Building Our First Home
A homeowner! Wow, am I saying that? It’s even wilder that Caleb and I can say that we built our very first home together. We wrote our names in the frame and the rest is well.. the present. We are living in it happily and we never thought we would finally get to this point. We knew we wanted to buy a house, but had no clue we would end up buying one as quickly as we did, and even built one for that matter. In the late spring / early summer of 2018 we started looking for houses to potentially purchase sometime in the year of 2019, or start of winter. However, Caleb took notice that right next to our apartment complex was a little start-up community that was under Fischer Homes, and we decided to look into it.
I’m going to keep this article simple and sweet, so below you will find common questions I received in a Q&A style format. This is just what I have been up to the past few months.
When we looked into Fischer, there truly was something about the idea of building our first home, and being in the same town that we loved, that felt almost too perfect. It’s crazy, because we ended up signing and putting a down payment on our lot only a couple of weeks later, and that’s being generous. We only looked into one other home building community, we stopped looking at other already built houses, and we didn’t talk to anyone else in our life about this because we truly felt that this was right for us, and our opinion was the only thing that mattered at the time. We wanted to do this, and we did it. On June 8th to be exact.
While all building processes can be different, I have to say that overall my experience was positive. We really had no clue what the experience would be going into it, not only because we never built a home before, but it’s also not the most common thing to do, especially for a first time home buyer.
To get started, it differs, but the only thing I can tell you is to understand where you are in your life, your finances and why you are choosing to build rather than purchase an already standing home. For us, we knew what we wanted, and for a couple who is really picky with most things in life, we wanted to be able to make our home 100% authentically ours, and to be able to see nothing grow into something, was magical.
Q & A
Was it expensive?- It doesn’t have to be. You go in with a budget, you run your numbers within your finances and you understand first what you can spend, and stick to that. However when you build a home, you have to purchase the land/lot, and that was our down payment to even start the process. Not sure how other building companies do it, but that seems typical.
What was the biggest bump in the road? - We had no stalls, but there were instances where things seemed to be done sub-par, but we addressed the issue with our head builder, and he made sure it was addressed immediately until we were satisfied and it was up to standards. Nothing is ever smooth, so remember that and get everything in writing. In all, we love how our home ended. Keep your big girl pants on, and make sure you are running it in the end. Check everything.
You got to choose everything you wanted? - For the most part. If you go in with a budget of “x”, you’ll want to purchase a home model that is at least $15,00 less than what your max budget is so you can make real design changes. That’s what I recommend, but it’s very easy to go over that amount. You are going to spend a lot just in lighting, electricity and cabinet choices.
Did you go over budget? - No. Of course we wanted to spend as less as possible all while getting what we wanted, but we budgeted a set amount, but also secretly went into it knowing that if something came up that we absolutely needed to have, we honored that extra spend and made it happen for us to be happy in the end. Overall, this is an investment for future sell one day.
Best part of the process? - Designing, duh! Once you purchase your land/lot and you pick the model home, you go to what is called a “design studio” and that is where you get to choose paint colors, cabinet colors and styles, height of cabinets, faucets and hardware, flooring, lighting, outlets, electricity, backyard.. etc! This is where your personality shines. However, no amount of Pinterest planning could have helped me. I still went in confused on what I wanted, but let soul lead us the way.
Were you already saving up before you built? - No. Honestly we manifested this to the fullest degree. We had no idea we would build, or even purchase a home as quickly as we did. Luckily we are already very savvy with our finances (thanks mom), but we just waited for a good paycheck and a couple of weeks later took a leap of faith and boom, here we are. Just flow, that’s how I live my life.
Best part of being a first time homeowner? - Just doing whatever the heck I want! I can create, build, tear down, and be whoever I want to be and be as loud (with reason) as I want. We kept our design process pretty low key so we could really take our ideas full throttle and make it unique. The design studio can feel “cookie cutter” at times, and I am not a cookie cutter person. Just give me the finest basics you have, and I'll take care of the rest with my annual trips to Home Depot and my online shopping habit.
Where did you spend most of your money? - Most of our money within the design process went into lighting, electrical and making investments into our kitchen + bathrooms, as that’s where resale value is held. We invested into future musings.
Is this your forever home? - Not sure. We don’t think so at all, and people in our life think we are crazy! We don’t see ourselves settling for too long. We believe this is where our family will start and where we will have our foundation, but we would love to build another home. This is our first home, not our dream home and we say that with love. We know we are still young, but the sky’s the limit, and we will continue to grow in our career and family.
Any regrets? - Aw, I don’t like that word. Would I do things differently? Yeah I would. For starters, I would have reserved my design budget, and put more money into the base style of the home. We wish we had a little bit more home style exterior wise, but we still think our house is the cutest! Otherwise we wouldn’t have chosen our model. In terms of inside, I would have done hardwood throughout instead of just the first floor. We did carpet upstairs and we already plan on tearing it up! Other than that, no, we love our brand new home. We respect it because we created it.
How many bedrooms & bathrooms did you go with? - We did a total of 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths and a 1/2 bath. We of course needed our master bedroom and bathroom, but we additionally wanted a room to eventually have a child for, and additionally have a space where each of us got our own little cave to escape to. Our sanity was worth the splurge on bedrooms, especially for me who needs office space. Also, resell is better when you have more rooms, instead of a loft space for instance.
Do you recommend building over buying? - Since this was our first home, we have never purchased an already built home, so hard to say. However, we already know that we want to build again someday in the future, so I would honestly say I recommend it. However, we have also talked about doing a complete gut job by flipping a house someday, and I guess you could say that’s a similar concept. We love originality, so anyway we could stick to that, we will do so.
Final pieces of advice? - If you are wanting a basement, make sure you are factoring in your budget at least $15,000-20,000 to be eaten up in the design process. We chose no basement for that reason. Additionally, give yourself extra time of internal planning before going to the design studio. We purchased the lot then went to the design studio a week later, I would have loved another week lol! Additionally, keep in mind building timeframe and your move in date. We purchased in June, and moved in a week before Christmas. It was added stress, but keep that in mind. We also have to wait on getting sod and trees until the Spring because it was too cold to complete that project in the middle of December. If that doesn’t bother you, don’t worry about it. Lastly, know what you can afford. Don’t be home broke, and be smart with your finances, that’s a must. Write it out, talk it out, and be proactive.