SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
elicia_canaday

What did you have to give up when you built your home?

Elicia Canaday
last month

Hey all! I am in the process of buying land and planning to have my dream house built. I'm having trouble finding a plan that checks all my major wants off the list. There are really only about three majors things. I know I can modify the plan, but I'm not gifted with that vision and I am starting to think my dream is not practical.


Did you have to give something up when planning your home? Did you get over it? Ha!

Comments (45)

  • cpartist
    last month

    Give up the dream of finding a plan online and go talk to some residential architects to create what you are dreaming of. Then you won't have to give up anything.

  • Elicia Canaday
    Original Author
    last month

    I might just have to do that! It's going to be our forever home and I don't want to be saying "I wish" for the next 40 years. :)

  • devonfield
    last month

    I agree getting a custom home designed just for you, that has only the space and details that are important to you and not some stranger online is invaluable. While the house is designed it is possible you may have to make some compromises to make the overall project work but you should end up with at a minimum of your 'must haves'.

  • PRO
    Joseph P
    last month

    Plan to give up lots of money. Then you can have your customized dream home, with only the incredibly expensive and impractical things ruled out. But who wants a glass floor in the master bedroom above the exotic show garage anyway?

  • Vimal Kathuria
    last month

    Gave up worrying about the open ended budget or how long it would take to complete the massive project without compromising on materials or build quality.

  • Architectrunnerguy
    last month

    My sanity.

  • H B
    last month

    It's hard to know, what you don't know. "Practical" means different things, to different people. It is generally agreed that purchasing an existing home is more cost-effective; there's a surcharge for custom builds, and even more so for "dream home custom builds." Lot size and local building requirements, along with your budget, can limit your dream project.


    Doing maintenance and repairs on our current home (which we did not build, but which was built custom many years ago)... I wish the owner/builder/architect had taken some of that into consideration (design which is making is harder/more expensive to maintain). The head-scratching stuff.

    We built our previous house - it was custom in that the builder was working off specific plans designed for us (although nothing out of ordinary), however we were constrained from the get-go with a particular footprint (well, and money. Limited funds).


    For the amount of money you're going to spend buying land and building, why settle for a cookie-cutter off the shelf plan that probably hasn't heard of most of your hopes and wants. Just sayin'. Although it can be very difficult to find someone you will enjoy and appreciate working with.

  • amodernmountainhome
    last month

    This is a rundown of how our goals for our home matched up to what we actually built: https://amodernmountainhome.com/2021/01/28/comparing-goals-to-plans/


    Generally, we did pretty well. But we also worked with an architect who designed the house for us, rather than for someone else.

  • JJ
    last month

    Gave up a lot of things. But I dont remember them all now so I guess the architect did a good job.

  • anj_p
    last month

    I had to give up the idea of building a custom home. Our bid came in too high for us to do it (about 30% more than we were expecting - and that's before the overages you should expect while building). I would have had to make too many compromises to get within budget. I wanted semi-open floorplan and the builder told me I'd need to squeeze things down and take out the walls, which is completely the opposite of why I wanted to build in the first place.

    Our builder's designers designed our home. Looking back, I would never have tried to get a stock plan to work, because it just wouldn't have. Our final plan would have been perfect, and it was designed for us (piano nook, pocket offices, my dream kitchen, a SEPARATE TV ROOM). Ah, well. Maybe in retirement. If I did it again, I wouldn't hesitate to do it with the builder's designer, but I also might consider an architect. Stock plan? I wouldn't do it.

  • partim
    last month

    I am curious - what are your 3 major things?

    I suggest you read Susan Susanka's The Not So Big House.

  • Chris
    last month

    We built a custom home about 3 years ago. We spent a ton on plans and engineering. I wish I could remember how much. i do remember that if we want to use those plans again, that we’d need to pay them $75,000. We had a strange lot so custom was the only way to go.

    One thing I did dicover is don’t necessarily automatically take the suggestions of your builder. They may steer you towards options that are easiest for their crew. I ended up with orange peal finish on my drywall because he said you don’t want that smooth crap do you.

    There were a number of annoying things like that. And shop around after you go to the venders they may suggest.

    An interior designer that you trust is helpful to go over plans and make suggestions about the spaces and exterior window/ door placement and size.

    Beyond that, go over pintrest and houzz saving every little idea, solution, design idea that you like.If you haven't already, go to open houses and see what you don't like as much as what you do. It helps!

    Building a house is so very stressful. I guess I thought it would be fun. We've seen marriages fall apart… granted they must have had issues to begin with, but that is how stressful it is. At one point , I might have had a nervous breakdown over cabinet handles:) I woke up everyday at 1:00-2:00am for over a year thinking about the house…sleeping took several months to return to normal after it was completed.

    My favorite thing is my kitchen. I love all the giant drawers for pots and pans etc.. I would highly recommend!

    Regrets…. mostly stuff other people talked me into… like buying white garage doors and painting them black… they stick together to this day! Having a step down threshold into the shower… impossible to have a bathroom rug next to it.

    Beyond getting the space that you like, trust yourself. I heard nobody's doing that so many times. If you like it, do it. I haven't regretted any of my own just the ones that others talked me into or out of.

    All that rambling above… but I have to say I have heard that now is supposed to be the most expensive time build… like $25,000+ more than before. Prices are soaring!

    If you ever want to bounce anything off someone, I am happy to help. I'm not a professional. Just a friendly been there done that person. Good Luck!

    Elicia Canaday thanked Chris
  • PRO
    GN Builders L.L.C
    last month

    I had to sell a kidney after I got the bill for all the bathroom fixtures and kitchen appliances my wife picked...

  • Candace
    last month

    Get a good architect and let him/her know what you really want (x bedrooms/baths, open concept vs not, sizes of rooms, etc.) and they’ll come up with a plan that’s yours - and yours alone. When we were building our architect asked us “do you like mountain modern?” We didn’t even know what that was, and when we looked at pictures, that was IT! As others have said, be prepared to put in $$$$ - we built our custom home 4 years ago and had to re-bid it due to a wildfire - it went up $500k to build the exact same house… (3000 sq ft with a 3 car garage)

  • Elicia Canaday
    Original Author
    last month

    @partim I want a kitchen sink with a window over it. It seems most plans have the island with the sink. I also want a large eat in kitchen, ir the dining right off the kitchen. . I hate when the dining rooms are set apart and at the front of the house. I also want a fireplace set on a full wall. A lot of plans have a hallway entry to bedrooms next to the fireplace.


    I prefer a semi open plan also and open floor is most of what i keep finding.


    Also, I plan to retire in this house so i dont want anything too big and i prefer all bedrooms on the first floor. Give or take a couple of ither minor details, but thats about it. :-)

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    Can I have a dollar for each hour you spend looking for a house design that meets all your needs and fits your site?

  • Chris
    last month

    I’m not a fan of sinks in the island either. Or far away dining rooms I never want to use. We are very open. No where to hide since you walk straight in from the front door.

    We still haven’t updated our dining room furniture. I’d like something more simple, but chairs are so expensive. After all the money we’ve spent, it’s hard to justify buying anything else. It’s also very difficult for me to put holes in the walls. :o)

  • palimpsest
    last month

    I think I would give up the idea that a house needs to be a "dream home" or that any place is going to be a "forever home". Those sorts of expectations raise the bar too high and only lead to dissatisfaction. How about a nice livable house that is less than you can afford instead of the most you can afford that meets reasonable criteria for what you need.

  • misecretary
    last month

    We all have to start somewhere when designing our future homes. I looked thru tons of house plans and submitted about 3 different plans to my architect. Three separate times I was told the plan made no sense and would be difficult to make it work. I hit pay dirt on the 4th plan and he was able to tweak it for us. In other words, any plan you find online will probably need to be tweaked anyway, so find one closest to what you want and go from there.


    NOTE: The absolute biggest thing to look out for, in my opinion, is the distance from the garage to the kitchen. Who wants to travel the entire length of the house with bags of groceries?? Yet many, many plans have that set up.

  • jck910
    last month

    I don't want to be saying "I wish" for the next 40 years. :)


    Life throws curve balls so what works now may not (and probably will not) work in 40 years. Just sold a house for a relative who passed away. Built to her exact (and I mean exact specifications) 50 years ago. She insisted on staying there alone and for the last 10 years really didn't work for her.



    Build what you need & want for now

  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    last month

    Perhaps the definition of "forever home" is that it will be there longer than you will. It can still be a "dream home", but it should be your dream and no one else's.

    Those two sentences may seem contradictory, but obtaining that balance is a worthy goal.

  • Whitney Williams
    last month

    If I had it to do again, I'd ditch the vaulted ceilings. Too hard to heat/cool, and a waste of space. 10' main floor is plenty tall.

  • anj_p
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Elicia Canaday a lot of your wants will depend on your lot. If your build envelope is large enough and your lot is relatively flat, you can build almost anything. If you have a narrow lot on a big slope or with other natural barriers, you may have a harder time. If you want an attached garage, one large wall in your home can't have windows (you will find interior kitchens on a lot of plans with attached garages). If you have space you can build something that isn't a box that can get you windows over your kitchen sink and a fireplace on an exterior wall and a dining room close to the kitchen (mine checked all of those boxes, but then again, it was designed for US).

    FWIW I didn't take a stock plan to my designer. I took an idea of what I wanted and a list of what I didn't want, he put it on paper, and we went from there. It took a number of revisions to get it right.

    ETA I don't think looking at online plans is a waste of time. I think it helps you understand what you like/don't like and helps you learn about what's possible.

  • Chris
    last month

    I called our ”dream house” the stupid house for almost a year; it was a very frustrating process… exhausting for someone who doesn’t like to spend money. I’ve gotten over most things and love it now. …but still walk into rooms with a few irritating thoughts from time to time. Others will never notice these little things.

    At some point we will be empty nesters with too much space and very high taxes (probably more than we’d like to pay in retirement) If we were smart , we could sell now for twice what we paid, but we are too emotionally attached at this point.

    How many bedrooms do you want? And do you have a particular style you like? You mentioned Ranch but what do you want the exterior to look like? Transitional? Craftsman? Farmhouse? Brick, Block, Stucco, Siding?

  • partim
    last month
    last modified: last month

    If the plan has a kitchen window I should think it would be relatively easy to move the sink to the counter under the window.

  • Karen
    last month

    Wish we had used smooth drywall/ceilings, installed more recessed lights and wall sconces, had one height counter instead of raised bar behind sink, designed more closet space, and told roof truss people to design a large storage area (possibly pre-wire/pre-plumb for future bonus room.

    Super glad I had custom cabinets, prep sink with 12” trash can door to side on the island, 2 dishwashers and almost all drawers in the kitchen.

    Building again and just learned (the hard way) that some vendors will charge one price up front when you ask for something and deduct a minuscule price after contract signature to remove it. (I.e. adding a recessed can later cost $70, but if you remove one you may get $5 credit. I would try to negotiate a schedule ahead of time for additions/deletions after contract signature.

  • Chris
    last month

    Definitely learn a thing or two! I would add more recessed lighting too…to the kids rooms We saved a bit of money, but it would have been nice.

    A weird thing we learned, is that a lot of ceiling fans have remote controls. Most were fine, but one had the remote screwed into the wall plate with the other switches. Now when the battery runs out, we need to take the switch plate off the wall to replace the battery. fun

  • WestCoast Hopeful
    last month

    We had to increase budget. Don’t regret it.

    We had to compromise on size or upper floor. Don’t regret it.

    We didn’t budget for AC and a high end glass railing inside and I do wish we had done that.

    We didn’t know our fireplace design would be a headache and I wish we had. But that wasn’t money it was design.

  • a1eventing
    last month

    We just recently moved into our new build. During the design and planning phase we brought an exterior wall in about 2 feet to reduce costs. Don't regret it. That one compromise allowed us to get everything else we wanted. The wall we moved made the guest rooms 13 feet wide instead of 15 feet. So the rooms are still adequate for their intended purpose.

    Also - when we were building we didn't have to make final selections for flooring, tile, etc right away. We were prepared to 'be happy' with lower end choices to make the budget work but we both wound up doing a lot of overtime at work and were able to make better selections when it came time and just paid cash for the difference on upgrades.

    I wouldn't compromise on the floor plan/ flow of how you want things. You can't change these later.

  • K H
    last month

    Had to give up brick and attic trusses. Havent got over the attic trusses or the brick! But it did save us around 20k...

  • Emily
    last month

    So far (we are still building), we've had to give up our dreams of a metal roof, when the price went up 40% over the past year. Our house is a single story with two-car garage and two porches, so there is a LOT of roof. In the design phase, we had to give up the fourth bedroom (which would have been a dedicated exercise room) due to high building costs now. We love the plan we ended up with, but that fourth bedroom would have really been a sweet addition.

  • tangerinedoor
    last month

    One item that IMO is crucial right now that most people don't think of? NetZero. Super high efficiency throughout, plus solar. Flood and fire mitigation. Climate change is happening fast, and should be addressed in new house unless it is to become a white elephant shortly.

    I have a netZero + solar home, but wish I had room for even more climate-change-savvy features, including: more wall space in the utility room for Tesla batteries (there's not enough room currently, and they can't be installed in a living space). I wish I could install a windmill for those times when the entire grid goes down in the middle of a blizzard, but that probably wouldn't go over well with the Town. Oh, and I wish I had an electric car in the driveway.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Everyone, regardless of resources, size tiny or gigantic gives up something. Every GET has a give, actually. To choose means another choice is eliminated. Every site is different, and all homes are a marriage of interior and exterior. There is no escaping this fact. No amount of money will change this fact.

    As to money? A lot more than you think you need : )

  • Lidia
    last month

    Great questions and congratulations on your new adventure! We finally finished our 3 year custom build last summer 2020, got in just before the big jump in prices hit, we were so lucky! We initially went with an architect and then changed to the builder’s designer. We felt it more important to get a great quality home and found a very respected builder first. Yes, there were many sleepless nights but that was equal parts excitement and anxiety, hang in there, it’s worth it. Things I gave up…real wood fireplace in kitchen, I’m still not over it but the gas fireplace with a push of a button does help a little. Garage attached, still don’t have one but because of location and cost, couldn’t place it next to or under the house on our slope, totally got over it because even the driveway has a 17 deg slope and under the house would’ve been impossible…the detached one planned will be big enough for hubby’s machinery so that was a blessing in disguise. Getting landscaping done right away, it’s still gravel and weeds but I’ll get over it when it’s done next spring. I should’ve planned for a larger mudroom and laundry room, will never get over those, especially the mudroom. The rest are little things we’ll tweak over time. This is our retirement place when we finally retire in a couple years. I totally forced the builder to do a cut less shower! He agreed since I broke my foot on the job site. Crutches and a shower curb don’t work…made me think of more “living in place” for getting older. Have fun with it as much as possible and do not let others tell you what you’ll like or what’s in style, do you!

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    As I have just re configured on paper a home recently purchased, and ALL they "saw" when selected was space.................wide open space:

    The problem? All of the wonderful space allocated to the wrong things. A squash/squeeze on every single necessary function from kitchen to master bath, to mud entry to laundry.

    Whether build or remodel? Wow factors age fast and furious. They are like a handsome man who beats you daily. Think carefully on these. ...............and make that very carefully.

    New builds and floor plans yanked from online? You will see the same mistakes over and over again. Believe it.

    In this case above? The price they paid reflected a lot of these errors, and nearly a half a million will fix 85%. Could have, should have, would have etc. Bargains are not always that.

  • Lidia
    last month

    @JAN MOYER Which case above are you referring to?

  • Emily
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @Whitney Williams, I agree. We had vaulted ceilings in our two previous custom builds. This time, we are building our retirement place, and we went with a 10' ceiling in the great room and 9' everywhere else. Vaulted are a real pain if you ever have to repaint, and like you say, too much to heat and cool. Not to mention trying to clean out spiderwebs in the corners, if you live in the woods, as we did/do.

  • artemis_ma
    last month

    Well, I gave up the idea of a pool out back. And the servants' quarters. TBH, these weren't in the "realistic plans anyway.


    I had to give up more drawers in my under counter kitchen area - but at least I got the GC to give me most of them. I had to give up my barn doors on two closets (sorry, Mark, I wanted those....log homes look fine with them) because of how the electrician wired outlets.


    Seriously, nothing major.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    @ Lidia.....

    The case in my OWN post.comment.

  • PRO
    Diana Bier Interiors, LLC
    last month

    "They are like a handsome man who beats you daily." HAHAHAHA!!!!!

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Forgive the analogy, but it is true. It is also true that folks are repeatedly sucked right in to plans that subsequently short all the most important aspects of daily living. I could yank a thousand plans from the internet this morning and fully half would have most of the flaws that make life harder to live in that home.

    You have to know yourself, and simultaneously consider the site, a budget, what is extremely important, and what is not. There are cave dweller types......and those who shall be miserable without abundant natural light . Minimalist types, and those who collect everything . Neatnicks and messies. Those who entertain, and others who prefer their own company 99% of the time.

    There is no one size fits all. A tent may be an inconvenient shelter, but a mansion can almost as inconvenient, many times. Where you come and go, your stuff of life......reclusive or expansive personalities. .....

    To thine own self be true, Time and thought. : ) Both in abundant amounts go into a home that works for you, every single day.

  • arcy_gw
    last month

    Your 'wants' sound pretty traditional. I wonder if the on line plans represent the latest fads and that's tripping you up. Find a builder. See what's in their repertoire. Bet they have a floor plan that you will love. What you want does not sound all that hard to come by. They are pretty timeless wants really. Pretty sure a good builder can get you the things you want easy peasy.

  • cpartist
    last month

    I built my dream home. Not my fantasy home, but as Jan speaks of, my realistic dream home. What was important to myself and my DH. Not the fantasy.

    I joke that I always dreamed of sit down dinners in a formal dining room. However my reality is that my entertaining style is buffet and indoor/outdoor entertaining so we built our house to accomodate that. No separate dining room.

    My dream was a walk in laundry but nowadays anything that has a stain on it gets a spray of Spray and Wash and gets thrown in the machine and then goes into the dryer. No fussing with laundry for us so we have our laundry in our hallway to our bedroom behind closed cabinets.

    My studio is large but that's because I'm a professional artist. DH's office is smaller because he doesn't need as large a space. Plus my space doubles as a third bedroom with a pull out couch if needed. (In the 3 years we've been here, we needed it a total of 3 nights.)

    Our guest bedroom has a Murphy bed and doubles as an exercise room. It's right sized and there is no separate bathroom for only the guest bedroom. I have no interest in cleaning a bathroom that will be used once in a blue moon so the guest bedroom and my studio share a hall bathroom. None of my guests have ever complained! And many have come back to visit second and third times. And would be back for more except for Covid.

    My point being, really think about how you actually live and how you will live once you're retired and build accordingly. Not your fantasy.

  • Lindsey Milam
    last month

    It sounds like we have some of the same ideas on our "wish lists." I attached our recent design to possibly help with your vision. Good luck and have FUN building your forever dream house!