Let’s face it: building a home comes with a lot of paper. Whether it’s rough plans drawn on a napkin, pictures torn from magazines or a receipt for that perfect neutral gray, it’s easy to find yourself buried in important documents. Then, when it’s time to find the info you need, you’re left paging through a mountain of paper – sometimes to no avail.
Staying organized during your build doesn’t just help you keep your desk clean – it’ll save your sanity. From communication with your contractor to finding your dream cabinets, the construction process means you’re constantly checking and rechecking information. By putting a system in place, you’ll easily be able to locate what you need when you need it. Organization doesn’t have to be complicated. Try these five tips to help yourself stay organized so you can easily access everything you’ll need for a smooth build.
1. Delineate between wants and needs
The first step for an organized build is making sure you know the difference between wants and needs. With all of the inspiration, trends, materials and ideas available, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The fastest way to gain control of your build is to know where you stand on wants and needs. Take the time to write a list of five to ten must-haves. These should be items that your home needs for you to be happy with the end result. Then, do the same with a few nice-to-haves: things that you’d like, but won’t make or break the experience. By knowing the difference and creating a strict line between the two, you won’t get sidetracked by tasks that don’t really matter in the long run.
2. Create a build binder (or board)
Building a home is an exercise in collaboration. You’ll be working with a myriad of professionals, from interior designers to concrete workers. A build binder helps you stay organized and on track no matter who or where you’re meeting. A build binder is simple: just use tabs to organize your home into different categories. One way is to split your home into different rooms. Or, if you find it easier, go by categories, such as cabinetry, flooring, countertops, paint and so on.
If you’re more comfortable going digital, use a tool like Pinterest to create inspiration boards and invite your contractors to collaborate. Your interior designer can show you some of the hottest trends while you keep all of your favorite layouts, colors and materials in one place.
3. Organize receipts and documents
There’s no shortage of receipts and docs during the build process. You’ll have land contracts and build contracts, material receipts and floorplan print-outs. If you don’t stay organized, you won’t be able to easily refer to them as needed. While you should always keep important home document hard copies in one place, you’ll need mobile versions, too. If you don’t want to find yourself lugging a file cabinet to every build meeting, use your phone as an organizational tool. Create a folder in your phone’s photo album for home documents and snap a picture anytime you receive something important. You’ll have easy access to all of your contracts, receipts and other important docs on the fly.
4. Create email folders
While the building of your home happens on your lot, the logistics will happen in your email inbox. Don’t lose important communication among your work and junk emails. Create a space for home-specific mail.
You can easily create custom folders within your inbox. If you use Gmail, for instance, you’ll click “Settings,” then “Labels” and “Create New.” You can then name your new label anything you want and use that new label to file important messages. If you really want to stay organized, you could create an entirely new email address for your build and create folders for the different categories of your build. Whatever you decide, it’s about having organized and easy access to all of your communications throughout the process.
5. Carry a home kit
If there’s anything you should know about building a home, it’s that a meeting can spring up anytime, any place. Whether you’re visiting your home site, dropping by the cabinetry showroom or running into your contractor in the grocery store, you might find yourself making decisions on the fly. That’s why you should stash a home kit in your car at all times. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but should include:
- A tape measure
- A notebook
- A pencil
- Your build binder
- A pair of shoes you don’t mind getting dirty
Wondering if a light fixture will work in your home? Grab your tape measure! Think you might have found the perfect shade of blue for your front door? Scribble it down. Schedule an impromptu walkthrough? Throw on your shoes and take a look. With a home kit, you’re never caught without the tools you need to keep the build moving.
It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed by the logistics of building a home. There are a lot of moving parts and contractors to manage. By getting yourself organized, you can feel more in control of the process and easily identify areas that need a little more work. Stay organized and you’ll keep your build on schedule (and the end in sight).