Building A New Home: Follow From The Beginning

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  1. Hi all,

    I thought about starting a blog for this, but I'd rather have input and not feel too obligated to post every single day. However, I've done a lot of searching online and can't really find any US blogs that detail a new build from start to finish.

    Some background:

    We live in the DFW area where homes are VERY cheap. A friend bought a brand new home quite cheap and so we decided to check into it. And voila! Two weeks later we're under contract.

    We debated on a new build vs. existing and decided on new for a few reasons. The primary reason is that we're not big DIY kind of people. So I know that if we move in and there needs to be renovations that we won't get around to it right away. So a new build is perfect because we can sit tight for about 5 years before needing to make changes.

    Anyhow....we settled on a production build in a neighborhood that is just south of where we are renting right now. We went back and forth between several builders and this one offered the most for the money and there was no run around with the sales person. In fact, we got so frustrated with one builder that we elected to hire a real estate agent (who gave us a $500 credit because we had done all the searching ourselves lol).

    I am currently working toward tenure, so at a minimum we will be here for 5 years, but hopefully forever. We never plan on children so this is going to be it for us.

    So I'm hoping that you all will follow us through this process. I'll be posting pics along the way :smile:
  2. Step 1: Find a Home

    We decided to build with Lennar Homes. They are a nationwide builder, but don't have quite as negative a reputation as KB Homes and they were building in neighborhoods we liked. More importantly, they were in our price range!! In talking with our realtor, she said she has not heard negatives about them here in our area of TX. When I search online, however, I do see negatives....but a lot of it in FL and other states. So fingers crossed!

    Step 2: Pick a plan

    We elected to build a 1757 sq. ft. home (on some plans it comes in at 1801) that is a 3/2/2 with a formal dining room. We loved the floorplan and it's not too big for us (us = me, DH, BIL, dog, and a cat). It was essential to have a 3 bedroom since we have a lot of family who comes out and visits throughout the year (for weeks at a time). Right now guests stay on our couch bed!

    I am scanning the plans in a little bit and will post them. Keep in mind that we are comfortable, middle class folks. No big mansions or fancy stuff here!

    Step 3: Sign a contract 8/21/12

    On Tuesday we signed the contract. Oh lord, that took over 2 hours!! Thankfully, everything is done electronically nowadays (it's been 6 years since we bought our last existing home) so it was a lot of mouse clicking.

    We have a lot selected (pics later) and were forced to make a few preliminary decisions:

    1. We opted for crown moulding in the main areas of the home ($700 option).

    2. We installed a home automation system - which is basically a smart home option ($675).

    3. Our back patio door will be full length glass (the half glass option actually cost more). We did this because we have a dog and we need to be able to see him in the yard. Plus it will let in some light in the living room.

    4. We DID NOT upgrade the front door. Upgrades started at 1K and I figure this is something that is easy enough to do in the future, if we so desire. I fell in love with solid, brightly colored doors when I was in Dublin, so maybe I can paint it in the future!

    5. We opted out of the energy star upgrade. It was $1800 for higher grade insulation, but we couldn't justify the extra cost. As it is, we're getting pretty good materials anyways and when we talked with people in the neighborhood they said their bills were low.

    6. We had to pick out our cabinet colors and went with 'twilight' which is a VERY dark brown (almost black). It is a flat panel 36" cabinet. There were no options for 42" cabinets with this builder.

    7. We also picked out our brick color and the elevation of the house. That was the most nerve wracking....those things can't be easily changed in the future! I need to scan those in as well.

    We paid a $300 earnest deposit.

    8/22/12 - Received the accepted contract from the builder. It's all official now!

    Design center also called to schedule a visit, but they are over 1 hour away and only open during business hours.

    8/24/12 - Finally received word from the lender that we "more than qualify" and my student loans and our rental house are not going to give us problems. Now I can get excited!

    Also set an appointment for 8/30 to go to design center to pick out everything else. We have about $3000 in "free" upgrades to work with and we really want to keep to that. We figure that there are minor things that can be done ourselves, for cheaper (i.e., changing ll fixtures to brushed nickel - builder wants $1500 for this!).

    Pics to come a little later!
  3. Ok, don't hate me but did you review all the complaints about them before you signed the contract?
  4. Allison - I absolutely did...and all the production builders have complaints. I reviewed BBB as well (for this area). Some complaints related to financing and some to customer service on warranty issues. Some about the sale of homes to investors. Our neighborhood is a mix of builders and only has 20 lots left to build. There was a glut of foreclosure around 2009-2011, but according to people we talked to the rental homes have mostly been turned back into owner occupied.

    We plan on hiring an inspector to do a 2-3 phase inspection. Although our realtor said that isn't common, I feel more comfortable.

    Also trying to figure out what we need to be looking for when we do site visits. I have no freaking clue! So I've been doing some searching online about that and talking with people at work about what they did.
  5. Here is the pic of the lot. Right now we have neighbors on both sides (I believe they are both 2 story homes and we're building a single story), but no one behind us. We are one street off a busy 4-lane road...we had the option to back right up to the road and have a brick fence, but we didn't want the road noise. This way we are across the street and you do hear some road noise in the backyard, but it is really muted and you don't hear anything inside (the model home was just down the street).

    More scans and stuff later...

  6. Here is a scan of the floorplan. As you can see, it is a single story home. We liked this floor plan because it gave us a dining room, which we will turn into a study. Also, a requirement for us was that the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms be more than the standard 10x10.
    Due to the lot, everything will be flipped around because our garage will be on the left. Which is nice because the neighbor on the left has an angled front door.

    Note that the covered patio is NOT is standard in this neighborhood. We also chose NOT to get a fireplace.

  7. Last pic for now....this is a pic of the elevation that we chose. Oh my, this was the hardest choice to make, because it is permanent. Bad carpets? You can replace. Ugly house structure? Not so much!

    We had two choices of elevation (the others were so ugly I didn't consider them choices). I was originally leaning toward the one on the right. I liked the rounded entry and the faux shutters. DH really liked the one on the left. So we went with the one on the right, but then the salesman told us that the house caddy corner to us would be that we went with the one on the left.


    Above the garage are wood shingles and the color depends on the color of brick. So it won't be a really dark brown.

    Here are our bricks. They look a little darker IRL and have much more texture to them.

  8. 8/26/12:

    Heard from the builder today. They will be receiving the start notice on 9/10/12. This will give them the official start date, which they are anticipating will be late September.

    I'll update more with design center stuff later this week :smile:
  9. Not relevant at all, but your new hair is really cute, Twigs. :yes:
  10. What an interesting thread, I'm excited to follow the process! I've always been interested in building a home, but haven't seriously looked into it before because I had good luck finding one I liked, but may explore this option in the future.

    Were there a certain number of floorplans your contractor gave you to choose from? Did you have to pay for it as well?

    Hope everything goes smoothly for you guys!
  11. Thanks Aurify!

    Laurie - This was one of those big builders who own entire subdivisions. They have numerous floor plans to choose from...all with different square footage, 1 vs. 2 story, and different bedrooms. Since we don't have children we wanted to be around 1500-1700 sq. ft. For us, anything bigger is just too much to maintain. Also, I hate vacuuming stairs so a 2 story was out. I liked the flow of this house.

    So you basically just drive around to different subdivisions and pick one :smile: Once you know your floor plan then they have different elevations you pick (what the front of your house looks like).

    What you are referring to would be a custom home build, in which case you work with an architect to draw up blueprints and then shop around with builders. That wasn't something in our price range (I wish...because then I would have a turret in my house LOL).
  12. How exciting!
  13. Congrats!!

    We've built 4 times have had blueprints drawn up 6 - we love it!
    I'll try and follow along - feel free to ask questions!
  14. It sounds so exciting! I'm sometimes so jealous that in the US you can get big houses with pretty much the same money you would spend in a flat here in Italy.
    This is a thread I will follow for sure, congrats!
  15. How exciting!! Congrats!
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