Stressed out building a new home

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3 Easy tips to avoid stress when building a new home

Are you thinking about building a new home in Tacoma or Seattle Washington? Or a backyard cottage or ADU (or DADU) in Tacoma? Congratulations on your decision to build a home. It’s one thing to be financially educated and prepared for the long haul but are you equally emotionally prepared and equipped with the tools to manage your personal emotions? This can be just as important as financial preparation or arguably even more. Why? Because the most financially prepared person can have their dreams shattered if your own emotions stop the building process altogether.

I have seen buyers literally have mental breakdowns and both propose to get married and separated on the lot they were going to build on…before the home was even built. I have also seen buyers that are cool, calm and collected. The latter had the same set of building challenges as the former but their demeanor and outcome were drastically different. Why?

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In this article, you will learn 3 Easy tips to avoid stress when buying land and building a new home.

#1 Beware of Irrational exuberance!

What is irrational exuberance? This refers to buyers enthusiasm that drives the new home prices up to levels that isn’t supported by good judgment, comparable sales or their home building budget. You must avoid this at all costs.

Have you ever gone to a car dealer with a budget fixed solidly in your mind? You told yourself that you would not spend $1 dollar over ______? What happens? You go to a car dealership and drive away in a car you did not plan on buying and often times over budget. How did that happen? Irrational Exuberance kicked in! The excitement and heat of the moment. The “I deserve this” mentality trumped the misers logic.

When building a new home, beware of model homes, product showrooms and all things that are shiny. Double-check your budget, often. These are wonderful and exciting places and a trap if you let your emotions run wild.

The Ecstasy behind buying is a release of natural Dopamine in the brain. It feels good to buy what our eyes desire. Buyer beware.


How do you know if you are exhibiting irrational exuberance? Your body gives off signals. Do a temperature check on your own body. Pay attention to your breathing. Is it faster? Pay attention to your heart rate. Is your heart beating faster? Can you feel emotional excitement? How do you feel? Good? Elated? Overly excited? Is your mind racing? Are your eyes fixed on a certain floor plan, feature or product? Listen to your verbal and body language. Is your rate of speech accelerated? Does what you want to buy match your written goals and financial budget?


After a large purchase made with irrational exuberance, we often feel buyers remorse. Did I pay too much? Did I make the right decision? I need to take it back! Maybe we look for ways to justify the purchase. Maybe we look for ways to return the product or get out of the deal. We look for ways to make the decision right in our mind. Irrational exuberance makes purchasing decisions emotionally and then attempts to back it up with logic. When logic cannot be found anger, depression, disappointment and a whole host of other feelings pop up. We then get fearful. Can I afford it? What if I lose my job? I will go bankrupt and lose everything. We can go to the far extreme in our minds when we make emotional decisions influenced or cloaked with irrational exuberance. Before we know it out Fight or flight instincts kick in and we want to rescind the sale or fight with the salesperson, management, your spouse or yourself.

#2 Check yourself before you wreck yourself!

Check your expectations at the beginning stages of the home building. Disappointment can often be caused by improper expectations. Managing your expectations is critical to having a successful build.

How to manage your expectation when building a home in Pierce, King, Kitsap, Mason, Lewis, Greys or Thurston County. Remember no two building jurisdictions are the same. They all have different building regulations and fee structures. Health department regulations with water and sanitary sewer or septic are different in all jurisdictions. Critical area and environmental policies are different. Some areas in Thurston county are concerned about the Mazama pocket Gopher and others are more concerned about taking down a tree like a protected Oregon White Oak. Also what was yesterday, may not be today. Laws, rules, codes, and building ordinances are constantly changing. In many ways pricing a new home and nailing down production times is like shooting a moving target with a rubber band gun.

Having the correct mindset based on the realities of home building, specifically, the main issue that we hate to acknowledge but are forced to look at is that everyone has a financial budget. It’s also not just about squeezing the home to fit your budget. Maybe your budget is not reasonable for what you want. You may need to increase your budget or reduce your expectations on the home. You can also find a different land location, smaller land size, reduce your home size or change the finish level. You may also need to shop and find a builder that can build more affordable to fit your budget. There are home builders that build high-end custom homes all the way down to builders who value engineer their home floor plans to build them as economically as possible. It comes down to the wants versus needs paradox.

Are your expectations in line with reality regarding price fluctuations and timing? Remember land development and building a home outdoors in the weather entails working with other humans (not machines) using material suppliers with fluctuating product pricing and supply limitations which are also influenced by global economic factors, holidays, weather, human weaknesses, political and governmental regulations and many other factors which drive material and ultimately homes prices up. It also increases home building times.

You will go a long way simply understanding the realities and challenges of building a new home and adjusting either your budget, your timelines or lower your expectations. Here is a tip: if you are quoted a price, ask how much it could go up to, then plan on adding 5-10% to that number. If they give you a delivery date, allow for additional time and for an unforeseen occurrence. If you plan your build on the lowest price you hear and the shortest timelines possible, you are certainly setting yourself up for failure and your expectations are based on what you want to hear and not based on reality.

#3 Write it down.

How much is your budget for Appliances? Flooring? Landscaping? Write it down and refer back to it often with each decision. Stay within budget. If you decide to pay more for one item, deduct it from another area of your budget.

If you are making an unplanned shopping visit, leave your checkbook and credit cards at home so you don’t make an impulsive decision.

Looking at your written budget and a list of pros and cons for each purchase helps you use logic when buying. Logic is fact-based and not emotionally driven. Logic is consistent and intelligent. Once you get away from all of the shiny items that glitter, you will fall in love with your choice and it will become both emotionally satisfying with the knowledge it was a smart logical choice and you stuck to your plan and budget.

Reinforce your personal power with a written budget and base decisions on logic and calm the fear inspired nerves.

Sleep on it and ask others their opinions before you make a decision where an item or upgrade is out of your budget.

So relax, sit down, put your seatbelt on because you are about to go on an emotional rollercoaster ride of your life.

And you know what?

In the end, it’s worth it!

Author Details
Don’s love of all things real estate has motivated him to spend the last 30 years in buying, building and selling, rehabbing, flipping, lending, Developing land and large scale plats and is a nationally recognized award-winning real estate professional.
Don’s love of all things real estate has motivated him to spend the last 30 years in buying, building and selling, rehabbing, flipping, lending, Developing land and large scale plats and is a nationally recognized award-winning real estate professional.

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