What I didn't know about building a house

Feb 9, 2015 8:31:00 PM | by Aimee Cottle

My husband and I are in the final stages of building our first home. It's exciting, terrifying, humbling and frustrating ... and those emotions usually cycle about every five minutes. During the building process, the highs feel super high and the lows feel very low. But even more than the copious amounts of emotions are the lessons we've learned along the way.

Here are three things we didn't know, but quickly learned, about building a house: 

  1. There is no real sense of time - The first few weeks after you sign the original papers will feel like some of the slowest days of your life. Time feels like it is dragging by. You're constantly thinking about when they will finally break ground, dreaming about what it will look like finished, and calling or emailing the builder asking for updates. But then, suddenly, those little flags go in the ground. In days our home was completely framed! We could walk up the stairs. We could sit in our bedroom. And it hits you: you are building a home and it's almost finished! 
  2. It's not going to be perfect - Unless you are using a custom builder with zero limitations on design, layout and exterior choices, something isn't going to feel "perfect". When you're picking out your floorplan and colors and signing the papers, there will be times when you think, "this isn't what I dreamed about." For us it was the siding and the fact that we only had one type of countertop to choose from. My advice to you is to do the best you can to step back and remember why you're building a house in the first place. Hopefully, you aren't building so you can have perfection. You are building so you can give your family the best space possible to make memories. 
  3. Reactivity will get you no where - My husband and I decided at the beginning of the process that we weren't going to be pushy with our builders. We had no clue what we were doing and we felt like they had built hundreds of homes and didn't need us tracking their every move and asking questions over their shoulders. This was a mistake. In the end, we waited too long to ask questions. We gave them the benefit of the doubt with the hope that we wouldn't be offensive. But this is your home! You've spent time staring at the floorplan. You know where the light switch in the upstairs bathroom is suppose to be. You know where the flooring needs to change from carpet to wood and what light fixture goes in the dining room. Our advice to you: don't be afraid to ask questions or point out flaws immediately. It's their job to work with you and help you. And in our case, the building manager actually perfered we be proactive and ask questions when we had them. He was kind and it truley felt like he was on our side. So be proactive, not reactive. 

Have you built a home recently? What advice would you give to people going through the process?