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Building a Home

How to Stay Organized during Custom Home Build

Published on:

12/16/20

written by:

Carrie Barker

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There are many moving parts when building a custom home. The sheer amount of decisions can be paralyzing. However, the whole process can be MUCH less overwhelming if you feel organized and in control. Below, I lay out an actionable plan for how to stay organized during your custom home build.

These suggestions can be used with any type of home build, but the primary focus is custom homes because they are not as streamlined and predictable as building a production home.

how to stay organized during custom home build pin

Below are six EASY tips to keep your thoughts, ideas, and documents organized while building your house. You can implement these tips immediately!

1. ORGANIZE YOUR DESIGN INSPIRATION

Unlike building a production home with limited design options, building a custom home allows you to choose ANY design finishes you want. You have the freedom to search all over for design ideas and inspiration to create your dream home.

Pinterest is a GREAT place to organize all your design inspiration. Not only can you pin images you find within Pinterest, but many websites (and Instagram) have the option to PIN images directly to your Pinterest account. This is how I store ALL of my design ideas!

Once you start gathering your design images, you can organize your pins (images) into boards (i.e. categories). I created a board for each room in the home … as well as exterior ideas. Another option is to create one simple ‘Dream Home’ or ‘Future Home’ board if you don’t want several small categories. See how I organize my Pinterest boards HERE.

how to stay organized during custom home build pinterest

SOME OF MY PINTEREST BOARDS

Within Pinterest, you have the option to share boards with others. If you prefer to keep your boards private from your followers, you can still allow your builder access to view your boards.

If you are not interested in Pinterest, you can do what I did when I built my home (before Pinterest was popular) … remove design inspiration photos from magazines and store these ideas in a three-ring binder. I put the magazine pages in a clear sleeve (so they wouldn’t rip) and I labeled sections in the binder (kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas, windows, etc.). If I were building today, I would 100% store all ideas in Pinterest though :).

2. ORGANIZE YOUR HOME BUILD EMAILS

I think email is the BEST way to communicate with your builder and any subcontractors. Obviously, you want to meet face-to-face often, but email provides a ‘paper trail’ for any important discussions. This allows everyone to be on the same page and have written documentation of what needs to be accomplished by each party.

I stored all of my home build emails in an email folder I created and named ‘HOME BUILD’ (super original). I added ALL emails related to my home build to this folder. I still refer back to this folder (six years later) when I have a question about my home finishes, square footage, or financials.

I recommend that you take this a step further. Rather than create one blanket ‘Home Build’ email folder as I did, create an overall ‘Home Build’ folder with several subcategory folders: Home Build Design, Home Build Budget, Floor Plan, Home Build Selections, My Builder, Home Build Notes, etc. These are just some ideas to get you started!

Tip: Make sure you can access your email from your phone so you can pull up emails during selection meetings if needed.

3. ORGANIZE YOUR NOTES 

You’ll have MANY discussions with your builder and other building professionals. It’s helpful to take notes during meetings and then organize these notes in a way that makes sense to you.

You can type your notes in Word or a Google Doc and then email the notes to yourself. This gives you the option to have the notes with you at all times (on your phone). This is helpful if you need to refer back to something your builder said or to check on a selection you previously made.

It’s also helpful to create a Google Doc (or Word doc) to keep a running list of any questions you have for your builder or subcontractors. Again, you can email this to yourself if you don’t have access to your Google Docs on your phone.

Tip: If you prefer pen and paper, then write everything out and organize it in a binder.

4. CREATE A BINDER TO ORGANIZE PHYSICAL DOCS

There will be some documentation that you’ll want to keep a physical copy of. This might include a PDF printout of your floor plans, any sketches, selection worksheets, financials, list of questions, your absolute favorite inspiration photos, etc.

Whatever you choose to keep in physical form, I recommend organizing it all in a three-ring binder. To ensure your papers don’t rip, you can put each document in a clear sleeve.

Recommended Post: HOW TO PREPARE FOR A PRODUCTIVE FIRST MEETING WITH YOUR BUILDER

5. THINGS TO KEEP IN YOUR CAR DURING A HOME BUILD

Building a custom home is very different than building a production home. Unlike the latter where you typically visit a design studio to make 99% of your design selections, with a custom home build, you’ll drive all over town looking for finishes. You’ll visit flooring stores, kitchen stores, paint stores, and the list goes on.

It’s important to keep a few things in your car to stay organized and more productive during selection meetings. I suggest you store the following in the back of your car for the duration of your build:

  • Floor Plan PDF (i.e. a physical copy of your floor plan)
  • Tape Measure
  • Physical binder (from the previous section)
  • All product samples (e.g. flooring samples, counter samples, paint chips, etc.)

6. CREATE SPREADSHEETS TO RECORD YOUR SELECTIONS

Not only will spreadsheets keep you organized during your build, but you’ll also have documentation of all the selections you made for your home. This will be helpful to reference when it’s time to repaint or if you need to replace a small portion of your flooring (or anything else) in the future.

CONCLUSION

We covered six EASY and actionable ways to keep your thoughts, ideas, and documents organized while building your custom home.

The bottom line … find a system that works for YOU! You can organize your inspiration and documents either digitally or physically or a combination of both. Just remember that the custom home build process will feel more manageable and less overwhelming if you feel organized and in control! YOU’VE GOT THIS!

Wanna learn the 5 crucial steps to build your dream home with less stress, more confidence, and without going over budget? Grab my *FREE* Custom Home Build Prep Guide!

  1. Jerry Woods says:

    It’s good to learn that email is the best way to communicate with builders and contractors. My wife and I are wanting to build a new home and we were wondering how we should communicate with our future builders. I’ll be sure to use email when we need to contact our contractors and builders.

  2. […] HOW TO STAY ORGANIZED DURING CUSTOM BUILD […]

  3. Shara says:

    Hi there! My hubby and I (and our 4 kids) are starting our dream home build and I stumbled on your blog….and have been pouring over all of your advice! Thank you! What did your Excel sheet look like for keeping all of your details in one place? I have an idea, but am a bit overwhelmed with details and would love to know how you organized your spreadsheet. Thanks!

    • Hi Shara! I didn’t actually keep a spreadsheet when I built my home almost 8 years ago. However, I have created several spreadsheets for my BYF members to utilize. You might want to look into my BYF membership program :). The doors just happen to be open for enrollment this week. – Carrie

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