Owning and running a business with your spouse should confer special credentials in marital communications. While parenting together is likely more stressful (or is that just us?), sharing our livelihood requires us to challenge, cheer lead, and negotiate in ways we didn’t anticipate as we sat next to one another in our premarital meetings with our officiant.
I bring this up because, like all big life moments, building a custom home can bring new opportunities for growing with your partner. Depending on how involved you each would like to be, you will likely navigate some new waters. Who will design what? Who is going to choose which component? Are you on the same page about budget details?
Will and I still run into these issues. In our recent inventory home, Will wanted rich walnut trim to extend from the hearth room into the kitchen space. I, seeking to keep the kitchen light and bright, wanted the white woodwork to fill the transition area.
Because we had already stocked custom walnut doors, this wasn’t a seamless conversation.
We like to think that a benefit of working with a husband and wife team is that our shared experience helps us listen to and understand our customers. It also doesn’t hurt that we know when to quietly leave the room so doors can be selected.
Thinking through issues ahead of time will make the process enjoyable and effective. To that end, here is a very brief survey to help spark some good conversation.
I recently had to got to go shopping for a new evening gown. As all women know, this is a confounding activity. Before you are able to select one of the right color and fit, you have to first decide if you are going to buy the dress that reflects up to the minute fashion awareness (and your current physical shape) or are you going to invest in something classic, something that you might actually want to wear again years down the road. This time, I went with something super-trendy which probably won’t fit in a few years.
Designing a house mimics the same dilemma. Everything from the architectural design to the choice of bath hardware can reflect the latest design trend. While there are no right answers for every owner and situation, there are some basic concepts that can help inform these decisions. Below are a list of some of the choices and their implications for the long term.
Architectural design trends – This is the biggie. If you feel like your response to the on trend style and layout is almost spiritual, go for it. You will love living in this space and visitors will enjoy experiencing the home as an extension of your personality. Do know this might narrow the folks interested in purchasing the home when you are no longer there but we firmly believe every home has a buyer.
Bathroom and kitchen finishes – These are the most common. For some reason, we all really pay attention to design trends for these rooms and there are so many great options for responding to them. If you think you will have the stomach for spending the time and money on renovations down the road, this is a great place to reflect today’s aesthetic. Tile, counter tops, and fixtures can be easily replaced. Cabinets, if chosen carefully, might even be refinished. Just keep in mind the story about giving the moose a muffin. Once you start remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, you just might want to keep going.
Design details – These are the difficult ones. Who knows if the latest design innovations will stand the test of time or firmly plant your home in the year it is built? Again, the decision to follow a trend might be made by your willingness to absorb future renovation costs. LCH will be able to help you predict some of those future costs.
If you have some idea of how long you will want to live in your home before either renovating or moving, your design selections will be easier to define. Fortunately, manufacturers and suppliers offer not only wide variety of styles but there are often diverse price points. Don’t be afraid to follow trends; just know ahead of time what costs might be associated with which choices. Your particular set of choices is what will make your home customized and unique.
So, that trendy dress? As I made sure to inform Will, it came from the clearance rack.
I am a sucker for a good craft fair. Show me an artisan who has spent hours blowing a glass vase or weeks stitching a quilt, I start digging for my credit card. A furniture maker who has built a beautiful rocker will require my bringing Will back to see. And let’s not forget about the amazing apple sauce or the addicting kettle corn.
But back to my point… We love craftsmanship. However, several forces have conspired over the last couple of decades to “throw shade” on the reputation of the construction trades. We all know some of this has been earned by a segment of the build-fast industry. But knowing how hard the men and women on our jobs work, I hope to change some opinions.
Here are some examples of work reflecting the contractors’ investment of time, skill, and experience. The gentleman who installed this stone fireplace surround spent three days cutting, fitting, and laying the stones in the family room. He paid attention to the color and size of individual stones and created a beautifully balanced centerpiece.
The tile installers spend an impressive amount of time preparing the underlayment and determining placement before they ever start cutting. Not only do they concern themselves with precision symmetry, they spend hours upon hours ensuring that the product won’t shift, move, or crack long after buyers take possession.
We love our plumber. He has been working in Northern Virginia for decades and brings a wealth of experience and advice to our sites. There was no functional reason for him to create such beautiful symmetry with these pipes. And weeks later, drywall forever sealed it from view. But he cares so he did it.
So, yes. There are contractors out there giving their contemporaries a bad name. But we are routinely blown away by the care and skill the craftsmen exhibit. And just as I envy the quilter’s careful stitching, I wish my two hands could perfectly plumb a house or build a beautiful fireplace around which families will gather. Fortunately, we know people whose hands do exactly that.
Having delivered our youngest to college in Vermont, our nest is, at least for now, empty. Interestingly, the most apparent response I have had to this new phase is a need to change the way our home, the physical space, feels. I am cleaning, straightening, and organizing like I haven’t done since…wait for it… I was nesting during my pregnancies. And I have been giving some thought to this metaphor.
We embrace the idea of nesting because it relates to our need to protect, nurture, and provide for our loved ones. When we see a nest perched high in a tree, we admire the bird’s determination and effort to create a stable home that will support its survival. On those sad occasions when we come across a poorly placed or failed nest, we condemn the flighty maker for its lack of judgement.
Responding to life’s different stages by changing our nests seems only natural. If your family is ready to explore creating a new environment that will protect, nurture, and provide for you and your loved ones, building a custom home with a good builder is a terrific option. You will have the freedom to find the right location, define the perfect spaces, and erect a well built structure that will provide lasting value. You can create the nest we all will admire.
By the time I started dating Will in 1994, he and I were pretty clear about what we valued in those we hold dear. Chief among those values were honesty and transparency. Those first few weeks were full of “So, I ought to tell you…” conversations. We quickly learned we trusted each other and could move forward knowing that transparency would be a cornerstone of our marriage.
Our business is like most. Our profit margins vary depending on projects, timing, and market. It is easy to feel protective of information about margins, fearing customers will perceive them negatively and that contractors and competitors will judge them. However, we also know our product is a unique purchase for most of our buyers. When people are buying a home, not only are they making a large financial investment, they are investing in the lives they are creating for their families. We work hard to build exceptional homes for those lives. By being transparent with our numbers, we can actively demonstrate that hard work.
We want those doing business with us to know we are an open book. To that end, we promise to share all of the information a buyer seeks: transparent budgets that include our fees, thorough walk-throughs during all stages of construction, and candid and respectful input about design and selection choices. We want buyers to move forward knowing that transparency will build trust and joy in their new home.
Planning Your Costs is a description of the elements involved in home construction and how they affect budgets. Most of these elements are impacted by decisions home owners make during the design and selection processes. However, unforeseen issues can also lead to additional spending requirements. We hope to help you understand what you can control so when you sit down to plan your home, you have information that will ensure your home is what you and your budget envision.