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Building a Home From Scratch

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homebuildI write this article with a twinge of pain felt from still open wounds.

I have spent the last 14 months designing and custom building our new home. I can tell you with complete certainty – the stress involved in making 24-hour decisions about your new home and maintaining your existing home as well as raising your family, (and oh yes in my case also doing this for a living) even with a strong emphasis on planning – Building-From-Scratch is not for the faint of heart!

I would never wish to discourage anyone from this venture as I am sure, similar to childbirth, this will all soon be forgotten (or almost). However I felt the need to share this from a fresh perspective.

For anyone considering such a venture in the near future–check, check and recheck the insurmountable list of needs vs. wants. Revisit your budget and clearly define who is responsible for what. A decision-maker should be named who will take control of the communication for the project (or in some cases lack thereof). Convince someone to volunteer taking the reins on the finance side of things to ensure the train is kept on track. Review what is taking place and when (set a preliminary schedule). Last but not least you must have contact lists of all the sub providers so that you will be able to access and communicate with them if unable to reach the general. Oh, you ARE the general?  Well then all the more reason to read on…

How do you prefer to communicate? E-mail, conference call, fax? Whatever your poison, ensure everyone else is on the same page. If phone calls are your “thing”, then I advise that you have a written recap and sign off system in place so when the derailing begins you’ll hopefully know beforehand. I hate to say it, as I am the eternal optimist, but it WILL happen on one level or another. So much transpires via the world of interpretation – “Oh I’m sorry, I thought you meant…” Anytime you can head off a problem with a written document, drawing, change order or better yet, a site review with a visual and auditory explanation, the better!  Two words OVER COMMUNICATE!

Share everything no matter how unimportant you interpret it to be. Share, collaborate, cry and laugh. Find your inner strength. Recognize perfection is not an option here. Plan to be disappointed at times, elated at others. Building from the ground up is a journey. I have learned so many valuable lessons. Embrace the positives! Remember that when one door closes another opens. What doesn’t kill you really will make you stronger!

Insert deep breath here. First hand experience offers no better benefit! You’ll breathe a sigh of relief if you do. Best of Luck!

by Jennifer Brouwer, Decor By Jennifer Inc.  For more information and tips relating to building or renovating, please check our website www.decorbyjennifer.com.

  1. CTowing
    February 20th, 2009 at 14:34 | #1

    I’ve always wanted to build a custom home but I’m afraid of going over budget and not being able to complete it. I guess planning for the worse might be my approach. Thanks for the article.

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