There's One Major Thing I'd Do Differently Next Time I Build a House. Here's What It Is

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • My husband and I built one of the houses we currently live in.
  • I love the way the house turned out, but I made some mistakes during the building process.
  • If I decide to build again in the future, I'll make as many choices as possible for features ahead of time, ensuring we don't go over our allowances and end up overspending. 

This was a big mistake during my first build that I won't make again.

Years ago, my husband and I got a mortgage and built a house. 

We still live in it today and it's our primary home (although we also have a vacation house). We love our home, and we're happy we went through the building process since doing so allowed us to customize the house more than would have been possible if we simply bought an existing property

What we didn't love, though, was the building process. In fact, we made a lot of mistakes during construction -- including one major error we'd never make again if we ever decide to build in the future. 

The biggest mistake we made during the home construction process

We didn't even realize we were making this mistake until we were well underway in our project, largely because we had never built a property before.

When we received our contract from the builder, and our price, we did not take notice of the fact there were lots of allowances in the agreement. Allowances are what they sound like -- you're allowed a certain amount of money to pay for things. If you go over that amount, you'll have to pay the difference between the allowance and what you spent. 

We had allowances for tons of different things: Our kitchen and bath cabinetry, our electrical work, our bathroom fixtures, our chandeliers, and more. This was just the tip of the iceberg. And it never occurred to us to check when we accepted the price to see if the allowance we had been offered for our flooring or our lighting was actually enough to pay for the types of things we would want in our home.

As we began making our selections through the building process, we found we were going over our allowances time and again. In some cases, we could have theoretically opted for cheaper products -- like carpeted floors instead of all hardwood. But in other circumstances, it would have been virtually impossible to get anything within our allotted amount.

Since we had so many allowances, we ended up overspending and our house cost us far more than the builder's original quoted price. This not only made our home costlier than we had originally wanted, but our loan was also based on the top-line number the builder had given us. That meant we had to pay cash out of our own pockets for the extras rather than having money from a lender to buy them. 

Here's how I'd do things differently next time 

If I ever build a house again, I will try to work with the builder to make as many -- or even all -- of our selections upfront rather than having allowances in our contract. This will help us avoid unpleasant surprises. If there do have to be allowances, I'll go check out what I can buy with the allowable amount of funds first. 

I'll also be sure to save extra cash in a high-yield savings account so I'm ready to cover any unexpected costs that still crop up in the building process. This will make the entire experience a lot less stressful financially, so I can enjoy it more. 

Alert: our top-rated cash back card now has 0% intro APR until 2025

This credit card is not just good – it’s so exceptional that our experts use it personally. It features a lengthy 0% intro APR period, a cash back rate of up to 5%, and all somehow for no annual fee! Click here to read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow