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Taking the Leap: Building a House

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After spending the last decade packing up and moving from apartment to apartment every year, we finally decided to buy a house and – ‘dream home’ Pinterest board rejoice – we are building!

When we first set out on our home search, we got pre-approved for a mortgage (so we had a budget!) and started looking in the area we wanted to buy.  After searching for a few months and looking at a few dozen houses, we knew we would have to either fix up an existing home or start from scratch if we truly wanted to get our dream home.  After a walk through a model home, we fell in love and decided that building was the option for us!

We signed the contract in April of 2016, and it’s been quite whirlwind planning everything and watching it take shape.  After some initial meetings and approving a layout, I was able to sit down with an interior designer and pick out all of the finishes for the home (which mostly consisted of me pointing at my Pinterest board).  Having a visual reference was actually a great tool for the design process, and I mostly knew what I wanted walking in the door.  

After finalizing our selections and signing a big fat check (eek!), we patiently waited for building to begin.  Our foundation was poured in late July, followed by our basement floors in August:

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That hunk of cement might not seem like much, but watching it take shape was really exciting!  Building was finally starting!  It took a few weeks for them to start framing, but the progress was so fast.  The house went from foundation to roof in a week!

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Since that last photo, the builders have put in the windows and started finishing the outside of the house with siding and shingles. I’ll post updates as it progresses!  Seeing the inside will also be really exciting.  

I also thought that I would share my top 5 tips that I’ve learned throughout the process so far.  If you’re thinking about building a home, keep these in mind:

  1. It’s a really good idea to have an idea of what you’re looking for before you show up to meetings.  Whether it’s a layout design, finishes, or a timeline, it’s always helpful to be prepared.
  2. Building a house means getting what you want, but it’s also about being flexible.  We worked really hard to stay within our budget and decide which things were most important to us.  We also had some weather delays, and will be moving a few weeks later than we planned.  I’m glad we left ourselves some time to be flexible!
  3. It’s more cost efficient just to have professionals take care of things sometimes.  Going into this project, I really wanted to DIY a lot of things.  I was determined that we could build shelving and install fixtures and take on a bunch of projects to save a little money.  After pricing out the cost of materials and the amount of time it would take (which was probably an underestimate anyway), it made so much more sense just to spend a little extra to have it done.  Saving the time and frustration would be worth it, and things will turn out better with a professional taking care of it.  While we will be able to save a little money by painting and finishing up a few details, we agreed not to take on any projects that were over our heads.
  4. Think about all of your needs ahead of time.  As soon as we decided to build, I started dreaming up paint colors and flooring, and shopping for the perfect appliances in my dream kitchen.  While planning out all of the big things are fun, I also spent a considerable amount of time looking at electrical diagrams to determine locations of light fixtures and outlets, making sure the room dimensions would work well, and adding in details that would fit our lifestyle (like a hot and cold faucet in the garage to wash cars and muddy dogs!).  Think about how you will use the space, add in a bunch of storage, and make sure you’re really getting the most out of your options.
  5. Be diligent throughout the process.  I trust the professionals to do their jobs well, and never wanted to stand over their shoulder, but I also knew that it was my job to make sure things were being done correctly.  After a walk through, I noticed that they had framed a window the wrong size.  After calling the builder, he let me know that they had ordered the correct size window, and was glad I caught the mistake.  They fixed the framing that day in time for the correct window to go in.

I could probably make a list of one hundred things I’ve learned throughout this process, but those were some of the most important.  I’m sure I’ll post an update once the exterior is finished and they start finishing the inside!

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