Building Our Dream Home – Lessons Learned and Tips to Follow…

Many of you probably don’t know this, but for the last year we’ve been building our very first home. Yup, building, from the ground up.  It all started with a massive house hunt when we realized we wanted our own space, room for Lilly to run and a decent tax write off, JUST KIDDING! After months of open houses, countless showings, we just couldn’t find anything we liked that wasn’t a total gut/reno type project. We figured since we’d have to do so much work to all the houses in our budget anyway, why not just build exactly what we wanted?  We were surprised to find that for the same cost of some of these other homes, we could buy a piece of land, hire a contractor and have our dream home. And oddly, almost exactly a year ago, we bought this! Yup, a bunch of land with some trees. Kind of scary, but kind of exciting.

We were beyond enthusiastic and ready to hit the ground running. I mean I bought toilets before we even closed!  But the process did not come without its fair share of problems, numerous delays and tears. SO MANY TEARS. We just recently got to move in and will definitely be giving you all a peek inside when we are fully unpacked and all decorated (we are about 75% there), but I really wanted to share were some of the lessons we learned, mistakes we made and tips we picked up along the way so if you were thinking about building a home, you could be a head of the curve!

  1. Know what you are getting into. I don’t want to scare you if you’ve decided to build, but there are a lot of things you need to consider before you take on building a house.  The first one being the massive time commitment building is.  If you are building a custom home like we did it is easily at least a part time job (some week’s full time!).  We knew it would be time consuming, but had no idea just how time consuming.  The early stages weren’t quite as busy, but once the house was framed and construction was moving, it got crazy quickly.  Countless calls, drive-bys, trips to the hardware store, you name it we were all over the place.  You’ll want to spend a lot of time at the house making sure things are getting done correctly so factor that into your decision on whether building a home is right for you.
  2. Do your homework. TWICE… – Everyone says to do your research on your contractors, read reviews, but I can NOT emphasis this enough. You are going to be glued to this person for the foreseeable future. Probably more so than you can imagine, so you better feel EXTREMELY comfortable with them.  If you feel something is off, it probably is and perhaps you should keep looking.  Read everything you can about them, and then some!
  3. Communicate everything and don’t assume anything. SO many mistakes happen simply because of miscommunication.  I learned quickly that the more specific I could be describing how I wanted something to look the smoother things would go.  Show or even draw a picture if needed. Hell, use hand puppets if it saves you the headache of coming into your home and seeing something glaring back at you that you did NOT want.  And be sure to get EVERYTHING in writing. Someone on site might shake their head and say, “You got it,” but those in the office may tell you they never knew a thing about it. It’s super important to make sure everyone is well aware of any changes, decisions and costs before it’s too late! Explain it and go over it again and again.  And make sure you are at the new house often to catch mistakes early on so they can be fixed without too much time or money wasted.  Good communication is key when building or remodeling.
  4. Don’t assume. Many mistakes were made because we “assumed” someone understood what we wanted or we assumed something was going to be included, when in the end it was an additional cost.
  5. Plan, plan and plan some more. I can’t stress to you enough how much easier things will go if you have a good idea of what you want in your home before you start building.  Once things start moving it is an avalanche of decisions being thrown at you daily.  It is extremely stressful to have to slow things down because you just can’t decide what floor stain or the placement of the deck on the outside of the house.   Pick out as much as you can before you start!  While we were waiting on the permits, we were already out looking at appliances, flooring, counter tops, back-splashes, light fixtures etc.  I had a good idea of how I wanted each space to come together early on so when my builder would tell me “in a two weeks we need the hood for the stove” I was ready!  (Of course I had been technically building my dream home for the better part of twenty years, so I had that going for me) We learned how to be decisive quickly (a difficult thing for some) because you just don’t have time not to be when you are building a house.

Taking these steps seriously will help you take that tree covered lot and turn it into something amazing, just as we did! Here she is!!!!!!!!!! I’m honestly in love.

While building a home from nothing may not be for everyone, it in the end was the right decision for us.  And although there were many, MANY bumps, and even though we aren’t quite out of the woods just yet, it’s already the most perfect home I could have asked for.  Mainly because it is ours.  We are lucky that we have such a strong relationship that we rarely fought during the process and were able to lean on one another when the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to fizzle out of reach.  We’ll be filling these rooms with memories for many years to come and can’t wait to share them with you all.



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