Final Thoughts

2013 is in the books and I wanted to jot down some final thoughts now that we’ve been in the house for 2+ months. In no particular order:

  1. Live close to the home you’re building – You’re going to want to be at the home a lot, so make sure it’s not too far of a drive to check in on the progress regularly.
  2. Choose the style of the home early – Craftsman, Traditional, Modern, etc. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices available to you, when you’re choosing your plumbing and electrical fixtures. It made our life so much easier to tell the salespeople to just show us fixtures that would look good in a Craftsman style home.
  3. Triple check the specs/plans/contract…everything that’s not in them could be a change order from your builder.
  4. If you have allowances, understand if they cover just material or material + labor. There were several times throughout the process that we thought we were coming in under budget only to find out that we hadn’t factored labor into our estimates.
  5. Repeatedly tell your builder when you want to try and save money on a given allowance. There will be allowances where you are going to overspend (e.g., cabinets) so you’ll want to make it up in other allowances (e.g., plumbing fixtures). Don’t have the builder show you the most expensive tile they have, only to fall in love with it, when they know you will go over budget with that choice.
  6. Budget for all of the stuff you’ll need after you move in – Blinds, rugs, furniture, etc. You’re going to be paying cash for this stuff (rather than rolling it into your mortgage) so try and plan and budget ahead of time for these high $ purchases.
  7. Make sure to try and get at least 2 bids for all of your allowances– Our builder had relationships with several vendors who had the best prices, but in other cases we were able to find less expensive/higher quality goods by asking around and checking the internet. For example, we were able to save ~$1500 in electrical fixtures by using a small mom and pop shop to supply our outdoor lighting.
  8. Capture every rebate/tax credit/incentive possible when building your home…Appliances are an area where you’re almost guaranteed to get some pretty hefty rebates, assuming you buy a suite of them from the same manufacturer. Check your local and state listings for energy savings tax credits you may be able to redeem (e.g., tankless water heater).
  9. Choose a builder you can trust – I can’t emphasize this enough. This person is literally going to be building the roof over your head, so you want to make damn sure they know what they’re doing. Interview, do follow ups, and conduct a thorough due-diligence before you choose your builder.
  10. Stop and smell the roses – it is incredibly amazing to see your dream home go from blueprints to framing. Don’t get too caught up in the inevitable problems associated with construction and instead make sure you stop to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

Thanks for reading!

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