I’m happy to announce that we have FINALLY moved into our new house! It was a long and very difficult 5 1/2 months, and we are so thankful that it’s over. Everyone says that building a home tests your sanity, and I knew it would be difficult, but WOW that was hard. In Part 1 of my series, I focused on getting the process started. Part 2 covered the financial side of home buying. Today, I have a few tips and tricks to make home building, packing and moving a tiny bit easier on you.
- Do your research. Before you pay someone your life savings to build your house, do lots of research. We decided to move into a neighborhood in which we were required to use a particular builder. If I had known then… So, my advice is to ask around and find out things like: Does the builder communicate well? Will he keep you up to speed on timelines and changes? How responsive is he to questions and concerns? Remember that this person is responsible for building your home! Where you have to live! Don’t take this step lightly.
- Visit often. You will be more “in tune” with exactly what you want than the subcontractors working on your house. And we’re all human, so mistakes will inevitably happen. Some of them will be made by those building your home. Others will be things you realize you want changed once you see them built vs on the plan. Visiting often will ensure that you catch things quickly and when they are easier to fix or change.
- Hurry up and wait. This is one that really irks me, but realize that the timeline you were originally given will likely be extended, and prepare accordingly. There is an expectation while building that your home will take longer than planned. Some things, like weather delays, are beyond anyone’s control. Sometimes subcontractors don’t show up or other problems arise. Sometimes builders just underestimate. Regardless, prepare to stick it out in your current home for any delays that slow the closing of your new home. Personally, I think builder’s ought to just extend their timelines (under promise and over deliver), but I don’t see them taking my advice any time soon.
- Make selections early. The Houzz and Pinterest apps are officially your new BFFs. Do you know how many shades of grey paint Sherwin Williams has? Like a million (and they look totally different on the wall than those tiny little swatches…). Have you ever been handed a 400 page catalog of pendant lights and been told “Pick one.”? If you’re like me, you’ll over think every. tiny. little. choice. You’ll want to be prepared for when you get the last minute email saying, “I need your color/flooring/backsplash selections RIGHT NOW!”. Start picking things out right away so that you already know the answers when that email hits your inbox.
- Think beyond the obvious. We all know that we have to pick the things mentioned above, but don’t forget about the little things that end up meaning a lot once you’ve moved in. Walk through the house and imagine yourself living in it. Are the light switches on the correct side of the doors? Do their locations make sense? What about outlets? We made sure to add outlets on the island, in the pantry, and in the master closet. It may seem like an afterthought on the house plan, but those are the little things that will drive you crazy after you move in.
- Stay Organized. Pack things from the same room in the same box. Label it well. And while you’re at it, it never hurts to have good quality moving boxes (I’m kind of obsessed with the wardrobe boxes that have the clothing rod in them). You will be able to save them and use them several times. In fact, we labeled so well for our last move that I pretty much just put the same stuff in the boxes that were already marked! For artwork and pictures, I like to tape the hardware to the back so you have it ready when it’s time to rehang in your new house. For some reason I didn’t do that this time and it took us two weeks to find the bag of nails and hooks!
- Never refuse moving help. When we moved here from Arkansas, we hired a moving company to load all of the boxes into our Uhaul and another group to unload them when we arrived. This was probably the best decision I made through that entire move. There wasn’t an inch of space between the boxes, and not a single thing broke. And I didn’t have to lift a box! Moving with kids is hard enough. It becomes exponentially harder when you are trying to watch them while loading large pieces of furniture into a giant truck. If you can afford a full-service move, by all means do it! But, if your budget is limited, hiring movers to at least load the truck is a lifesaver. They will have the skills to pack your truck well which means fewer trips and items that remain in one piece. They can unload the truck for you, too. Or, bribe your strong friends with pizza and beer to get the truck unloaded.
- Prepare to spend more than you thought. When budgeting for your move, set aside a little extra. There will be lots of tiny expenses beyond the moving truck, boxes, and tape. When you’re worn out from moving and all of your pots and pans are in a box somewhere, cooking will probably not be at the top of your to-do list. You may be living on fast food for a day or two, and it adds up! You’ll also need to buy some little things to make your new place home. I always find that I need an extra trash can somewhere or another bath mat for my new bathroom configuration. We always end up making 15 trips to Lowe’s in the days following a move, and it’s important to budget accordingly.
It was a difficult journey, but it’s so nice to be in a house that was made just for my family and our needs. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s just my style! I’m sure I’ll find plenty of things I wish I had done differently (there have already been a few), but we feel so blessed to have our beautiful new home!