The title of this post may or may not have been inspired by my interest in the show ‘So You Think You can Dance’. It seemed fitting to write this phrase in the same tone. Our big adventure this year is building our forever home and it all started 5 short months ago when we sat down for a consultation at Schumacher Homes naive to the entire process (well, I was anyway), but ready to dream. We’re learning a lot along the way so if you are thinking of building a house or know someone else thinking about it, I’m hoping this new series of posts proves to be helpful! Posts like these can get lengthy or feel overwhelming when it’s just one long page of information (overload) so I’m going to resort back to one of my favorite past times, list-making, to make this organized and easy to read!
1. Why are you building?
There’s not one thing is this world that’s right for everyone. I know we have clothing items claiming to be ‘one size fits all’, but that’s a lie too y’all. So it only makes sense to have this be the first question you answer once you’ve decided to switch up your current living situation. In our case, we’ve talked about moving for years, always wanting to get a place together. When Allen and I started dating way back in 2010 I ended up moving in with him, in ‘his’ house situated on a little lot in a nice neighborhood. We certainly made it our home, but it was never our idea of forever. This year was finally the right time for us to move. It’s been a seller’s market this year so we wanted to take advantage of that in effort to walk away from our current home with positive equity that would help us move into our next home. Our initial thought was also to buy an existing home; we had been looking online, but decided we’d start visiting actual open houses once our own hit the market. Y’all….our house went into contract in one day! Exciting moment until you realize you have to figure out where you’re going next and be at that next place in 30 or so days! Queue house hunting at work and attending house showings in the evenings, on weekends and lunch breaks when necessary. Here’s what we ran into specifically during our house hunt…
- Property taxes are major buzz kills! Always be sure to look at the monthly cost of homes and understand the breakdown. Don’t just look at the list price. We saw several homes “in our price range” except they actually weren’t. You don’t want to take the time to walk through a house only to discover this after the fact.
- A seller’s market means you might pay more than you’d like for the house and you’ll have to make a decision quick. We visited a few beautiful homes that were at the top of our price range and already had other offers on the table so we had to make a decision that same night if we wanted to add our own offer and potentially enter a bidding war.
- Even with the houses we almost or actually did put an offer in on, they still had things we wanted to change. New carpet, kitchen remodels, painting, etc. That meant we’d be paying top dollar and putting even more money into the house over the next couple years to get it exactly how we wanted.
[I really wanted to post a photo of our old home here, but it appears the only exterior photo I had was on my phone 8 years ago and I can’t find a copy of it anywhere on my hard drives. I suppose photos of the first landscaping we ever did there and us staining the deck will suffice; we were proud of our work. and I was also known for taking too many photos] 🙂
Between these challenges and one big factor of having land available to us via the family farm, building made the most sense financially and emotionally. In fact, we’re building our brand new house for less than what we were about to pay for the ten year old house we put an offer in on but were countered by the buyers. And building on family land means a lot and gives us more than we could ever ask for in a place to call home. The biggest benefits in our scenario that ultimately helped us make our decision were…
- Financially smarter, especially over the years. Not only are we paying less upfront, we are getting exactly what we want and everything will be under warranty. We also chose to go with geothermal to have a clean and efficient home that will undoubtedly result in lower utility costs each month when compared to older homes.
- The ability to customize the house to be exactly what we wanted. We won’t be worrying about any fixer upper projects, kitchen remodels or painting for quite a while! This topic of customization and picking out all the details of your house is a big one so I’ll be writing a post specific to this shortly!
- Building on a beautiful 2 acre lot, but having access to the entire farm and living near family. We are very fortunate to have this land available to us and also to be neighbors with Allen’s brother and Aunt who have been living on the farm for years.
- Having a temporary living situation planned out – which is a tiny apartment we aren’t exactly thrilled about, but does offer some perks as far as great location, semi affordable, close to the farm and a new pool. This is an important factor to keep in mind, because building can take some time from the true start to finish! Plan well. I was optimistic when we signed our apartment lease and we just had to add two months to be in line with our build timeline and those two months came at a less semi affordable price!
2. Where do you want to build?
If you’re set on building, knowing where you want to build is an important next question as it will play a big role in choosing your builder. They don’t all build on private property or have as many custom options. We looked at two options, for giggles I guess because why would we go any other route than building on family land? The one other builder we briefly looked at was Ryan Homes; they own certain lots of land in various neighborhoods and have some beautiful layouts to choose from for your house. In some cases, you can find houses well into the construction process where you can buy, still choose some of the finishing touches (counter tops, paint colors, etc.) and have a much shorter window to move in. Because we are building on our own land, we went with Schumacher Homes. They aren’t the only custom builders around, but came highly recommended by our realtor who used to work on the building side. If you don’t know where to start, I definitely suggest meeting with a realtor even if you’re planning to build and not looking to buy from the existing market. They can offer a lot of knowledge and help you shop around to find the best fit.
3. Do you have everything in line to commit to the process?
The topics that fall under this question get financial real quick and deserve a respectable amount of feedback so I’m going to have a post dedicated to this as well. To be high level and upfront for now, be sure you walk away from your free consultation meeting understanding the financial requirements for building and what you need to have in order to get the best possible outcome on all accounts. I’m referring to good credit scores, a secure money source for a down payment, the right lender for products, a plan for new home purchases like appliances and allowances for the inevitable unexpected circumstances (likely rolled into your loaned money). More to come on this shortly!
4. How much patience do you have?
Y’all. I can’t stress this one enough. You need patience when building. I didn’t have a lot of that when we started this process, but I’ve been learning and gaining more as we go. In some ways, building feels like a good personal exercise for me. There’s a lot I can’t control and I have to learn quickly how to be okay with that and how to solve for the unexpected circumstances without totally losing my cool. The apartment lease is a great example of that. I signed us up for 5 months, back when I was still naive to the entire build process. I had to make the decision quick and sign our lease a couple weeks before we even moved out of our house, because apartment prices are apparently like flight prices and fluctuate often and significantly. Fun fact I never knew until this year! Back then I was daydreaming of us moving in the new house by the end of July. It was cute. We also had some delays at the very beginning of our construction. It was suppose to start on June 6th and right out of the gate got pushed back a week. Naturally, my initial reaction was “oh here we go”. But since then, it’s been smooth sailing and I’m amazed how much work has been done just 20 days after construction started. I mean, just look at this beautiful house as of yesterday!!
Even at this moment friends, all the work really begins to be worth it! Truly amazing to watch your home be built from the ground up.
Please comment with any questions and I’ll happily respond based on our experience! Even better, if you’ve already gone through the building process and have some awesome points or suggestions to add to this phase of the process please comment with that information too! A little ‘forum style’ conversation in the comments section of these posts would be super fun and in my opinion quite helpful to readers considering this approach!
The next post is going to focus on finances and loans so if you ever have trouble falling asleep at night it might be just the thing to send you off to dream land! 🙂 Boring as it may be, it’s kind of key and leads to the start of the fun stuff – designing your home!
It feels weird not ending with a recipe! Chocolate Chip cookies will be coming to the blog soon, but if you don’t want to wait hop over to my Instagram Account and get all the tasty details in my stories!
Have a beautiful day!