That New home smell.. dirt, sweat, and tears

So you decided on buying a new home CONGRATS!!! This is such an exciting but stressful time. Where to buy, new construction or an older home that may need some love. We recently bought a new construction home in a new state to us and I want to share our experience.


What at first started as buying a possible rental property, turned into us moving out of California and trying out the Arizona lifestyle. We found a little oasis in the middle of the desert where we are planting our roots and seeing what this state is all about. Now before you go, why would you leave San Diego, there were multiple reasons, first of all the housing market out there is absurd and for what we sold our houses in a few short days was insane. We wanted a slower pace lifestyle, a little more land, less people and less traffic. We bought a new construction home even though my husband is a licensed contractor because honestly, they are less expensive in the long term. Compared to having to remodel and make it exactly how we want.


Once we found the model of house that we loved the layout of, then came all the decisions. Do we want a 4th bedroom or an office with a bigger laundry room.  What lot did we want, with what view what side of the house do we want the front door, what elevation, and don’t worry we will get to the design center options. Buying a new construction home is so fun because you get so many choices, this is not a custom home, nor our forever home so we were able to compromise on some things because we knew it is not forever. Luckily since my husband knows his way around tools, we were able to not go crazy at the design center with upgrades.  After some haggling with the sales office we found out lot and settled on a price. Then we were off to the design center, my husband and I spoke and looked at many cabinets, countertops, colors and decided on a floor style that we both wanted before going to our meeting. We went in knowing where we would be spending our money and how much we were going to do from the builder. We did do pre-wires (think ceiling fans, and extra electoral outlets) because that is not fun to do after the fact. We upgraded our cabinets and did quartz countertops, we did not do any hardware on our cabinets. I personally have never had them on cabinets before (growing up, or our previous home) so it wasn’t something I was dying for, maybe someday we will add them, but I love the clean look of our white cabinets. We did a few other upgrades like different shaped sinks, as well as a farmhouse kitchen sink and a farmhouse looking doors. It’s amazing how quickly things add up in there. We did a lot of builder basics, like flooring and faucets and lights because we did not like what the design center offered or their pricing. Once all the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted came the next fun part, waiting for it to be built. I won’t bore you but it takes time for houses to be built, inspections and waiting on trades to do their jobs.

Once our house was done the real fun came, picking out new faucets, light fixtures, and ceiling fans. Our house came with an oven, dishwasher and microwave, we did upgrade to stainless steel, but did not get anything fancy as we knew we will update in a few years with a nicer brand. We bought out own fridge, washer and dryer and got a kick ass deal from Pacific Sales aka Best Buy (Hello price match!) When we moved into our house I had a major reaction to the new carpet, so what was originally us just ripping out the flooring in the main areas turned into having to get rid of all the flooring. It took us a few months to pick the correct flooring, we went with a porcelain tile, because it will stay cool during the hot summer, our dog Bentley’s nails wouldn’t ruin it (actually they help keep them short), I won’t have a reaction to them since it’s not covered in toxins. We went to about 10 tile stores bought a lot of samples and brought them home to see how they would look in our home. This is an important thing since things look very different in a store or a design center compared to your house, the natural lighting will make a difference. I promise you it is worth the extra time and money to make sure you love it. We chose a faux wood look and went with tile that had lots of different shades of brown and we love it, we put it throughout the house to give it a great flow and rustic look.


The demo and install process did take quite some time due to the size and shape of the tile and that my husband is a perfectionist. But in the end it was well worth it, and I’m glad that we made that our first big project because we didn’t unpack everything and have furniture all around so it was easier to live in a construction zone. Luckily picking out paint for the walls was an easy decision since we loved the colors we had out our old house, in the main areas we did ‘Agreeable grey’ from Sherwin Williams, and in the bedrooms we wanted something a little lighter so we did ‘Drift of mist’ <link colors> and we love it, the soft grays with our white kitchen and our beige floors! So as my husband finished the floors in a room, he would then paint the walls and then put in the baseboards, so each room would be finished at a time. I won’t lie at times it wasn’t easy, especially having my fridge and oven in the living room and not being able to cook, but it was temporary and worth the wait. We also had our walls stucco’d and painted so it would match the texture of our house, it was something we thought was worth it and we like that our walls are seamless instead of block like the rest of the neighborhood. We chose The Tile Shop and couldn’t be happier.


After our big demo we decided to wait on designing and finishing our backyard because we wanted to live in our home for a bit and make sure the backyard would be an extension of our home. If you know my husband at all, then you know he loves to BBQ and we love to entertain so we are figuring out how to configure our backyard so it is the perfect space that shows our personalities. So once we break ground on that I will share our experience on that.  Our design and decor (you know the fun stuff) of the house will come soon. But here are some tips and tricks we learned through our process:


Tips and tricks:

– Know what kind of house you want, one story vs two. What is important to you, do you like an open concept? Do you have to have a sink in your laundry room, a mud room off the garage? Do you need a three car garage, his and her closets. You may not be able to have it all, but know your big three that you can’t compromise for.

-Look at lots of themes and styles for homes, and if you have a partner or significant other make sure you are both in agreement of what the house vision is. This is a big financial design and you both want to be happy in this home. It’s normal to not agree 100%, but be respectful and remember a home is more than the cabinet color and countertops.

-The price of the house can be haggled, IE talk to the sales associate, you may be able to get an upgraded lot without forking over more money or getting extra money for the design center. It never hurts to ask!

-Do you research on materials of what will work best for your family, granite over quartz, and if you want a white bright kitchen, are you prepared to clean daily, or do you want something that won’t show stains as easy. This is your home, not a model home

-Go to the design center with a share vision and a budget, it is easy to spend $100,000 + there, I mean their job is to make everything look amazing! Know your splurges, you don’t have to buy everything through them! Our visit was easy since we knew what we wanted and what our purchase items would be, also we priced out materials, so we knew what is better to do from the builder vs do on our own later. Think of the house like a sandwich, the big things that are hard to change like cabinets, wiring, lighting, extra rooms, and door placements, and structures are the bread, the colors, countertops, flooring, fixtures are the filling, easier to change out. Trying to change a study into a bedroom down the line won’t be cheap or easy, adding backsplash is.

-Do your own fixtures, I can’t stress this enough of how much easy it is to switch out a faucet that you can get from Lowe’s or home depot for ½ the price. We wanted an industrial looking one and that is a big focal point to our island (picture or faucet and kitchen island). Also if you want hardware on your cabinets its actually easy to do yourself. And cover plates are a breeze to change. Thanks to HGTV and youtube things are a lot easier to do it yourself.

-Hire a painter if you aren’t patient like me, luckily my husband is a great painter so the paint actually ends up on the walls instead of everywhere else like it happens when I do it lol.

-If you are planning on doing a mini or large demo after the house is done, make sure you hire a licensed contractor, for one they are licensed and bonded. Also they get discounts on material like paint, flooring, cabinets, etc. This was a big reason why we did not do our floors from the builder was because it would’ve cost over $17,000, and that was only the main areas and hallway. We were able to buy tile for our whole house for under $10,000. And the tile we picked is twice as large and has less grout joints so most of the time people think it is wood instead of tile. Win Win!

-If you are buying a new construction house, go to the model a lot, turn on and off lights so you know where the switches are, and if they are convenient and in the place where you need it. You would be surprised at how many times you’ll notice a switch being in an awkward place, like a kitchen light in the hallway.

-Scope out the neighborhood, talk to neighbors of how they like it if people have already moved in. Explore the city make sure it’s what you want: does it have restaurants that you like, do you want to be close to a big town, or are you okay with having to drive a bit for certain stores or medical care. Is it a new development, what is their build out, how big will the community get, what amenities are offered. Just remember you aren’t just buying a home, you are investing in an area.

-If you want a white kitchen, it can be kept clean easily. I clean out countertops daily, just spray and wipe if there is something on it to prevent stains, then once a week everything comes off the counters and I use soap and water to deep clean it, the cabinets I wipe down with a damp wash cloth and they stay so white. We don’t have kids but I know keeping up on the cabinets now will help when there are sticky and muddy fingers later on. Just remember how much upkeep you are willing to do when picking out colors, personally I’ve noticed darker cabinets show scratches and dirt more than lighter.

-One thing I wish we would’ve done differently was choose the double oven for our kitchen layout. I may not use a double oven every day but its great for big holidays, cooking for parties, and I just love how seamless it looks in the kitchen. But I do love my large cabinet spaces for all my Le Crueset (Hello Wedding gift jackpot, le Crueset outlets and homegoods!) But now we know for our next house what is non negotiable.


I hope this has been helpful for anyone who is thinking of buying a home, or if you are in the thick of it. If you have any questions or want clarification don’t be shy and drop a comment below.



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