Many people long to build their dream home. In the spring of 2008 my wife and I were able to take advantage of just such an opportunity. It was a thrilling prospect to know we would not only have a house of our own, but one that was designed to our specifications. In our excitement we planned to do as much work as we could ourselves but learned quickly there was more to building a home than pounding a few nails and slapping on some paint. Here are five things we learned along the way that might help you make your dream home a reality.
1. The Budget
A budget is a necessary evil with the understanding that it can shift as the project progresses. We kept track of all expenses so adjustments could be made along the way. One of the first things we had to learn was to estimate costs for materials. Knowing how much we needed and where to get the best deal helped increase space in our budget allowing room for nicer countertops or carpet.
2. Knowing When to Do It Yourself and When to Hire a Pro
Providing your own labor will do miracles when you want to stretch a dollar, but there are times when you are better off hiring a contractor. We learned this early in our project and it saved us a lot of hassle. By hiring someone to hang our Sheetrock we cut a project that would have taken us a month into a two-day job! It was money well spent.
3. Dealing With Inspectors
I had heard many a horror story about building inspectors and was not looking forward to dealing with them, but I had nothing to worry about. They were a fountain of knowledge and encouragement and willing to help. I highly recommend developing a good relationship with the local inspectors and don’t be afraid to ask questions!
4. The Kitchen Is the Heart and Soul
If you’re going to spend money on your dream home don’t cut corners in the kitchen. I was given this advice early on in the construction of my home and took it to heart. I was able to find great deals on all-wood cabinets, granite countertops, and Italian tile. The kitchen quickly became the centerpiece of our home – thereby dramatically improving its overall value.
5. Do It the Way You Want It
Everyone has an opinion. From your family and friends to the guy at the hardware store they will all try to tell you a better way to do things – sometimes they’re right, but most times they’re not. Don’t let anyone talk you into compromising what you want. We made this mistake and there are a number of things I wish I would have done the way I wanted in the first place. Dreams are about accomplishments, not regrets, so never compromise your dream!