Before we jump into this post can we all just take a minute to soak in that beautiful view? (ignoring the weeds that will be a pretty lawn soon enough!) Is that really my future backyard? It’s such a blessing to have a home filled with people you love in a setting like this. I’ll remember that every day.
You’ve decided building is the right option for you, you’ve got your finances in order and have a good idea on budget and you’ve selected your builder! It’s time to sit back and enjoy some of the fun steps in this process!
For the sake of this post let’s say you’re building with Schumacher Homes like us cool cats, because the best way I can speak to the design process is to break it down by the phases we went through with Schumacher! It all started at our first appointment with the awesome new home consultant who helped us snag an amazing interest rate for our loan! There’s a few things I recommend doing before this appointment (which you can schedule by calling or emailing the design studio nearest you).
1. Navigate through Schumacher’s website and pick out a few house plans you like most and want to explore more. You’ll see a price under the ‘Exterior Styles’ section online; this is a starting price for the base model of that plan. Very important to remember 🙂 https://www.schumacherhomes.com/house-plans/
2. Do a walk through of the model homes nearby. It’s a bonus if the house plans you bookmark have physical houses to see, but I think this is helpful to do regardless. If not, Schumacher does have a fantastic virtual tour feature on their website that allows you to ‘walk through the home’. https://www.schumacherhomes.com/house-plans/mwr/olivia/
It’s very important to keep one thing in mind when visiting the models: Every model home is filled with upgrades and beautiful decor. You will not walk through a base model home and get a visual of what actually comes with the house. This approach wouldn’t get you nearly as excited to sign your name and build a home! Just keep a realistic mindset as you walk through the house knowing those cathedral ceilings with cedar beams and bump out spaces off the kitchen all come at an additional cost.
3. Decide what features of a home are most important to you. I’m guessing it’s pretty rare that anyone goes with the base model of a house plan and doesn’t change or add a thing. In our case we had four ‘must haves’ – a 3 car garage, cathedral ceilings (as requested by the hubby; I’m pretty short so all ceilings are tall to me!), large kitchen (hers) and office space (his). It was helpful to put this on paper now and know to ask how those requests would fit the house plans we liked and how our cost would be impacted.
When it comes to determining your ‘must have’ items, I highly suggest focusing on structural features. We have plenty on our ‘nice to have’ list, but things like cedar beams, tile showers and decorative fireplaces can all be added later much easier than the third car garage space, taller ceilings and bump out to enhance kitchen and dining space. I’ve referenced this bump out a few times now. It’s pictured in our house below and is directly off the kitchen creating the perfect space for a dining room. Schumacher actually refers to it as a media room and some models do show how you can make it a fun sitting/hang out area! I love this space in the house! We chose to do a cathedral ceiling in this room, our living room and our master bedroom with the flat ceilings elsewhere being 9 ft rather than the standard 8 ft. If you’re tall like my husband, this makes a big difference!
4. Make a list of questions to ask your new home consultant. I mean, do you ever remember to ask everything you wanted during meetings/appointments? I sure don’t! Similarly, I still have to write grocery lists if I want to remember almost everything I need! A few general questions we asked at this point were…
- What’s the typical build time?
- A: Most homes average 4 months from the start of construction; the size and detail of your home will certainly impact this time frame.
- What do you need from us to move forward with the build plan?
- A: Survey of land and lot descriptions (your consultant can help obtain this information), soil test results (required for building in the country where you need well and septic; the consultant can provide a contact for completing this step) and of course money (a $1000 nonrefundable deposit to be exact).
- What does the process look like from here?
- A: Once you commit to a house plan, you’ll meet with a design consultant to choose all of the exterior and interior details and once that is confirmed and documented you’ll work with a customer coordinator to schedule the pre construction meeting that your builder will also attend. These phases each deserve their own posts so more to come on each of them!
During the actual consultation appointment, your new home consultant will give you a good overview of everything and then bring up the house plans on a TV so everyone in the room can easily see.
*Before you jump into this, he/she will give you a quick tour through the design studio to explain how the options are categorized (numbered 1-4 with 4 being highest in cost). This is how you make decisions in the beginning for your house plan. You won’t choose the exact color and style of counter tops, siding, etc., but you’ll at least be able to say we’d choose from category 1, 2 and so on allowing the consultant to enter an estimated price.
Once you decide on one house plan he/she will walk through the following categories and have you select and/or confirm the details under each to come up with a solid estimate for your home. By the way, for your first run through I suggest just adding everything you want to see where you land and then re-evaluate during your second run to adjust your cost. It’s extremely easy to make changes at this point to find the happy medium you’re content signing off on.
- Room Designs – This will include your interior custom, add-on options (things like stone fireplace, media room addition, etc.)
- Ceilings & Staircases – This is actually specific to staircases 🙂
- Garages – Standard? 3-car garage? front facing? side facing? (keep in mind, side garages = more expensive driveway)
- Foundation & Framing – Informational only, 2×6 wall construction and such
- Exterior – Review what’s included, you’ll choose specific front door, siding, roofing and shutters later
- Interior – fun stuff! Kitchen (we upgraded to the grand layout, of course I want a grand kitchen), cabinets, counter tops, flooring, tubs, faucets, shower heads (pumped for rain showers!) and so much more! This is where you add cost by selecting category numbers
- Mechanical – More informational only, energy efficient speak with details on insulation and drywall, which is set to begin on our home next week!!
- Lot Conditions – This section focuses on lot prep and that will be different for every piece of land. Do you have trees that need taken down? What about a culvert along the road that needs dug and filled before driveway can go in? (yep, us!) This is also where you learn the true expense of gravel! Nearly everything in this section will be calculated based on their experience with similar scenarios. They were very close with the estimates for us!
- Utilities – We have a couple extra items in this section since we’re in the country and needed a well and septic system installed.
- Miscellaneous Prep Items – This section speaks to permits, surveys and additional allowances for things like pump trucks and house staking.
Once you get your first draft completed, have it printed and take that home to look over together, sleep on it and make notes about things you want to add, remove or modify. Before leaving, schedule a second appointment to go back and make updates, provide the required documentation I mentioned earlier and sign off to move on to the next phase. And don’t worry, you can make changes all the way up to the end of your pre construction meeting…with no penalty! If you make changes after that final meeting and especially once construction starts you’ll likely find yourself having to pay out of pocket for that.
Once you provide the required paperwork, put down your deposit and sign off on your house plan you’ll schedule your next appointment that’s with your design consultant who will walk you through your plan and help you pick out all the little details for each space! More on that in the next post 🙂
*Please remember when I talk about signing off at this point, it’s not final. It’s just signing off at this stage in the process and making a commitment to continue with Schumacher. The pre construction meeting is where you sign off on every single page of your home plan and blueprints confirming the details and final agreed upon price that will be sent to your lender.
Have a beautiful day!!