I wish I had known______ (for those who survived/are amid a new build)

last month
last modified: last month

What do you wish you knew at the beginning of your new build? Any regrets or things you'd have done differently?

I'm only 25% into my build, but here are mine so far (no need to tell me how naive I was. I get it! I'll know better next time):

  • Spec out EVERY detail before getting construction bids. When my architect said "here are your plans for permitting," I thought we were good to go. But SO many details were left to be determined -- all the elevations, cabinetry, closets, lighting, hardware, the list goes on. The project was bid based on the architect's plans, but now with all the details added, there are significant budget overages.
  • I also didn't know how selecting certain items along the way would require us to go back to the drawing board. Most recent example: the plans specified a gas fireplace, so they didn't show chimneys. But I discovered that most gas fireplaces need a glass front and have to be elevated off the floor (not in keeping with the style of the home), so we switched to wood-burning (more $), which also required adding chimneys, and now we have to redo some of the framing and possibly roofing. Again, spec out every detail.
  • Even something that seems like a tiny detail can really change the numbers. Example: I didn't realize there are different kinds of insulation, and I wanted a particular room to be soundproofed (to be used for media watching), which requires a different process.
  • When you provide inspiration photos to your builder and contractors, look at EVERY detail. How are the windows detailed? Do you want both the sill and lintel detailed or just one?
  • Have a 10% contingency just for ordinary overages. Then even more for change orders.
  • If you are financing custom construction through a bank, you may have trouble with the appraisal. Assuming you take the above advice and spec everything out with realistic numbers, your build budget may very well exceed what the house will appraise for. Be prepared to cut back on selections or make up the difference out of pocket. At least that was my experience.

I don't have major regrets at this point, but wow, I really will do it differently next time around...if I survive this one. :)

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