Living Unfinished

When we set out to build our new home, we started with house plans.

We scoured hundreds of house plans to find the one that we could build into our new home. The layout of the floor plan was important. The number of rooms was important. We surprisingly realized that square footage was not as important as the use of the space in the plan. Even though the internet brings thousands of options for you to choose from in terms of house plans, we did not find the “perfect” one. We selected one that was as close to it as possible. We still had to make some tweaks to it to make it our home. We made our pantry an office, we expanded our dining room, we made a garage closet our pantry in the kitchen and we added an art room in the attic.

We considered having an architect or draftsman draw our house plan, but we were in a time crunch once we decided to move forward. We selected our plan in early 2018 and began to build near the end of 2018. Before building, we sold our previous home of over 11 years and moved into another house temporarily while we started the building process. The process is not glorious. There is an excessive amount of “hurry up and wait” scenarios with permits, subcontractors, weather. Delays and added expenses are often considered typical in the building process, but they don’t feel typical when you are waiting on your home.

Living in a temporary space is not a burden. It is a blessing to have a place to stay while your home is built, but there are inconveniences associated with it.

Some of ours included not being able to find anything quickly that we had packed up from our previous home. Some things we didn’t find until we moved into our new home. Even when we looked in every bin or box, some things could not be located. Other differences were commuting times to school and work. This added additional fuel expenses as well. The positive side is all your loved ones are still with you under the same roof and you are growing in your new space together.

Two of the things I missed the most about not being in my own home was laundry and cooking. I missed my washer and dryer because I knew how long it took to do laundry. I missed my kitchen and kitchen utensils for the same reason-familiarity. Daily we watched the progress of our home build. It was exciting when we saw progress and disappointing when there was little to none.

During this time, as the wife of a contractor, I felt like we were in the constant state of living unfinished. From one phase to the next, our home was unfinished. Even when framing was finished, there were not any walls until drywall was finished and so on. It reminds me of our lives and how we live unfinished for all of it. We start school and don’t finish it until it’s over. We start jobs with work that never seems to get finished. We age as we live and grow wiser as we get older, but we are still living unfinished trying to better ourselves and our lives.

Toward the end of the building process, our nerves and energy were wearing thin. We did lots of work ourselves including hardwood flooring, designing, and clean up. My husband, Michael, built many of our design elements such as exposed wood beams, reading nook under the stairs, tile backsplashes, closet systems, etc. We burned the candle at both ends from daylight to hours past dark. I think we could have slept on concrete floors and been thankful for any sleep we got. Now, many months later, we are in our new home and we love it. Our children have adjusted well to the new space, and I am still working on adding touches to make it feel like our home.

The best and most overwhelming part of building is all the choices you make, and some choices can’t easily be changed like tile floors. Paint colors and carpet are easier to change later. We still have boxes to unpack, and photos and decorations to hang on the walls. We still need furniture to fill the rooms, so I guess we are still living unfinished. My words of wisdom to those who are considering building a home is practice patience now because you will need it later. At some point, it is more of a guarantee than a maybe that there will be delays and unexpected circumstances. As long as you have your family with you, you are home and will be living unfinished whether it is a temporary place to live or in your permanent new home.

-Michelle Hollingsworth, realtor and wife of contractor/owner Hollingsworth Homes