After 11 long months, we finally got the keys to Da Baum Shelter on May 10, 2021! I meant to post this with the move, but we are still unpacking and getting settled! We officially signed last Summer in June and expected to close in March, but with all the craziness with COVID, we got pushed back 2 months. I was terrible at posting updates, but I’m planning to post more regularly all the stuff we’ve been doing in the house once we’re settled in! I loved watching our empty lot turn into this gorgeous giant house, hope you guys enjoyed it, too.
The latest update on Da Baum Shelter: We broke ground last weekend! We got calls from our super a few days before letting us know that our permits have been approved and they were ready to break ground last Friday! We’ve been driving by the lot when we’re in the are just to see the neighborhood and our neighbor’s home has been coming up quick so we’re excited to see the progress on ours! Since all the upgrades we picked are totally final now, I decided to do a post on upgrades we did and didn’t do.
The great thing about building a new house is that you get to pick exactly what you want and how you want it. The bad thing about building a house is, everything costs money and things add up really quickly! I talked about all the things we wanted in a house in a previous post, but I wanted to go more into what upgrades we chose, which ones we didn’t, and how much they cost. (Costs are rough estimates).
I’ll start off with all the upgrades we did do so you can understand why we opted out of the others:
- Waterfall kitchen island ($5400) – The only reason we got this upgrade was because this something I just really wanted for aesthetic reasons. (See the inspo pic above.) We weren’t sure if we could do it at all until we went to the design center and Adam so graciously let me have it! I can’t wait to see how it turns out!
- Soft close drawers in the kitchen ($1200) – I had soft close drawers in my old apartment and there’s just something so satisfying about pushing them closed. Not to mention, you prevent slamming the drawers and causing wear and tear! I would’ve loved to put these everywhere, but they charge you per drawer so we settled on only the drawers in kitchen since they would see the most wear.
- Built in refrigerator cabinets ($600) – I could’ve done without this upgrade but Adam thought we should do it and looking at the pictures, I agreed. The picture below left shows the standard cabinets around the fridge and the right is the built in. It’s flushed to the fridge and just looks so much better.
- Trash can drawer in island & wetbar ($150/ea) – We have one of these in our current house and I love having the trash can hidden instead of out in the open. We opted to add one in the wetbar area too to save space! One thing a friend warned me about is making sure they have the trash drawer goes from floor to counter instead of having a smaller drawer on top of it to match the look of the other cabinets. The smaller trash drawer limits the size of the trash can you put in there.
- Baja shower ($3200) – This upgrade was purely Adam, I could’ve done with a regular glass door but when we saw the large baja shower in the model, he was completely sold. I actually do love that the shower is so large, it doesn’t need a door – I leave our current shower door open because I’m paranoid mold will start forming when we leave it shut!
- Gameroom with a wetbar ($7400) – This was something we both wanted and loved from seeing the model pictures. We love having people over and hosting so this room was perfect to put the pool table in! Plus having the wetbar at the back of the room makes it a perfect hangout spot.
- Bay window in master bedroom ($2600) – This was another upgrade we weren’t planning on doing, but seeing it in the model we loved. It makes the master feel bigger and the windows bring it so much natural light.
- Atrium doors for the outside patio ($1700) – We originally wanted sliding doors to the backyard patio but they were almost 10x more expensive! We have an entry from the living room and in the dining room and we couldn’t put in sliding doors in one place and not in the other without it looking unbalanced. Atrium doors were a much cheaper middle ground since it still lets more light in the house than a regular door. Plus, when I thought about it, it’s probably better to have the doors because the sliding doors will let in more flies and bugs in the summer!
- Fan over the outside patio ($600) – It probably would’ve been cheaper to get these done post-build but we both just wanted it out there. Texas is hot almost all year round so we’d make pretty good use out of this fan.
- Lockers near double garage ($2400) – One thing I wanted was a place to put my purse down when I get home so we opted to get the lockers near the double garage. I could’ve done without this one, too, but if we didn’t put it in it would’ve just been a big white wall. There’s hooks for coats/purses and drawers on the bottom.
- Dedicated 220V plug in double garage ($800) – This is definitely all for Adam! He has a Tesla that he prefers to charge at one of the super chargers but it would be nice to have a plug at home when he needs it.
If you’re counting, that’s over $26,000 in upgrades! And that doesn’t include all the design options we chose! Here are the upgrades we opted not to do:
- Mediterranean Elevation (~$43,000) – Adam and I were both set on having a Mediterranean style exterior until we saw the price! We both love the stucco and tile roofs but for $43k we said no thanks.
- Fireplaces / Hearth Rooms ($3900) – We had the option to add a fireplace in the dining room but we opted not to. It looked nice in the model home but it’s strictly for aesthetics since we’ve never used the fireplace that’s in Adam’s current house.The house even came with a fireplace on the side/middle of the living room but we chose to delete it from the floor plan and replace it with an atrium door. Apparently fireplaces are a Texas thing, but I’m a Hawai’i girl and don’t know anything about that!
- Media Room ($12,000) – Like I mentioned in the announcement post, Adam hates Media Rooms so the $12k price tag made it easy to say no. I would’ve been okay with it, but doing the media room upgrade would’ve taken the space of the game room/wet bar and the game room would’ve been much smaller. By not doing the media room, we have the option to finish the ‘attic space’ later if we want to.
- Sliding Glass Doors ($13,000) – Instead of the atrium doors to the backyard patio, we really wanted double sliding glass doors. The huge glass doors let in so much light and looked so good in the model, but one door was $6k and the other was $7k. Compared to the $1700 for both atrium doors it was an easy decision.
- Extended Patio ($3900) – We liked the idea of the extended patio but in reality it was only 3 feet longer and the hearth room was mandatory. This was also an easy no.
- Standup Showers ($2,000/ea) – We opted for the baja shower in the master and I think would’ve been nice to have a stand up shower in the guest room downstairs but for $2k, it wasn’t that important to us.
- Utility Sink in Laundry Room ($2,700) – This was another nice to have but not important to us.
- Freestanding Tub ($5,000) I LOVE the way freestanding tubs look, they’re so luxe and stylish but for $5k, we couldn’t justify the price. Plus I already got my waterfall counter so I couldn’t fight for this one!
- Stainless Steel Hood Bent ($2,000) – We both loved the modern look of a stainless steel hood vent, but this upgrade cost $2k. The cost of the cabinets included the cabinets around the vent at no extra cost and upgrading the vent wouldn’t cut any costs around the cabinets so we opted not to do this.
- Extended Upper Cabinet ($5,000) – Another aesthetic thing I would’ve loved to do but we couldn’t justify the cost and it wasn’t practical. I’m only 5’2″ so I couldn’t reach those cabinets unless I had a ladder and if we wanted to put in glass cabinets for decor, those would’ve been an extra $700. They also recommended doing puck lights for another few hundred so the price just kept driving up for something I wasn’t completely sold on.
- Pot Filler ($2,000) – I really wanted a pot filler over the stove but Adam thought it was unnecessary. I do all the cooking and I love the way it looks, but after researching it more I decide it wasn’t worth it. If it starts leaking, it’ll cause all kinds of problems over the stove and I don’t really need to fill up pots with water all that much. This was just another nice to have.
I know that was a pretty length post, but when we were deciding on upgrades it was hard for us to decide what we wanted! Hopefully that helps other new builders out there.
I’m back with another Baum Shelter update! We decided back in June to build a new home with Darling Homes, finalized our design selections a couple weeks ago, and next we’ll have our build meeting with our sales person and the building super. (See this post for an overview of our process). First we had a meeting with the cabinet people, scheduled two meetings at the design center, and had a separate meeting with the tech guy on wiring. By the second design meeting, we had to have all our decisions finalized so it all happened really quickly, but I am really happy with all the decisions we’ve made!
I was concerned about making design selections during COVID, but luckily, the design center was taking in person appointments with a designer – they weren’t allowing walk-ins, but we were scheduled two three-hour appointments and we were required to wear a mask. I loved the designer we were assigned, as soon as she figured out that I was going for a more modern look, she showed me suggestions for everything that I immediately loved. If a price point was too high, she showed us better alternatives. It can be overwhelming with so many options, but I do think having a good designer made everything so much easier. The strategy at the first meeting was to input all our first choices with some backups in mind. We went home, mulled on the choices and make the final decisions by the second meeting. At the second meeting our designer had all our choices from the first meeting laid out and we went through all of them to confirm or make changes.
The hardest decision for us was the floors. We knew we wanted wood floors in all the main areas, carpet in the rooms, and tile in the bathrooms, but wood floors are really expensive so we had to dial back the level of flooring. We ended up narrowing it down to the four options below:
We chose the darkest floors on the left at the first meeting, but when we went home to think about it, we just kept going back and forth on the lighter floors. I looked up so many flooring pictures on Pinterest and my biggest concern was that the swatch wouldn’t translate when it was installed and I would hate the variations. We ultimately decided to go lighter because of maintenance and how bright it makes the room look. We narrowed it down to these three after putting it against our kitchen cabinet choices:
We narrowed it down to these two – Mohawk Industries Modern Lights Miami Oak and Mohawk Industries Cafè Society Froth Oak.
We ended up choosing the darker Miami Oak because we thought the Froth Oak would just be too light with the white cabinets. It was so hard making the decision because of different lighting! This is Adam holding up our final decision:
This is when we came back in the second time and took pictures in different lighting – the swatch was even slightly different than the first one we saw! But I think it’ll look really good.
These were the baluster options we had that didn’t cost extra. Balusters are the columns on the stairs, if you didn’t know. We were originally going to go with the second row first column, but ultimately decided on the first row first column (all straight) since we thought it went more with our modern look.
The kitchen counter was probably the easiest decision because I was absolutely set on having a waterfall counter and I’m in love with the white marbled look. We went with quartz counters in the kitchen. This is the Omega Stone in Prato:
For the cabinets, we decided to go with shaker cabinets. We opted to install cabinet pulls ourselves so we’re still in the market for those. We decided to have the island cabinets be a light gray with the wall cabinets all white. This pin was definitely inspiration:
The final kitchen choices below are the wood floors we chose, a smaller swatch of the Prato counters, long white subway tile, and the white and gray swatches of the cabinets. The shaker cabinets will have a more straight edge like this. You can’t really tell from the picture but the subway tiles have a shiny texture to them, they’re called Costa Clara Cloud Wall Tile . The backsplash will be in a horizontal staggered pattern.
We also decided to go with a black faucet and sink! The pictures below aren’t the exact models but pretty similar, we went with the Moen Eva Faucet in Matte Black and the Mirado Quartz Single Blow in Black. I did do some research on maintenance before making the final decision and I don’t think it’ll be as high maintenance as a lot of people would expect.
For the wetbar/gameroom we decided to go darker and more fun. We chose a dark chocolate color for the cabinets, with grey counters (Omega Stone in Caliza), and a navy blue subway tile for the backsplash (Color Wheel in Navy). I originally wanted black cabinets but when we saw the swatch for the black next to this one, it just looked kind of flat. We opted to do the backsplash in a herringbone pattern, inspired by the pin below:
Here’s the slab of the Omega Stone in Caliza – as you can tell I’m obsessed with veining in counters. These are also quartz counters and we ended up choosing the same counters for our master bath as well.
For the extra bathrooms, we opted to get engineered marble for the counters, it’s similar to marble but a lot cheaper. Cabinets are also white in all bathrooms, except for the powder half bath. There’s also a little “tech center” by one of the garage entrances that will use this same counter. These counters are the Marlana Engineered Marble in Harmony:
The tech center will have the short white subway tile below in the horizontal stagger. (Daltile Vitruvian 3×6 tile in Gloss White. For the extra bathrooms, we chose the gray tile on the right, Daltile Cabris 12×12 Tile in Iron, for the floors and the shower walls.
The floor tiles will be in a straight lay pattern. Here’s a flat lay of the same tiles:
We originally wanted the stairs to be wood, but pricing for that is outrageous, so we chose to have carpeted stairs. We chose this gray carpet, Mohawk Industries Calming Dreams in Mountain Pass. This same carpet will go into all of the rooms. The wooden block to the right of the floors is the railing on the stairs.
For the powder half bathroom, we wanted it to be different from the other bathrooms. We splurged on the tiles with Ironcraft Unpolished 12×24 tiles in Charcoal Gray and ended up going with a White Carrara Marble Counter. We made the cabinets the same dark chocolate color as the wetbar.
Last but not least, the Master Bathroom! Adam really wanted to upgrade to the baja shower (it’s a bigger walk in shower that has tile up to the ceiling). We chose the white marbled tile on the top left, Florentine Glossy 10×14 Wall Tile in Carrara. It’ll be set in a horizontal straight lay and the same tiles will be around the master tub skirt. The counters are the same Omega Stone in Caliza as the wetbar, and the cabinets will be the same white as the kitchen. The floor tiles are Ballatore 12×24 in Beat. The shower floor tiles will be the same but cut into 4×4 instead.
As you can see from all our choices, we pretty much have a neutral gray color palette for the entire house. We drove by our lot last weekend and there hasn’t been any work started yet. We have our builder’s meeting this week and I think from there we’ll know when they’ll officially break ground and get an ETA on the completion! Can’t wait until we can start doing weekly updates!
When we decided to build a new home it was a little overwhelming since we neither of this had done this before. I tried to search for other people’s experiences/reviews on all the builders we considered and found a few older blogs, but every builder is different and it seemed like the best way to learn was to walk through the fire. I want to be as transparent as I can be on this whole process (without giving up our privacy) in the hopes that it’ll help someone else.
The first step was finding a community and a builder. First we picked the community – location was very important to us. We went through all the available builders and all the floor plans and picked the builder based on costs and floor plan. We ultimately decided on Darling Homes as our builder.
These were our lists of things we wanted in a house.
- Master bedroom on the first floor (this is a Texas thing apparently)
- Wood floors in main living areas
- Huge kitchen, since I do a lot of cooking
- Waterfall kitchen island, something I really wanted
- Two story ceilings in the living room, something Adam really wanted
- Three car garage
- Gameroom / wetbar area
We didn’t want a formal dining room or a media room. I would have been okay having a media room, but Adam also absolutely refused to have one and he also refused to have what we called a “wood room” – this is where the study/office is completely made out of wood and seemed to be common in a lot of older houses. (See below).
I got him to compromise and allow the study room to be my office but the media room was out. Either way, we had a pretty hefty list so you can imagine why we decided to build! We also wanted something turnkey and did not want to have to renovate anything.
With COVID-19 affecting everything, we had to make an appointment to check out the Darling home model. But once we saw it, we were completely sold! It looked so much better in person than it did online! We followed up with the community’s sales person and we were given a ton of information and documents to look through. It was a little overwhelming and I’m not sure if every builder gives out that much information up front (it may have been the initial salesperson we were working with), but they broke it down into 6 major steps before we officially break ground and start building a house. I for one appreciated getting as much information as possible! I made this handy infographic below that kind of outlines our process:
As a disclaimer, this was the process we had to go through with our builder and the details of what is done when may be different, but from what I understand, overall is generally the same. After choosing the builder and exact floor plan, we had these next 6 steps before we can say the building is in progress.
- PRE-QUALIFICATION – First we had to fill out an application to pre-qualify us with their preferred lender. Most builders will require you to be pre-qualified with their lender, but you don’t have to mortgage with them. However, if you do end up choosing their lender, there are usually some incentives they offer that will go to your design costs or even closing.
- SELECT EXTERIOR OPTIONS – Next we had to decide on exterior options – this includes the exterior color palette, structural options / upgrades, garage door style, and front door style/stain. Structural options are things that need to be included in the floor plan, like adding or deleting fireplaces, media rooms, etc. Basically, you need to choose what your house looks like from the outside and make sure the floor plan includes everything you want.
- EARNEST MONEY – For our builder, the earnest money was a 5% deposit that was calculated off the base price of the house plus structural options. This did not include interior design options. They also said this earnest money would be used to start the house build. At this point, we got a draft of our contract.
- SIGN CONTRACT – After reviewing the contract by ourselves, with our realtor, with the salesperson, and making sure all the structural options we wanted were included and all our questions were answered, we signed the contract. At the time of the contract signing, the 5% deposit is non-refundable and the structural options that were chosen cannot be changed. The deposit is now NON-REFUNDABLE. You’re locked into the contract now!
- DESIGN CENTER MEETINGS – This is the fun part, you get to choose all your interior options! There are several different people that we had to meet with to get the interior designs/upgrades. We met with the Cabinet people prior to our first Design Center meeting and at the actual Design Center we saw tons of samples and picked out finishes. We picked out things like countertops, sinks, flooring, and interior wall paint. We also met with a separate person to meet with for lighting / electrical. All of these need to be picked out before they start building the house! Don’t worry, I plan on doing separate posts on these, too!
- PRE-CONSTRUCTION MEETING – After all the design stuff has been signed off, we’ll have one final meeting with the superintendent and sales to confirm everything before they start the build. We’re still getting final sign-offs on everything, but I’ll update this page when we make it there.
We’re currently in between 5 and 6 of the process but it’s definitely a lot of things up front. The design part is definitely the most fun part (aside from watching it actually come together) but it’s definitely stressful because things started adding up really quickly! Hopefully that helps anyone looking into the new build process, if you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me directly and I’ll be glad to answer! Be sure to follow along on Instagram #DaBaumShelter or check back on the blog for regular updates!
2020 has been one hell of a year, not only with the current events but life in general. This year I moved out of my favorite Dallas apartment building after 3 years and moved in with Adam. Our original plan was to live in his current house for a year or two, but as luck would have it – we decided to build a house together!
Everything happened so quickly, but it does feel like it kind of just fell into place. I just hope, they keep falling into place until closing! It all started with us “just looking around” but between all the things I wanted and all the things Adam wanted, we could never find anything that fit the bill. If we did find something, it was way out of budget. It got to a point where I said, “The only way we’re going to get what we both want is if we build it.”
The sarcastic comment turned into us looking at new builders – you wouldn’t believe how difficult even that was! We found the perfect floor plan, in the best location, even the lot location was ideal for us. I’m kind of still in denial about the whole thing, but so excited!
As exciting as it is, the process has been overwhelming and the build hasn’t even started yet. I decided to blog the progress and we dubbed our new home Da Baum Shelter! It’ll be fun to see the progress and everything coming together. Follow along here on the blog and on my Instagram #DaBaumShelter to watch the progress