This week we have Part 2 of our interview with Rachel. She’s a homeowner working with a general contractor and they’re finishing up a custom build in Ohio. In this part of the interview Rachel talks more about her homebuilding journey, what she would do differently if she were to build again, and the best thing about building a custom home.
MICHELLE: It sounds like just being really careful about not having to make changes is one way to save. You also talked about doing some high-low shopping, like buying some expensive things and also some things that are more modestly priced instead of just going whole hog throughout the whole house. Any other cost savings tips you can give us?
RACHEL: If you are the type of person who will go back later and replace a light fixture it would be fine to go with a simple light fixture/bulb initially, then go back and replace that fixture with a more expensive fixture down the road (as your budget allows). My perspective is not every part of the home has to have something expensive.
Depending on the time of year you’re moving in (winter, for example), you may be able to save by holding off on (and saving for) landscaping until later.
MICHELLE: You said you built before but it wasn’t completely custom. Given that experience and also your current experience, is there anything you would do differently if you built again— either with the house design or the building process itself?
RACHEL: So I would say there is so much we would do differently. First, I would probably hire an architect to help with the process. The way our design process worked was we did not have direct contact with the architect. We met with a guy who worked with our builder. He got our ideas and took them back to the architect. The architect would draw something up then the guy would show us what the architect drew up. (Not having direct contact with the architect) made the process so very long. It would have saved a lot a time to be able to speak directly with an architect. We initially inquired about an architect, but the price was astronomical so we decided against that. But in hindsight, I wish we had hired an architect for the peace of mind and time saved during the design process.
MICHELLE: What else would you do differently if you built again?
RACHEL: I would have a strong idea of what I wanted BEFORE starting the process. Because my husband and I were so busy with kids and work, a lot of the decisions we made felt rushed. I wish I would have been a little more prepared.
MICHELLE: What challenges did you encounter that you would warn us about?
RACHEL: Again, having a good idea of what you want beforehand because a major challenge for us was the timeline. Some of the decisions we had to make had to be done within a week or a day or two. In some areas we felt like we needed more guidance than we had.
But what I did (to help with the design) was create a collage of all of the lighting fixtures that would be in the same line vision/sightline to make sure they looked good together.
Another thing I found helpful was creating folders for each space of the house (master/primary bedroom, foyer, etc) and focused on a few key pieces that I knew I would have in each room. So choosing a main focal point and designing around that. And giving myself some grace knowing that everything doesn’t have to be perfect and that the project can be a work in progress.
You Tube is a great resource. A lot of vloggers have vlogged their process and I found that really helpful. Olivia Ansell is one of my favorites. I love her home and her channel (Ansellvania).
MICHELLE: What do you know now that you wish you had known before starting your build?
RACHEL: Budget. I wish we would have known that the cost of what we wanted to build was not within our ideal budget. If you have a hard number that you want to stick to you will probably have to make some modifications to stay within budget. And some things will have to come out of pocket.
MICHELLE: What is the best part of building a custom home?
RACHEL: The validation of spending so much time thinking through each and every selection and seeing it go from paper to a physical building and knowing that no other house is like this. And that home is where we get to raise our children and live our forever.
MICHELLE: Do you have any social media accounts or anything else you’d like to share with us before you go?
RACHEL: I’ve tried to document my homebuilding process on my Instagram which is @Rachel_Durrant.
Special thanks to Rachel for sharing her advice and experience with us. Wishing you all the best, Rachel.