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Mistakes I Made Building a Home from Scratch

A year ago, I wrote a blog about wanting to have a home built from scratch on a piece of property located out of state. I was assembling my team of a general contractor and architects to begin the process of developing a piece of property purchased in New Mexico. Nine months into the process and almost done, I want to share the three mistakes I learned from, in hopes you can avoid them when you build your own custom home. 

A. TOO far away

Living in California and having a home built out of state is an issue. You can't participate in watching every nail, door, or window installed and the excitement of watching your home grow from the ground up. The cost of travel including flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars adds up, taking precious funds away from the home building budget. Think twice about having a home built out of state or more than three hours away from your current home.

B. TOO Remote

If the house to be built is in the middle of nowhere, it's a challenge and an added cost finding the talent and contractors willing to participate in your home build. "It's just too far away" was a common phrase we heard from contractors. Prepare to allocate funds in your budget to cover the additional cost of incentivizing the contractor talent you need. It's also challenging to find the supplies and materials you want which might not be available in less populous states and locales. If you want Restoration Hardware or high-end kitchen name appliances with service, it may not be available. Check the appliances you purchase and determine if the service to fix them is available in your area. Many manufacturers don't distribute their goods to less populous locations. Since New Mexico has two million residents in the entire state, compared to 10 million people in LA County alone, finding products in New Mexico has been an issue. Lastly, depending on where your remote location is, the weather could be problematic. Our home is located at a 6,300-foot elevation and all building activity is between the end of March and the beginning of November. No building activity occurs during winter, something we Southern Californians never considered.

C. TOO Expensive/Budget

There is only so much money available for your new home build project. Plan on spending 10% to 20% more than what your general contractor tells you (foundation, walls, roof, windows, and doors). Don't forget to have a budget for appliances (kitchen, bath, HVAC and laundry). Then create a budget to furnish and finish your home (lighting, furniture, rugs, window coverings and landscaping). Review your budget with your general contractor monthly and update the "funds needed to complete" your build budget, so there are no surprises. Compromising on materials, appliances, and everything in between may be needed to complete your project on time and within budget. 

Our vacation home is nearing completion. Next year, I will update you with a final blog and include pictures of our new home and share " What went well in building a home from scratch".

~ Robert Bullock