I feel very fortunate to have built my own house. I sort of regret selling it because there's nothing quite like living in a home that you worked so hard to create. Of course I had an actual "builder" and some other contractors doing all the "real" work. But laying the flooring, pulling the wiring, sanding exposed beams, building frames for the basement windows, painting, and all those other "smaller" tasks are not nothing It provided a huge sense of happiness and pride to walk up those stairs every day and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

As I mentioned before, we're doing some remodeling in the basement of this existing house. Well, not just the basement, but that's where "Tyler" our contractor is spending most of his time these days. I've taken to "living" in my noise-canceling headphones. He has stripped a wall of its ugly built-in shelves and is building a whole new cabinet/shelving thing to replace it. It's going to be awesome.

He was asking my roommate about some specifics the other day and it reminded me of the (literally) countless questions and decisions I had to make during the home construction. Window size and placement, door swing direction, colors, stains, heat type, flooring, counters, tub, toilets, sizes of the rooms themselves, and the layout of the actual walls were all things I had to ponder and make decisions on. It was both fun and exhausting. And I'd do it again tomorrow.

I say all of that (quite an intro) to simply say that when you're building a house (or doing a significant remodel) there are going to be thousands of questions and decisions you'll have to make. I'd like to peek at a few of those today and see if I can help you learn from my "learning."

"I strongly recommend all my clients (and friends) to seek out the expertise of contractors and skilled professionals when making big decisions about their home," Badger Realty agent Edward O'Halloran said. "It makes zero sense to have to learn via the same mistakes others have made. It is literally why we have history books."

The first suggestion today is solely based on the contractor selection process. I don't know what your experience has been throughout your life, but I have struggled to find competent, honest, hard-working contractors when it comes to home improvement projects. I had an amazing builder over in Lincoln that handled the construction of my home. And we are enjoying an awesome contractor now with the projects in this home. But that's just two. I won't belabor the reasons they have been less-than-awesome, but just do your homework. The best and most reliable resource I have ever found is my network of friends and colleagues. Ask around and check references.

The other potential pitfall is (and always will be) budget. I had a very tight budget with the home build and it dictated many of the decisions that we made. I wanted triangle shaped windows that faced Franconia Notch, but budget dictated they be normal double-hung windows.

My roommate does not share the same budgetary concerns and tells Tyler to "just do it." It's fun to watch. For the rest of us, plan on 20 percent more than you think. Please know I have zero basis for that actual number. I just know that budgets are super easy to bust when you're building a house or remodeling part of one. There's a lot of neato stuff out there and you are going to want all of it once you get started.

The last item for today is to be keenly aware of who you are building for. We have talked about this before with regards to upgrades and remodeling projects, but it is the same for a full home construction. Almost every decision I made on the house was tempered with "Will the buyers like it?"

The heat source, the kitchen layout, the size of the rooms, the master bedroom, and even the paint colors were all focused on the next owner. Of course every one of those things worked for me as well. It just tends to shift the focus from you to the next buyer.

With our remodeling projects around this house, that is not the concern. The decisions being made are solely for the enjoyment of my roommate and I. It is a different mindset for sure. It means you can let your freak flag fly a bit higher and allow the focus to be on your enjoyment of the upgrade, not in the resale value or equity it may bring.

I hope you get to build your own home someday or at least experience the process of a significant remodeling project. The questions will come at your fast and furious and the excitement will be palpable. Just keep your head on straight and remember who this is for. Remain aware of your budget and don't lose your sense of humor. It will be stressful, but it will be worth it. Happy building.

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