Building A House: Part 1. Sharing my thoughts, lessons learned and what I would have done differently. This was the first house we have built from the ground up and let me tell you, building in 2020 was not easy.
Before I begin, I want to say I am truly thankful for the house and am so happy to be moving in soon. We chose to build with Toll Brothers because of the location of the house and our budget. Toll Brothers is also a large, national home builder with 50+ years of experience building luxury homes. Overall, our experience was a good one and we are very happy to be moved into our new house. Finally! Hooray! There are, however, many things to take into consideration when building and honestly, I’m not sure I would want to build with Toll Brothers again.
I did not move to Pennsylvania knowing we were going to build. In fact, I didn’t want to build a house. We simply couldn’t find an existing home that we all liked and agreed on so we decided to build. For those who don’t know, Toll Brothers is not a fully custom new home build. You select a home design and go from there. You still select everything and can pick upgrades but you are confined to the Toll Brothers design and cannot make any changes. This, to me, is the hardest part. If I ever get to build another new house again, I will go with a builder where you can build what you want and not stay confined to a design, and are able to make changes along the way.
We purchased the plot the summer of 2019. Because of COVID, everything was put on hold and we ran into a number of delays due to COVID, materials shortages, lack of construction workers, major appliance shortages and more. I also didn’t even think about living in a new construction community (it’s a pain!). There are about 20+ more houses that need to be built so we are living with constant construction people everywhere, trash, dust, mud, tractors, loud noises, etc. It’s just another thing to consider if you are looking at new construction. We’ve been in the house for almost five months now and there will probably be constant construction people everywhere, trash, dust, mud, tractors, mud, rocks, those huge trash bins and all sorts of stuff in the road for at least another year I’m guessing.
When You Build with Toll Brothers
This was our experience with Toll Brothers. Your experience with them might be completely different. First, you are assigned a designer and schedule several meetings with the designer at their design center where you make all of your selections. It’s great because everything is there so you can see samples, and touch and feel materials; mostly all under one roof. There are four to five different meetings where I made all of the selections. I really liked how this was broken up. It’s still an overwhelming process but breaking up the meetings helped a lot. If I had this part to do over again, I would have done the following: knew exactly what I wanted, did more research on different materials, and asked more questions.
The entire process was very overwhelming. We had literally just moved to Pennsylvania and I was also trying to get the kids acclimated to their new school, our new lives, our new city and I was selecting everything I needed for our new house. This is probably why people say to rent for a year and then look to buy. It was too much. I had some photos from Instagram for inspiration. There were a number of things where I asked my designer her opinion and then just went with what she said. Fortunately, she had great taste and I think everything came together really well.
Building A House: Part 1
We basically upgraded everything. The floors, the appliances, the cabinets, the counter tops, the hardware, literally everything. There were a few instances where we ran into issues where I wasn’t happy with the outcome, or mistakes were made or wrong items installed but Toll Brothers worked with me and made the corrections and I am very happy with how everything turned out. If you have plans to build a house; and certainly if you are building with Toll Brothers, this is what I would recommend thinking about.
- know exactly what you want in advance
- know your overall style, look & feel and colors that you want
- do your research on everything and I mean everything, from the floors to the trim to the hardware that goes on everything
- know all of the terminology of materials
- ask questions!
- if you have any upgrades, make sure they are reflected in your final contract with photos so there is no confusion
- fight for what you want if you see something wrong or incorrect
- you have to be okay with everything you decide because once you decide and it’s final, you can’t make any changes if you build with Toll Brothers
Once everything has been selected with the design center, you are assigned a project manager. Shortly after this point, COVID hit and everything was put on hold. Because of COVID, all of our weekly meetings were phone calls and I feel like the overall process was a bit confusing and unorganized initially. This is not due to Toll Brothers but because of COVID. Everyone was pivoting and figuring out how to do business and get things done. We also selected a brand new Toll Brothers house design and did several upgrades, so they were building this house for the very first time, with upgrades.
Building A House: Settlement and Final Stages
In the last several months, we faced delays, mistakes and more. The build process is never perfect. This was not an easy process, building a house in the middle of a pandemic, but I am beyond thrilled with the finished house.
In the end, I applaud the wonderful team at Toll Brothers. The sales team, the design team and our project manager and the construction team. Bob, our construction manager, and Brian, our project manager, really worked hard to make sure this was the house we envisioned from the beginning. I am really thankful for their hard work. There are still things that need to be finished on the exterior that they will finish in the spring but overall, everything looks great!
If you are thinking of building, or are thinking of building with Toll Brothers and have questions, please leave me a comment below. I hope this post helps!