and models you can choose from for your new home, or you may decide to go with a completely custom builder, which is what we decided to do. There are so many websites out there where you can purchase floor plans, but we found our home at http://www.houseplans.com. There are different options available to fit any size of budget. Here’s the plan we selected.
6. Invest in ceiling height. When considering which floor plan might be best for you, remember to look at the height of the ceiling. It’s almost as important as the number of square feet. Most of the ceilings in our home are over 10 feet, so it certainly makes the space feel larger than it actually is.
7. Location, location, location. A true staple in any decision when it comes to real estate. Decide what matters most to you about your location. Is it proximity to good schools, walkability, safety, living near family, resale, etc.? Once you know what matters most to you, it makes selecting your lot a whole ‘lot’ easier. (hehe.)
8. Ask a lot of questions. The phrase “There are no dumb questions,” couldn’t be more true in this scenario. Just ask. I’m sure it’s nothing that builder hasn’t heard before.
9. Stay organized. Keep track of all of your decisions and paperwork. It’s not uncommon that your lighting selection can get lost in the shuffle, so make sure that you always have everything saved on file. I took photos on my phone of everything throughout the process including every selection with the item number and price. This made it very easy for me to pull up anything I needed at any given time.
I feel so very lucky that our home building experience was so positive. Hopefully with these tips and tricks, you will have no trouble constructing the home of your dreams.