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The Home Stretch: Surviving the Final Phase of Building a Home

final phase of home building project

By Joel Beals — Giraffe designer

When you start a home construction project, there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation. You can’t wait to move in and enjoy the new home you’ve been dreaming about for the last few months (and maybe even years). You don’t really think much about the final days of the home building project — that last month or so as you’re pushing the project across the finish line. It’s a thrilling time, and it’s an important phase of your project.

In November 2018 we started construction on our new home. We tore down a tiny 1950s one-story bungalow and began building a house that I designed — a bold, modern three-story home that would sit on the same footprint as the original. 

If you’ve been following the Giraffe blog, you’ve come along with us on this journey. But we haven’t told you yet how it ended. The last month of a home building project is an experience like no other: you’re so close, and yet there’s still so much to do. It can be a surprising time, because you’re living in an already-there-but-not-quite-done kind of reality.

If you’re about to begin a home construction project, it can be helpful to know what to expect during that last month of wrapping everything up. Here’s what it was like for our family.

Read about our home building project: New Home Build Combines Bold Modern Lines with Natural Warmth

Messy Living

Beals home from the back porch

In that last month of construction, we were eagerly looking forward to the end of the project. It especially affected our three kids, and we all felt a bit unsettled. We moved into the house with about a month to go, but the kids didn’t have their own bedrooms to themselves, yet. 

There were a lot of people in the house every day. We had ten workers onsite, and many of them were there until 9:00 at night. 

To help relieve some of the stress, we took advantage of grandparents, a lot. The kids stayed overnight with them one or two nights each week, and it helped give them some space from the mess and chaos.

But despite the constant activity in the house, we were all excited. Practically everything was done, and we could see the finish line just in front of us. 

That said, there were still a lot of loose ends to tie up. That last month was full of small details that added up — paint, baseboards, towel racks, toilet paper holders, hand railings. There’s so much stuff you don’t really think about until the very end, and then it was all right there. 

But it’s all small stuff. We weren’t losing sleep over toilet paper holders.

Further reading: Should You Build or Renovate Your Ann Arbor Home?

Last-Minute Surprises

Beals kitchen

That last month had inspection details we also needed to cram in. There were several safety-related things to take care of, like railings and distances between stair steps — stuff that homeowners don’t typically think of, but are needed to pass inspection.

There were also some surprises that popped up at the end of the project. For example, we needed a rain garden in the backyard, and that was a last-minute surprise. We had to get that done quickly. 

There were also some drainage issues where the rainwater met the house. We had to divert the water to the backyard with a six-foot trench that stretched 30 feet across the yard. It wasn’t a small issue, and it snuck up on us.

Those unplanned issues were added expenses we weren’t planning on. But if we’d planned ahead better, we would have been more prepared. Be sure to plan for those small unexpected elements that can add up!

Through it all, Giraffe was great. The crew was here every day busting their butts to get the project wrapped up on time. While it meant having people in our home while we were living in the space, they were respectful of our family’s needs and took great care of us during that final month of home construction. 

I couldn’t ask for a better crew to take us to the end.

What We Loved

Even though the clutter and activity could be stressful, it was also an exciting time. We kept saying, “It’s almost done, it’s almost done!” That was the exciting part. The end was so near.

During the last month of the home building project, our family enjoyed seeing things coming together — especially certain design elements that we were excited about. We had some custom handrails and benches made, and those came in during that last push. 

We loved the fact that we had envisioned these things, and they were coming together before our eyes. It’s very gratifying to see your vision come to fruition in a tangible way. We loved every minute of that.

Handpicked related reading: Transforming a Tired Ranch into a Refreshing Retreat

Tips We Learned About Finishing a Home Build

What can you do ahead of time to make that last month as smooth as possible? Here are a few things our family learned.

  1. Plan better. Keep an eye out throughout the project and make a checklist of all the loose ends that need to be tied up. Having a record of them can help you plan your attack in the last few weeks and avoid a last-minute scramble. 
  2. Stay on top of permits. Make sure all those issues are taken care of in a timely manner, because they can add weeks to the project.
  3. Get to know other homeowners who have done similar projects. It’s exciting to share your stories with them, but they can also help you keep things in perspective. That last month can be emotional, and the chaos can seem bigger than it really is. 
  4. Purge as much stuff as you can before moving in. Our house is smaller than the last house, so we needed to reduce our stuff. It’s a good idea to reduce your possessions before that final month. You don’t want to move all those things you’ll never use and are still hanging around the house. Why start life in your new home with extra clutter?

Project Profile: Transforming a Drab Basement into a Warm Sanctuary

Life After the Last Month

Beals house porch

It’s been a couple months since our home construction project was finished. The house looks pretty lived in, now, and we’re comfortable here. It took a good two or three weeks for it to feel like our home. We’re very happy with it now, and there isn’t much that we would change at all.

We’ve found a rhythm with the family life. The kids are comfortable and there’s a lot less drama now that we’re settled in. All the construction stress is gone and we’re enjoying life as a family.

We really love the location. For the first time ever, we’re walking our kids to school. And downtown Ann Arbor is just a 10-minute stroll from home. 

We also love the kitchen, and we probably spend 80 percent of our time there. The dining table is kind of a catch-all spot — we do everything there. The kids are into their art and crafts, and we eat dinner there. It’s a mess all the time, but that’s okay.

We’re finishing the 3rd floor, the studio area, and I’m pretty sure it will be the kids’ favorite space. They also love their bedrooms. Each bedroom is in a different corner of the house, so they each have their own corner.

That last month of building a home was full of excitement, joy, anticipation, and chaos. It was stressful, but wonderful too. Above all, it was definitely worth it. Giraffe’s crew was incredibly dedicated to making our dreams a reality, and our family loves the home that we built.

Giraffe Design Build for Your Home Building Project

If you’re looking for a design-build company to take you from concept to completion, Giraffe Giraffe Design Build creates inspired designs and environments, built with excellent craftsmanship, delivered with integrity and empathy, to delight people and planet. If this sounds like the kind of home-build company that fits your builder profile, let’s talk. We’d love to be your partner to bring your dreams to life.

Call us today to start a conversation about your dream home building project.