Okay so maybe the title is a tad bit dramatic, but in a seriousness… when it comes to building a home- adjust your expectations.
Truly custom home builds take longer, more money, and more patience than you’d expect. We had another building experience with a “cookie cutter” home build company that was very positive and VERY on schedule. But I knew going into this one- it would be WAY different. Here’s some tips to battle that “construction blues.”
Pick your priorities!
You will need to have your list of “wants” and “requirements” and prepare for that list of “wants” to get increasingly shorter as your build progresses. Those “requirements” will suck the money away from the already almost non-existent budgets of the wants. Good thing is… those “wants” in most cases can be added at a later date, but you can’t live without toilets. So go ahead and buy the nice no-slam dual flush toilets you want.
Here’s just a few of what we had to nix:
- Glass shower enclosure in master
- Spiral staircase off balcony
- Vintage-style doorplates on every doorknob
- Wide plank wood flooring
- Iron frame front doors
- Black windows on entire house
- Extra styleized trim on garage doors
All of these items were things that would have added TONS of character, but ya know what… the window trim and the extra tile backsplash adds just as much character and interest and those ARE NOT EASILY ADDED LATER. Pick your “do now” items based off their necessity to the structure of your home. (And in my case- degree of messiness)
Start Talking with a realtor NOW.
Our house sold in six days. Talk about stress. We had to move out and find another place to live temporarily. I do not suggest that method, but I worked for us because we knew we had somewhere to go. Not saying yours will that quickly, but talk with a realtor fairly early on in the process and they can do their magic on average days on market/pricing/staging and all that craziness. It’s worth paying someone the bill. Swearsies. So make that game plan for selling your house. In some cases- you won’t even have to sell yours before you move!
If our plan would have worked perfectly…
- 30days on market
- 60 day close
- Move out 3 months from list date.
Seems easy enough right. Plenty of time to finish a house out from Sheetrock and bare bones cabinetry. Turns out- No. we would still have been finding a place to live for 2 months. And heads up- short term apartment rent is EXPENSIVE.
Stay on top of the Schedule!
Seems like an easy enough statement… but we caught so many snafoos and conflicts ourselves that it was worth the extra nagging. Don’t worry about what your contractor thinks about you. Be annoying. Be picky. He’s making money off of YOU. And if you’re on top of things and able to visit frequently you’ll catch problems before they get too far along to be an easy fix. Get out a calendar and ask him when he expects to have certain contractors out. That way when you go out on a Wednesday and see no one working- you can refer to your schedule and see that the tile guy just finished and he needs his grout to dry for a full day before anyone shows up. We always picked Monday as our day to call and say “what’s on the schedule this week” and when those weeks come that both you and your contractor are out of town… you can always leave the schedule on the wall so the subcontractors know they’re being “watched”. I learned that lesson the hard way.
Be Brave. Be Bold.
The sooner you can laugh at problems, mistakes, and miscommunications the better. Cause you will have your fair share of them all. There will be times you wish you could walk away. And you may even stay up late at night searching zillow for move-in ready options. But don’t fret. As soon as your contractor calls you back… You’ll have the answer that makes sense and will give your heart some rest.
And remember that realtor you called… use them as a tool. Call them and say “is this normal?” Have them be the bad guy for a bit. But bottom line- DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE. If you’re upset or worried voice those concerns to your realtor/contractor and they will let you know if those concerns are founded or not. And remember how you parents always told you not to talk about finances- throw that out the window. Talk about them every chance you can. “How much does that add?” “Will this take me over budget?” “Is there a better option?” You’d be surprised at how willing the subcontractors are willing to help you stay on budget once they know your not made of pure platinum. So be brave and have the difficult conversation. You’ll find that you’ll be VERY glad you did in the long run.
True custom building isn’t for the faint of heart- but it’s so so worth it. Stick with it. Fight the good fight. And refuse to close until you get what you want. 😉