It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our new house for 6 months already. Although we still have a lot of projects left to finish, it’s starting to feel like home. With every new piece of furniture or every photo hung on the wall, it starts to feel cozier and gains that character that I’ve been craving since we moved in. For a long time, the house felt cold, empty, and not very homey (homey… is that even a word??).
Although it’s only been 6 months since we’ve moved in, it’s been almost two years since we first broke ground on the house and started this crazy long journey. It feels like it’s been ages since those footers were poured. I can still feel the butterflies in my stomach from that day.
I am not a professional home builder by any means, nor is my husband. We are simply a husband + wife team who took on the biggest project of our lives, made lots of mistakes, did a few things right, and are now living to tell all about it. That being said, I wanted to share a few things that I would do just a bit differently if I had the chance to go back in time. Hopefully, this will help someone else who is looking to build soon!
- Do not move in until the house is completely finished. I can not stress this enough. We were in a time crunch, running out of money, we had just had a new baby, and there was nothing stopping me from moving in when I got the idea in my head. In our circumstances, it made the most sense to go ahead and move in and try to tackle the rest of the projects as we get time. My advice to you is avoid this at all costs. Our interior doors aren’t painted, they don’t have doorknobs, our trim isn’t painted… heck, we don’t have front porch steps, and we still have the manufacturer’s stickers on all of our windows. It’s easy to say, “Oh, we’ll just finish that one weekend” until the weekend comes and you have other plans. You know what they say about good intentions! We are overwhelmed with projects that need to be done, and it is very likely that it will be years before we get it all finished.
- Be very clear about what you want. I tend to be a very go-with-the-flow type of person, and sometimes, that comes back to bite me. I didn’t speak up about exactly what I wanted in a couple of different scenarios, and now I’m living with the consequences. For example – I wanted really chucky window sills. I didn’t make that clear ahead of time, so now I’m living with builder grade window sills that look cheap IMO.
- Draw furniture on your floorplan to make sure it makes sense. We really messed up with the layout of our Master bedroom. I honestly can’t believe our draftsman didn’t catch it. The way our bedroom is designed, we could either have our bed facing the big window in our room (hey, neighbors!) or facing our bathroom door. Neither of these options are ideal, and neither of them make it easy to place a TV. Our bed faces our bathroom door, and our TV is hung to the right of the door. (I’ll come back later and share photos). It is definitely not ideal. Make sure to draw out living room and bedroom furniture ahead of time to confirm the layout makes sense.
- Don’t just hire a sub-contractor because they’re the cheapest. We hired an electrician who came recommended, but was also the cheapest by far. Boy, did we pay for that in the long run. This guy had live wires in our walls that lead to nothing, lights without switches, switches without lights – nothing made sense. Believe me, the electrical part of the build was probably the most complex and probably the most important, because one mistake can burn your whole house down. We ended up paying much better electricians to come fix all of our problems, and it costed us an additional $10,000 to fix what the first guy messed up. Remember- you get what you pay for.
- Don’t buy matte finish flooring. I LOVE my floors. They are perfect color, the perfect width, and they were SO affordable. They don’t scratch, they don’t show dirt, and they’re water resistant. I wish that I could have found my exact flooring with just a slight gloss finish, because they show foot traffic SO BAD. I feel like I have to mop every single day to hide all the little footprints.
Overall, I love our house and we are so blessed to have had the opportunity to make these decisions. If you’re reading this and considering building a home – do it! Well, maybe after lumber prices go back down… that’s a whole nother topic! It’s a long, stressful journey, but the finish line is the most rewarding thing imaginable: a place for you and your family to call home.
Stay tuned for a list of things I would do the same – that list is a good bit longer, thankfully ♥