In case you missed it, SPENCER AND I BOUGHT A HOUSE! What’s even more exciting is that we’re building said house from the ground up, which means all my years watching House Hunters and Pinning to my various house-related boards are finally paying off. My mother would be so proud.
This week we had our pre-construction meeting with the head builder of our neighborhood, which was informative but overall kind of boring. Spencer might be able to get excited about sump pumps and the location of our breaker box, but the mechanics of the home just isn’t my jam. I was much more into the meetings we had earlier in the month with our personal representative from the Drees Design Center. Candice helped us choose all of the design elements for the exterior and interior of our house: brick, trim, carpet, hardwoods, cabinets, counter tops, tile, appliances, even grout colors.
Miraculously, after all of our choices (and upgrades), we only added $550 to the total cost of our home! So here are a few ways to keep you from spending hundreds, even thousands, when making your design choices.
Go into your very first appointment with a clear idea of what you need.
And I don’t mean the first design appointment either. When our Market Manager went through all of the choices to draw up our contract, she went step-by-step through each part of the house. This in-depth look right from the beginning allowed us to add certain design elements to the budget right away instead of waiting to add them on at the Design Center. For instance, I knew that I wanted hardwood floors in the dining room, so we made that upgrade initially. We also gave ourselves an allowance for changing the appliances to stainless steel and went for a “Level Three” cabinet in the kitchen that would come in a cream color. Instead of adding all of this on at the Design Center and being blown away by the price, we calculated it upfront, so we knew right away if we could afford the house that we wanted.
Don’t feel pressured into buying things you don’t want.
At times, I was surprised to find that I preferred the standard choices more than the upgrades, which sometimes made me pause and wonder what was “wrong” with what I liked. I quickly decided that if I liked it (and Spencer didn’t mind it) there was nothing wrong, and I should just be thankful that it was cheaper. During these moments, I expected our design consultant to try to persuade me toward the more expensive option, but I can honestly say that I never felt uncomfortable being completely real with anyone at the Drees Design Center. If I liked it, Candice was more than happy to write it down for us, and it’s so important to go with what you really want in these situations. You’re the one footing the bill, not your consultant!
Until you sign, you aren’t locked into your choices.
Now that we’ve confirmed our design selections and sent our plans out to be permitted, there’s a $200 charge for anything that we may decide to change. But up until that point, we made all sorts of changes, and they ended up paying off in a big way! For instance, when we saw the differences in carpet levels, we realized that the thousands we had added to the house cost for upgraded carpet just wasn’t necessary. Instead we appropriated part of that money to put down this great marble tile throughout our master bathroom. It also let us splurge on a gas-burning range and a glass corner cabinet in the kitchen. I never would’ve felt comfortable spending that money on top of what we had already budgeted, but taking it away from one place to add to another made it much more manageable.
If you’re questioning a choice, lean toward timeless in lieu of trendy.
You can thank my parents for this final tip. In general, I found that the more traditional choices cost less than the ones that are currently “in.” Yay savings! But since they always tell you to think about resale when buying a home, it could also save you money in the long run when you pick design elements that won’t go out of style in a year or two. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go with what you want; when I found a cool, grey tile that I liked but wasn’t sure about using in a prominent place, I used it to jazz up the laundry room!