Building During Covid Part 2

Posted by Amber Jensen on February 1, 2021

Building During Covid Part 2

Building during COVID Part 2


Framing is done! Trusses are up so our house really takes shape instead of looking like a box, even after they built and sent the wrong ones... Our garage is done, and it is gigantic! So much taller than I thought it would be,  and probably a bit unnecessary, pretty sure my husband highly disagrees ;) He gets a big garage and I get a pretty kitchen, it’s called balance, right?!

When building we already set up ourselves for overages and unexpected costs. We thought we were doing pretty good, it’s all about give and take. We knew we weren’t going to get everything we wanted. We are good at budgeting and want to keep our mortgage down so we can enjoy life but want to make sure that we are doing the things we can now to make this house our forever home.


When we started this process, we discussed what was important to us to do now and what can wait. Obviously, size, layout, windows, doors are all things that are hard/expensive if possible, to change down the road we wanted to do upfront. We knew we wanted a rambler and a house we can be comfortable in as a family but also that will be comfortable once the kids are off (which I can’t even comprehend without tearing up) Not too big, not too small, bonus room so kids have their own space, especially when they get older  and want to have friends over without being too close to us since we are entering pre-teen zone! Ugh, parents cannot be prepared enough to outgrow snuggles. We love to entertain, it has been killing me to not be able to, so a covered outdoor space was a must as well, we can’t wait to watch the Hawks with a fire pit and BBQ next season with friends and family!

We spent a little more on windows, 8ft doors, well because they are cool and make the house seem larger and it wasn’t a big difference in price.

Some upgrades were a no brainer while others we really have to think if this is worth paying for now. All the little things add up pretty quickly! Do I need a pot filler? And yes, I’m asking because I hear good and bad. I made a list of must haves, wants and wish list, if for some reason unlike everyone else that builds, we are under budget we can splurge and I’m laughing as I write this because I have yet to meet ANYONE who came in under budget but like most, I thought I could do it, ha-ha.


We were doing pretty good until we got our bill for our trusses! We knew lumber was going up and were able to get our lumber package in before, but this time we weren’t so fortunate. We had a couple changes so the price didn’t get locked in… The overage was devastating, like can we even afford to build this, there goes everything we worked for and I couldn’t stop crying. The worst is we were not even notified of the overage from the lumber company until our trusses were up and it was too late to do anything. I’m going to stop here about that though, we had to regroup, pick ourselves back up and figure out how to move on. Ugh!


So, moving forward, we know have what looks like a home! Roof, windows and exterior doors are next! If you are building, keep in mind that almost everything is backordered! Windows took about 2 months to get and can I say that was one of the hardest decisions I made! White windows or black windows, will black be in style, is this what we want to splurge on? We did opt to have a lot of big windows, PNW days can be long and dreary so we wanted as much natural light as we could get. As for color it took me days to decide, it’s hard to make decisions now and try to figure out if you will like it 10 years later! It’s such a sigh of relief to finalize a decision and move on to the next, until I pine over it and second guess myself over and over!


Deciding on roofing, color was pretty easy, but do we want 30 or 50 year? If this is our forever home, it would seem like it would be an easy decision but cost always plays a factor too. Do we want to blow our entire budget in the beginning? Keep in mind this was all before we knew about the truss overage. The rest of our decisions have pretty much been made for us now.


Siding is about done. This was another hard one for me. I always wanted board and batten (it’s actually the least expensive too) I tried to dress it up a bit adding some lap and shingles but ultimately went with mostly B&B and a little bit of shingles. Brick and stone were one of the first things to go to make room in our budget, we’ll have to come back to that. Things to keep in mind though, boards come in 10 ft sections so you are stuck with a belly band which can look good in the right areas or seams and some that don’t… There are a couple areas that don’t quit match up but once we have it painted, I’m hoping it won’t be so noticeable. Mixing up your siding can help with this too.


I’ve had to give up some of my dreams one of the hardest, is my wood-stained double doors for the entry. This is something we can come back to later on down the road. We were able to obtain a door that matches our house pretty well and with some paint should look pretty good! Another one is kitchen cabinets, I had to compromise, I am still getting my beautiful island but will be using stock cabinets for the rest. I’ve never had nice kitchen cabinets so this is on my must have list. I’ll give up other things throughout the house for now, we are only putting cabinets in half the laundry room which works for us since we don’t know what to do on the other side for now.


There are a couple places I have changed my mind about, but I am hoping that after living there and using the spaces we will find what works for us. Building is exciting and hard! Make as many decisions as you can ahead of time! Go out and look to get ideas and have a backup plan or two! It all comes at once and there are so many choices and one will affect the other it will make your head spin! Mine has been for the last few weeks as we are moving into interior.


So far plumbing and electrical are the easiest. Plumbing is already in the plans and there were a few minor changes, but my husband took those decisions on. When building a custom home, there are lots of decisions and choices, since it hasn’t been done before. Our electrician made most of it pretty easy for the standard lighting then we went through were we wanted to add more lights, plug ins, etc.


Some things we’ve learned and/or done:


Put a box outside for Christmas lights! No more extension cord hanging around. Also, get an idea of where your Christmas tree(s) will go and make sure there will be an outlet close by!



If you plan on a hot tub or if you want warm water outside, do this now! Cost is not much more, maybe for the hot tub it is but getting set up for these now is a convenient feature that won’t break the bank.


Wire for speakers, smart home, hard wire for internet if you ever plan on using these in the future. It’s easier to do it now and saves you from tearing out walls and patching! Think ahead, if it’s not in the budget.


Floor outlets: if you won’t be next to a wall and will want a lap or to charge your electronics. This works well in the office too if you want your desk in the middle of the room.


Have a designated charging station, out of sight from where you spend most of your time like the pantry, bar area, closet, drop zone.


Put outlets in the cabinets so your backsplash looks clean and you don’t have to worry about cracking your tile. Also, you can set up under cabinet and toe kick lighting to help navigate during the night in bathrooms and kitchens.


Motion lights in the bathroom and toilet areas so you don’t have to turn the light on in the middle of the night. A night light can work too ;)


Fans, I haven’t been in charge of these, but I guess they can sense moisture and turn on or off. I’ll have to learn more about this, my husband’s taken over this as it’s just not that fun or exciting for me.


Centering your lights! Is your dining table going to be centered because you have a hutch, side bar or fireplace? Will that line up with the windows? Design feature to think about in the beginning.


Buy exterior lights early to determine where they will hang to get the placement right. Some hang from the top or the middle it may look off.


Take pictures of your walls before sheet rock, we are still waiting to have it all in to do this but taking pics will show you where all your plumbing and electrical is if you want to change or repair something later on.



I feel I’m pretty caught now on our journey! If you ever have any questions about our build, I’m happy to answer and hear about your experience if you are building. It’s different for everyone! Up next, interior decisions, did I mention it’s hard to make every decision for every little detail?!



Hope these can help give some ideas and if I am missing any please fill me in before it’s too late! I would love to hear what features you put in that make your life easier.

This is our personal experience of building and I hope to share some helpful tips of things we learned along the way. Everyone’s story is different, this is ours!