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Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

Once upon a time, in December 2013 to be exact, our little family of three stepped inside our newly finished cookie cutter house for the very first time.

(Curious to see this blog’s very first post ever? Check out the very very “before” here.)

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

If we were a normal family, we would have moved in our furniture, unpacked our suitcases, and called it done. Well…we’re not normal. (And normal is overrated anyway, am I right?)

Mere months after moving into our new house that still smelled like fresh paint, we busted out the power tools.

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

We pulled light fixtures off of walls to make them something different. We created a construction zone in our living room. We even spray painted our existing bathroom fixtures. To be fair, after we tear it apart, we put it back together again in an even better way.

And since we started documenting our DIY adventures upon move-in day, a lot of people must be thinking, why didn’t you just buy an old house and fix it up instead?

If you ever wanted to know our reasoning behind it, here it is. (And of course, everyone’s homeowning experience is different. This is just our take.)

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

1. We had no “surprises” to worry about.

Old houses are great and all. Beautiful even. But y’all, they intimidate the bajeezers out of me. Two years ago, when we bought our house through a stock subdivision builder, Robert and I knew very little about home improvement (I much less than him).

So it was great for us to buy a house that was under warranty by the builder. Old houses are a big risk, especially for someone without any contracting knowledge. We knew that our house would be sound in structure, electrical, plumbing, and any other money pit scares that might come with an older home. (Ever seen the Tom Hanks movie “The Money Pit”? I’d be freaking out like Shelley Long.)

It’s been a great place to learn with our training wheels on.

2. We got the biggest bang for our buck.

Stock builder houses are known for being cheaper per square foot than a custom built home. Or at least, in our area that’s the case because we looked into that option.

Because our subdivision was building nearly all identical houses, the builder was able to keep the prices very low. Even though our house didn’t have any real personality or charm, we couldn’t argue with the big amount of square footage for the smaller price we paid.

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

3. Location, location, location.

If the perfect condition, low-cost, charming house exists, it was nowhere on our radar while we were house hunting in our town. The suburbs for us was a great way to get the best of both worlds- a little taste of the countryside without being miles from a grocery store and close to the city without hearing horns honking and sirens blaring. Great schools, welcoming community, and a 10 minute commute for Robert. Win-win-win.

4. It’s safe for our family.

When we started house hunting back in 2013, we’d looked at a few fixer uppers that really tempted us to buy an older house with lots of charm, but the biggest scare we had was safety.

Our daughter was not even a year old yet, and the thought of her being around lead paint, mold, asbestos, or even the possibility of an electrical fire made me go into mama mode.

5. It was the perfect blank slate.

I really had no idea what my decorating style was in the beginning (though I found some tricks to figure it out), so all white walls and beige carpet really gave me room to explore. The possibilities were endless, and I didn’t have to work around any outdated features as I figured things out.

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

6. It’s very energy efficient!

Our builder used all energy efficient materials in our house, so our utility bills are much lower than it would be in an older home. And no one likes a drafty, cold room in the dead of winter anyway, right?

7. We could cheaply change it to reflect our personality.

Since there were hardly any interesting architectural features in our house, it’s our favorite thing to add to jazz up a room.

Our wide doorway connecting our kitchen and living room had no moulding, so we added a faux beam for about $80. Our windows had no trim at all, so we added our own moulding that cost us very little. We added interest in our hallway and foyer with board and batten and a shiplap wall for much cheaper than we could have ever done through paying for upgrades in the initial building process.

8. We could pick our own pace on the to-do list.

Because we didn’t have any emergency home projects in the very beginning, everything on our to-do list was cosmetic. We can take our time in choosing which projects we want to do because a new build is safe, efficient, and modern. Although, we still choose to work fairly quickly around here.

Why We Tear Apart Our Brand New House | Bless'er House

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve definitely run into some disadvantages with the suburb cookie cutter living thing (ahem…HOA, I’m looking at you), but it’s great for this phase of our lives. We still dream of wide open spaces in an old, character-filled farmhouse…just maybe when we get more brave and build a bigger nest egg.

Have you found any great advantages to living in a new house? Are you in the DIY-in-your-new-house club too? Or did you get lucky with the perfect gem of an older home? I love hearing these house adventure stories, so bring ’em on!

P.S.  THANK YOU  to all of you who took the reader survey yesterday! I was so touched by so many of the sweet comments y’all wrote. My heart truly overflows. I love you guys! There’s still time left to take the survey and enter the giveaway if you haven’t yet. 🙂

 

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38 Comments

  1. I love that you have added your own touches to a builder-grade house! And you do an amazing job – your blog and home have been a great inspiration to me! Pretty sure ours was cookie-cutter when it was built in 1975 so it sometimes feels like we’re doing the same, just 40 years after it was built.

  2. Great explanation for your choices and solid reasoning. My husband and I build from scratch in Greece and we are still not done… never will be the way the economy is going. Good luck with your journey and know we all support you and will be with you.

  3. We bought a house built in the 1970’s back in 2012 that was disgusting. It had been on the market for some time and my husband and I saw the potential right away. My husband does have a construction background so that part didn’t scare me. We did a lot of upgrades before we moved in and continued for a long time once we were living here. We took a little break and are back at it now doing more changes we love. They remind me of what you guys are doing to make your house fit your style now. My dream would be a fixer farmhouse on some land, but that’s not cheap where we live in CA….it’s always fun to dream!

    1. Ohhh yeah the CA market is so high! Our house would cost 10x as much there as it does here, I’m sure. That’s great that you guys have done so much already though! It’s a neverending, tiring journey but it’s a lot of fun too. 🙂

  4. I think you’re doing a fantastic job with your cookie-cutter house, Lauren! When it comes times to sell, you’ll be amazed at how your home with shine above all the others. BTW – I enjoyed seeing you on Periscope yesterday. It’s always nice to hear the voice behind the blog.

    1. Thank you, Suzy! We’re having a lot of fun transforming it. I actually needed that reminder about Periscope! I keep meaning to post the video here on the blog. So glad you enjoyed it!

  5. We made a similar choice with our last house as well. Eventhough it was more semi-custom, we had lots of changes available to us, we chose to only add what would be difficult to add later (like plumbing, electrical placement etc.). We chose to add our own touches as we lived in the home. It was nice because we didn’t “need” to do anything to our home and could choose projects as we wanted. We added a lot of equity to the house by doing it this way too!

    1. We did the same thing! What few upgrades we did choose were with the same reasoning you had. We chose to upgrade our bathroom to be bigger and include double sinks and a separate garden tub from the shower since there’s no way that would be DIY-able for us. Good to know you added equity! That’s great! I’ve been asked about return of investment before.

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