Around this time last year we got *official* Military Orders that we would be PCS’ing (Permanent Change of Station) to the East Coast. The big move from San Diego to Virginia Beach was in the works. I was 5 months pregnant and my husband Joshua was deployed so we started the search separately. We had a basic idea of what our budget was & what were must haves for our property. Here’s what our basic list looked like.
- Minimum of 1/2 acre
- Central Air
- Open Floor plan
- 2 Car Garage
- 3 bedrooms / 2 bathrooms
We quickly realized that any home in the Virginia Beach area that was in a good neighborhood sold FAST so we needed to be ready to commit (potentially even sight unseen). We started working with an amazing realtor in the area where we would be locating to (if you’re looking to buy in VB we highly recommend & applaud our realtor Chelsea). We had planned for Joshua to meet Chelsea sometime in the fall to view properties in person and had a target date of him making the cross country trip in November.
We were starting to feel really defeated (and Iw as starting to give up) when one Friday night in the beginning of October a new house popped up on the market that we fell in LOVE with. When I say ‘in love’ I mean we were ALL IN. THIS WAS IT. We woke up Saturday Morning, booked Joshua a flight to Virginia for Monday morning so he could view the Tuesday at the latest. We were both SO hopeful. However, we also decided that while he was out in Virginia that he should have a list of other houses that he was going to check out ‘just in case.’
I drop Joshua off at the airport and we get a phone call from our realtor saying ‘that house went under contract last night with an offer and is no longer on the market.’ We were both heartbroken and frustrated that we didn’t even get a chance to view the house – let alone put an offer in on it. We had been searching for months and every house was starting to look the same. Nice yard, old house, needs work. We weren’t finding anything that we would be able to move right into with a one month old when January rolled around.
How we redirected our search.
Joshua still hopped on the flight to Virginia even though we were extremely upset about the house that slipped through our fingers. During the house tours I would Facetime Josh but we were finding that the houses were worse than the pictures had looked online. All of the houses needed more work than we thought, or the neighborhood wasn’t one where we wanted to raise our future family. On a whim (partly out of frustration) I said ‘what if we just looked at new construction homes?’
I had no idea how the process of a new construction home worked, I honestly have no idea how the thought even crossed my mind. I’ve watched a lot of HGTV in my life but I had no idea how the heck to start a project like this. However we had to face the truth- we weren’t going to get what we wanted with an existing house. That’s when we decided to go for it – we were just going to build what we wanted.
I started researching local builders and found out that most builders buy a large plot of land, then portion out that land into new ‘properties.’ We found a local builder who had already purchased land & started building homes on the lots. In our case, each lot size was the same but every lot had a different floor plan being built. The night before Joshua was supposed to fly back to San Diego he drove the 45 minutes out of the city to where the builder had their latest projects going on. That’s when Joshua fell in love. We signed the ‘intent to purchase’ agreement as soon as he landed in San Diego.
The next couple of months would prove to be challenging because not only were we in the middle of having a baby but Joshua was leaving one duty station, enrolling in to a school and we were moving across the country. I am so incredibly grateful that we had Chelsea (our realtor) to help us with not only the contracts of the house but she was also a mediator between the builders and us. Because we signed a contract so early in the building process we actually got to choose a lot of the finishes inside the home.
I knew that I wanted our home to have more of a ‘classic & light’ feel so I instantly knew that I wanted to have white cabinetry throughout the house. My next choice was figuring out what I wanted for flooring. I fought to have vinyl flooring throughout the bottom level of our house, in all of our bathrooms & laundry room. The builders probably hated me (I mean honestly – who wouldn’t frustrated with a hormonal, 9 month pregnant lady who was forcing them to change the floor from across the country). They wanted to put carpet in the living room but I refused because with a dog & baby I knew that wasn’t realistic.
My biggest tip to getting what you want when you build?Don’t back down. Fight for what you want. There is always a dollar figure that can get you what you want. We only paid an extra $800 to have the floors exactly how I wanted.
When making design choices I kept ‘resale’ in the forefront of my mind. People thought I was crazy because we were building a house and I was already thinking of how I was going to ‘sell’ it. What would I want to see as a buyer? Matching cabinets in all of the bathrooms and kitchen? YEP. Matching countertops everywhere? HECK YES. Matching flooring throughout the house? YOU BETCHA. Did we pay extra for this? Of course, but the resale value was increased by these *simple* decisions to streamline our home.
Paint colors, furniture style & light fixture can totally transform the style of your home so I wanted to have ‘neutral’ permanent fixtures. I’m really happy with how all of the colors have come together. The last couple of months we’ve really started to settle in and make the home our own. Eventually we’ll add a back splash to the kitchen and change out the light fixtures.
After living here for a couple of months we know that this won’t be our forever home. I’d honestly be happiest if I could have a condo over looking Central Park or an Oceanfront property on Long Island (a girl can dream). But this property has everything that was on our original list. We actually ended up with 4 bedrooms & 2.5 baths in the home layout. Zeus is thrilled with his yard and we literally could not have picked better neighbors. The move to Virginia has been tough on my California heart but I am incredibly grateful to have built such a beautiful home with with my husband.
Picture of us on closing day – 01/31/2020! Not sure how we managed to get a picture with Zeus and without Aj!
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