What You Need to Know About Building a Home!


Buying a home can be scary. Building one can be even scarier, but it doesn’t have to be if you have an idea of what you’re doing. We interviewed an expert on new home construction and came up with a few super helpful tips that anyone thinking about building should know. These are things like the construction timeline, stages of construction, how to deal with surprises after closing, and the best advice for people new to building a new home.

Construction Timeline & Building Stages

It’s important for anyone who is considering building a new home to understand the timeline as well as some of the main construction stages. According to Brent Holsinger, Vice President of Construction for M/I Homes of Central Ohio, the timeframe from purchasing a new home to start of construction is roughly 2-2.5 months and 4-6 months for the building process.

From Sale to Dig: The First 60 Days

The first 60 days set the stage for everything that is to come during the building process, and also sets you up for the home of your dreams. In the first 30 days you will get the chance to pick out all of your selections. This is when you, the customer, gets to choose what you would like to be in your home. Maybe you would like a beautiful bay window to allow more light into your elegant breakfast nook or you picture your kitchen having gorgeous stainless steel appliances with granite countertops. Maybe you would like both! At this time you get to make those decisions, as well as decide how to set up your home’s wiring including your outlets, TV hook-up, and even lighting location. The next 30 days is for the homebuilder to ensure all is ready for the Buyer Builder Conference and ensure permits go through.  We will touch on the Buyer Builder Conference later in this blog.

Dig to Close: Four to Six Months

Finally, the construction starts—this is what you’ve been waiting for! But there are some things you should know going into this so that you have a good understanding of the progress being made on your home. Homes don’t just whimsically fall together, there are plenty of stages to building the home of your dreams and it all starts with the foundation!

The Foundation

The foundation stage includes a few things one might not think or know about but are very important. First, you have to lay and pour the footer.  The footer is what the foundation walls sit on and is what makes direct contact with the ground.  It is one of the most important parts of the foundation. After the footing has been properly prepared, the foundation walls are built. Some builders use more traditional block-style foundation, but M/I Homes uses poured walls providing you with an all together better foundation.  After this and some waterproofing of the foundation walls, the backfill takes place. The backfill is when the dirt from the dig is pushed back in around the foundation walls to settle it into the earth.  This can help prevent future foundational problems.

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Framing is when you start to see the home you envisioned actually take form. You begin to see the layout of the home and the shape. When it comes to new home construction in most places, framing materials include lumber, and/or cinder blocks, depending on the area. Depending on the size of the house this can take anywhere from around 10 days to a few weeks.



Rough Mechanicals

Rough mechanicals are one of the most important stages of the building process. It includes plumbing, HVAC, and electric. This stage is called “rough mechanicals” because finishes like toilets, lights, showers, and other user-facing appliances are not installed. Only the backend work is done.

The first step in rough mechanicals is plumbing. In this stage, the plumber runs pipes and tubing throughout the house. The tubing will be run to the areas where sinks, toilets, and showers will be. Generally, these are red tubes (signifying hot water) and blue tubes (signifying cold water). Next comes HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air-Conditioning). This is the stage where ductwork (vents and other pipes) are put in place for ventilation, heat, and air conditioning.  This is also the stage where you may see a furnace installed. Lastly comes electric, when all the wiring for outlets, lights, and TV hookups are run throughout the house. Remember when you picked their locations in the first 60 days?  You’ll now get to see these locations in real life!

Insulation and Dry Wall

Insulation comes first in this process. There are a few different types of insulation, but M/I Homes of Columbus uses fiberglass. This is the insulation that looks like pink cotton candy, and although you may not realize it, insulation is very important. It has a great deal to do with the energy efficiency of your home, how your home feels in the winter and summer months and can have a huge affect on your utility bills. Once the insulation has been set, the walls are sealed with dry wall. Then the spaces between the dry wall boards are mudded so they are no longer visible, and your walls start to look like actual walls.


Insulation & Drywall


Everything that’s left to do is regarded as a finish and this is the stage where the home starts to become habitable.  First, all three mechanical vendors (Plumbing, HVAC, Electric) come back and add their finishes. This includes toilets, lights, AC system, showers, sinks, appliances, etc. After these items are completed, a painter comes in and paints the house. Following the painter, flooring is installed throughout the house. Then comes a final walkthrough where the construction superintendent will go through and make sure your home is ready for you.


M/I goes the extra mile!

M/I Homes takes even more steps throughout this building process to ensure you have the home of your dreams! During the building process they allow their customers to have full access to their homes while in construction. Customers are given their own hard hats so they can come and check on the progress of their home as they see fit.  M/I Homes also takes the initiative to schedule three meetings with you throughout the building process to make sure everything is going as planned. The first is a Builder Buyer Conference, where you make sure all your selections are correct and review plans with your construction manager. Second is the pre drywall inspection, where you come see the progress of your home, and also let us know if everything (lighting, outlets, TV hookup, etc.) are where you would like them to be. The third meeting is a week before closing, to make sure the finished product is everything you expected as well as to show you how to use the items in your home (appliances, showers, electrical, etc.).

Thinking about building? Here’s our advice!

We went back to the Vice President of Construction for M/I Homes of Central Ohio, Brent Holsinger, and asked what other advice he might have for someone thinking about building. He said he would advise anyone who is thinking about building to do their research. Not every builder has standards as high as M/I Homes, so anyone who is thinking about building should research and compare the builders thoroughly from their integrity to their building materials.

We understand that the building process can be a little scary, especially when you know nothing about it. M/I Homes takes extra steps to make sure you are active and involved in the process so that this is one the greatest experiences of your life. The next time you’re looking for a home, make sure to consider all your options and do your research.



Happy Homeowners: The Wedemeyer Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Blog” is about Rebeca Wedemeyer, who purchased her new home in our Crown community in Maryland over a year and a half ago. Rebeca’s shared with us some of her thoughts and experiences with M/I’s building process!


Rebeca and Maxi

M/I HomesIs this your first M/I home? What convinced you to choose M/I over another builder?

Rebeca: This is my first M/I home. The floorplan and layout are what sold me – hands down. It was creative and current and struck the right balance of relaxed and sophisticated.

M/I HomesWhat is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

RebecaI have the Picasso plan. There are several features I love. Unlike many townhome layouts, the front door (which is on the ground floor) opens to a spacious and well-lit family room. It’s perfect for inviting neighbors in for a glass of wine at the spur of the moment – which I do often!  Also, the main level has an open floorplan with plenty of windows that are perfect for entertaining and just as perfect for a relaxed night at home. And of course, the rooftop terrace and loft are delightful. Finally, I absolutely love the windows. They are virtually floor to ceiling and there are plenty of them!


Plenty of windows in this fabulous living room!

M/I HomesOverall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

RebecaI had a great experience. I moved from across the street and had had my eye on this development and the specific lot I picked. I got to start from scratch and select features to my taste.

M/I HomesDo you have any fun memories from building process?

RebecaLike most of us, I’m busy so I was glad the process was smooth and hassle-free. That said, some of the guys on the job got a big kick of me and Maxi (my 5-pound fox terrier) visiting the site often. I guess that’s the hazard of living across the street. They always seemed to enjoy the break!

M/I HomesWas there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

RebecaThe community itself is very well-designed. But when I saw the M/I Picasso model, I was sold!

M/I HomesWhat do you like about your neighborhood / community?

RebecaThere are several things I like about the community. First, there is plenty of space between homes. We have two-car garages and driveways which means there’s quite a bit of space between you and the neighbors behind you. It’s quite spacious in the front as well which is very unique in a townhome community. Also, they’ve done a great job creating green spaces and meeting places throughout the community. I have an end unit which overlooks a large landscaped brick pathway which leads right downtown. Neighbors and I will often meet on the benches to chat.

M/I HomesAnything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

RebecaWell, I would say the old adage – location, location, location – holds true. It’s worth your time to ensure that the location itself meets your lifestyle. Not only the general community but also the lot itself. I chose a “premium” lot with extra charges that were hefty. My friends thought I was nuts! Now that I’ve been here for a year and a half, they all get it. I’ve got the most beautiful views of green spaces and because I’m located literally in the center of the community on the walkway, I know all of my neighbors. I think sometimes people can be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to buying a house but living space and community are very important to me and there are few investments as reliable as real-estate. So why not live where you want.

M/I HomesWhat is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

RebecaI have organized three block parties since I’ve lived here. Without a doubt meeting all my wonderful neighbors and helping to build a positive community has been a real blessing.

M/I HomesWhat is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

RebecaThat’s a tricky one. I have several “favorite spaces” which is one thing I love so much about the home. In the mornings, I love sitting downstairs on the first floor with my morning cup of coffee. The paint colors look beautiful in the morning sun and unlike many ground floors, it is always cozy. On most evenings, I like curling up on the couch in the living room. I can see the entire community and often passing neighbors will look up to see if I’m around and want to come walk dogs together. In the winters, Maxi and I love the family room fireplace (off the kitchen) and we tend to spend a lot of time there. I also often work from home and have built my office right into the main living area. It’s beautiful. Finally, the kitchen is one of my favorite spots. It’s both beautiful and well-designed. I often use the expansive island as my “standup office,” and of course, when I have people over, we rarely make it to any other part of the house!


Rebeca’s spacious kitchen and large island

M/I HomesWhat was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

RebecaI’m fairly decisive and have had a new home built before so I didn’t have any surprises. No surprises is a good thing!

M/I HomesAny suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

RebecaI’d suggest asking to meet a homeowner or two with your same home plan. Most people are happy to show off their new home and they can often answer simple questions for you and also let you know what they’d do differently, if anything. Also, and this applies to any builder, take a risk and upgrade some features that are important to you. You’d be surprised how much a few key aspects can change the entire feel of your home. For me, I wanted the top of the line hardwood, kitchen cabinets, and iron pickets for my stairs but was just fine with the basics on other options.

**Rebeca lives in the DC area. When she’s not relaxing in her lovely M/I home with her dog Maxi, she can be found socializing with her neighbors.

Thinking About Buying in Chicago?

By Tali Wee

If you’re considering moving to Chicago anytime soon, you’ll be glad to know that it’s ranked one of the top buyers markets and best places for first-time buyers.

The housing market across the country is still highly competitive, outpricing first-time buyers who typically have smaller down payments than other shoppers or investors. Zillow evaluated major metros nationwide to determine markets with the most opportunity for first-time buyers, looking at home values, affordability, inventory and the amount of competition from all-cash buyers. Chicago was ranked fifth, with a median home value of $203,700. Homeowners in Chicago spend 14 percent of their income on their mortgages.

Homes move so quickly in many markets that shoppers must make snap decisions to compete, leading to a stressful or regretful experience. Fortunately, inventory is high in Chicago, allowing buyers time to shop around before making the serious decision to purchase. Chicago ranks second in the country as the best buyers’ market for 2016. The extensive inventory grants buyers more negotiating power with sellers. Plus, sellers offer more price cuts to prevent homes from sitting on the market too long.

If you’re less interested in available properties and more drawn to custom homes, the city also offers several new construction developments. Burlington Meadows is a small community in North Naperville offering single-family homes, wooded views, and spacious backyards. Lehigh Station is also in Dupage County, in Aurora, offering more contemporary townhomes surrounded by walking paths and quick access to retail and restaurants.

The Lakewood Prairie community is located in Joliet, about 45 miles southwest of the Chicago Loop, offering single-family homes along with a club house including a pool, tennis court, sand volleyball area, and playground. Kearney Glen, near Lakewood Prairie, is a new development of single-family homes with open floorplans, offering community attractions such as a pond and playground. Depending on what you’re looking for, you should be able to actualize your dream home in one of the many communities near Chicago.

Whether you’re customizing a new home, landing a move-in-ready property or adding your own touch to a fixer-upper, you’re likely to have some of the best buying luck in Chicago this year. 

For reference:

Top Buyers’ Markets

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Chicago
  3. Baltimore
  4. Hartford, CT
  5. New York/Northern New Jersey
  6. Miami
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Jacksonville, FL
  9. Virginia Beach, VA
  10. Orlando, FL

Best Places for First-Time Home Buyers

  1. Indianapolis, IN
  2. Pittsburgh, PA
  3. Memphis, TN
  4. Cleveland, OH
  5. Chicago, IL
  6. Oklahoma City, OK
  7. Louis, MO
  8. Houston, TX
  9. Tampa, FL
  • Birmingham, AL

Happy Homeowners: The Lawrence Family

This new “Happy Homeowners Interview” features Nichole and Jason Lawrence, who bought their home in Cincinnati.  The Lawrence family shared their experience of the entire homebuilding process with M/I Homes, from choosing their homesite to making interior design choices and were excited to share their experience with us!

View More: http://marialynnphotography.pass.us/lawrence

M/I Homes: Is this your first M/I Home and what convinced you to choose M/I Homes over another builder?

Nichole: Yes, this is our first M/I Home. The quality of an MI Home is what really stood out to us. Some of our family members have built custom homes and we felt that M/I’s quality felt custom. We would choose M/I again and again.

M/I Homes: Are you happy about how your home turned out?

Nichole: We could not be happier with our home!! We are so thrilled with how easy the process was and how beautiful our home turned out. Its better than we imagined.

M/I Homes: What is your floorplan called and what features of your home do you especially love?

Nichole: We built the Sorrel Classic floorplan. We love how open the kitchen is to the family room and the morning room. We also love the loft on the second floor. It’s a great place to watch movies and hang out as a family. And of course my personal favorite is the fact we have TWO walk in closets in the master bedroom. I love all the space and storage in this home!

M/I Homes: Overall, how was your experience with M/I Homes. Did you pick your lot and floor plan to build the home, or was the home already started for you?

Nichole: Our M/I experience was fantastic! Everyone we worked with was top notch! We picked our lot and the floor plan and we built the home. This was our first time building a home and M/I did a great job communicating the process and answering any questions we had.

M/I Homes: Do you have any fun memories from building process?

Nichole: We loved the Design Center experience. Being able to go to M/I’s beautiful Design Center and picking out our options was so much fun. We also enjoyed seeing the house progress every week. My husband and I would meet after work every Friday at the house to see what was done that week. It was so cool watching the house progress and taking photos. We have a great photo gallery of our house being built that we will be able to look back on.

M/I Homes: Was there something about your home that made you immediately know you wanted to move in?

Nichole: We saw our floorplan as a model home in one of M/I’s communities in Lebanon. We fell in love instantly. As soon as we walked into the model I could see our family in that home and I knew at that moment I wanted to build.

M/I Homes: What do you like about your neighborhood / community?

Nichole: We were the first ones to move into the community. Its been so great watching the community grow and getting new neighbors! The location of Greenshire Commons is one of the best features. Its so close to the highway and to our family and friends. Also, the view is stunning. We have seen some beautiful sunsets since we have moved in.

M/I Homes: Anything you would recommend to someone looking for a new home?

Nichole: Think long term. My husband and I know we will be in this home for a long time, so when we were building and choosing our options, we tried to think about what we will need in the future so we don’t outgrow the home too quickly.

M/I Homes: What is your favorite memory in your new home thus far?

Nichole: We had my son’s 2nd Birthday party at our new home a couple weeks after we moved it. It was so great to be able to fit all of our family in one space!

M/I Homes: What is your favorite space in your new home?  Do you have any pictures of that space that you would like to share?

Nichole: One of my favorite spaces is our kitchen. I love our huge island and our double oven. The kitchen has so much space and storage room. We love it!

Lawrence Kitchen

M/I Homes: What was something that surprised you the most with building a new home?

Nichole: How easy the process was. M/I was a great builder to work with. I expected it to be more stressful but everything went smoothly and I felt like M/I did a great job taking care of us through the entire process.

M/I Homes: Any suggestions you would give for someone building a new home with M/I Homes?

Nichole: As I said before, think long term and ENJOY the process. Building our home was so much fun and it was a great experience. There will be hiccups along the way, but M/I does a great job at explaining the process and getting things taken care of that may go wrong. At the end of the day, we have a beautiful home that our family will create a lot of memories in for years to come.

***Nichole and Jay have been together for 14 years, married 8. They met while they were working at Penn Station Subs together. They have a 2 year old son named Aiden and a boxer named Kimi. They were both born and raised in Cincinnati, on the West Side! They lived in Chicago for a couple years after graduating college, then moved back home to be close to family (like true west-siders). They both enjoy running and biking and they try to compete in a couple races a year.

Lighted Mirrors: Get Ready for Your Close-Up

By Kerrie Kelly, ASID

Though not traditionally viewed as the most glamorous room in the home, the bathroom has become a personal oasis—a haven for health, beauty and general rejuvenation. A lighted mirror is a small addition to the bathroom that instantly elevates its functionality and style. Whether your intended purpose is added safety or a dose of glamour, a lighted mirror provides ample luminosity and tons of style. Here are a few reasons why we love this bathroom addition.

  1. Decorative Lighting

Image 1

If you’re a non-traditionalist, look at a standard mirror paired with sconces on either side. This decorative option leaves you plenty of room to personalize your bathroom with accent lighting. Incorporate additional task lighting by installing a magnifier with lighting to get up close for daily details like applying makeup or shaving. Opting for an additional magnifying mirror may also serve as a helpful aid to any guests with limited vision.

  1. Extra Storage

Image 2

One of our favorite aspects of a lighted mirror is that, more often than not, it is accompanied by extra storage. Mirrors with added lighting are typically also medicine cabinets, with hidden shelving tucked behind a beautifully lit mirror. That extra storage can go a long way. If you have kids, keep medicine and things they shouldn’t get into on the top shelf of your cabinet. Use the shelving for toiletries and your favorite beauty products to keep all your bathroom needs in one safe place.

  1. Electrical Access

Image 3

With interior design and furniture companies diving into the innovative world of technology, we’re seeing more and more sleek electrical elements being worked into our favorite bathroom furnishings. With an outlet tucked just to the side of the mirror, you can charge your phone and plug in your styling tools in the morning and switch a nightlight on when you’re ready to turn in for the evening. Some lighted mirrors also come with dimming effects for customizable ambiance and de-fogging mechanisms that help keep your mirrors clear of shower steam.

  1. Integrated Lighting

Image 4

Another fabulous aspect of lighted mirrors is a feature known as integrated lighting. Often comprised of LED light strips, integrated lighting in the bathroom means that you can easily control the size, style and shape of the lighted mirror. Homeowners can create a mirror that is uniquely theirs and touches on all of their bathroom needs, like extra lighting around the border of the mirror, more storage or a bigger mirror.

When looking into adding a lighted mirror to your bathroom, make sure to measure your space to see just how much room you have to work with. Next, identify your needs. Is this strictly decorative? Will you need extra storage space or hidden shelving? After choosing a mirror that fits your style and function needs, accessorize the rest of your space to match your new piece. Keep accessories to a minimum and let your lighted mirror truly shine.

**Kerrie Kelly is the driving force behind her California interior design firm, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab. Kerrie is a renovation and decor expert who writes for The Home Depot. To view a selection of mirrors, including styles that Kerrie mentions, you can visit the Home Depot website here.



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