Thank you all so much for making my post, Ten Things I’m Glad We Did While Building A New Home, one of the most popular posts on my blog! Since there seems to be such an interest in the home building process, and some of your comments have helped me remember things I forgot to include in the original post, I wanted to do another list of ten MORE things I am so glad we did while building our home.
- We widened almost all of the doorways, and we also have a separate shower with a seat in out master bathroom. We wanted our home to be wheelchair accessible to accommodate aging parents or in case we would ever need that feature ourselves in our home in the future. You just never know, and it is a pretty affordable upgrade to widen the doorways while you can.
- My husband asked our electrician to install outlets in the roof of our covered porch to make Christmas decorating easier. We no longer need to run extension cords down the side of our house in the winter. I never would have thought to do that, but I do think it’s pretty cool.
- We redesigned the dormers on the front of the house. The original plans for our home showed two small dormers on the front. I saw a picture of a similar house that had one larger gable, the way ours is now, and I stopped production completely and made everyone start over because I just knew that was the way our house was meant to look. It costs us a great deal of time and I think some plans had to be resubmitted for permits. I still think it was worth it. We look at our house several times every day and I would still be regretting it if I had not insisted we change those plans. I think the current look is more symmetrical and brings in the lines from the right side of the house.
- We switched home builders. Originally, we were going to put a modular home on our property and had gone so far as to have several meetings with that builder. Everything should have been in place, but the more we met with them, the less we liked them. We hadn’t signed anything binding yet, so we decided to meet with a private home builder from our church and have him give us an estimate as well, and we were very pleasantly surprised. Mike was great at being able to take the ideas I had in my head and translate them into a language my husband could understand and the cost difference between modular and stick-built was negligible in our case. He stayed on budget and by building a custom home we got to choose everything in our house. I really think finding a builder you are comfortable with is key to making the process a pleasant one. I know several people who say they would never go through the process of building their own home again. It is stressful, but we had a very pleasant experience. I would build another house with Mike in a heartbeat.
- We added a utility sink in the garage. For some reason, plumbing for a sink in the garage was not in the original plans for our house. But we use that sink all the time while we are doing yard work or if the kids need to wash up after playing outside. Make sure to check your plans very thoroughly so that things like that don’t get overlooked.
- We changed the layout of our kitchen. Originally, the kitchen island was supposed to be a raised breakfast bar on one side. But this island sits directly in between our dining room and an eating nook. I did not think I really needed three separate eating areas within ten feet of each other, but I knew what I did need was storage. So instead of making this area a raised breakfast bar, we made the entire island the same height to get more counter space, and we made the entire back side of the island drawers for additional storage.
- We put a double vanity in the kids’ bathroom. You don’t often see two sinks in a hallway bathroom, but we have three children who share that bathroom to brush their teeth every night and get ready for school every morning. I think it’s only going to get worse as they get older and the girls start wanting to do their hair and makeup. I’m really glad we have the double vanity in there for storage and the additional sink.
- We chose historic paint colors. Once everything is done and it is time to put the paint on the walls, it is easy to get overwhelmed because there are SO many choices and you don’t want to make a bad decision and have this brand new house you spent so much money on look terrible. Even though it is “just paint,” when you are talking about enough paint for an entire house, it does get expensive to make mistakes. We chose all of our paint colors from the National Trust for Historic Preservation line at Lowes. I found that knowing I was sticking to those colors really helped me feel less overwhelmed with all of the choices out there, and it gave our finished home a classic feel that isn’t too trendy and won’t go out of style. We tried to think about all of the possible uses for every room. Right now we use our office as an office. But in the future we might need to use it as a bedroom for an aging parent or grandparent, or we might want to turn it into another family room space and have an entertainment center in there. I talked about all of those uses with our electrician and then he suggested where to install cable and phone jacks and outlets, accordingly.
- Sometimes when you are building it is easy to let the “But I want it” urge take over, and that is how you get yourself over budget with upgrades and extras. If we ever decided that we wanted to add something extra, we took something else away. I found myself constantly asking the question, “How often am I going to use that?” For example, one of the ways we saved a large chunk of money was by making two sets of french doors into the kind of doors where only one side opens and the other “door” is basically just a large stationary window that can’t be opened. To be honest, I really didn’t want to do that. I wanted my french doors to be able to open on both sides. But I also wanted real hardwood floors and solid surface countertops and something was just going to have to give if we wanted to stay on budget. I use my floors and my counters every day. So far we have lived in this house for a few years and the only days I wish that those other doors opened are when we are moving in a very large piece of furniture, which is maybe once a year.
- We got our hands dirty too. Some things we did ourselves to save time and money. I am very fortunate because my husband is very handy (and I am not that bad either, if I do say so myself). He was able to run the system for our surround sound before our walls went up. We also did our Airstone fireplace installation ourselves. When it comes to building an entire house, it is important to know what you are legally allowed to do in your area and what you should hire licensed professionals to do for you.
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