BusinessReviews

We Built a New House- Here Are the Companies and People We Recommend

I see this all the time.

People ask for recommendations about various home builders or things within the home. We’ve been building this home for about the last year and collected ideas along the way.  These are the people and companies we ended up using (and recommending), so hopefully this helps you out too!

Home Builder

I know this question gets thrown around a lot and I really think we ended up with the right builder. There were about 3 other companies we strongly considered before we ultimately ended up choosing Woodland Homes (you’ll have to private message me for those names).

We fell in love with a model home they had staged 2 blocks from our old house. In fact, we almost bought the model so that we could move less than 1/4 a mile away and still remain in the same school. There was a lot of thoughtful consideration in the Cabernet floor plan including where the half bath was location (strategically by the back door), the walk through pantry (access from kitchen and mudroom), cabinets on both sides of the island, and even having a heated lamp outside the walk-in master shower.

Whoever created this floor plan clearly thought about the needs of a young family and all the ways this home would be used. However, the layout was not what ultimately made us decide on Woodland. We talked to several current Woodland homeowners and several Omaha real estate agents and the overwhelming consensus was “they build quality homes.”

The only concern with Woodland is that their project management and communication has room for improvement. We let them know about it along the way and towards the last 2 months the communication from their end got increasingly better. They made a few exceptions for us such as allowing for early appliance delivery and for a landscaper we chose to work on the home before closing. These gestures of flexibility did not go unnoticed.

Here are some photos of our home as it was being built:

Real Estate Agents

Working with the Woodland agent, Mark Ciochon, was a dream. This man may be one of the most responsive and patient dudes out there. And not because we were difficult (maybe we were?) but we had a lot of questions- rightfully so- and Mark produced a lot of answers. And quickly, too. I’m sure at times we neared the point of needing a restraining order against Mark, nonetheless, his demeanor nor tone ever indicated that questions were unwelcome.

Outside of his bedside manner, he was extremely knowledgeable in real estate and construction. Whenever we had a spontaneous idea for the house, Mark was able to educate us enough to make decisions that worked out in our favor. There was never a hint of pressure to go one way or another and I felt that he had our best interest at heart. If you end up choosing Woodland, definitely go with Mark!

Jenn Kully was our buyer’s agent and she was who ultimately swayed us to consider moving to Windgate Ranch. She was great from the start to the very end, attending every meeting we requested, pointing things out we missed, and being an advocate for us at every turn. Oh, and this one time she brought cake pops to our electrical meeting which was a much welcomed surprise!

Mortgage Company

Getting a mortgage requires a lot of paperwork and answering a lot of personal questions about your finances. There’s no avoiding that. CORE Bank literally made it as easy as possible.

With our last home, our mortgage was through the “biggest local bank” and it was a completely neutral experience. I was neither disappointed or awed.

We had no loyalty to this bank and so when we began this home-building process we sought out the opinion of others. You know how you have some friends that you completely trust their opinions and recommendations because EVERYTHING they recommended (or not recommended) has been as they’ve said?

I have two of friends like that and when both of them are strongly recommending CORE Bank, I don’t argue.

They were right, too.

We ended up going with Brett Davis at CORE Bank and the man is a stud! Here’s what made me think we made the right decision:

1. He was super proactive. Often emailing me on a weekly basis to let me know the current interest rate and how that would translate in monthly mortgage payments.

2. He offered sound advice. As interest rates were creeping up, he encouraged us to lock in our rate and sync it with the estimate date of completion of the home. As a result, I’m confident we saved thousands over the life of our loan.

We’re actually going to be switching all of our banking to CORE Bank from our mortgage experience. They are truly that awesome and will bend over backwards to make sure your home closes on time. (But freals, check out Brett’s reviews if you don’t believe me).

Custom Shades/Blinds Company

Most people don’t think about shades or blinds on a new home until you want to walk around the house in your underwear and realize you don’t have anything preventing the neighbors from seeing you. And they’re new neighbors, too. Do you really want to being putting off the wrong impression?

We found Lifestyle Window Coverings through Spring Ridge Elementary (where we sadly won’t be attending next year). Cecily Haggerty was a fellow parent who was one part supermom and one part B.A. businesswoman. We started talking and one conversation led to another and suddenly she’s giving me quotes on blinds.

What I loved about working with Cecily was her thoughtfulness to the layout and orientation of our home. She carefully observed the directional placement of windows and made recommendations from there. My two favorite things are the automated shades in our great room/kitchen that I can control with a push of a button AND her ingenious idea for giving my kids blackout shades. We all know the sun is out until at least 9 pm in the Summertime and sometimes I want my kids to go to bed before then.

Here is a video clip of the automated shades:

Custom Bowling Alley Table

Back story: A long time ago there was a place called Kelley’s Hilltop Lanes. Something happened and they eventually closed. Our church bought the building and during the demolition, we were able to snag an 11-foot piece of bowling alley lane.

We have had it stored in the garage of our old house for well over 2 years, knowing when we moved that we would turn it into a custom dinner table.

That day had finally arrived.

I posted a question on a Mom’s Facebook group asking for companies who could convert it into a dinner table and immediately the recommendations started rolling in. We ended up selecting Rustic Craftsman after reviewing their work and website.

Jake was so great to work with! He would often text me status updates and respond quickly to questions. I think where it made the most difference was when he received the metal base for our table and there were minor imperfections. He said “Wanted to give you an update on the table. I was going to pick up the legs today from the powder coat and noticed some imperfections. So I left them there, he said he should have it fixed by Tuesday at the latest. So I apologize but probably won’t have the table delivered til Thursday. I didn’t want to deliver a bad product.”

As a client, I can completely respect and appreciate that. The table came a bit later, however, he made sure that it came right. Jake is full of integrity and so easy to work with! Check out the beautiful table he created us:

Custom Window Well Covering

Again, I give full credit to the “West Omaha Moms in the Know” group for a member who posted about this window well company- Welld Built. We knew we wanted something to cover the window well, but there aren’t a lot of great options. That is, until we saw the design another mom posted.

They were SUPER responsive and came out to get measurements while our home was being built. They, too, communicated throughout the process and gave me regular status updates.

On the same day we moved in, they came and installed the window well. It looks beautiful and is also functional. Check out how it turned out:

Custom Bed, Nightstand, and (eventually) Coffee Table

My brother is a bit like Jesus. He’s trying to grow out his hair and he does carpentry work. I’m totally biased when I say this, but he is meticulous to a fault.

Fun side story: He used to work at Red Robin in high school and I remember how obsessive he was with laying the toppings on the burger perfectly. He agonized over people who did not eat their burgers proportionally and worked hard to get the topping/meat/bun ratio just perfect.

We looked at several places including NFM, Ernie’s, Wayfair, and other online retailers and could not find a bed we wanted. So we commissioned my brother to build it.

I sent him some ideas and he helped recommend wood (we chose walnut for durability) and collaborated back and forth until we got a finished product. Those who know wood took a look at the bed and you can tell it’s solid, and really heavy to carry. He even put the soft close on our nightstand drawers. He’s a perfectionist when it comes to products he builds and we know this bed will last us forever.

He’s currently working at a cabinet company and doing cabinets for two Street of Dreams homes, let me know if you want his number.

As one of my friends puts it, this bed looks like it’s straight out of Magnolia:

Oh, and we ended up reading several reviews for online mattresses and ended up choosing Tuft & Needle. We’ve slept on it for about 3 weeks now and love it!

Landscaping

Sometimes you’re unsure about using friends.

You know how they are in a “friend” sense, but don’t fully know how they are in the “trade” sense. Our friend Devyn from TerraCraft Landscapes is an all-around good guy!

He is professional and punctual, but the most impressive part is his overall knowledge of landscaping. For instance, by the drain areas he put heavy rocks (instead of mulch) because water easily pushes mulch into the yard. Secondly, he drew an elaborate plan for us initially but because of budget constraints (get ready to hemorrhage money if you’re building a home) he worked within our budget down to absolute necessity.

He recommend putting in the landscape beds and boulders and eventually get flowers and plant. This was because building plant beds and boulders would cause the most wear and tear on our grass. His suggestion saved us from ripping up sod in the future…when we can finally afford plants.

Here’s are some pictures and GoFundMe link for our plants (kidding!):

Miscellaneous

Paint Colors

I’ll be honest. I saw a lot of Gauntlet and Dovetail being thrown around and those are no doubt beautiful shades of gray. I wanted to venture out a bit (but clearly not that far) and somehow I ended up on The Sunny Side Up Blog.

I haven’t read much on there, but what I do gather is the woman has good taste and is a strong point of inspiration for several things in our home. Our exterior paint colors are the same ones she used and several of the interior choices as well.

Home Automation

Nest Doorbell– It really came down to the Ring and Nest Doorbell.  I admit I didn’t research this more than an hour (which meant I read several reviews), but ultimately chose Nest because of the fully body coverage and facial recognition features.

Nest Thermostat– In our previous home we had a Nest Thermostat and loved it (though it was buggy at times). It seemed like seamless transition to also use the Nest Thermostat because both of our Nest products are controlled within the same app.

Rachio Smart Sprinkler– This is totally a Tommy purchase. I know nothing more about this sprinkler other than it’s controlled on his phone and that it integrates with the forecast and knows when to delay watering cycles (thus saving us moolah!)

Did any of you use the same people, companies, or products? What do you think?

 

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2 comments

  1. We have the Cabernet II up the street and around the corner. You’re spot on about communication with Woodland. It’s terrible. You have to follow up repeatedly.

    Since we’ve been in our house a year, a couple of things for you to watch closely for that we experienced with the build:

    1. Make sure the hinges on your cabinet doors are completely tight. We had one come loose on the pantry and it snapped the wooden door – a huge chunk came out and splintered. They did replace it but it took about a month to get the new door made.

    2. We have had the grout in our master shower fixed 3 times now. It started to crack after less than 30 days of use. And it took over a month for them to fix it the first time. Keep a close eye on your grout in the first year.

    3. Be sure you run the fans in the bathrooms during a shower and for 30 minutes after (we put in timers). This is especially critical if temps are below freezing. If not, you’ll get excess condensation in the attic that will cause all kinds of problems (in the winter it freezes and when it thaws “rains down” and causes mild water damage to the ceiling).

    We love our house overall. The layout and openness is amazing (and yeah, that walk through pantry – WOW!). Glad to see you’re enjoying yours!

    1. Hey Rich,

      This is excellent feedback and things to know. Several other Woodland homeowners have had the same remarks. I’ll keep an eye out for cabinet doors, grout, and especially about the humidity control in the winter!

      When you say up the street and around the corner, do you mean off Blue Sage PWKY?

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