Finished Home

7 Things to Remember on a New Home Build

We’ve been in our house for almost two years, can you believe it?? We’ve had a lot of good times in this home, I mean we brought our baby home here! Being quarantined here was an eye-opener though! We love the house, obviously, but being stuck here and researching a bunch of different things, we realized how much we didn’t know when we first built our house! I want you to be as prepared as you can be when building your first home, so here is a list of 7 tips for your new home build:

front home image

1. Expect to pay $5,000 – $40,000 above the base price

We had a budget, but we may have gone over just a tad because of this… Haha. The standard house plan the builder has typically checks off the boxes, but if you want to make it yours, it will cost you. There are upgrade fees for basically everything, from small things like upgrading your light fixtures to nicer ones to adding a third car garage. It’s nice because you are able to choose what you want your style to be, but you also need to remember the budget! 

2. Visualize! Or find a model home.

Guys, this is important! You can look at home plans all you want, but unless you are a super visual person who can look at a house plan and see it in your head, it is difficult to really see what it’s going to look like. We ended up walking through some homes that were being built with the same plan we chose since there was no model available and it helped A TON. We were able to see the flow of the home and make sure it worked for us. It also gave us ideas of what we wanted in our home, like more windows in the living room and guillotine windows throughout the house (the windows that slide up and down instead of left and right. Anyone else think they look like guillotines?)

One thing that we didn’t notice when we were building was the placement of the furnace. (Not that we had any reason to even THINK about this. Haha) Ours is upstairs and the vents and ducting run between the first and second floor. This is all fine, but when we tried to finish our basement, we couldn’t tap into that ducting for our basement. That meant that finishing our basement will cost us $5,000-$10,000 more than we planned. Guys, if we had known that from the beginning, we would have asked the builder to duct it differently and then rolled the cost into our home loan. Keep that in mind! I’ve also heard of some builders having a separate furnace and A/C for the second floor and then one for the first floor and basement, which is something I wished I had asked our builder about too.

3. Prioritize structural changes!

This one didn’t make that much sense to me for some reason at the beginning, but it’s a big one. This means that if there are things you want to do to the structure of the house, like adding a third car garage, or an extra window, or even moving some walls, always try to prioritize those changes because it’s near impossible to do some of those things later on. For example, if you don’t know whether to get 9 foot ceilings or white cabinets, choose the 9 foot ceilings! You can always upgrade your cabinets in the future, but you can’t really add some height to your ceiling. Side note on that, homes with higher ceilings tend to have higher re-sell value. Also homes that have a third car garage, so if you have the option, a need, and the budget, I highly recommend it! 

Speaking of structural changes, if your home has an unfinished basement, and you may want to finish the basement pretty quickly, you can ask the builder to do it for you. Some can and will, for an additional fee of course. If this is important for you, you need the space, and don’t want to deal with finishing it later, this is a good thing to keep in mind!

Some of the things we prioritized were 9 foot ceilings, extra windows, extra outlets in the bedrooms and bathrooms, side door in the garage, and white cabinets. I know I said that the white cabinets were something you could change, but thankfully, we had it in the budget.

We decided to hold off on upgrading the lighting fixtures, wood flooring in the living room, faucets, door handles knobs, and our front door (we have one, but we are going to replace it with one with windows to let in more light in the entryway).

4. Go to the design center OVER PREPARED

You hear this a lot, but I want to emphasize this so much more. Be OVER PREPARED. I’m talking about more than having a Pinterest board of pretty pictures that have the feel of what you are going for.

Get. Specific.

Come with a color you want for the outside of the home. Look at your future neighbor’s homes to get ideas, but obviously don’t copy them because you don’t want to end up with the same color house as your next door neighbor. (This actually happened to us!) Oh, and take pictures of your selections so you can remember and just in case it gets put into the computer incorrectly.

This is something we didn’t do very well, so we ended up with a bluish house we thought would be dark gray. It doesn’t look bad, but it was definitely not what we were going for. I will be making a list of all the things you choose at the design center so stay tuned!

5. Be picky.

It’s your home. You are paying a lot of money for it, so don’t feel like you need to settle. If the design center doesn’t have an upgrade you want, don’t upgrade! The options they offer you are not the only options available. If something doesn’t look right in the plans or in the building process, speak up! If you want to move a wall or change the layout of a room, tell them! The worst case scenario is they say is no. The best case scenario is they help you figure out how to make it happen. I had a hard time with this because I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. They were building my home so I felt like they were doing enough for me already.


I know now, obviously. But I don’t want anyone to ever feel that way! I specially wish I had spoken up about the arches that I thought were supposed to be round and the painting of the banister. I guess I will never know now. But you will because you will speak up and be picky!

6. Triple check everything

Once your home is being built, it’s always helpful to visit your homesite often. Unless you are building a custom, million dollar home, most of the builders you will work with have 10-20 other homes they are building at the same time. Some builders even subcontract out different parts of the build. If you can, I HIGHLY recommend that you make frequent visits to your house to make sure everything looks good.

Trust me on this.

If we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have the side door in our garage right now. Let me tell you something about this side-door – it’s an envy of some of our neighbors. Haha. It’s so nice to have! But we wouldn’t have it if we didn’t check on our house often.

Checking in on your house will also help you see things that you may have missed that you may want to add. Changes after your design center visits will incur a change fee, but if it is important to you, it may be worth it.

7. Order Essentials in Advance

Let’s just say, thank heavens for Josh! I definitely forgot about it for a minute. If it weren’t for him, we may not have had a fridge when we moved in!

Our home came with a microwave and dishwasher, but no fridge. Make sure you know what your builder provides and what you will need when moving in, especially if it’s something as essential as a fridge! Many stores will hold your order and allow you to schedule a delivery if you tell them you are building a house which is really helpful!

Here are some other things that you may need when moving in: (I may also make you guys a list of new home build essentials. Let me know if you are interested!)

– Shades or blinds. The builder will typically open up your home so you can get someone in to measure for shades or blinds. I would recommend not going with the measurements on the house plan, because they aren’t always exact. Ours were off by a couple of inches for each window. 

– Bathroom essentials for new bathrooms

– Internet – Our internet has become a big part of our lives! Don’t forget to look for providers in the area you are moving to and get it setup for when you move in!

– Utilities – Your builder will typically tell you how to get these moved to your name, but don’t forget to do this so you have power when you move in!

– Furniture – If it’s within your budget and you need some more or new furniture for your home, don’t forget to get that!

That’s if everyone! I hope that these tips for your new home build will help you have an enjoyable process. You are building a home! You deserve the savor every moment. If you have any other new build tips, let me know! I would love to gather more tips to share since we are planning to build another home in the next few years.


home outside view

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