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Home Build prep guide



How to Stay Organized during Custom Home Build

Published on:


written by:

Carrie Barker


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, so we’re going to talk allll about how to stay organized during your custom home build. 

In this episode, we’ll cover six EASY tips to keep your thoughts, ideas, and documents organized while building your house. The good news is that you can implement these tips immediately!



If you’re anything like me, you will feel SO much more in control of this overwhelming and huge project when you put organizational systems into place that manage all of the little details … and believe me, there are A LOT of ‘little details’. 

Just so ya know … this episode is somewhat of an overview of what I teach in my brand new course, ‘The Organized Home Build’, which walks you step-by-step through how to set up and implement these organizational systems.

Plus, the course includes done-for-you fillable spreadsheet templates that you can easily upload to your Google Drive and put to work. That bonus alone is a student favorite! 

how to stay organized during custom home build


The tips below can be applied to any type of home build, but my primary focus is on custom homes because custom builds aren’t as streamlined and predictable as building a production or semi-custom home.

Alright, let’s dive into the six tips to stay organized during your home build.


Number one is to organize your design inspiration.

Unlike building a production home or a semi-custom 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.

My personal favorite platform for storing all of my design inspiration is Pinterest.

This app is a GREAT place to organize all your design inspiration. Not only can you pin images you find within Pinterest, but most websites (and even Instagram) have the option to PIN images directly to your Pinterest account. 

Inside ‘The Organized Home Build’ course, I’ve added step-by-step video tutorials to show you how to EASILY pin images directly from Instagram, Houzz, and even screenshots you have saved on your iPhone.


The second tip is to organize your home-build emails.

I think email is the BEST way to communicate with your builder and subcontractors. 

Obviously, you’ll 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 (and when it needs to be accomplished).

When I built my home back in 2013, I stored all emails related to my home build in one email folder I created and named ‘HOME BUILD’ (which is not very original). I actually still refer back to this folder (nine years later) if I ever have a question about my home finishes, my square footage, or even costs.

I do 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 in your email system and then add several subcategory folders just so you can keep your emails ultra-organized.

Quick Tip: Make sure you can access your email from your phone so that you can pull up emails during selection meetings if needed. I’m pretty sure we can all access our emails from our phones in this day in age … but that wasn’t as common when I built.


The third tip is to organize your notes.

Throughout your home build, you will have MANY discussions with your builder and other building professionals. 

It’s really helpful to take notes during these meetings (or conversations) and then organize these notes in a way that makes sense to you.

You can type your notes in Word or a Google Doc. If you can’t access Word or your Google Drive from your phone, then simply email the notes to yourself so that you have your notes with you at all times (on your phone). This is super helpful if you need to refer back to something your builder said or you need to check on a selection you previously made.

It’s also helpful to create a running list of any questions you have for your builder or subcontractors. You can do this in a Google Doc or in your calendar app or even a simple note on your phone. Just make sure you’re able to access this list easily from your phone.


The fourth tip is to create a binder to organize any physical documents.

When building a home, there will be some documentation that you’ll probably want a physical copy of. 

This isn’t as necessary as when I built my home in 2013 because technology has changed a TON since I built and now we can, obviously, pull just about anything we need up on our phone at any time.

However, if you want to keep physical copies of your floor plan drawings, selection worksheets, sketches, list of questions, or maybe your absolute favorite inspiration photos, you can certainly do this. 

Whatever you choose to keep in physical form, I recommend organizing it all in a three-ring binder. And, if possible, slip each document into a clear sleeve to ensure the page doesn’t rip.


Ok, we have two more tips. Number 5 is all about what to keep in your car during your custom home build.

Like I said before, building a custom home is very different than building a production home or a semi-custom home. With a production or semi-custom home, you typically visit a design studio where you’ll make 99% of your design selections. 

With a custom home build, on the other hand, you’ll drive all over town looking for finishes. You’ll visit flooring stores, kitchen stores, paint stores, and the list goes on. So it’s essential to keep a few things in your car to help you stay organized and, therefore, more productive during your selection meetings. 

I suggest you store the following items in your car while you’re building your home …

  • Floor Plan Drawings (i.e. a physical copy of your floor plan UNLESS you can easily access the drawings from your phone)
  • Tape Measure
  • Paint Color Wheel (if you have one)
  • Paint Color Samples (here’s my absolute FAV peel and stick samples*)
  • If you have a physical binder with inspiration photos or anything else, keep that in your car
  • Any product samples that you have currently checked out (e.g. flooring samples, countertop samples, cabinet door samples, etc.)

* Affiliate link used for your shopping convenience. If you purchase through this link, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure.


Ok, we’ve talked about a lot, but the final tip is my favorite because I’m kind of a nerd.

The last tip is to create spreadsheets to organize your selections and budget.

Not only do spreadsheets keep you organized during your build, but these allow you to maintain documentation and records of all the selections you make for your home. 

Spreadsheets can be very helpful to refer back to in the future when it’s time to repaint or if you need to replace a small portion of your flooring (or anything else that comes up and you need to reference your selections).

As I mentioned earlier in this episode, I’ve included several done-for-you spreadsheet templates as a bonus in my ‘Organized Home Build’ course

At the time of recording this episode, I launched this new course just three weeks and I’ve already had over 40 students go through it … and the bonus spreadsheet templates are definitely a crowd favorite :).

Just to give you a real quick overview of ‘The Organized Home Build’ course … this actionable mini-course walks you step-by-step through how to easily catalog your thoughts, ideas, design inspiration, tasks, emails, and documents so that you can focus on the more important things while building your dream home … you know, like sticking to your budget and making design decisions that come at you fast and furiously.

In other words … it teaches you exactly how to stay organized during a custom home build :). If you want to learn more about how ‘The Organized Home Build’ course can help you create and implement a streamlined organizational system so that you feel more in control of the process, click here to get allll the details.

  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.


  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

  4. Barry Krsnak CEO Archicheck LLC says:

    Hi Carrie. I’ve been in construction for over 40 years and share the frustration of organizing all of the selections made and getting the information to the person responsible for performing the actual work. I have developed an online program that cures all of this. Go to Vistobuild.com to check it out for free for a week.
    Good luck on your next project!

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I designed my own custom home from the ground up, inside and out. A home that is cozy, comfy, laid out perfectly for the way my family lives, and makes us happy every single day. Oh, and did I mention I did this all without blowing the budget?! 

Yep, it’s true. I’ve been there, done that, and actually lived through it … and you will too. Pinkie promise!

a.k.a. Caroline on Design

I’m Carrie Barker.

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