Additional Costs

Budget. It’s always the elephant in the room. Obviously when you finally make the decision to build, budget needs to be in the discussion. Or maybe budget is in discussion prior to deciding to build. Either way, it’s always difficult. Throughout the blog, I will discuss ways to stay within budget or under budget during the building process.

I wanted to focus this post on additional costs that kind of blindsided me when we sat down to finally talk about what our “number” was.  When calculating your final number, be sure to include some of the following.

  1. Permits. Depending on where you live will depend on your cost of permits, but it will be quadruple digits. You may not need all permits, but it would be important to find out ahead of time which ones you are required to obtain and their costs. Here are the permits we are required to obtain–building permit, zoning permit, driveway permit, septic permit, well permit. We also needed to have perk testing for our sand mound and a septic design which was another additional cost.
  2. Septic system. If you’re lucky, you wont need to worry about this. But if any of you plan on  living out in the country like myself, be sure to budget for this. Your standard septic system is between 14-20,000. There are many variables though, so again, be sure to plan ahead!
  3. Driveway. Although driveways are typically bundled into your total cost it is still an expense many don’t think of when budgeting.
  4. Grass. Landscaping and sidewalks, although would be nice to do from the beginning, are not necessary and can be done later on. However, it’s necessary to plant grass and this can get pricey depending on your acreage.
  5. Underground power lines.

Most of the above mentioned are extra expenses in the start up process, but there are more that come up during the building process.

Allowances: There are many items that are included in your total house cost, but are listed under allowances. Allowances are great if you can stay within them or under them! One can imagine that it is pretty easy to go over your allowance, thus putting you over budget. Items that are typically listed as allowances are:

  1. Light fixtures (interior + exterior)
  2. Appliances (many times they are not included in total budget at all)
  3. Flooring
  4. Counter tops
  5. Faucets

Items that are typically not listed under allowances or in the total cost of the house are:

  1. Cabinet hardware
  2. Towel holders
  3. Toilet paper holders
  4. Shower curtain rods

Depending on what time of year you build and where you build, weather may cost you extra money. If it’s cold and your permanent heat source is not yet connected, electric heat may be used. Monthly electric bills can be pretty pricey, especially if they are running constantly.

As I continue this journey, I am sure I will come upon additional costs not listed here and I will be sure to update.

One way to keep track of your budget is to create an excel spreadsheet and track every dollar out. My husband and I use google sheets to track our expenses. We both downloaded the app on our phones. This way we can easily access it and update it as necessary.

Happy budgeting!!


My Right Hand Man


This adorable couple right here are my grandparents. They have been married for 60+ years. My grandmother has severe Alzheimer’s and she recently was placed in a home that could care for her and ensure her safety. Not surprising, it has been very difficult for my grandfather.

Ever since I can remember, I would always spend time with my pop in his wood workshop. I even remember him buying me my first tool box (I wish I still had it!). My pop can build just about anything from furniture to shelves to wooden toys. You name, he can do it. In fact, when I was probably 3 or 4 years old my pop was building me a wooden seal that I could push along the floor with a string. He ended up cutting the tips of his two fingers off 😦 (I am still reminded of this often 🙂 )

My pop finds therapy in wood working. I think I got a lot of my creativity and passion from him. Saw dust is certainly our glitter 🙂

I am thankful to have my pop still around in my life and I am also grateful for the youth he still exhibits.

My grandfather has been such an instrumental part of making my thoughts become a reality. Throughout this home building process, I will be sharing many of the pieces restored and built by this amazingly talented individual.

Thanks Pop, love you!!



While in limbo…

The main purpose of this blog is to document the design, build, and décor of our new home.

However, we are in a bit of a limbo period currently. We are waiting on drafts to come back to give the final yes/no, this will most likely take several weeks. From there, we wait until the long, cold winter passes by (I hate wishing time away), until we can start breaking ground in the spring (fingers crossed and weather dependent, we are hoping on an April Start!).

My grandfather and I have been busy working on pieces for the new home, and I will be sure to start posting them as we finish. In the meantime, I thought I would share some images of DIY projects we did in our old home.

Open Shelves- DIY

Open Shelves.PNG

The picture above was one of my favorite little corners in our old home. I was able to purchase the dry sink for 50 bucks! It took a lot of elbow grease and sanding then was stained a Mahogany red, but it was brought back to life.

I originally had a large mirror hanging above it, but wanted to add something with more dimension. Open shelves were becoming more popular, and I knew it would be super simple to make our own. We purchased a 12inch wide x 8ft long piece of solid pine and four corbels. We then cut the pine board in half to make two 4ft shelves, and attached the corbels underneath. The shelves were stained the same color as the dry sink, Mahogany red. The entire shelf project was around 50 bucks as well! I will say, the price of lumber has gone up astronomically since these were done (I’m finding this out with recent projects I am working on).

Fortunately, the lovely couple who purchase our home allowed us to take all of our wall mounted shelves with us. Uncertain as to where they may go in our new home, but I am certain I will find a place.

Coffee Bar- DIY

Kitchen 1.PNG

We renovated our kitchen in our last home. We reused the cabinets that were already there, as they were solid oak, and painted them white. However, there was a section in the kitchen that was used as a desk. We never really utilized this desk space, and I knew I wanted to do something different. I also knew I wanted some sort of display cabinet. I then came up with the idea of a coffee bar.

We headed off to Lowe’s to purchase stock unfinished cabinets. As you can see we purchased a lower and an upper. In upper cabinet, we cut out the front panel and replaced it with glass (this was done by a local glass shop). We then purchased LED lights to place in the upper cabinet. Hooks were mounted underneath to attach the coffee mugs. The two drawers were used to store K-cups, tea, etc.

This came to be one of my favorite parts of the kitchen. We obviously painted the cabinets white and added molding and corbels to make for a more custom look. Because the granite countertops were so busy, I wanted a subtle background, which is why I went with white bead board (it also tied in with the theme of the rest of the house).

Months later, I painted the back of the cabinets a pale yellow as you can see in the picture. I felt it needed a bit of color with all the white.

Mudroom- DIY

Old Home Mudroom.JPG

Believe it or not, our mudroom space used to consist of three small closets and window. As you can see, we knocked several walls down, and replaced the window with a glass door. The door not only provided additional access into the home, but added a lot of natural light into the space.

I had a vision for what I wanted the space to look like, and again my grandfather was able to build it. We used pine boards again for the bench, top shelf and trim. We added the bead board on the back to tie in with the rest of the house. Corbels were again added to give it more of a custom look. We kept underneath the bench open as we had baseboard that couldn’t be covered. The bench was stained a Mahogany red to contrast against the white. I absolutely loved how this turned out and new that I wanted a built in four our mudroom in the new house (which we are currently working on).

Every home is a labor of love, and I am glad I could share some of my favorites from our previous home.


The Storytelling House

I am naturally drawn to anything old and that tells a story. I wanted the efficiency and design of a new build, while incorporating old character into it. I wanted to be sure to incorporate pieces into the house that were unlike pieces in any other new build or house for that matter. Throughout my blogging journey, I plan to share several pieces that have been purchased and repurposed throughout the house.

Anytime I hit up a thrift store, I am bound to find something salvageable. I typically get the look from my family when I come home with yet another great find (in my mind anyway).

One of my first finds for the new build and so far one of my favorites, were old wood corbels. There were several layers of dirt and paint on them, along with extra long nails sticking out in every direction, but I couldn’t resist the thought of what they would look like finished. After several hours of sanding (and a lot of help from my wonderfully talented grandfather), I loved the final product.

In the past, I probably would’ve wanted to paint them white. Not sure if it’s my ageing self or change in taste, but I now have such an appreciation for the look of natural wood. I knew our house would have a lot of white it in already (baseboards, kitchen cabinets, etc.), so I wanted some contrast and something that really showed the routes of these old corbels.

I chose to go with a more natural color stain, Driftwood by Minwax. I really hope to use more Driftwood stain throughout the house (perhaps on our fireplace mantel). My vision is to use these two beauties in the upper corners of either the entryway leading into the living room or the entryway leading into the kitchen, it’s something I will have to feel out once I’m in each space.


The corbel on the left is one stained in driftwood, the corbel on the right is after it was entirely sanded down prior to stain.

Corbels are becoming seemingly more popular in home décor, particularly in farmhouse style. They make for great accent pieces grouped with a cluster of other décor pieces, or as book ends. I recently saw several different styles at Hobby Lobby.

But, if you want the real deal, shop around at flea markets, antique stores, yard sales and be sure not to let a little dirt or a lot layers of paint scare you away from the beauty that lies underneath.


Where to begin- Three helpful hints for first time home builders

For anyone who has ever built a home before, or is currently going through the process it’s overwhelming. I was a bit naïve when starting as I thought I knew exactly what I wanted.

Totally WRONG.

I can kind of relate it to walking into a Bath and Body Works store and being forced to pick only one lotion. The options are endless and each one has something unique about it. Then you think you can be smart and maybe mix two lotions , but you quickly realize that they smell terrible together.

I can honestly say that I have spent hundreds of hours of my life (how wasteful), looking at and drawing house plans.  I would think I would find something that “could” work and I would present it to my husband. He would pick out something that I didn’t think about  and we would be back to square one yet again.

I decided if this was going to be the only house I would ever build (which is probably the case), that I wanted to design it myself, so I stopped looking up house plans. I pulled out the graph paper . Once again thinking this would be easier as I could design exactly what I wanted.


Here are some things that I found to be helpful when beginning the design of our house.

  1. Have a starting point, a main focus. What in the house are you absolutely certain you want/need and start designing the rest around it. For me, it was a functional front door (I’ll get into this in more detail in a later post), but so many homes that  I go to I never use the front door. Typically, we are using a side door, a back entry, or through the garage. I knew I wanted to design our home so people HAD to come in the front door, so for me this was my starting point.
  2. Think of your current living situation, where do you spend most of your time? Where do you entertain family/guests the most? Typically the answer to this is the kitchen, but it may not be for everyone. Try and put a lot of time and focus on the area you see spending most of your time in, it will pay off later.
  3. Don’t focus so much of your house design on your current life circumstances. When designing our house, I focused so much on the kids as tiny little humans as they are right now. But the truth is, they don’t stay tiny forever, or for long. Is it absolutely necessary to have a playroom right off of the kitchen? I’m not saying don’t put the playroom right off of the kitchen, but try and think of what you will use that space for in the future when they would rather be locked up in their bedrooms. Any space in the house that you are using for a current life circumstances, try and think 5,10,15 years down the road. Will it be used for the same purpose, if not, what could it be used for. The worst thing that you could do when building a new house is spend money on space that won’t ever be utilized (and just more space to clean!). A house is meant to be a home, to be lived in.

I hope these three hints are helpful in starting the thought process of a house layout. I think if I had them to help me start out initially, I would’ve gained a couple hours of my life back. 1-2-3 GO!

First blog post

My name is Megan and I was born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, where I still currently reside.
I am not much of a writer, or a good writer, but I wanted to start a blog to capture our home building process . I am obsessed with all things home and design.
When I was 18 years old, I was faced with the same decision most 18 year olds are, “What to do I want to be when I “grow” up”? To me it was always natural to know that I would go into healthcare. I was raised by two nurses. I grew up thinking it was normal for parents to work weekends, holidays, and off shifts. I also spent most of my senior year and summer prior to college working in a hospital as a nursing assistant. I was bound and determined to get away from our little town and be a big city girl.
In 2004, I left for college in Philadelphia. I was a biology major with the hopes of one day going to medical school. In a couple short weeks I realized two things; 1. I was NOT a city girl 2. Maybe pre-med wasn’t for me. Both of my parents were always supportive of my decisions (whether they agreed with them or not), and accepted the fact that I hated the city and wanted to change majors. BUT, I had to finish the full year at Temple. So I did. During that year at Temple, I was very focused on getting out of the dorm and into an apartment that was once an old warehouse. Although this never happened, it was probably my first indicator of my future passion.
That summer I returned back home to our small town and in the fall started a nursing program. I met some really great girls who taught me great study habits and I did well all throughout nursing school.  I also met my now husband during those years. After graduating, I started working immediately in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Although being a PICU nurse had it’s many challenges, I don’t regret it one bit and it will always be a true passion of mine.
Shortly after starting my nursing career in the PICU, I got married to my sweetheart of 5 years in October 2011. After getting married, I moved into my husband’s house. A couple years prior, my husband purchased his grandparents old house. It was a charming 3 bedroom cape cod. Despite it’s charm, it needed a lot of updating. My husband was a great sport, and we spent several years fixing it up, doing most of the work ourselves. Although we spent a lot of sweat and tears fixing up the house, it was always a dream of mine to build. My husband was never on board with building, so we kept on with the renovations.

In December 2012, we welcomed our first child, Jack into the world. Any home renovations that were taking place got put on hold. It’s really insane how such tiny beings can consume so much of your life. Despite Jack not sleeping for nearly 2.5 years, we were able to continue on with projects at our house. My grandfather was instrumental in making all of my visions come true. He is a true craftsman and if I could draw it on paper, he could create it.
In fall of 2014, we found out we were expecting our second child, a baby girl.
One day, out of the blue, my husband brought up the idea of building a house. I was in shock and disbelief of course, but I took it and ran with it. I think it was probably the next day that I had the “For Sale” sign posted in our front yard. Life was good, we had a healthy little boy and a baby girl on the way, and I was getting my dream of building.
But as anything in life, nothing lasts forever, nothing is perfect, and nothing is promised.

In April of 2015, a few short weeks prior to my due date, my father was diagnosed with a pretty aggressive lung cancer. Despite the odds, my father pressed on and battled through to the end. On May 18th, 2015, the same day we found out the cancer did not metastasize to my father’s brain, was the day our little Norah was born. It was just what our entire family needed during this difficult time.
My father was able to have a couple good months after his diagnosis, but unfortunately the aggressive cancer and chemotherapy became too much. Although his body couldn’t handle the fight anymore, his heart never gave up. On December 2nd, 2015, my father passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by his family.


After my father’s passing, it took me a long time to feel like I could fully function again. I had two young children and a stressful job. I was struggling with sadness and PTSD from events leading up to my fathers passing. My husband and I put selling our home and building on hold, which was for the best.
After about a year, we sold our house and moved in temporarily with my in-laws until we could start building. In November 2016, I left my position in the PICU and started in a new nursing positon in a Pediatric Complex Care Clinic.
I love nursing,  it’s in my blood, but my true passion is for all things home and design.
My father’s middle name is Jerome, thus the name of the blog. He was always my biggest fan and supporter and I feel it’s only appropriate and necessary he’s incorporated into this journey. I started this blog not only because of my love and obsession for all things home and design, but also to help me begin to heal.
And so it begins……..