Here's What I'd Do Different Next Time
One of the hardest parts about building a new house or doing a major remodel is making sure that you do it without any regrets. Who wants to spend THAT much time and money on something and then wish that you would’ve done it differently? Absolutely no one. But, on the other hand, is it even possible to build a new house and make all of the right decisions the first time around? Probably not. The reason being, how will you know how your family will live in your new space before you have a chance to actually live there. So, we just do our best to make the most informed decisions possible. Hopefully by doing good research and reading this blog! :)
Heck, I’m in the building industry and I still have a few regrets looking back on our new house build. A few of these decisions were made without fully knowing how our home would work for us, and a couple were made in an effort to save some money as the project drew to a close and we reached our budget numbers quicker than we thought. So, I thought it might be helpful to hear what I would’ve done differently. And before I give you my list, I want to preface this by saying that we love our home, we feel so grateful, and I totally get it that these are all #firstworldproblems (my first time using that hashtag, ha!).
Half-Bath: I have a two-bathroom house. There’s the master bathroom, which is attached to our bedroom, and then there’s what we call the “main” bathroom which is also the one next to the kids’ bedrooms. When we were building, I was pretty sure that we’d be just fine with the two bathrooms and that any of our guests could just easily use the main bathroom. It’s been totally fine, but if I did it again, I would’ve added a smaller half bathroom near my mudroom coming in from the garage. (A half-bathroom is generally much smaller and has just a toilet and a sink and doesn’t include a shower/tub/etc.). The two main reasons are that guests wouldn’t have to walk through the living room space to get to the bathroom, and then also that I wouldn’t be relying on my seven and five-year-old to keep their bathroom tidy and clean for guests to use.
Quartz Countertops: I know that we’ve talked a lot about countertops before, but I don’t think I’ve ever given my true opinion on them. Here it goes… if you can afford to get quartz tops, do it. I have granite in my home, which is awesome, but I’m surprised by how much the granite itself sucks in moisture and has the ability to stain. If you are busy parents (like we are!) and there’s a chance that the dirty dishes might sit out on the counter overnight (totally us!), then there’s also a pretty good chance that anything on the bottom of those dishes might stain your granite. We learned this the hard way when one of the kiddos set their cup next to the sink, not knowing that there was a little bit of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of it. It sat overnight and now we can see a faint orange-colored ring on the countertop.
This was totally our fault and we were probably getting close to the time when we’d need to re-seal the granite (you should put a sealer on it every year), but still… it was a mistake that is so darn easy for a busy family to make. So, the flip side of this is that quartz is maintenance free – meaning that you don’t ever need to re-seal it.
Composite Deck: In our last blog we talked about composite decking and why it’s so awesome. I can totally attest to this and absolutely wish that we could afford to get it! We have a small deck and stairs that go down from our 3-season room, and it’s built out of treated lumber which we later stained. (Did you know that after you build a deck out of treated lumber that you really need to let it sit for about six months before staining it?). Anyway, no matter how good of a staining job you do, it’s SO hard to keep it looking nice and new. Our awful Wisconsin winters with ice and snow, using a snow shovel on the deck, and even the hot summer sun… it all it so harsh on stained, treated lumber. Composite decking is the answer. It looks awesome and it’s totally maintenance free… if you can get past the cost.
Smart Siding: When most of us think of a house with siding on it, we all picture a home with typical vinyl siding – which is what I have, and probably a lot of you do too. But, there are so many other options. One that I love is called Smart Siding. It’s treated, engineered, wood siding known for its unmatched durability. A home with Smart Siding has a certain “look” to it that can be easily identified. This type of siding typically shows 6” to the weather (meaning the gap between pieces is larger), compared to the typical 4” with vinyl siding and the style is more craftsman compared to the usual look. My reason for wishing we would’ve gone with Smart Siding is mostly for the aesthetics, but also just the fact that this type of siding carries a warranty and will last a very long time.
More Flatwork: The last thing that I wish we would’ve done during our build is add more flatwork to our exterior. We did the typical sidewalk, apron up next to our garage, and a small patio area out back. But we cut it short and didn’t complete the patio like we wanted to because… well, it’s expensive! If you’re not in the industry, I think you’ll be surprised by how much money concrete costs. But the issue that we’re running into is that when you have a brand-new yard it’s super hard to keep things “not muddy” any time it rains. All of the areas where we were planning to add concrete in the future are becoming problem areas now where the kids and animals track mud all over. Not to mention that it’s always better to have heavy equipment on your yard BEFORE you grow grass. Adding more flatwork for us now will also include yard repair, which is never a favorite chore.
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