I knew that building a house was never on my bucket list, but “life is what happens when you make other plans.” I feel like I could write a book on what I’ve learned in the last ten months but instead I’ll write a blog post (or series of posts) about it.
For the sake of this post, I’ll start with we own the land, and it is already cleared…just to make describing the actual building process easier.
Step 1: Select a builder.
I left the research of options up to Chris. Last fall, I was in no frame of mind to deal with this. We divided the lengthy post-fire to do list and he drew this straw.
We selected David Weekley Homes. They are what I’ll call an all-in-one builder. They have an in-house design center so you do architect, design, and interior selections in a one-stop shop. This seemed the only way to go to me. Chris and I had been working on remodeling our two bathrooms for 15 months prior to the fire and were yet to commence work. There was no way I was going to deal with shuffling from sink stores to tile stores to carpet stores, etc.
Step 2: Selecting a Floor Plan.
Because we selected a one-stop shop with the bonus of being experienced in what we call down here “build on your lot,” we had their archives of floor plans to select from, modify, or start from scratch. We gave them the basic parameters of what we were looking for (square footage, number of stories, basic layout, number of rooms) and they pulled plans they thought we’d like. From here we selected the template that we wanted to work from.
But before you get going too far, it is critical at this stage to know what your home owners association rules are (build lines, max square footage, etc.) so that you don’t get your heart set on something you can’t have.
Step 3: Modify, modify, modify.
Working within your HOA framework and the template you’ve selected you can then make structural changes – move walls, add walls, etc. Because we have a corner lot we were able to move the garage from the front of the house to the side, which allowed us to add a second bedroom on the first floor, which was a feature I loved in the old house. It is great for the nursery and also a huge selling feature as it can double as a MIL suite or a place for someone recovering from an illness to convalesce without stairs! We designed this room with its own bath, including a roll in shower. We also moved the south and west walls of the house to make the dining room (and 2nd floor bedrooms) larger.
You also get to select the exterior features of the house (brick, stone, siding, etc). as well as door and window style, etc.
Once all the changes are done, off the plans go to the architect for rendering and to the HOA and City/County for approval.
Step 4: The Design Center
While all the bricks and sticks were in the finalization process, we headed off to the design center to pick e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g! And I do mean everything. Here are the headings from our transaction summary: appliances, bath glass, cabinets, countertops, doors, electrical (where your outlets go and how many you have), flooring, hardware, lighting, paint, plumbing (faucets, sinks, toilets, and tubs), audio/video wiring drops, trim (crown molding and staircase style), wall tiles, and windows. You also get to select the actual bricks and paint colors, and roof shingles. It is a dizzying process that is scheduled in two three-hour increments. We took 3 almost four-hour increments and have had literally dozens of emails and phone calls for follow-up and corrections.
Did I mention that all of this work took place before we had even broken ground…basically from January through May (and the refining and correcting is ongoing). Up next…Let the work commence!