Savvy Buyers: Building a house? Here are some some things to add & some things to skip!

Here are some of our recommendations for making selections on new construction or remodeling your home…and some options to skip!

Skip the Following:

Remove oversized/glued-on mirrors in bathrooms.  This is another easy step to make a home look more custom.  Simply ask the builder NOT to install any mirrors and then go shopping for framed mirrors from a discount store like TJMaxx, Home Goods, or Ikea.  If you are remodeling, remove the glued-on mirror, repair walls if necessary, and replace with framed mirrors (or leave the mirror on the wall and have a contractor frame it out with trim wood).


Remove cheap closet organizers.  Remove the cheap wire rack shelves and rods and replace with custom closet organizers you can find at Lowes or Home Depot.  Even IKEA has solid wood closet systems. To save some time and money, ask the builder not to install these if you are building a home.

Delete Drawer Pulls/Knobs and Plumbing and Lighting Fixtures.  Builders often have only a few choices of these and if you do not like them, ask the builder to give you a credit and install the ones that you purchase on your own (that you can find at Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Overstock, Lowes, Home Depot, etc.).

Make Sure to Include the Following:

Add recessed and puck or pot lights as often as possible. Have your framer build braces for future ceiling fans if you choose not to install them right away.   You may want to hire a lighting specialist to help you with this.  If an attic is above the ceiling, the project is pretty straightforward.  But adding lights to finished ceiling areas requires cutting holes in the drywall and drilling through the joists to fish the wire through the framing.

Extend wood flooring into high traffic areas.  Even though it costs more, it is worth it.  Wood floor hallways or family rooms are always desirable, plus, you can throw a rug down if needed.

Add an outlet in the pantry.  Many homeowners keep a toaster oven, blender, and other small appliances (even a Swiffer Vac) in the pantry.  By adding an outlet, these items can be plugged in at all times and don’t take up valuable counter space.

These are just a few ideas that can get your juices flowing when you’re remodeling or building a new home.

- Debbie Gottwals

Blue tape. It's not just for painters anymore.

Blue Tape New Construction Final Walk Through

Building a home is exciting. It's also complicated, scary, fun, exhausting, exhilarating....just like a lot of good things that happen in life. It's important to have a trusted advisor (aka: your real estate friend) by your side.

About a week before you settle, you'll do a walk through with the builder. As your realtor, it's my job to critique the finishes in the house.

So the walk through goes like this:

We all meet at the new house. By "we" I mean the buyers, the builder's project manager and me. I bring coffee for everyone. That's important. We need to stay caffeinated but more importantly, we want the project manager to be our friend.

Next, the project manager explains the walk through process and warranty information. Then the walk through begins.

Let the blue tape fly!
(Sometimes, I bring my own blue tape. Builders love that!!! Not.)

We walk through the house, usually starting on the top level and working our way down. In these pics, you can see we found issues with kitchen hardware that was not level, trim on the kitchen cabinets that needed some adjustment and normal drywall issues in the stairwell.

There was a lot more blue tape all over the house. The buyer's were a little shy about bringing things up during the walk through. That's why I'm there. I'm happy to speak up for you and ask that things be cleaned up.

Call us if you're thinking about building a new home. We're really good with blue tape.

- Wendy 


Yes you do need a realtor when you’re building a house!

It’s easy to buy a new house, right? You drive to a model, chat with the sales rep and write up a contract. A few months later, your new house is ready! So simple!

The truth is that the new construction process is very complicated. There are a ton of moving parts and it’s super important to be sure you’re making decisions that maximize your housing investment.

You can (and should!) hire a realtor to help you when you build a new home. Let me tell you why…

You need representation
The sales person represents the builder. Good sales reps know their product inside and out and they can be a fabulous resource – but they do not represent your interests.

Financing can be complicated
When it comes to financing, you need to know if the builder requires a “construction perm” or a standard (conventional) loan. Construction loans are more complicated and require a specially trained lender. I know many of these lenders and can offer some thoughts about how to interview a loan officer.

Getting the “biggest bang out of your buck”
My role also includes negotiating with the builder on your behalf. Every builder is different. Some prefer you negotiate on selections and others on closing help. Some won’t budge on decks but will throw in an upgraded lighting package. Identifying thresholds helps me to position your offer so that it is accepted by the builder.

Reducing stress while maximizing your housing investment
The selections process can be overwhelming. This is why I hire a professional designer to join us for your selections meeting. Julie Moreland of M Interiors helps you choose everything from cabinets and counters to hardware and flooring. You’ll feel confident that you’re making choices you love, while at the same time, choosing finishes that will help you maintain the value in your home. In addition, we also offer guidance regarding floor plan changes, elevations and lot selection.

Managing the process
You have a busy life. Let us handle the details. We’ll help you sell your current home - and time the delivery date of your new construction home with the sale of your current home.

The cost to you? Zero.
The best part? The builder pays the realtor fees. Going to the builder without a realtor does not save you money. Those funds come from a different bucket. So at no cost to you, you can have an experienced professional offering excellent advice during what is normally the largest investment you will make in your life.

Before you spend thousands of dollars on your new home, be sure to consult with us first. We know the builders, their products and the process. Our job is to help you spend your money wisely.