First things first:
1:-Location, location, location. Remember that is something you can NEVER change (unless you move again) Drive the area often during all times of the day. Is there trains? Airplanes? Does it bother you? How far are you from your favorite things? Take all that into consideration.
2:-Once you have your neighborhood picked out, ask the onsite agent if anyone hit rock. Did your potential neighbors hit rock? Hitting rock can be VERY costly and can vary from lot to lot, but always know it's a possibility.
3:-Don't overprice yourself for the neighborhood. I realize you are just moving in, you aren't thinking about moving out, but it's always possible. Don't plan on building the most expensive house on the block before you finish your basement (with plans to finish it). You will have a much harder time getting back your equity if you can't sell your house for what you have put into it. Ask your agent to help you with pricing.
4:-If you found a floor plan that you like, reach out to the builder and ask to tour all their other properties (same floor plan or not) and start to really look at the quality of their product. How do the floors look? Tile? Paint job? Those would most likely be the same subs doing your house. It also allows you to see other design ideas.
5:-Talk to people who have built with that builder. What did they like? Not like? How were they treated? I think it's even more important to know how they were treated AFTER they close. Were they helpful with problems? (Because we all know there will be some!) Even ask the builder to help put you in touch with past clients to talk to them.
6:-USE AN AGENT! It doesn't cost you anything. So please, do yourself a favor and don't just sign over your rights to the neighborhood agent (who 1st represents the developer, then the builder THEN you). Our neighborhood agent wasn't at any walk throughs helping with suggestions! (If you're looking for one, I would LOVE to help you!)
Starting to build:
7:-Photograph EVERY stage! This helps for you to know where plumbing is, where studs are, where electrical is, etc.
8:-Confirm what windows open and which don't open. We had to spend more money to get our master closet window to open and all 3 dining room windows to open. And figure out the style of window and how do they open.
9:-Confirm basement ceiling height. Sometimes when finishing your basement, they say 9 foot ceilings, but once the space is actually finished it's more towards 8.5 ft. Some builders are a finished 9ft basement and others are not. Be sure to confirm that. Also, think about adding more windows. Now would be the time to do it.
10:-You might not be finishing your basement when you build, but make sure your plumbing is laid where you want it to be for future finishings. They will (or they should) lay out the plumbing for your bathroom, but they won't for your bar. No one wants to jack hammer their foundation a few years later to add water to that bar. (At least I wouldn't)
11:-Expand/extend your garage. Remove that post (why can't all houses just get rid of the post in the garage? If you're a builder reading this, start removing it for your specs ;) )
12:-Think about adding more outlets into your garage.
13:-Think about adding a water spout to hook up a hose or fill a bucket in your garage.
14:-Consider a smart garage door opener. (Our garage door opener is super loud and we can't remember if we ever shut it. Yes, we can stop being lazy and get up and look, BUT when you're in your warm bed half asleep, it sure would be nice to just pull it up on the app)
Save on utilities:
15:- LED light bulbs (sometimes it's even cheaper to buy them yourself and then have your builder install them for you. Ask and price compare)
16:-Spray insulation. Really insulate your house. Make sure if you do double front doors, that you aren't losing a lot of air out your said doors. Sometimes this might mean you need to upgrade your style of doors. (or like me, you just don't get to do them)
17:-Upgrade your windows! Ours had a greenish tint to them that I was really worried about, but once you get paint on the walls and furniture in the house, you can hardly tell.
18:-HVAC TALK: Zone your house. We have our master on a different zone than the rest of the bedrooms (our kids sleep warmer than we do). Our main floor is on its own zone and we zoned our basement. (In a perfect world, we would have liked a door into the basement. We didn't realize that got removed)
19:-Confirm toilet "size" Not all builders include a standard toilet size. Some are smaller to the ground with a smaller toilet seat.
Do before you move in:
20:-Have your windows measured for blinds/window treatments. They usually need to be ordered, so place the order and have install be the day you close.
21:-BUDGET for that new furniture you're going to order. Have it be delivered the day you close as well.
22:-HIRE movers :) just moving a few items, look into Bungii.
23:-Confirm the window color that they are ordering for your house. Base that off the hopes for what you want your trim to be. For example, (for some crazy reason) our builder naturally orders almond colored windows, but all my trim (interior and exterior) was going to be white. Not the end of the world because you can usually cover with blinds/window treatments, BUT we don't back to anything, so we don't have blinds on the back of our house, meaning I couldn't hide it.
24:-Search the hashtag on Instagram of the color of paint you think you might like. If
you find something on someones page and don't know the color, ask them!
-Some choose to paint bedrooms a different color after they move in! It costs more money to add more colors into the mix. Most builders allow two paint colors before the upcharge.
25:-Pick a busy pattern for your stair carpet. We also upgraded our carpet and the padding. It's so worth it, I promise.
26: -Pick a darker grout color for your shower floor. White shows a lot more blemishes/dirty parts. You're in KS, you will have hard water stains.
27: -Photograph your selections so you know what you picked. Some builders have something set up online that stores all your decisions for you, confirm that, ours did not.
28: -Also remember, you are the customer! If you don't like some of the selections don't be fearful to change your mind or ask to see more.
29: -Think about your laundry room. Does it have a sink? Do you care? If it has a sink, is there a nice sprayer to help get stains out? Is it located where you life?
Things we did I love:
30: -Speakers in select rooms of the house.
31: -Heated our master bathroom floors. (In a perfect world, I would have heated our kitchen floors too)
32: -Poured extra concrete to your backyard space. Trust me, you will use it and LOVE that it's there to use.
-I wish we would have done a front porch. Next house ;)