Building Your House: It’s Never Going to Be Perfect, So Just Get It Done
Having the time and resources to build a home can be one of the most exciting phases of life. Finally, you're in a position to create a space that is uniquely your own, to have a home tailored to your needs, wants, desires, and lifestyle.
So what’s the holdup?
For many things in life, like writing the next Great American Novel or finally learning to play the guitar – those we may consider important “masterpiece” level things – we tend to procrastinate because we're afraid that once they exist, they won’t be as amazing in reality as we had imagined them in our dreams.
This dream view (top) of a dream house (middle and bottom) being built (Plan #198-1116) is a good example of what could keep some potential homebuilders from embarking on their project: it may never look this good in my reality. But this concern and others mentioned below need to be overcome if you're ever going to get your house built.
Well, we have a small bit of advice for you, one that can definitely be applied to more than just building a house: Just do it! It’s never going to be perfect, so just get it done.
Essentially, creating a home from scratch is a very big project. Even with professional contractors, designers, and the like, it can easily become daunting.
And for some would-be homebuilders, this feeling of being overwhelmed can cause them to freeze up and quit in the middle of the process – or even worse, never start it at all.
Unfortunately, feeling overwhelmed can manifest itself in other ways, too.
For example, maybe you're keen to have the home of your dreams built, but you get so bogged down in the details of planning that nothing ever actually materializes.
No matter which version of the problem you encounter – starting but not finishing or never starting at all – it’s highly likely that you'll run into at least one while building a home.
So here are just a few of the things that might cause you to feel as though you are being overwhelmed – and what you can do to overcome them and finish building your dream home ASAP.
Feeling overwhelmed when planning to build your dream home – like this 4-bedroom, 3-bath traditional style house (Plan #187-1157) – may occur at some point in the process, but you can overcome it anticipating problems that may spring up and having solutions ready.
Problem: Not Knowing Where to Start
One of the main causes of feeling overwhelmed (and thus inaction) while building a home is not knowing how to get started.
Building a home is such a major investment, both in money and time (as well as emotional energy), that it can be almost too easy to see it as a too big task even to start to chip away at, even slowly.
Solution: Make a List of 5 Non-negotiable “Big Items”
Setting a small number of things – 5 or 10 – that you know you want (often the reason you decided to custom build in the first place) can really help you home in on what is important to you.
For example, your list might look at little something like this:
1. A home in a specific neighborhood or zip code
2. A contractor with a record of communication, trust, and timeliness
3. Three bedrooms and a detached garage
4. $400,000 budget, all in
5. A large kitchen
Write down whatever actually makes you interested or excited about building a home. Don’t let your mind wander into “it would be cool if” or “I’ve heard that you should” territory during this step. That’s when tasks become too big to finish.
All you need to do is to start turning your big dream into smaller goals.
If you come up with a shortlist of "must-haves" in your home – essentially breaking your "big dream" into smaller goals – before you know it, you'll be on your way to building your ideal home, like this luxury 1-story Colonial style home with 4 bedrooms and 4 baths (Plan #204-1012).
Problem: Finding the Right Contractor
Your contractor is essentially your go-to guy (or gal!) for all your needs.
While you're building a home, you should start looking for a general contractor pretty early in the process. Because of the contractor or contractors, establishing this foundational relationship is one of the first points you might start to notice the sense of being overwhelmed starting to creep in – in either its “perfectionism” or “shut down and do nothing” forms.
Solution: Just Trust Yourself and Pick One
There is such a thing as over-research. Sometimes, you need to take a step back from the drawing board and just pull the trigger already.
Don’t drive yourself crazy agonizing over potential futures with each promising contractor that you come across. You're not marrying these people. They are just building your house. It’s a short-term business partnership, so you should treat it as such.
If you’ve located three contractors with good reviews, great portfolios, and reasonable prices – just pick one. Trust your gut, and choose the one you feel most comfortable with.
Chances are, the reason you're struggling to choose the first place is actually pretty simple: you're worried that you might look back and think that you made the wrong choice. That's possible, of course, but if you put in the due diligence – research, getting references, and following up – it not likely, and you should trust yourself.
You may fret about hiring a good contractor able to build a fine home like this 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath transitional Farmhouse style house, but if you do your due diligence, you should expect to be in the clear (Plan #142-1220).
How to Avoid Decision Paralysis
To avoid decision paralysis and just complete the task, it can help think about three (or so) regrets or problems that might come up in the future and work through a solution now.
1. I'm worried that once I sign the contract, I might find a contractor with better rates.
So? If you are comfortable with the quotes you have and the portfolios of the contractors you’re interviewing, you will drive yourself absolutely crazy if you continue to search for a better deal.
A deal which (realistically) may not exist.
Remember: when building a home, having a “the grass is always greener" mindset will be your downfall.
2. I'm worried about having problems during building with this contractor.
So? We’ve all watched an episode of an HGTV building or remodeling show in our day.
It’s pretty common knowledge that Murphy’s Law – everythingthat can go wrong, will go wrong – applies to most home construction situations. Even personalities like Fixer Upper’s Chip and Joanna Gaines are not immune to the setbacks and mishaps that occur during the construction process.
As long as the contractors you're considering have happy former clients and appear to be solution-minded, professional people, it really doesn’t matter which one you go with. Problems will likely occur with any of them. So just pull the trigger already.
3. I'm worried I'll forget something when customizing the floor plan.
If you’ve breezed through choosing a contractor to partner with to build your own home, that’s great.
However, there is still one more “perfectionist stasis” hurdle to get over before you can really reach the finish line: The Floor Plan.
Choosing or creating a floor plan that can uniquely serve the needs of you and those who live with you is one of the most exciting parts of building your own home. Finally, you have a space that suits your needs and lifestyle perfectly.
A pre-drawn floor plan like this one for a 1-story Country style home with 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths Plan #142-1158 is a good place to focus your efforts as you plan your dream home. Although there's very little not to like in this plan, you can make small changes called modifications to customize the layout to your needs if you like.
But building a plan for this haven and then adjusting and re-adjusting every little detail is enough to put the brakes on even the most swimming of construction projects.
Just like a novel, a term paper, a project proposal, a painting, or even a classic car restoration, the final floor plan for building your own home will never truly be finished. There will always be something to tweak, reword, polish up, or do-over.
Yes, you will reach many points that the work is “good,” but how do you know when it’s good enough? And better yet, finished?
When shopping for pre-built houses, it’s much easier to think, “Oh, I don’t like that,” or “I would change that,” during your initial walk-through. This is because it’s often easier to know what we don’t want rather than what we do.
However, when presented with infinite options (and often no guidelines) during new home construction, it can be paralyzing.
To avoid the downfall of perfectionism – or feeling overwhelmed – the best thing you can do is start with a pre-drawn floor plan with your main criteria (remember three bedrooms and a big kitchen?). You can then make a few small tweaks here and there by having the designer or plan retailer modify the plan (or even having your contractor make small changes on-site later on during the build).
Let it sit for a week.
Then look at it with fresh eyes (and a second opinion – your contractor should definitely be in on this), then pull the trigger!
Remember: if you really do end up hating a design or structural element of your home, you always have the option to remodel or renovate later on.
Even if you feel that you've made a mistake with your floor plan after you've built your house, the chances are that you can rectify it or alter it to your liking down the road. This view of a second floor in a luxury home (Plan #198-1116) shows that, although it may be a big job to alter aspects of the structure after construction, it's possible – it's only wood and drywall after all!
Final Words on Overcoming Perfectionism
You will encounter the same issues when choosing paint colors, carpeting, kitchen appliances, and more.
It’s normal to want to build the best house you can, but you need to know when to cut your losses.
Looking at the bigger picture, realizing that the grass isn’t always greener, and knowing when to trust your gut is essential to successful new home construction.
Don’t sweat the small stuff! If you get too caught up in the little details of building your own home, it’ll never get done! Instead, think big, trust your contractors, and don’t be afraid to pull the trigger.
Footnote: The lead image of a luxury Prairie style home with 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths in 4520 square feet. For more information, see Plan #205-1010.