5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My Home

On the 4th of this month marked one year since we received the keys to our home.  There’s still so much to do and complete, but in the last twelve months I’ve had people ask me questions on the building process, so I thought it would be fitting I look back and share a few things I wish I knew before I built.

Don’t get me wrong we spent hours researching, reading forums and asking other people on their opinions before we made decisions regarding our home, but it’s not until those choices are made and you’ve lived with those choices will you really know if they were right.

So here are 5 things I wish I knew before I built my home:

1. Front Exterior Does Matter

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My Home

When we were building we opted for a very basic façade because we wanted to keep the cost low. Our builder had facades designs ranging from $9,000 up to $36,000. At the build planning stage we strongly opposed spending a lot of money on elements of our home that we would not benefit from or enjoy ourselves.

Now that the house is finish this is probably the element of our home I wish we could change. Our façade looks so flat which makes the house look unwelcoming. I now understand why home frontages have depth, various heights, angles and features – it creates warmth, gives the house character and triggers feelings when someone sees it.

You know how you see an appealing home on a street and makes you verbally say, “that’s a nice house” and potentially triggers some curiosity about how it may look inside? Ideally that’s the feeling you want to create with your own home.

2. Plan Landscaping Before Doing It

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My Home

Landscaping was something we didn’t think too much into. Both Hubby and I aren’t into gardening, so the thought of creating space for us to maintain wasn’t exciting – why would we be motivated about creating work for ourselves? At the time we thought let’s just get top quality grass and put it everywhere. And that’s what we did.

Now that we’ve settled into our home and actually appreciate the impact a beautiful garden would have to our home, we realised our initial approach may have been a pointless exercise that we have to do again. Installing grass required excavators to level the land, purchasing quality top soil to ensure grass will thrive and of course the turf itself.

Our landscaping ideas now include extending our alfresco, split level areas for play and entertaining, retaining benches with garden beds, foliage wall, a shed and a pool if we win lotto. Which means we’ll probably remove or build over a lot of the expensive grass we installed, hire an excavator again and kick ourselves over how much money we spent on landscaping at the start, only to destroy most of it.

3. Don’t Assume Tradies Or Builders Know What You Want

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My Home

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt from building and dealing with vendors is, you’re only ever going to get what you want by saying exactly what it is. And sometimes that means repeating it over and over, or saying no to their alternative suggestions.

For example I choose particular tiles and sizes because I thought the tiler would realise the tiles were all the same size and tile them symmetrically from floor to wall. How wrong was I? He tiled them whichever way he wanted. Sometimes when I look at my bathrooms tiles it annoys me, because it doesn’t look exactly the way I imagined it in my head to look.

Remember the person you deal with at the show room is most likely not the same person who will be completing the work. So the service and enthusiasm you got from the sales person may be lacking from the trades guy. To the tradesman you’re just another job, so keep a watch of their work and remember to be friendly. That way they’ll do a superior job and if need be, you can make “suggestions” on their work.

4. Review Your Design With Experts

There was so many things we didn’t add or do to our home day one because of budget restraints. Hopefully we’ll get to do them all, just not right now.

We have a long list of items we want to eventually get to, and have started  approaching vendors to get quotes to understand roughly how much certain things will cost. We’ve since learnt we could have planned some of these upgrades ahead during the building process. Like wiring in certain areas for future outdoor lighting or installation of security cameras, or pipes for water irrigation.

When a plumber come to our home to install extra drains in our backyard, I learnt by law our builder had to install at least two external drains. Where those two holes could be placed was completely up to us. So we could have asked our builder to place one of these holes meters away from the building and asked for two more drains as well, saving ourselves a call to another plumber to do this work.

Getting qualified trade experts to look at your plans or review your home dream list means they can give you some advice and recommendations about what you could do to plan for future updates.

5. Budget for Furniture

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Built My Home

Furniture is the last piece of the whole building process, but also a very costly one. I remember our mortgage broker mentioned to us to keep some of our savings for furnishing our new home. Oh how I wish we listened.

Yes there are interest free deals with all the big home stores but that usually means you can’t negotiate the price too far from what they’re asking. For us being tens of thousands of dollars in debt over furniture doesn’t seem logical, so we’re trying to save as much as we can so we don’t rely too much on credit. Which means furnishing our home and completing elements of our home is taking a lot longer than I’d like.

However the period has allowed us to think about our choice more and prioritise what is really important. For example we’ve realised the expensive King Furniture couches we thought we wanted would probably get destroyed in a few years the way our boys bounce on our current couches like trampolines or would smear food and moisturiser all over it. I now realise why parents don’t buy nice things while they have young children.


So those are my top 5 things I wish I knew before I built. Overall I’m happy with our home. We choose a design we liked, we tweaked it to suit our needs and we didn’t compromise on elements we really wanted.

When it comes to building a home, over time I think you will question choices you made, looks and trends will update, and your needs will change, so it’s natural to then dislike decisions made years prior. But right now I’m happy with our home and would do it all over again.

Have you ever built or renovated? What’s the one thing you wish you knew before you started? Let me know if the comments below.