While we LOVE decorating homes, building is our bread and butter! If you've read my story, you know that Kelsey Leigh Design Co. was started after many years of doing interior design for my husband Scott's home building company, McGregor Homes. We've been through hundreds (maybe thousands?) of home builds together and have seen firsthand mistakes people make when building a house again and again.
In the spirit of friendship, I'm sharing the top eight mistakes I see home buyers make when building a house (and how to avoid them!). So settle in, grab your cuppa coffee, and read on for our custom home building tips!
Photo: Emily Hart Photography
1. Not Getting an Interior Designer Involved Early Enough
While many designers are happy to decorate your home for you, you're truly missing out on the number one benefit of hiring an interior designer if you don't start your project with one – their expertise in the function of your home. It's one thing to select countertops and tile that play well with your cabinetry and flooring, but we like to think beyond the aesthetic and begin with the end in mind for how you and your family will actually use your home.
After answering a few quick questions, we'll know if you need hidden appliances in your kitchen, a larger pantry, taller windows, a Jack-and-Jill bathroom for the kids, etc. We will also effectively evaluate your priorities and can allocate your budget toward what's most important and guide you on where you can save.
This is nothing new for contractors and architects, too. Projects where we have collaboration from the beginning always end up being the most proficiently executed.
2. Forgetting to Include Allowances in Budget
This is probably the least surprising mistake in our list, and yet we see home building clients fail to include allowances in their budgets over and over again. Mistakes happen, and accounting dollars toward those ahead of time will keep you on track with your budget, and most importantly, avoid disappointment. Not to mention, you'll have less of those tough conversations with your contractor or designer as the process goes on.
This is another great reason to have a designer involved. We are upfront with our clients from the start and help create a budget with material allowances, ensuring you have the proper expectations for the materials costs – we wouldn't want you to end up in a champagne-taste-on-a-beer-budget type situation.
3. Not Accounting for Cabinetry Before Framing
Planning for your kitchen and bathroom cabinetry is no joke! Oftentimes we'll see a home buyer approve a plan with what looks like an optimal amount of kitchen space, proper cabinet height, hinge and door style, etc., but once the cabinetry is installed it may not look or function how you envisioned. No one wants to get the kitchen wrong – especially when you're building your capital D dream home.
Every inch of the room is accounted for in a designer's floor plan. We make sure appliances, window, and lighting sizing are all taken into account along with the cabinetry from the get go.
Photo: Emily Hart Photography
4. Laying the Slab Before Planning Electrical & Plumbing
Do not, I repeat DO NOT pour your slab before showing your floor plan to your designer. You should have all electrical and plumbing decisions made before the building begins. You want to have any floor outlets and plumbing locations accounted for. Your wiring and piping need to be in the original plans so that you are ultimately able to have your kitchen sink at the window that looks out over your back garden or have an outlet that runs to your desk so you don't have cord chaos at your feet. Those logistical details as just as important (if not more) as the decor and aesthetic.
5. Making Lighting Decisions Too Late
We touched on the importance of beginning with the end in mind, but waiting to select your light fixtures can be a big mistake. For example, if your builder does not know that you want a linear chandelier hanging above your kitchen island instead of two pendants, you may run into disappointment and delays. Or if you want sconces on the wall flanking your range hood, you'll want that accounted for so the entire wall isn't tiled over in those spaces. Rewiring can be difficult on top of annoying.
Additionally, you'll want to ensure you get proper natural lighting in your home. Double and triple check that the size and number of windows on your floor plan are correct. An extra six inches of window can make a surprising difference in your space.
Essentially, you want everything besides mirrors and hardware decided before your start building. Many times you won't be able to go backward in the project, and redoing anything will cost you both time and money.
6. Selecting Materials That are Bad for Resale
We love a good trend as much as the next person, but just be cautious when implementing the latest and greatest in your new build. Think about how you want to feel in your home in five years, in ten. How do these trends factor into the function of your home? And will the product you choose hold up to the test of time?
Durability is key when it comes to resale. Be sure to consider how easily your materials could stain or break before ordering. And personally, I'm always on the hunt for what's easiest to keep clean – ha!
Listen, we don't expect anyone outside of the industry to know what tile, wood, stone, etc. is good for resale right out of the gate. But that's what professionals are for. If you're not willing to do your research to obtain quality materials, hiring a designer is a must! We have so many insider tips that will ultimately save you the headache of filtering through hundreds of options and any future regrets.
Photo: Kacey Gilpin Photography
7. Cutting Costs on the Wrong Selections
Okay, maybe this should be number one on the list, but it's so important to know where to spend and where to save. When it's crunch time and the budget is dwindling, it can be easy to cut corners to get the job done. This is why it's so very important to identify not only your top ticket items from the beginning (like that gold and white French kitchen range), but also have a list of materials that are important to invest in. Lighting should definitely be at the top of that list.
Designers know when to spend and when to save, and can easily identify what your priorities are in your project. And ultimately, they will save your money with their connections and guidance.
8. Forgetting to Factor in Furniture Layout
This one is always a bummer. Furniture takes up so much space – especially in your living room and bedrooms – and accounting for it all up front can be tough. How many times have you entered a guest room that barely accommodates a full-size bed? Or what if you have your heart set on a grand sectional, but your living room can only fit two sofas with space to walk? While I wish we could make these decisions as we go, it will truly save so much heartache to have a full picture of each room with furnishing size taken into account.
I am confident you've got this list down and are ready to get started on building your dream home, but if not, I'm just going to leave this right here for you...
If you need us for your upcoming Oklahoma home build or beyond, we'll be waiting in the wings to assist! You can connect directly with the KLD team via our project inquiry form, plus, learn about our services for full service and new construction design nationwide here.