If you read my article reflecting on the highs and lows of building your own home last month, you would have seen a humorous look into my past 11 months. You would have also read that I lost my laptop and my (hopefully!) more helpful article on tips for building your own home.
Ladies and gentleman: I have found my laptop.
Nothing short of a miracle, I now realise, because considering I was a heavily pregnant human at the time, I thought that I had packed perfectly. Turns out, perfect packing means packing your laptop into the gift wrapping box. Of course. Also, it took us a week to find our bowls because they were in a box marked ‘cups’. *shrugs* This was my logic, 11 months ago.
So, without further delay…
Growing up, I had a short list of things in my head that I would never do or be a part of. Not the dramatic things, like shave my head or join a cult, but regular life things that I didn’t care for. Some of the items were as follows:
- I never want to be self-employed.
- I don’t need to move back to my parents’ house after I leave home.
- I never want to be a first-time mother in a chaotic time of my life.
- I never want to build my own home.
In 2016, my husband and I took part in all of these things.
It’s been a crazy year.
Building a home was always daunting to me, because it was expensive. It was risky. It was time-consuming. It was a lot of choice; colours, renders, doors, taps, handles, floors, blah blah blah…
What we have found in the process is the complete opposite. Not everybody has a great experience, but I’d like to share mine because we had a really amazing one! For context, we were pregnant with our first baby, we packed up our house, moved in with our parents, had a baby, demolished the empty house, built a new one – and we are aliiiiiiive, back home, with zero regrets! So here are some things, both good and bad, we learnt along the way, especially of those of you who are dubious and considering building your own home!
SO WHAT’S GREAT?
Getting recommendations We went with a company called Celebration Homes (I’d like to say that this post is sponsored but, sadly, it’s all me) and we ended up choosing them because a decent number of trustworthy people recommended them to us. They had good reviews online, a clean website that was easy to use, and we liked the houses they built. Nothing fancy, but not impractical. Choosing a company you think you might be able to trust makes all of the difference to the process of building your own home – and those companies do exist!
Choosing a good sales rep We definitely crushed it on our sales rep. She was the best thing we could have asked for. Gave us great prices, had an unexpected background in the demolishing industry (which we desperately needed and knew nothing about), wasn’t cliche, or pushy, or cheesy. She was the reason we actually decided to jump and go ahead with the whole process.
Knowing what you want My husband Andrew and I had written a list of what we wanted – our dreams, functions, purpose and intentions for the house. I encourage you to do the same, because it’s important to dream, even unrealistically like a crazy person! We planned out room sizes (kids’ rooms, big enough to be comfortable as teenagers if needed), as well as room positioning (every room positioned to create an atmosphere of family togetherness, while still having more secluded areas for independence). What do you want for your house? What do you see for your home, what do you want your house to function as for the next 5, 10, 20 years?
Not getting sucked in …because then we walked into some big ticket display homes and were like, “Well, OBVIOUSLY we need a sunken second living room with fireplace and built-in couches!” Looking at our goals and our vision meant we could dream but then think logically about $$$ and say, “…we’ll leave that for our next house.” *wink*
Getting what you want Although there’s the chance that once the house is built you’ll still say, “oh dammit, why didn’t we [insert mistake here]?!”, we basically are building exactly what we want. We were able to keep our beautiful block of land, a decent backyard for entertaining and for kids to kick a footy around, and then we also got to pick out a house which was exactly what we needed for our family and our lifestyle. Building your own home restarts your life from scratch and makes your house functional to what you want!
Starting fresh We threw away so much when we moved out (it was so therapeutic), which neither of us did when we left our family homes the first time. Also, when you put your belongings in storage for 11 months, you start to get picky about what you bring back out again. The bins got full preeeetty quick.
Living out of home We had the incredibly ridiculous blessing of parents that took us in for the time we were out of home. And all of our things. And I was pregnant. Then I gave birth to a little baby. So then there was a baby too. And all of his things. Not everybody gets this chance, and we know we are so very, very lucky. Also, it’s truly grown our relationship with our parents and siblings. And in the process, nobody killed each other! That’s always the deal breaker.
Watching it all happen It was the slowest process waiting for that first step of the slab to go down, but geeeeeez it’s been fun! Watching a house grow from a pile of dirt, there is so much more involved than I ever imagined! The best part is the last stage, where errybody just wants the flippin’ house to be finished (you AND the company!) so they bring in all of the contractors like dominoes. Our driveway and backyard was paved in seven hours, not three days like they had accommodated for. They get keen. And it gets fun to watch. It starts to get real in a matter of weeks.
WHAT TO BE AWARE OF
Assuming every building company are out to rip you off Because you always hear the stories, and those companies do exist. It’s hard not to think you’re just another sucker for the industry. This is why a recommended company and a good sales rep is vital. Do your research, it will be worth it.
Waiting Waiting sucks. #characterbuilding
The chase up As is always the case, we had to do a bit of chasing to get the ball rolling. We are sure it was always their intention, but the lack of communication wrecked me for a little while there. At the beginning, you feel like you’ll never move in – you dread that you’ll be that guy that has to wait two years to move in. (And it happens on the odd occasion – Tahlia, my heart breaks for how long that took.) So when the communication breaks down and the deadlines aren’t met as they’ve been communicated: take a deep breath and take every day as it comes. Encourage and request them to communicate better, to have integrity and, in our case, it helped encourage them. Even if it was, “We don’t know but we’ll let you know when we do.” Admitting they are not sure is more reassuring than silence.
Doing too many life-changing things the same time Like, if you were pregnant, and starting up your own graphic design business, so cutting not only down to one wage but mainly a self-employment wage, turning 30 years old, maybe don’t consider- WHO AM I KIDDING?! JUST DO IT! We did and look! We’re alive and pretty happy about life!!! Jump in!!! But be ready for it to be a crazy, busy, ridiculous, challenging, hilarious whirlwind. Take everything a day at a time.
Being around people all of the time I was used to just living with my husband and, for a short while, my pregnant belly. Independence and privacy were our most valued items. Then we were thrust into a world of living with family and all of the co-ordination and vulnerability that went with it. It could have been messy – and at times, it was – but there was so much support and grace for our season. The hardest thing was adjusting to having a baby and the emotional rollercoaster that went with it, then people witnessing the rollercoaster where, in most cases, they wouldn’t have to. We got through it, but there were days… Just be ready to work things through. It’s a beautiful process.
Things cost money *eye roll* This seems obvious, but we were so not out of pocket in the beginning… Demolishing, plans, builders fees, contracts… Everything just gets lumped onto the ever-increasing mortgage. It’s daunting, but not in your face, which is refreshing. Then when you move in, you remember throwing away half of your house in a relentless tirade (I think pregnancy made me extra ruthless because the more I threw away, the less I had to pack). And then….
Like, regular life things cost money?! Like blinds! Blinds are so expensive! And air-conditioning! Like, five digit dollars just to make sure you don’t cook in your home like a sauna in the summertime?! And what about things we didn’t consider, like landscaping – our house has been dug into the ground a little bit, so now we need retaining walls like nobody’s business! Stuff is not cheap, people. I have no advice here. Just list what you need in order of priorities (for us, ours goes Security, then Comfort, then Looks) and save like you’ve never saved before.
Then, when it comes time, follow your dream list. It may be tempting to buy that super cute West Elm buffet before you have security screens on your doors *guilty eyes* but hold out! Do what needs to be done first because it’s hard to go back to the boring things once the fun things start.
Did I mention money? Yet, on our one wage and with our incredible mortgage broker Wayne at Habitat Finance who we have been with for over seven years (again, not sponsored, but seriously just so, so happy with their service), plus with the help of a guarantor option, we did it.
It is possible, it is hard and we are so happy.
There are so, so many more ups and downs that we haven’t even experienced before, but these were just our top, most outstanding ones. Hopefully they give you a bit more insight into the world of building.
Have you built or are you thinking about building? Comment below with how it went (or is going) for you!