Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Building a House: Lessons Learned

A few things that I learned as we built our house.  (Editor’s note: these are not necessarily the views of my husband, my children, or anyone else associated with me.)

1. Don’t believe deadlines/time estimates.  They’re only occasionally accurate.

2. Set a realistic limit on how much work you will do yourself.  Then pay the money to let someone else do the rest faster (and hopefully better).

3. Be prepared to be a nuisance.  It’s the only way things get done.

4. Get estimates in writing…before anything gets started.

5. Get a finish-by date in writing.

6. Inspect all the work before you pay any subs.  Don’t assume that the job is completed just because they say it is.

7. Go over everything several times with every sub.  Just because they have it on their order doesn’t mean they’ll actually LOOK at the order.

8. If you choose to paint, don’t waste time washing out rollers.  Just buy a bunch and throw them away.  Or invest in a good paint sprayer.

9. Plan on the rules being changed several times during the process.

10. If you choose to do any work yourself, assume it will take you at least three times longer than what you think it should take.

11. Mark where all your lights, outlets and light switches are on the floor before the sheetrockers come.  They’re bound to bury a few.

12. Vacuum the floors and all the electrical boxes before you paint.  It’s a huge pain in the neck to pick up bits of insulation and garbage when you roll over a box or accidentally hit the floor.  Actually, cleaning up several times along the way is an awesome idea.

13. Make decisions on light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, countertops and flooring during the slow part of the process (like when the foundation is curing, or when the framing is happening).  Then you won’t have to put everything on hold while they’re being ordered (and you’ll have time to change your mind a few dozen times).

14. Check your local building code a few thousand times.  Make sure your subs are current on the code as well.

15. Expect to be forced into a few ridiculous things because of the building code.

16. Get plenty of dirt built up after backfilling the foundation.  Then get the raingutters up as quick as you can.

17. Get a good thermostat.  We are LOVING our Nest 2.0, even though it was pricey.

18. Take pictures along the way.  It’s fun to see the progress, and once the sheetrock goes up, you’ll have a rough (or better-than-rough) idea of where things are.

19. Get all the painting done before the carpet comes.  (That was our goal, but the carpet guys got to work about 3 days earlier than they were supposed to.  Makes for a big pain-in-the-neck when you need to finish the painting.)

20. Remember that, when all is said and done, you will absolutely LOVE your home and you will be so thankful to be there…even if there is so much work left to do!

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