Anyone ever built a house? What was the most stressful?

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by fivesue, Jun 1, 2007.

  1. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    Hi there.

    This board has some many people with so much experience in life...

    We are starting a new house in late summer/early fall.

    I have heard that building a house is very stressful, and I was wondering if anyone has had this experience?

    What were things that made you crazy, if you know what I mean? What should I look out for to help the process go well and keep my sanity and my marriage together! (-:


  2. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    Oh boy, you got me started.

    I've designed and supervised the construction of many houses, Sue, for my family and for other people. I've enjoyed every minute of it but you asked for advice so here it is.

    1. Preparation is more than half the battle. Know what you want before you begin so you won't have costly changes mid-job especially, heaven forbid, tearing out of finished work!

    2. Be realistic about costs and stick with your budget but....

    3. Expect an overrun of up to 30%. It happens. If you're at all concerned about costs, find out if there are some things you can do yourselves. (I recommend having done as much as you can.)

    4. Have areas of responsibility if there's any question at all that you might not agree. Maybe hubby's in charge of the mechanics of the house and the yard. You decide about the kitchen and baths. And decorating. That kind of thing. Keep an open mind but both agree on what you want to end up with.

    5. Keep house issues separate. There are a lot of little decisions to be made when building a house and they all seem to come at the same time. (They really don't but they seem to.) Tempers can flare under pressure so don't be bringing up other issues with the house issues. The house issues are enough by themselves.

    6. When your builder says it's time to select...say, plumbing fixtures, SELECT PLUMBING FIXTURES. Don't wait until the last minute when stock could be low or you won't get what you want. Work with your builder's schedule.

    6. Last but far from least: leave plenty of time for completion and then add three months. People too often have unrealistic expectations of when they'll be in their new home. Then they pressure the builder who is often controlled by sub-contractor schedules and material delays and tempers flare. Stay loose. Remember, it's really only a house.

    I hope this gives you some ideas. With the right attitude, building can be a wonderful experience. I hope it is for you.

  3. ckball

    ckball New Member

    Marta has given you excellent advice. You will be amazed about how many desicions need to be made.

    I haven't built a new house but have remodeled my share. I created a spread sheet for my expenses and a way of tracking the progress.

    Contrators- make sure you get one that is highly respected and qualified. You are better off paying a little more to get quailty work. Nowdays you can not be to careful. So many people take your money and are never to be seen again. Also check out their subs.

    I would start looking at magazines or on line to get an idea of cabinets, countertops, door knobs for doors and cabinets, closets. Think about light plate switchs and outlet covers, lighting, ceiling fans, furniture arrangments for placement of outlets, cable/internet access. It is cheaper to put all that in at the construction time than decided later.

    Make frequent unannoucned visits to the job site, it keeps them on there toes is they never know when you will show up.

    As Marta said, decide how much you want to do yourself up front. The money you save could be used to upgrade your counters, floors or appliances.

    Shop around and price compare, check to see if there are wholesale shops for supplies like floors and plumbing. Faucets are not cheap. So don't get sticker shock when the one you just love is $300.

    Just be paitent, I have yet to see a job "on time". I use to be a property manager in large commerical business buildings. I was in charge of re-do's A lawyer moves out a Dr moves in, we would redesin the space so I have extensive knowledge of contractors. It can drive you mad with every little decision you have to make, but good planning before the ground is broke will help you and your hubby. It can be a very gratifing experience if you have good workers, so check references for everyone that walks on your property. Have we scared you off?? I hope not, I hope you get your house in a decent time frame and not more than 20% above you original budget. Carla
  4. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    Thank you two very much. Some of the info I had considered, but some is very illumative. Keeping the house issue separate from other issues is very important. I will share this with my husband.

    I am looking forward to this but know it will be a long haul. I am concerned about the money but not panicked. But, I think that we need to make a list and tell the contractor very soon what we plan to do the deck, etc. Having it in writing will help keep everyone on the same page.

    You two have encouraged me greatly. Thank you for your advice.


  5. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    And Sue, even though you'd like it now, things like a deck can always be added later.

    Yup, a list is a very good thing.

    Have fun!

  6. Sandyz

    Sandyz New Member

    Yes, we built a new home too. For me the most stressful things were picking out everything and things not getting done on time. Start now with going to the carpet store and all that so you`ll have a good idea of what you want. If you can, look at some new homes to give you some ideas. The most important advice I would say is just go with the flow of the project and enjoy it. Yes, it is stressful but it should be a very happy and enjoyable experience for you and your family too. Also, take lots of pictures!
  7. joyfully

    joyfully New Member

    Contractor. Go out and see his work. Knock on doors where he was the general contractor for the present owners. Ask questions.

    Run from anyone who "wants to save you $" by circumventing the inspectors and permits.

    Have completion date in contract. Have penalty clause for additional time required to complete task.

    Keep a percentage of $ in escrow account at closing for assurance he will come back and do the punch list after you buy the house.

    It is the kiss of death if you hear a workman state, "that should work, call me if you have any problems with it".

    Pick out paint color, carpeting, tile, grout color, wall paper, exterior house color, brick, etc. WAY EARLY in the process. You never know when something is going to get back-ordered.

    It is important to be friendly to the workers, but don't become "friends" with them. There is a huge difference.

    Communicate in writing to your builder. The paper trail is your best defense. You can tell him in person after you have sent the email, but you want a clearly defined paper trail.

    Little changes cost lots of $. Try making a mock up of the blueprint out of index file folders. It will help you determine whether the house's interior floor plan will work for you.

    Find out if you have to purchase your lighting from one specific lighting dealer.

    Also, find out about wall to wall carpet suppliers. Have them give you a list.

    Check out the contractor's credentials. Too many ya-hoos get a hammer, a screwdriver , and an old truck. Then they consider themselves to be carpenters.

    Ask questions before signing a contract. Leave no blank boxes for them to fill in later. Check out references. Check on the house weekly. The sooner you catch the mistake, the cheaper it is to fix (as a general rule of thumb).

    Yes, building a home is stressful. You will get to the point that you don't want them asking about one more decision. You just get pooped.
  8. Mini4Me

    Mini4Me New Member

    The worst part for me was dealing with the contractors and delivery guys. Hubby was away at work much of the time, so I had to deal with a lot of the stuff on my own, and many of the contractors wanted to speak with "the man of the house", as if the "lady of the house" were a complete nit-wit!!! But then, this is Idaho, a bit backward and old fashioned.

    I got so mad at one guy that wouldn't take my signature (wanted hubby's), I nearly threw a brick at him!

    We've only built one house, and we're still in it. We love it, it was worth all the stress!!

    Best of luck,
  9. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    Thank each of you for your imput.

    Getting things in writing and setting time frames seems so logical yet so hard at times. My husband and I are friendly people, and if we don't do it in writing, we will be walked over. That makes me ill just to think of it.

    So, as I want this to be a fun time, these words of wisdom should help. I want my DH to see the list.

    (-: You are the greatest. You have always helped me whenever things come up. Hopefully others see this and take this "hard-earned" knowlege to heart.

    Wishes for a great day!

  10. joyfully

    joyfully New Member

    If you are building in a state with "lax" construction laws, I'd definitely hire an independent building inspector. I think my inspector came 3 times during construction. Framing was the first inspection. I think the second inspection was right before sheetrock went up. Third inspection was at end of construction.

    When I say an independent building inspector, I mean a credentialed inspector---not Joe down the street who does some construction on the weekends.

    Never use relatives for any portion of the construction unless you have a very unique relationship with them. It usually costs you more to use a relative because they are always collecting "favors" from you afterwards.

    Plan on it taking longer than you expect.

    REALLY check your blueprints and make all corrections prior to construction. Any "changes" require a "change order" and the builder usually thinks in terms of thousands $.

    Check to ensure your lot is not in the 100 or 500 year flood plain. Those maps are not always current. The more construction in an area, the more permeable ground has been covered with sidewalks, streets, houses. This cumulative effect will affect the elevation of the flood plain.

    Contractors aren't interested in small talk. They want to know the color and number of your paint, etc. They could care less how you took the fabric to 4 stores to get it matched. (not implying that you would).

    When you do communicate, if it is anything important, do it in writing. make sure it is dated. Keep a copy for yourself.

    Check the grading around your house. Make sure you have at least 1/4 inch per foot of slope away from all 4 sides of the house.

    Perimeter drain around footing. The people who grade the property around house near end of construction have a propensity to lift up the end of the drain line where it comes out of the ground. This makes drainage water sit in the pipe. make sure this elevation slope remains established. You want the ends of that pipe to be lower than the buried portion of the drainage pipe.

    [This Message was Edited on 06/06/2007]
  11. jaltair

    jaltair New Member

    You have excellent advice already, so I just want to make a few points from my experience:

    Take QUALITY over QUANTITY, especially underlying quality. A house solidly built with good construction and custom cabinets / closets and other nice things that may not be necessarily visibly seen should take priority over things that may be added to make the interior look better later on down the road when money may be more readily available.

    I'm so glad I opted for the convenience of a service porch rather than an extra 10 square feet on the end of our home, etc. ... or that I opted for the slide-out cupboard drawers and carousel in the corners rather than the marble countertop. (Counter top can come later.)

    Put your money into the things that will make life easier and living nice rather than in to a lot of glamour or glitz I guess is what I'm saying.
  12. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    You guys have been so helpful. Tonight I want to talk this all over with DH as we are going to MT. Shasta this weekend to meet with the contractor and the designer/architect.

    There is a wealth of experience on this board. I have alrealy learned a lot in this process by making mistakes, but thankfully, the mistakes have not cost money, so far. Just lost time, and really, this is the best as we really weren't ready to begin until now.

    So, again, thank you. And yes, quality vs quantity is our motto.

  13. joyfully

    joyfully New Member

    Make sure your contractor pays his subs.

    Also, make sure your contractor carries insurance incase someone is hurt on the property during construction. Do you already own the land, or will you be purchasing the land with the house at closing?

    If you already own the land, check into an insurance policy to protect yourselves against an injury lawsuit.

    We had a roofer fall off of the second story roof during one of our houses being constructed.
  14. JLH

    JLH New Member

    We never built a house, but we added on four rooms, porches, etc. to our existing home.

    We also did a complete remodel of the other rooms at the same time. Stuff like a new room, all new windows, new ceilings, paint, new flooring, new heating and a/c unit after removing a floor furnace, complete new kitchen, etc.

    Living in the same house during the remodel and new construction was a nightmare and I would never do it again. The dust, the dirt, the huge mess .... unbelieveable.

    The most stressful--other than the mess--was picking out everything that I wanted! I couldn't decide on the flooring, the cabints, the fixtures, lighting, etc.

    We have purchased my in-laws farm and farmhouse and will be moving when they die (hate to put it that way!). My husband wants "the home place". It hasn't been remodeled since 1960! It's going to be like building a new home when we get in it. Ugh! We are going to have to gut all rooms and do a complete remodel from head to toe. I am going to hate it! It also needs an additional bathroom added on to it and the kitchen enlarged someway. It needs a lot of work done to the outside buildings, too. It's going to cost a fortune and will be all of this stress again on picking out stuff and decorating. Ugh! I'm not able to do this again! At least last time I was in much better health.
  15. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    In my first marriage, we bought a house and remodeled almost the whole time we were there. Lived in the dust, dirt, no kitchen sink, etc. Awful. And, I was young and healthy.

    We won't be living in the construction, thank goodness. I am a bit uptight about picking out all the cabinets, etc. and what will be the best.

    But, we are on that path, and there is no retreating now. (-: At least my husband understands my health issues. That is a good thing. He is a dear.

    My best as you remodel when the time comes...AAGH! But, you can do it.

    Thanks for your reply.

  16. texasmaia

    texasmaia New Member

    I just have three tips my father gave me. (He's built about 7 homes.)

    Have an outlet by the doorway of every room, (vacuuming etc. convenience.) It really makes a huge difference.

    Take photos every day. Even if you aren't really taking them, the guys working think you are and that's worth a lot. It will keep them honest and give you sound workmanship.

    Decide ahead of time, (with hubby) who decides on what. I know this from personal experience!! We decided ahead of time that all choices of decorative etc. were mine, mechanics of things were his. Kitchen cabinets, he could give me ideas, but ultimately the kitchen was mine to decide as well. He picked materials for closet doors, where things might be located etc. But set some rules up ahead and then stick by them. You can both give one another ideas, but then let go of the decisions.

    Hope that made sense.

    Have fun!!!!
  17. fivesue

    fivesue New Member


    All made perfect sense. Since we are now starting to put decide on lighting/wiring, etc., your comments came at a perfect time. Thank you!

    Plug by the doors sound great as do outside outlets. Lots of decisions to make.

    Thanks again for the info. All is helpful and I am grateful for all the replies I have received.

    Have a great evening.

  18. joyfully

    joyfully New Member

    The photo tips are an EXCELLENT IDEA! You never know when you may need to locate something inside of an existing wall. Be sure to label pictures N. Wall of M. Br., E. Wall of M. Br. etc. If you have a digital camera, that is an excellent place to store the pictures.

    The photos will enable you to determine approximate height of wiring run in the walls, plumbing, etc.

  19. fivesue

    fivesue New Member

    I started taking some pictures last weekend...they were more journey type pictures. We met with our contractor and architect to get the house positioned on the lot. I took pictures of everyone planting stakes, etc.

    The real picture taking, with our digital camera, will begin with the lot prep and trench digging in late July/early August. Your suggestion of labeling is an outstanding tip! Way to go.

    So many people have so much experience and knowlege on this board. What a resource. When you think about it, this kind of info helps us all deal with our DD's better. Things to do to make situations easier...and we all need least, I do.

    I appreciate your input. Have been praying for your health issues...God bless you today.

  20. grace4u

    grace4u New Member

    my husband and I were building two houses. I knew something was wrong with my health for a long time. I finally convinced him I was not an idiot and earned my toolbelt. There were many other things but the formaldahyde(SP?)in the particle board must have been the last straw. I became unable to work any more. I am pretty much homebound. I have counted how many sheets of paneling it would take to finish the LR a thousand sleepless nights. Broken dreams are the hardest part. Good luck stay away from the chemicles. Hugs

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