When I moved in with my husband I always knew we’d want to build a house on his property – an absolutely lovely tract of 15 acres of pasture, wooded land, and a creek. Initially, we remodeled the double-wide modular home that was already on the property. Not my dream house but it’s a very nice home though a bit small for our family of 5.
For years I’ve dreamed about having a larger space with a view of the creek and tons and tons of closet space. Because we are the way we are, we delayed our build due to covid. Now I wish we hadn’t because building is still expensive and interest rates are shooting up (Thanks, Brandon).
We talked to some custom builders but worried about them having trouble with supply chain and staffing issues. Our plan designer recommended we look at plans from America’s Home Place and I fell in love with the Berglund Modern Farmhouse.
A good friend had built with them many years ago and since then so did her siblings and neighbors. All had had a great experience, so I decided to go meet with them and find out what the process is.
The first meeting
At our first meeting, we talked about our budget and the added costs that the base price doesn’t include like adding a basement and site work. We were able to get a general idea of how much it might cost with our modifications and then we went to the bank to find out how much our payments would be.
The next time we met, we set to making changes to the floorplan. We added the fireplace, expanded the living room, added a basement and back porch, raised the ceilings in the great room, and a few other small tweaks that really customized the space to our needs.
We left a non-refundable deposit, signed an agreement (not a final contract), and scheduled our next 3 meetings: the site meeting, the color meeting, and the final approval. While I was there, I also went into the design area and took pictures of all the choices so I could do some research on what look I liked best.
The site meeting
This meeting was a relatively straightforward process. We set out flags for the four corners of the house and moved them once or twice to get it just how we want. We discussed where the septic hook-up would go and he marked the locations of the gas and electric meters, water main, a/c unit, all the exterior water spigots, etc.
He had a very extensive checklist and went through every potential cost for preparing the site for our build. He didn’t give us a final cost but made himself a list of what all he would need. We will get the final cost at our approval meeting.
Since then, I’ve been over there many times to imagine parking in the garage, looking out of the bedrooms, and sitting on the porches. Can you tell I’m excited?
The color meeting
Being who I am, I had 75 Pinterest boards for every detail of my house, and I still hadn’t thought of everything.
Thankfully, they run you through a checklist starting with the outside of the house and working your way in. I was a little distracting because I kept changing the topic, but the color coordinator, Rose, was very kind about it and we eventually worked through it all.
We started with the siding. I knew I wanted grey. There are two standard colors of grey and a darker one that is considered an upgrade. I knew I wanted a light-medium grey so we chose that and our plan has board and batten accents which I wanted in the same grey.
Then came the roof color – I think there were three options. they do not offer a metal roof – you can get it but it requires special pricing – asphalt shingles are the standard. I was fine with that, but do plan on adding a metal roof to accent the front porch and garage overhang sometime in the future.
Then you choose the corners, trim and gutters, window grids, shutter style and color, the garage door color and style, and porch posts and railings. I strongly recommend making a lot of these decisions before the meeting – look at pictures and have a strong idea of what you want.
I did and it was still overwhelming.
I want a monotone look with an accent color on the front door. So our house is cape cod grey with grey corners, a deep grey roof, and 3 board shutters with white trim and grey gutters. Our windows are a simple 4-square grid on top and none on the bottom. The double garage door will be white with a beadboard pattern and a top row of windows. Our porch flooring is natural wood decking and the posts and rails are white.
A 3/4 light front door with sidelights and transom was standard on our plan, and I’ve chosen a deep barn red color for the door. We have 2 red barns on our property within sight of our house so I think this will be a nice nod to them. I picked the door hardware and we were done with the exterior of the home.
Moving inside, Rose prompted me to consider the focal point of our decor. Will it be a big fireplace, the kitchen, flooring? As our home opens into the large open great room, we decided on the flooring and started there.
I have to say I was a little disappointed with the options here. Such an important part of the plan and they didn’t offer the color I really, really wanted in the type of flooring we’d chosen. In an imaginary world where money is not an issue, I would have opted for premium real hardwood floors. What a dream that would be.
However, in real life, a nice luxury vinyl plank is truly the smartest option. We are on a farm with animals and kids and Georgia red clay, so this was truly the most responsible way to go. Of course, LVP is quite lovely and I had my mind set on a light oak.
It’s probably a good thing they didn’t let me choose that. (Well, I could have chosen that but it was a downgraded flooring, and I liked the natural texture and thicker plank of the top-tier flooring.) So, after some internet research and much internal angst, we chose a rich red wood look that will be truly beautiful.
Next to the flooring, we’ll have a beautiful brick fireplace so we moved to the choice of brick once the flooring was decided. That was a fairly quick pick for me as I wanted something that looked traditional. Laying the brick next to the flooring sealed the deal for me. With a rustic cedar mantel, this whole combo is just giving me good vibes.
AHP uses Sherwin Williams paints and I had spent hours searching for picks of the best neutral choices. The main floor will be painted in an off-white called Aesthetic White with Bright White going on the trim and ceilings.
Finally, it was on to the kitchen! We picked driftwood stain on cottage style (think wide trimmed shaker – not pictured) maple cabinets for the island and white cabinets for the rest. I’m not a big fan of the speckled look of traditional granite so I went with Black Pearl, and I’m going to push to get a leathered or matte finish on it. I already knew I wanted simple black pulls for all the cabinet hardware.
For lighting and fixtures, you don’t get options other than the metal color. I was sort of disappointed but at the same time, those are easy to change in the future, and it’s another place where I would have tried to overspend. I knew I wanted matte black so that was a quick decision.
Moving into the bedrooms, I had chosen to have carpet in all the bedrooms. Having skimped on carpet in previous homes, I went ahead and splurged on the upgraded pad and level 3 carpet. The difference in the levels of carpet is the density of the fibers. I don’t like it when the carpet gets all smooshed and looks worn down in 2 months so I have no regrets about this.
As far as the color, I have no idea if it will look good. LOL. I’m not a designer but I chose a darker neutral carpet that is both grey and brown. Here’s hoping it’s not hideous.
In the bathrooms, I upgraded to the level 3 EVP (enhanced vinyl plank) because it’s waterproof and comes in natural stone looks. I just can’t wrap my head around the wood look on the bathroom floors which is the standard. Real tile is way more expensive, and we were able to get very modern and stylish options in the EVP.
I fell in love with the black slightly marbled look of this flooring for the master and secondary bath. Coupled with the white shower, tub, and walls (all bathrooms and closets are being painted Snowbound), it’s going to look stunning. All the fixtures will be black and I chose the same black pulls as in the kitchen for the cabinets.
For the master, I chose the driftwood stained maple and Colonial Ice granite. The secondary bath will have white cabinets and Colonial Ice granite. I like that they are similar but not an exact match and both compliment the kitchen. Not that you’ll see them at the same time but the style will flow from room to room.
In the basement bathroom, I wanted to do something different even a bit more trendy. So I chose a light grey stone look flooring, navy cabinets, and a gorgeous grey granite countertop. The fixtures and cabinet hardware in this space are brushed stainless. Y’all. It’s so pretty, and I can’t wait to see it!
Getting the final plans and approval
After you pick your colors and fixtures, you can change them up until the day you sign the final approval. And Brent at the Anderson office has been extremely gracious about accommodating my desire to customize every detail. Every time we talk he says, is that all? and not in any kind of impatient or condescending way. And he’s not even mad when I email him the next day with something else.
I’m seriously so obsessed with this that my computer is sending me notifications about my screen time because all I do is go through the virtual tour of our plan and search through pictures on Pinterest and Google.
But really, I don’t want to miss any detail and I only have a little bit of time left before we go over the final approval. I guess the drafting department is a little backed up so our meeting has been postponed. But once we sign that, we are done. And then we just have to wait for the loan to close before they break ground.
Pros and Cons
What I like about AHP’s process is that you run through everything up front. You’ll make all your changes, upgrades, and customizations. You’ll get a final price and once you sign that, you don’t have to make any decisions. In fact, you cannot make any changes. At all.
For me, that’s a good thing. I was worried about having to run all over to every supplier and choose each individual thing. The siding at one place, windows, and doors at another, floors here, countertop there, faucets and fixtures somewhere else. Then there’s the lighting, the paint, the appliances… The list goes on and on.
Maybe some people would love that but to me, it was anxiety-inducing. And I just knew that at every stage I’d be racking up a bigger and bigger bill. I know from building our horse barn. It was a simple project that ended up going double our original budget. Give me infinite options and, for sure, I’ll go with the most expensive one.
One con to that, however, is that if you are very particular, you have to decide on every tiny detail prior to that final approval. And they don’t ask you – you have to be very proactive. Like if you want recessed lighting or extra outlets – make sure you consider that ahead of time and point it out because they are not going to ask.
Another example is that I want craftsman-style trim. They never said, do you want standard trim or upgrade to craftsman? At least at the Anderson office. There’s a standard and if you don’t ask for it they won’t prompt you to upgrade. That’s nice, I guess, in one regard, but it’s easy to forget something and then later you might be disappointed.
Of course, most people are probably not like me but if you are, just know that you have mention every little thing and ask for what you won’t – they won’t ask you. Like if your floorplan shows a certain front door, that’s your front door unless you ask for something else.
So far so good
My experience with AHP so far has been great. They are very accommodating and willing to make sure I get what I want. And you can make the process as simple or as complicated as you need to.
The next part – the building phase – will be a big test. I’m so hopeful that this will continue to be a pleasant and exciting process for us. We shall see. I’ll continue to update and Oh My Gosh am I looking forward to revealing how it all comes together in real life!