What I’ve Learned So Far About Building A House


Our all-white kitchen so far!

We are just over a month away from closing on a new construction home that we’ve been customizing and we are super excited! There are SO Many things I’ve learned from this process that I wanted to share with you all in case you are thinking of doing a major home reno or redesigning your existing home:


1) Tiles are Expensive

When I spotted this beautiful pattern of encaustic cement tile on Pinterest, I didn’t realize they were 450 lbs and would cost the exact price as the tile to ship. If you’re thinking of going with special tile for your home renovation, keep this in mind. With tile, they usually have to use a local freight company to ship and that’s when the cost comes in. I bought $450 worth of tile for my small powder room and paid another $400 to have it shipped to me.

Tip – If you can go into a tile store and have them order it for you, sometimes they get a shipment from their warehouse every week and they won’t charge you for shipping. This is great if you choose an in-stock tile, when you go super specialty, that’s when the price goes up.


Our living room with shiplap walls and a fireplace

2) Expect LOTS of Bumps

Two steps forward, one step back. Just when you think something you order has shipped, it comes in the wrong colour. Which was the case last week when my vanity light I ordered in rubbed bronze, showed up in nickel. Human error happens, just don’t worry about it and start again.

Second thing that happened to me, I ordered a gorgeous double-sink vanity and it shipped with a HUGE crack along the marble top, which caused the undermounted sink to fall out. Yay. Luckily, the customer service team had dealt with this before and they shipped me a new on about 7-10 days later with no charge.

Tip – You’re gonna have to go with the flow. You have no choice. None of these things were worth getting worked up after. If anything, they were just a minor annoyance that took up some of my time.


via Schoolhouse Electric

3) Everything is Always on Backorder When You Need It

Why is it that everything is out of stock when you need it? I was quoted 4 months for this brushed gold shower head at the Kohler store! Luckily, I was able to source it on Amazon and ordered it there.

Tip – When you’re planning your own home reno, do make a point to order your tiles, lighting fixtures and vanities at least two months out in case they are on backorder. Most places have a 90-day return policy, so you should be good if you install something and it doesn’t work.


4) Start Pinning for your Dream Home NOW

THANK GOD for Pinterest!!! How did people decorate their homes before this? Luckily, I’ve been pinning for a beach house and dream home for a little while now that I had lots of ideas to pull from. I am grateful that I didn’t have to start my design search from scratch.

Tip – Even if you don’t think you’ll be doing a home reno or building a house right now, you might as well start pinning like you were. We bought a beach house within 2 weeks of this crazy airbnb idea and had to hit the ground running.


My Barn Door from Home Depot

5) Call + Ask for a Trade Discount

I was able to score a 1-5% discount because I was ordering these items on behalf of my contractor who had a business license. My vendors were able to extend their trade discount for me.

Tip – See if you can qualify for this, it’s worth asking because every little bit helps. I’m a blogger/designer and because my blog is registered as a business, some vendors were flexible on discounted prices. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Beach House

6) Work with the BEST People You Can Afford

My house is pretty much coming together in 4 months from start to finish and it’s been relatively painless so far because I’m working with an amazing contractor, project manager, builder and their team. The team at Olivia Beach have been so flexible, accomodating and great with communicating all the way through this project.

Tip – Hire the best people you can afford and it will make a difference. I used to work in the service industry as a wedding DJ and I always touted that you got what you pay for!


Have you ever built a house or gone through a major home reno? Do you have any tips to share?



  • Bill V.

    Looks amazing. Be careful with bottles of red wine on that counter. Ask for coasters for the housewarming. Love a light and bright space. I’m a little envious. It’s really beautiful.

    • Definitely thought of the counters being wrecked! I went with white ‘marble’ quartz which I’m hoping will be much more durable to stains – but I’ll definitely be investing into plenty of coasters as well.

  • Erin Lynch

    I had no idea you used to work as a DJ – How cool?! I feel like finding good workers is one of the hardest parts… Especially at the beach. We’ve had a lot of trouble fining reliable help out there on the coast. It sounds like you are staying calm, and taking each obstacle as it arises in a good way. It will all be over soon – Then the real fun begins!!!

    • Definitely in a past life!

      I didn’t realize how difficult it is to even get appliances delivered to the coast. I had to order them directly from Home Depot in Corvallis and then I paid an extra $100 surcharge to have it sent down to the coast. Live and learn!

  • Melissa Chee

    CONGRATS! That’s so amazing. I’m really impressed how quickly it has all come together.

  • I’m pinning this for our eventual remodel! I had no idea about tip #5, but I’ll definitely try to use that when the time comes!

  • Oh so true about not cutting costs when it comes to the people you hire. You definitely get what you pay for, especially when it comes to residential contractors! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned so far!

  • pechluck

    You have such a good attitude with the casual “Two steps forward, one step back….You’re gonna have to go with the flow. You have no choice.” Since I’m a detailed spreadsheet planner it drives me nuts – so I stick with more of the producer and let F direct the day to day. That’s my tip- find the role you can live with!