Tuesday, February 11, 2014

5 Things Overheard While Building a Home

Building a house is really an adventure. It has it's perks. But we have to straighten out answer 1,000s of questions about building a home to friends, family, and strangers too. Some are building themselves, some aren't. There are plenty of misconceptions out there. We wanted to set the record straight on a few things!

1. “Our contractors told us it will cost this much. So it will only cost this much.”
HAH. Wrong. Only a few of our contractors ended up billing us for what they bid out. This was not always their fault. Prices went up on material, or we chose something different. We added things, we changed things, we knew that would change the cost to do the job.
Sometimes it was their fault and they screwed up, or purposefully underbid the job. It doesn’t matter. It costs what it costs and although you can try and negotiate, most of the time you will end up paying it. Prepare for overages. Our advice to friends who are building is to prepare for a 30% overage. You can keep a close eye on that budget all you want, but you will have some overages. That’s a fact.

2. “You pay nothing until you move into the house?”
Nope. Most of the time, you pay interest-only on your loan until you refinance it to permanent financing after the home is complete. Some banks are different. If you are smart, you will pay as much cash as you can up front, to avoid paying more interest to the bank. See more information on my construction loan FAQs.

3. “You will get to have the house of your dreams! You get to do whatever you want!”
Wrong. Obviously, if you have big bucks to spend, you might be able to make anything work. But my guess is most are on a budget like us. 
I really wanted a copper shower and copper tub, and a copper range hood. Then I floated down from the Pinterest clouds, came back to reality and realized I have a budget. Darn it!
You can move things around in your house plans of course, but you can’t remove load bearing walls. You put the staircase smack in the middle of a room just because you saw it on Pinterest. Your general contractor can work with you and tell you what your options are, but there are limits.

4.  “It’s too expensive to go green.”
Wrong again. We didn’t go “all green”, but we did decide to install geothermal in our home. The cost up front is much more, but with tax incentives and rebates, we ended up spending about $2,000 more than we would a regular HVAC system. And by the looks of our power bills…we will more than make that up in the next few years. Read this post to learn more about our geo-thermal experience

5. “It’s so expensive to build a house; you must make a lot of money!”
Super duper wrong. We do not. We do alright, but we are pretty average for our area & age for household income. If you save your pennies, watch your budget, and DIY a little you can build a home for oodles less than it would cost to buy a similar home. Yes, oodles less! I talk about sweat equity and why it saved our butts here.

P.S. I created a page at the top of our site with links to all of our Home Building/Construction Loan info since we get so many emails from others interested in the topic. But feel free to keep emailing me if something isn’t covered! I’m happy to help!


  1. AMEN! Great post... I laugh when we get the “You will get to have the house of your dreams! You get to do whatever you want!” Sure...yeah right :)

  2. I think my favorite (when "building your own home") is WOW! Since you're doing it yourself, it will only cost half as much!! Wrong! Hello...we may not be paying a general contractor, but we don't have our own excavator, we can't make and pour our own concrete, we can't make our own roof trusses, etc... Granted, we're doing all the finish work ourselves, but stuff costs what stuff costs! We've saved quite a bit on labor, but in the end, you ALWAYS get on the bump for something. And yes, it always costs more than you expect it to.



  3. Great responses! Especially # 1. We are in the process of remodeling our entire house and while we don't work with contractors the price of sheer material that we price always ends up costing way more money and time than we are hoping for!!! Agh!

  4. We're renovating our new-to-us home and I was nodding my head in agreement at some of these. House of our dreams? We're doing the best we can with what we can afford. It doesn't mean we don't love it but we're not building our dream house here! Good post!

  5. so glad you shared this and I was so on a Pinterest cloud during the rebuilding of our home too, lol :) Pinterest is both good and bad lol -- we compromised on my 'dream' vanity and got a simple one that with paint and a few changes will look like the dream one lol -- compromise and budget are so huge!

  6. interesting read! DH was just talking last night about how he thought it would be fun to have a house built from scratch....I told him I was pretty sure we aren't cut out for it :). Anyway--never moving again!

  7. hahahaha #1. True for EVERY major diy project we've ever done.

  8. It's really tough to build a house, as there are a lot of factors to consider. We definitely would like to have everything in our humble abode, and put our personal touch on it to make it our very own. And the only thing that's stopping anyone is their own personal limitation, be it financial or conflicting decisions. Though with replanning and a bit of compromise, we can wind up with something both ground-breaking and worthwhile.


  9. Yeah it's always really hard to price a job as a contractor. There are way too many factors to take everything into account when building a new home, especially when it comes to people.

  10. Hi
    That is so cute, I would of never thought of that. I am definitely making me one or maybe a few! Lol smart home

  11. I would like to have it as my concluding year plan i am an electronics and contact final year undergraduate can you please mail me the details ? visit here plz TV aerial Chingford

  12. Interesting read! I always like to see the opinions on green technology's more specifically modular homes and the energy efficiency that they can offer.

    Zarrilli Homes


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