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Building a Home

9 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Building a House

Published on:

4/07/21

written by:

Carrie Barker

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You’re building a home and you’re worried about the typical things … staying on budget, making the right decisions, etc. But guess what? There are MANY other things you won’t even realize you NEED to think about until you are in the thick of building your home. I’m sharing 9 things I wish I had known before building a house. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

9 THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN BEFORE BUILDING A HOUSE

1. YOU WILL (MOST LIKELY) GO OVER SOME ALLOWANCES

This is a tip that I’m sure you’ve heard before. I’m not saying you have to go significantly over budget (we didn’t!), but you will most likely go over some allowances. We far exceeded our appliance allowance but were under budget on cabinets so it all worked itself out.

Just be prepared to go over budget a bit when building a home. Learn about how my husband and I built our dream home without blowing the budget in my *FREE* on-demand training, 3 Simple Keys to Build Your Dream Home Within Budget … without sacrificing your must-haves, no matter how big or small your budget is.

2. VISIT YOUR WORKSITE DAILY

It is very time-consuming to visit your home build site daily (especially if you live in a different city as I did), BUT if you want things done correctly, you NEED to oversee installs.

If you aren’t on-site to direct electricians and other subcontractors, they will make the decisions for you. You do NOT want that. This is precisely how I ended up with an un-centered breakfast nook pendant. Ugh!

3. THINGS THAT BOTHER YOU DURING YOUR BUILD WILL BECOME A DISTANT MEMORY

Once you have furniture in your home, you will no longer be laser-focused on the imperfections (e.g. a small crack in your wood flooring). There WILL be imperfections (lots of them, in fact) in your new home and this is totally NORMAL!

We all assume a new home will be perfect, but it won’t (unfortunately). The good news is that the imperfections won’t be as glaringly obvious once you furnish your home. Honestly, you’ll be SO thrilled that the build process is behind you that you won’t even WANT to fix the imperfections anymore.

The top 9 things I wish I had known before building a house

4. YOUR HOUSE WILL APPEAR SMALLER THAN EXPECTED DURING THE FRAMING STAGE

During the framing stage, my husband and I got a little nervous. We had conversations about whether or not our family room and bedrooms were big enough. They looked TINY at this stage.

Thankfully, our builder reassured us that this is NORMAL. It’s some kind of optical illusion, but once the drywall goes up, you’ll feel MUCH better about your room dimensions. Pinky promise!

things I wish I had been told before building a house

MY CUSTOM HOME

5. YOU WILL SPENDS LOTS OF MONEY ON WINDOW COVERINGS

Make sure to include room in your budget for window coverings. Even the most basic (inexpensive) window coverings can ADD UP when you are dealing with an entire home of windows! Be prepared to spend several thousand dollars on blinds or shades (YIKES).   

6. YOU’LL ALSO SPEND LOTS OF MONEY ON YOUR YARD

Your yard will be a blank slate when you move in. I recommend sodding your entire yard if you can. We planted grass seed in our backyard and it took three years (and three planting seed tries) before our yard finally looked plush.

The good news is that you can do your landscaping in stages. You can budget this out over several years … and you can do most of the work yourself to save money.

7. GET A PORTA POTTY (!)

Did that get your attention?! I am VERY serious about this recommendation! Guess what happens when you don’t have a porta potty (or whatever you call it in your city)?? Subcontractors might use your sump pump as a urinal. (I wish I could insert the big eyeballs emoji here!)

This happened during my home build … unfortunately I had no idea until I started smelling the evidence. GROSS! Learn from my own #homebuildfail.

8. YOUR (GORGEOUS) TRIM WORK WILL CRACK

This really made me sad (bc I have a TON of trim work in my home). I had NO idea how much cracking would occur when my home ‘settled’. I do live in a climate with extreme temp variations and high humidity so I think this makes my location more susceptible to settling and expansion.

At any rate, be prepared for cracking! It WILL happen … and it will continue to happen. The first couple of years are the worst, but we still experience cracking at the (nearly) five-year mark. What?!

Thankfully your guests will NOT notice the cracking as much as you do. Also, most builders come back at the one-year anniversary and fix any house issues. After the first year, it’s typically up to you, the homeowner, to remedy any issues.

9. YOU’LL WISH YOU DID AT LEAST ONE THING DIFFERENTLY

Hopefully, you will be VERY happy with most of your choices BUT there will be at least one thing you wish you did differently! This is totally normal and OK! Just make a mental note of what you want to do differently in a future build! Haha! You can learn about what I would change in my home HERE.

CONCLUSION

Hopefully, you learned something from the things that I wish I had known before building a house (sorry about that porta potty tip … it’s gross but I do NOT want you making the same mistake I did.)

aJust knowing what to look out for (and knowing that these things are NORMAL) will help you feel more confident (AND will allow you to leave plenty of room in your budget for window coverings and landscape).

If you’re preparing to build a home in the future, I think you’ll love my absolutely *FREE* Custom Home Build Prep Guide to help you build your dream home with less stress, more confidence, and a strategic plan to stay on budget!

  1. Ha! Carrie, I love your #2 recommendation! When building our last home, I would visit at least once a day, and sometimes a few times a day. I know I got on some of the sales agents and builder’s nerves, but I was excited! I was paying for the home, and I wanted to see it through the process. At closing, our main builder told me how helpful it was to have me on site. I was able to address concerns or changes as they happened, where some homeowners would come a week before closing and complain about everything. Be polite, but check on your house and it’s progress. Thanks for sharing!

    • Yes, it is SO important to be on-site as much as possible so you can address issues immediately instead of waiting until it’s almost too late!

      Thank you for your comment!

  2. […] You might enjoy reading The Top 9 Things I Wish I had Known Before Building a House. […]

  3. Abby Fields says:

    This is such good advice. It is SO nerve wracking think of custom building! I want my custom home in utah to be perfect, but I know there will be things I need to prepare for!

  4. […] If you want to learn more from my home build experience, be sure to read ‘The Top 9 Things I Wish I had Known Before Building a House’. […]

  5. […] LEARN 9 OTHER THINGS I WISH I HAD KNOWN BEFORE BUILDING MY HOME! […]

  6. Maryann says:

    I am curious if you were able to get the pendent light over your breakfast nook centered, or are you living with that? Just wondering if that is something that they would fix.

    • I had my electrician move it to center it over the kitchen table. I can still see the blemish on the ceiling where the paint is slightly different, but I don’t think any guests would ever notice unless I pointed it out.

  7. Anita Lovegrove says:

    Good idea to be on site when contractors are there. When we built out heating contractor was going to put heat register in middle of floor in front of where refrigerator was going! If I wasn’t home he would of had to rerun duck work and fix floor. I made him put it in kick plate of cabinet. Also I wasn’t home when cupboards were delivered and installed wrong color inside and they were supposed to be custom but they were off center of my kitchen window, which drove me nuts years later when I wallpapered and it really showed. Be on site as much as you can!

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