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Building a House Part 2: Moving Forward, Making Plans

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Did you miss part one of this series? Read it here! 

Now that we were totally on board for building a house from scratch, I let myself start to get excited about what that house would look like. I immediately started searching Pinterest and Instagram for “new build” tags. There was some really beautiful stuff happening in the world of new builds! There’s such a fine balance between honoring the pre-existing architecture of the neighborhood (so your house doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb) and staying true to the vision that you have for your home (because ultimately you’re the one living in it!).

I’ve done staging and food and floral design for Southwest Urban’s open houses for a number of years, so I know their portfolio inside and out and knew they would strike that balance in the design for this project. I also knew that because of our relationship, I would be able to have a lot of control of the stylistic elements like fixtures and finishes. I would have no idea how high to place a range hood, or what size sink is typical, but I for sure knew what tile I wanted and how I wanted it placed (matte white, horizontal stack bond – more on that later) so the partnership of their technical knowledge and experience, and my creative vision, was really ideal.

Even though I would have a lot of say in the design, there were certain pieces that were locked in because SWurban would be facilitating and completing the build with my design input. We would be using their architect, and their contractor and her team. This would be the third new-build for Southwest Urban; their previous projects were bright and modern while still evoking southwest style. Knowing that we would be staying in that same vein, architecturally, was actually really helpful as I’m prone to getting overwhelmed by choices (get excited for a forthcoming post entirely about my indecision picking light fixtures! but really, would you want to read that? I’ve been writing it in my head for months).

If you’re considering a new build, I would recommend throwing it out there to people in your social circles to see if anyone knows anyone to recommend for a builder or contractor or architect and follow up on those leads. Go to lots of open houses, find a style you like, find out who built it and reach out to them.

Early in the planning stages, Adam (of SWurban) mentioned they had some pre-existing complete plans that were never actualized from a similarly shaped lot. We saved thousands of dollars by tweaking these plans to suit our needs instead of starting from a blank page.

Then we sat down with a big architectural drawing and got to work re-imagining the space. We would need a fourth bedroom added, so we turned the front bedroom into a master suite and reworked the plans to fit three smaller bedrooms in the back of the house. We flipped the kitchen so that it would open out onto the huge courtyard… and then flipped the entire drawing so that the courtyard was north facing. And, we also bumped the master bath into a portion of the master closet to accommodate a soaker tub (!!!).

There were some changes I wanted that weren’t within budget… As a cost-saving measure, we eliminated the garage in favor of a simple shade-sail carport. We would’ve loved to re-work that garage space as a studio workspace or AirBnB, But we just couldn’t get the numbers to work. My dreams of hand-painted ceramic tile were dashed pretty early on (tile is SO EXPENSIVE!), and I would’ve loved more windows (gimme all the natural light), and more shelves, and more purely aesthetic light fixtures. But overall, I know the finished product will be dreamy, and that it’s going to work really well for our family.  Its small enough that there’s not going to be a lot of unused space, but big enough that there is room for our three little ones to grow into full-size teenagers.

It’s still a little unreal thinking back on the early planning stages, wondering how we were going to pull this off. Even while we worked on the design and pictured our family living in the space, we still had to do so much to get our house ready to put on the market, and the entire project hinged on that piece. Spoiler alert: we did it and it’s all going to work out and I’m SO EXCITED.

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