The Road to Buying My First Home: Part 3

When we left off in part 2, my wife and I had just suffered a loss in the bidding war for an amazing house that included 1 acre of land and a nice, tight-knit community of neighbors. Although this was a big disappointment for us, it didn’t take long for another amazing opportunity to present itself. From our perspective, If buying a house in this situation seemed out of reach initially, then surely building our own home would also seem out of reach too. However, at the very least, the fact that we found something so good that was so close to our price range made us realize that maybe there were more possibilities out there than we thought. Especially considering the fact that we were looking so far away from a metropolitan area. Although I was a little skeptical about our ability to build our own home, regardless of where we lived, I was about to once again find out that there are a lot more possibilities out there than I ever imagined.
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Visiting the New Build Site

The first visit to the new build site, which is run by Dan Ryan Builders, included a tour of the model home and initial meeting with Justin, the site’s sales consultant. Although I had some doubts as to whether this would be an option for us, I have to admit that I couldn’t help, but to fall in love with the site and model home. As I walked around, I couldn’t help, but to feel right at home. Although we were presented with a few different options, the model home layout, the Fairfax, grabbed me instantly. I tend to be pretty easy to please and not too particular, but I knew that I felt pretty strongly about this model. Perhaps it was because I already saw what the finished product might look like. It could have been the openness and spaciousness of the model. It could have been as simple as the situation just feeling right to me intuitively. Whatever the case was, I knew we were on the right track if the house was affordable to us.

Preliminary steps

As you can probably imagine,the process of building your own home is pretty involved. While my intuition told me that the Fairfax model was the right one, it takes more than a few gut feelings to build the house of your dreams. In our case, not only did my wife and I have to agree on the model of the home, we also had to go out side and pick the right lot out of the ones that were still available. We also had to make sure every piece of molding, cabinet, and other interior fixtures that we picked could fit in within our taste and budget. You may not think about it when you are living day-to-day, but every piece that makes your house a house has some kind of value to it. Every door knob, light, drawer, etc factors in to the overall price of the home. This may seem like common sense to some, but the reality of how every little thing in your house comes together to form your mortgage was one of the most fascinating parts of this process.

Luckily for us, there were still quite a few lots open at the time we visited this site. The tricky part of this process is that some lots on site were flatter than others. Our goal was to pick the flattest piece of land possible. We also had the option of living within the inner circle of the site or in one of the lots on the surrounding outer circle of the site. Initially, this was a difficult decision since we favored living in the outter circle of the site as opposed to the inner circle. Not only was some of the land flatter on the outter circle, it also seemed to feel a little more natural than being placed in the “middle” of the site. This along with designing the interior of the house made for some interesting discussion between my wife and over the next week or two. Initially we had our hearts set on a nice lot within the outter circle, but unfortunately they got back to us later on and said that it had actually been sold already. As a result, we settled on placing a down payment on a great lot in the inner circle of the site.


Although we still had a long way to go before closing, the day we signed on to build this house was was a very proud moment in my life. This part of my story might make more sense as I continue to write more blogs within the “My Story” section of this website. We all have our challenges in life, but considering all of the stuff i’ve been through, it was very gratifying to finally make it to this point. Between my wife, real estate agent, Laura and my lender, Brandon, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be surrounded by. Although this was a victory for me and my wife, I couldn’t help, but to feel a lot of personal satisfaction on that day. This was only the beginning. We still had a long way to go before the house was truly ours. We still had to design it, build it, and officially close on it. At the very least, this marked the start of a short journey towards the completion of a goal i’ve had for over 10 years.

After gaining a pre-approval from our lender, reserving the lot, and coming up with an interior and exterior design that fit our price range and taste, the next step was to go to the Dan Ryan Design Center in order to make our final design selections. Although our initial number crunching design appointment at the model home was very detailed, it didn’t spark some of the debates we wound up having at the design center. Deciding what type of finish our kitchen floors and cabinets would have proved to be challenging. The debate mostly centered around a dark finish versus a lighter finish. My wife was in favor of a lighter wood versus me being more in favor of a darker finish. We even considered potentially mixing our wood finishes with dark and light wood in order to come to some kind of compromise. After spending some time discussing, mixing, and matching all different types of finishes, ultimately, we decided to go with a darker finish. To be honest, there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it. By the time we went through all of our options, based on our eye and compromise, the darker wood seemed to be the best fit for us based on our home design.

As you can see in the slide show below, my wife and I had an endless amount of combinations to pick from. Making sure that our cabinets and floor layout matched was a pretty tough task. These are just some of the choices we had. We probably spent more time on this step than any other during the pre-building phase. The one lesson I learned during this part of the process is that there is no right or wrong answer to which layout is the best. It really just comes down to taste. The fact that my wife was more in favor of the darker cabinets meant that a darker kitchen floor layout was the better fit by the time we were done mixing/matching. As of today, this is a decision we are both very happy with. As you’ll see in later parts of this series, we decided to go with a lot of the color schemes we took pictures of/screenshot along the way.

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Soon after the design phase, the pre-construction meeting and groundbreaking was set to begin. Other than a few inconsistencies with the overall layout that we discussed prior to signing, everything had gone very smooth throughout the process up to this point. In part 4, I will briefly touch on what these inconsistencies were. Plenty of pictures of the process will be posted with the next two blogs as I was pretty persistent in documenting the experience. My wife and I couldn’t have been more excited or proud to build our home from the ground up!

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