Taking the intimidation out of buying new
• By Rebecca Long Pyper •
Deciding to build a custom home is one of the biggest — and most expensive — choices a person can make, which can intimidate the heck out of potential homeowners.
But the fear factor isn't an issue for Bryce Bybee of Bybee Builders. For 11 years he’s been building not only for others but for his own family too, which includes wife Becky and two daughters. And he must be doing something right: This year his personal residence, the first one he ever entered in the Pocatello Parade of Homes, won the people’s choice award.
Here, Bryce shares his own tips for boosting your confidence before building:
Start collecting ideas. Bryce had a pretty clear picture of what he wanted in his new house. “With all the houses I’ve built I’ve accumulated all the things I think are important and all the things that aren’t important,” he said.
But even those without lots of house-building experience can come up with a list of must-haves. Search for images of rooms you like, and rely on online resources like Pinterest and Houzz for more inspiration than you can sift through. Bryce particularly recommends Houzz for its ability to organize files and search for specific qualities in homes and spaces.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. In their last house the Bybees selected options common in east Idaho — earth tones, slate tile and alder cabinets. This time around they wanted a cleaner look, so they chose a crisp contrast of gray walls and lots of white millwork.
Knowing what you like up front really is key, and be confident in your preferences — after all, this is the place you’re going to live, so it ought to look like you. Bryce’s own kitchen features white cabinets and a variety of tile he and Becky hand selected. Having grown up in a house with a white kitchen, Bryce knew he wanted one too, despite comments from the peanut gallery.
“A lot of people said, ‘You’re going to hate having a white kitchen; white doesn’t hide anything,’ but I don’t know that you want to hide anything in your kitchen,” he said.
Paint is the backdrop of a room, so choose colors and finishes carefully. Since painters understand the way paint works, ask yours a lot of questions when making decisions. Painters can also help you steer clear of “off tones” — ones that lean towards a shade you don’t want — and will know which sheen to choose for the function of each room.
Divide and conquer. For couples who completely disagree about style, Bryce suggests letting the spouse who cares more about each room choose how it’ll look — that might mean the front room and kitchen for the ladies and the TV room and master bedroom for the guys. In their house Becky wanted a gas fireplace and Bryce wanted wood burning. They compromised in a practical way: A gas unit was installed in the family room upstairs, adjacent to the kitchen, and the basement family room, where movies will be watched, got a wood-burning stove.
Make the house work for you. Consider your lifestyle — the one you have and the one you hope to have — when planning your house.
The Bybees’ home has a salon in the basement for Becky’s business. There’s a basement playroom with a secret tunnel under the stairs and a splash pad in the backyard, designed with the hopes that the neighborhood kids will come over during the summer. Bryce and Becky knew they wanted a larger master too and a bathroom that’d be a real retreat — that meant an all-digital steam shower with five heads, plus a bathtub in an alcove with a barrel-vault ceiling for a cozy, enclosed feel.
Plan on $10K extra. This will help cover ideas added when building — and ideas are always added. That’s because people customize as they go; otherwise, “when you get to the end, you’re mad that you didn’t get what you wanted,” Bryce said. The extra stash can be used to cover things like moldings, built-ins, sound systems and more — the kind of things that make a home special.
New construction can be intimidating, but remember that starting from scratch means complete control over creating your dream home. Besides, Bryce said most homeowners are pleased with the outcome once the project wraps.
“Building is fun. By the time it’s over they’ve had a good time; it’s a good experience,” he said.