New Home Planning: Analysis Paralysis

guest bathroom details

Why is it always easier to make decisions for someone else? If you told me I needed to design an entire home to sell, I could put it together in a few hours and I’d be very proud of the outcome.

When it comes to my personal house… Lord have mercy, you’d think I’d never done this before. Some things like the basic layout of the house I typically can make pretty succinct decisions on, but when it comes to the pretty stuff I tend to second guess myself.

My current obstacles:

Right now I’m struggling with my tile selections big time and the lighting fixtures are giving the tile a run for its money as a close second. I want to create a timeless look that I’ll be happy with in years to come… BUT there are so many beautiful trendy things out there that I would love to incorporate in my new home.

I tend to lean towards the “casual traditional” side of design. I like classic design elements but I want to make sure that my home feels like you can really live in it and that my guests feel just as much at home as we do.

And of course the biggest obstacle of all is THE BUDGET. There is truth in the old saying “champagne taste on a beer budget.” So when my tile guy called me about my quote and asked if “I was sitting down” when he told me how much a couple of the options I has requested pricing for were, I knew I was in trouble…

So where do we go from here?

Well, once I choked on a few of the numbers he threw out there I came home and had a little chat with myself. Whenever we have clients that are in these “budgetary conflicts” there is a tried and true conversation that always takes place.

When choosing what options to keep and others that will have to wait, there is only one solution for me.

Spend the money in places that would be really difficult (or expensive) to change later. 

So for me, these places would be the big ticket items:

  • Kitchens
  • Bathroom
  • Structural details
  • Floorplan design

Now keep in mind, it is very easy to find a way to justify each and everything that you want. But the devil is in the details. Here are a few of my suggestions to help get the “look you want” even though you have to compromise on the price.

white kitchen cabinet details


The heart of the home, where you will spend many a days and nights hanging, cooking, working, entertaining… it really is important to do it right, from the start if you have the chance.

First and foremost, decide on your cabinet color. Cabinets are by far one of the most expensive items in your kitchen, if you have always wanted a white kitchen, then spring for the painted cabinets. Now, realistically you may need to pick a simpler door style and maybe skip some of the cool add-on items or features that can make the price tag go up in a blink of the eye. But I would rather have a less desirable cabinet door style in the color I wanted, than have to redo my entire design concept with an new color choice.

Fortunately as natural stone and other solid surface materials like quartz have become the proverbial standard in new construction, it means they have also become much more affordable. Again, it’s very easy to get carried away but just keep your overall look in mind. Do you want light countertops vs dark, do you want a consistent pattern or lots of movement, and does it coordinate with the other elements in your home?

white bathroom details


Have you always wanted that over-sized walk in shower, a beautiful freestanding bathtub, and a gorgeous chandelier hanging from the ceiling?

Well, if one has to give… the easy choice to go would be the chandelier. If any of you have ever attempted a bathroom renovation (or really any renovation that involved demo) then you know how hard it can be to rework a space that’s not exactly how you wanted it. Throw plumbing into the mix, not to mention if you are on a concrete foundation, all these changes get amplified and expensive fast.

So if you want a tile shower, go ahead and do it up front. You may have to go for the simpler, less expensive tile but in the long run you’re going to get the “look” you wanted instead of the pre-fab fiberglass insert that may have been the standard cost effective option.

Once you get in the house, you can save your pennies for a little while to get that chandelier you always dreamed of and if you’re not comfortable hanging it yourself, an hour or so with a professional electrician may only set you back a couple hundred bucks instead of the thousands a new shower would cost.

white living room details

Structural Details

Now this is probably a vague category, but it’s something that when you’re building from scratch it seems like the world is your oyster and you could “technically” have almost anything you could imagine. But if you’re dealing with limited funds for upgrades, proper planning could allow you to grow into your home as you go.

Because my business is to build and sell homes, we have a lot of data supporting what “most people want in a home.” It is important to remember what the purpose of your home is going to be.

  • Is this your starter home?
  • Is this your forever home?
  • Is this an investment home?
  • Is this a vacation home?

Because everyone is buying/building for different reasons, it’s impossible to build a perfect house for everyone, but by being up front and sharing your motivation. it will help your entire team keep you on the right path to help reach the goal of the perfect house for you.

Certain structural items are important to consider during the building process mainly because they are difficult to go back and add later.

Here are some of the my top “Do Now / Save for Later” items that I would recommend if you’re looking to cut some upfront costs.

Building a house: do now vs later

Floorplan Design

Whether you are starting from a stock plan, a semi-custom plan, or working with an architect to design your custom home, it’s important to have a list of “must haves” and “would like to haves” to help narrow down the process.

A lot of builders and home designers offer floorplans with optional spaces that fit within the same footprint. Again, when you’re starting from scratch making these design changes is easy if you plan it from the beginning. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make is to choose to cut out some of the floorplan options during the planning stages to save money and then once the house has been framed up, they regret their decision and then try to add them mid-construction.

Unfortunately, its always a lot more expensive to go back and re-do (if it’s even structurally possible) once the house construction is underway. It’s also important to keep in mind that time lost can be one of the most expensive “change orders” you can have during a new home build.

Now you do you boo!

Kidding, I’m not cool enough to talk like that. However, it is important to really think hard about how your new house needs to work for you and your family.

If you’re searching for a builder or a designer or an architect, make sure to choose a team that you’re comfortable communicating with. Don’t be afraid to speak up about your financial situation. Most likely building a new home will be one of the largest financial investments you’ll be making at any given time. So it’s not something to let others dictate how much money you should be spending.

I know money and budgets are not really the most fun to talk about but if you’re working with professionals they will want to give you the very best that your budget will allow and you deserve that!


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