Before Jamie and I flew to Alabama to house hunt back in January, we’d talked endlessly about our non-negotiables for the home that we’d buy (I blogged about that wild house-hunting trip here.) We were 90% sure that we wanted a new construction, so we saw that experience going one of three ways. We’d either find a completed new construction with a seller that would be willing to wait 2.5 months to close, we’d find a home actively under construction that we would “finish”, or we’d go through the entire building process from start to finish and live with my parents for roughly three months.
We didn’t find a completed new construction that we fell in love with, so that option eliminated itself.
Diving into the building process from start to finish was going to be near impossible with us living 800 miles away in Kansas and unable to fly back to work with designers, so that option was out as well.
We always hoped that the second option would work out, where we’d find a home under construction and we could pick out some of the features. We thought this aligned well with our timeline, so we ducked in and out of many, many, MANY houses around town that were under construction (we felt so creepy sneaking in and out of some of these houses, but it was a great way to see floor plans fast and figure out if it was worth looking into.)
Sure enough, we found our home that was about 70% completed (according to our realtor). Basically, the shell of the house was completed, but nothing had been added inside yet besides trim and crown molding.
We had no time to waste, so we went to the builder’s design center within minutes of stating that we wished to purchase this home. We had to quickly decide on the following things that hadn’t been ordered yet (t-minus 80ish days until estimated completion date): shower tile, bathroom tile, granite countertops, hardwood floors, kitchen backsplash, and wall colors.
Two notes about this:
1.) We had to do this in about an hour, and we never could have done this so quickly and confidently without the help of our realtor. I shared yesterday that she does design work for her business Hammer & Sales, so I trusted all of her suggestions since I already knew how much I loved her style. (But didn’t Jamie care and give input? You ask. Umm, no. Jamie was getting his three-car garage with space for his home gym, so he didn’t care not one single ounce about interior aesthetic details. Not one. single. bit. Not his arena. Bless him.)
2.) We had a budget for this home, so we let the lady at the design center know that we weren’t interested in any upgrades. Zero. I knew that whatever upgrades she showed us we’d want (because duh, they’re upgrades and awesome), so we didn’t even want to see them. I’m glad we stayed firm on this.
And that’s it! Our earnest money was a bit more than usual since we were now somewhat building this home and customizing it, but otherwise this process wasn’t a whole lot different from buying an existing property.
The walk-throughs were a bit more intense because we were given permission to take a fine-tooth comb to the house and find every single nick, scratch, or builder error. I had so many people on Instagram message me, encouraging us to stay strong and be bold about speaking up if things we’re right. Luckily, our house was pretty darn near perfect. Of course there were a few touch-ups here and there, but our experience with the builder and realtors was a really good one. We had a couple of times where we harmlessly miscommunicated about things and extra work was created on both ends, but we chalked it up to part of the learning experience and continued putting one foot in front of the other to reach closing day. Hiccups happen.
Having a good agent representing us and lucking out with a great agent representing the builders was a huge blessing and made things as easy and pleasant as they could be. A lot (!!!) of work was put in by all parties involved, but reaching closing day and coming home made it all worth it.
Buying and selling homes is a tremendous amount of work. Holy cow. I have a crazy amount of respect for good realtors and the 24/7 mentality they apply toward their jobs. I couldn’t do what they do, that’s for dang sure!
One thing I loved about our Kansas home was how personal and cozy it felt after all of the work we put into it. I was worried that we’d lose that feeling in a new construction that would surely be full of “boring”, builder-grade everything (I can say this with no judgment because we bought, lived in, and loved the starter home we bought like this seven years ago), but this home feels just the opposite of that. It feels customized, personal, and so so so much like a dream home. I kid you not, we really might live here for 20 years. We got it right with this house!
What was your building experience like?
If you’ve bought multiple homes, which home would you buy again if you had to? A new home or something pre-existing?