Our self-designed villa in New England style

My name is Johanna and I live together with my husband Matias and two children. We built our dream house in 2018 and here is our house builder’s story!

Me and my family. Photo: Hanna Maxstad

After 14 years in Stockholm and a job in the advertising industry, I moved at the end of 2015 with my family down to my hometown Lidköping to realize the dream of a house. It was not in our plans to build a house. We searched for a long time on Hemnet (swedish real estate site), but when our dream house never appeared, and we suddenly managed to come across a plot from the municipality, we decided to build one instead!


The area where we bought the plot is called Sjölunda Äng and in total the area consisted of 34 plots. The size of our plot is 1,034 m2. 

When we became landowners, we often went past the area where we were going to build and could see how roads, electrical cabinets, street lamps and new buildings such as preschools and schools grew. A toboggan slope was also built in the area. It was exciting to see when the new area was developed. It was also fun to see when construction began on the neighboring plots and to be able to follow the development of other house constructions and their various forms.

Land area
Our plot

Not all house models fit on all plots, so it is important that you carefully review your plot choice. 

5 smart tips to find the right plot for your dream house!

  1. Point of the compass. From what direction does the sun come from and at what time of day? How should the kitchen, living room and bedrooms be best placed in relation to this? Hitta.se has a smart function called solar info where you can search for a plot and see information about the sun’s orbit. This way you can see how the house and a possible garage can best be placed on the plot.
  2. Plan Provisions / building views. Check with your municipality which planning regulations apply to the plot. If there is a detailed plan, it states how you can build. For example, there may be regulations for height, exterior and house type. Also look at the municipality’s area plan, here you can see which future plans apply to the area. Our municipality invited us to an information meeting where they went through the planning regulations for our area.
  3. Visit some house suppliers and ask them to bring their expertise. Does the house we want to build on this particular plot fit well? In our case, it was definitely worth it as we first decided on a plot that was close to a forest area but which had not been optimal at all for a two-storey high house as both the house and the trees had shaded large parts of the plot. We had to reconsider our choice!
  4. Examine the ground – what is needed to make the plot ready for construction? There may be large costs for blasting, excavation and other ground works. In our area, the foundation needed to be reinforced with ribbed tires and because we knew this we could negotiate it in our contract with the house supplier from the beginning.
  5. Think about what your needs will look like in the future. How can the floor plan of the house change over time? Young children would like to have their bedrooms next to their parents’, but in a few years they may want more privacy. Are the storage spaces sufficient if your family grows? For example, we have chosen to build a double garage just to have space for storage.

It is important to know the plot properly and think through the plot layout and house type before deciding where on the plot the house should be placed.

For me, it was important to have the house’s entrance on the long side facing the street, it fit well as the plot was wide enough. We placed the house so that we got the most garden at the back where the sun shines most of the time. We placed the garage on the east side of the house so that it does not obscure the evening sun.

We used this room compass to find the right location on the house - a good guide in how different rooms are usually placed in relation to the weather conditions. Click on the image to get to the room compass.

Tips when placing a house on a plot

  1. Look at the detailed plan for the area. What are the regulations on how to place a house and garage on the plot.
  2. Find out how the light falls on the plot. You can do this, for example, on solar info.  Then you see where around the house you will want to spend most time and where you, for example, want to build a terrace.
  3. Mark out the house on your plot. Use sticks to mark the shape of the house, think about the placement of rooms, windows, entrance so that you get a picture of the house in place on the plot. In our case, we want as much garden in the back (south) and in the southwest as possible, this is where the sun is present most of the day.
  4. Look at existing houses and garages how they are located on the plot and in relation to each other. We went around and watched a lot!
  5. Measure, measure, measure! Borrow a friend’s plot with house and garage and MEASURE. Mark out exactly what your garden will look like. This is unbeatable, you really get a sense of how big the garden will feel in relation to the house.

When it came time to finding the supplier who would be allowed to build our house, there were four critical areas we were looking to compare:

  • house model and floor plan
  • construction shape
  • Trust
  • offer

TIP! Meet several suppliers before you decide! We thought for a long time that it would be the first supplier we met that we would build with, but it turned out that there was something even better around the corner. Try to get in touch with someone who lives in a house your manufacturer has built so you can come in and look. Go around newly built areas and look at houses and their design for inspiration. Read house blogs! For example mine 🙂

We met 6 house suppliers before our choice landed at the local JB Villan. JB Villan has been around since 1998 and has grown step by step because their customers have recommended them further. Today, they are market leaders in Skaraborg County. What made us stick to JB Villan was:

  • that they draw the house exactly the way you want it, they do not have ready-made package houses. Many home builders have prefabricated houses and then charge a fee to unlock the floor plan for alterations.
  • that they offer a turnkey contract (ie you write ONE contract and then they are responsible for everything up to a ready-to-move-in house).
  • that they build a lot in the area and know the land well. We have contacted and met several who built with the supplier we chose and asked how they experienced their work. Must say here how incredibly nice everyone has been that we met and generously invited us into their homes, you know who you are 🙂
  • a competitive quote.
  • Last but not least, that we got a good trust in the owner Jan-Bertil who really took the time for us with all our countless questions and not once stressed at meetings.


In our case, we were pretty much in agreement at once. We both grew up in two-story houses and like the idea of having the bedrooms separated from the rest of the house. So a house with two floors was the focus. It would be white, we like it stylish and simple. We started by googling all the home suppliers we knew, looked at their websites and ordered home catalogs. We also heard about Husknuten, a large area with display houses in Gothenburg, so we went there and looked. In Stockholm, there is an equivalent called Nybygget. It was clear quite immediately that a New England style house with horizontal panels was what we absolutely loved and what we wanted.

New England house

TIP! We assumed that a house on 2 floors would be more expensive than a single-storey house, but we were pleasantly surprised when that turned out to be wrong! A big cost when building a house is to cast the base plate on which the house stands and if you build a house on 2 levels, the plate will be smaller than a single-storey house with the same square meters because you build on the height.


Wood or plastered facade? The choice of facade material determines not only the appearance of the house but also how much work you need to put into it in the future. Wood is cheaper initially but more expensive to maintain while plaster costs more but is almost maintenance-free. We landed in a wooden facade when it fit best with the New England house style we wanted.

Some advantages and disadvantages of wood facade and plastered facade: 

Facade type:  Wooden facade
Description:  Natural and living, often of spruce, larch or heart pine. 
Durability:  Several hundred years with the right construction method and maintenance. 
Care:  Facade washing if necessary. Repaint about every seven years depending on location. 
Benefits:  Sustainable, natural, environmentally friendly. Easy to build and repair. 
Cons:  Requires maintenance. Many details make maintenance difficult. 

Facade type:  Plastered facade
Description:  Smooth to coarse-grained coating of lime cement plaster, cement mortar or lime mortar. 
Shelf life:  About 50 years, then refurbishment is required. 
Care:  Facade washing and repainting if necessary.
Advantages:  Relatively maintenance-free, minor damage you can repair yourself.
Disadvantages:  Moisture sensitive. Trimming must be done by a professional.


When we started planning our house, the most important thing was that the house was spacious and had a large amount of light. It would feel airy and like you can really breathe. When we were around and looked at showrooms, we discovered after a while what it was we thought did incredibly much for the floor plan and the light – it was that there was transparency in the house and light entry from two directions. When you step into the entrance, you see straight through the house instead of being met by a wall, a staircase or similar. Maybe it sounds obvious but many houses do not have that floor plan.

After landing in a house location on the site, house supplier, house model and house facade, we were now sketching the drawings before the building permit application. After turning and twisting our preliminary drawings, twisting and turning a little more, adjusted and polished, we finally approved those drawings and sent them to the municipality for the building permit application! There are many hours of work behind every corner of the house, we have bumped and soaked, measured, prioritized and chosen. It will be so exciting to see it in real life in a couple of months!

Here you see pictures of the house drawings we finally got
Floor plan downstairs
Floor plan upstairs

Tip!  Gar-bo has a good page here about everything you need to think about when it comes to building permit applications.


Door handle

Interior door handles were something we decided early on for the house. We knew exactly what we wanted and I am so happy with the result! That we chose brass in the house just felt obvious and somehow I think it fits incredibly well in the New England style we have built in. I am so happy that we got the chance to work with Habo when we chose our prints, they had a huge range of brass printsOurs is called  A9685.

Door handle

Kitchen faucet with sensor

For our kitchen, we chose Mora Cera Duo Miniprofi  from  Mora ArmaturThe best thing besides the nice design is the detachable hose and that it has a sensor. We thought a sensor would be a useful and a fun little detail but it turns out that we use it ALL the time! The good thing is that there are also handles that you can use if you want to flush for a longer time. For the faucet, we also chose electronic dishwasher shut-off .

The tap in the kitchen

The kitchen and windows

Induction hob (Husqvarna QHI7556P) is 70 cm wide, we wanted a slightly wider one but that was what we had room for because we finished drawing the house and the window replacement before we even started drawing the kitchen. This is because Vedum did not want a meeting before we had a finished drawing to start from. We love our window in the kitchen and would not have wanted to be without it, it really gives a wonderful light! But a small mistake from our house supplier JB Villan, was that they missed to inform us how much the placement of a window in the kitchen affects the entire kitchen plan. It was not something we immediately thought about. You want the top cabinets to go past the windows. Had we made a new plan today, we would have made the window a little shorter or moved it a few centimeters to the right to be able to fit a wider hob in the opening. 

The kitchen with the small window just below the cupboards

Floor hall

The floor we chose in the main entrance was an Italian tile from Swedish Tiles, Travertino Grigio gray polished. We had a very hard time choosing tiles for the hall, we knew we wanted a high-gloss floor but most of the ones we liked were very expensive. When we almost gave up, we found this and were so lucky that a neighbor a few blocks away had it in his hall so we had to come and look. Then we knew right away that it would be perfect! We love the texture and color. 

The floor in the hall at the main entrance

Floor In the kitchen, living room

The floor is a slightly white glazed oak parquet from Kährs called  Ek Vigo Country.

White glazed oak parquet that is being laid


The absolute best choice we made in the whole house was the overhead shower! After the first shower in the house I was completely lyrical, I promise it is MAGICAL! It’s like standing in a summer rain, even though the rays have perfect pressure. The overhead shower is really big, 40 cm in diameter, so you are really surrounded by water. The model is called Mora One and was designed by Thomas Sandell for Mora Armatur. 

The bathroom with the overhead shower
Close up of overhead shower

Laundry room – storage and countertops

The laundry room is really one of the things I appreciate in the house. I’m so happy about how we planned the laundry room adjacent to the main entrance. It is not super large – 8.1 sqm – but we have a solid countertop above the washer and dryer and lots of storage with large top and bottom cabinets. To the right of the bench we also have a drying cabinet and it is so fantastic to be able to hang the laundry in there!

Laundry Room

Tips for laundry!

  • Choose a solid sink and faucet, it is incredibly useful to have an extra sink in addition to the kitchen.
  • Include the choice of a mixer at an early stage. Think about what your needs are and choose the function and design accordingly. If, for example, you have a cupboard, it can matter how high your mixer can be.
  • If you plan to have a washer and dryer next to each other, turn the doors over so that it is easy to lift out of the laundry and directly into the dryer (without having to “walk around” the door).
  • To maximize space, insert a sliding door instead of a regular door into the next room, if possible.
  • Invest in dimmable spotlights under the top cabinets if you have them, it gives a good and cozy light at the workbench.
  • Tile above the workbench so it is easy to keep clean.
  • If you are building a two-story villa, think about what is above the laundry room. A washer and dryer always make a noise. We are glad that we have our wardrobe above and not our bedroom.

Lamp dining table

We chose a classic chandelier 2097  from FLOS, designed by Gino Sarfatti. It may seem common in the flow of interior design reports and Instagram posts, but for me it was a long-awaited lamp that had its rightful place in our house!

How high should the lamp be placed?

A classic measure that interior designers use is say 50-60 cm above a dining room table, large chandeliers may, however, need a few extra cm because they are often part of the interior and not just light over the dining room table. We hung ours at 75 cm from the table.

Dining room table lamp with 30 lamps
Dining room table and lamp above

Most people who build houses have a budget to deal with, so did we. It is really important to be focused and disciplined when entering a house building process because the many choices to be made can be overwhelming. I don’t really think you understand exactly just how many choices before you are in the middle of it! The most important tip is to decide on a budget and then stick to it by prioritizing your choices; is upgrading the fridge and freezer more important than carrara marble in the bathroom? Is a higher ceiling height more important than double doors in the entrance? Is it better to invest in finer tiles in the entrance hall than in the laundry room? Is the choice of flooring more important than the choice of wallpaper? etc. 

My tip when prioritizing your choices is to think about what is easier or harder to do in the future. For example, we put extra focus on the inner staircase as it is difficult to redo it afterwards, as well as our choice of 270 cm in ceiling height on both floors. We also chose the full height of the cabinets in the kitchen, double doors in the entrance and sliding doors where we wanted. Some things we chose to compromise with along the way were to go with simple baseboards / plinths and door frames instead of more profiled, higher plinths and door frames. Molded interior doors instead of solid and single-strip parquet only in the open areas and not in the bedrooms.


Tip! Budget for more electricity than you think you need.

We budgeted for about SEK 60,000 in addition to what was included in the basic package for the house, but after the meeting with our electrician we realized that it was too low. We don’t think we have chosen something extravagant but electricity costs, it’s that simple! If, for example, you have a lot of spotlights, which we think gives a nice light, the price goes up quite quickly. Our electricity eventually landed at about SEK 100,000 extra in addition to the basic package for the house and garage (190 + 50 sqm), but then we also include the exterior lights. We are super happy with how the lighting and wiring turned out and are happy that we added what we did. Our electrician from Alvelods El  has really been a good advisor when we wanted everything from the exterior lighting to lights in the interior stairs.

So very happy with the lamp we put up in the hall! Even though we think that all the spotlights in the window sills lights up very well, it is still icing on the cake when you add regular lamps.

The basic package that was included in our house contract contained 0
 (b = opted out by us) :

  • 39 wall sockets, double, earthed
  • 5 lamp sockets over windows (b)
  • 13 lamp sockets in the ceiling
  • 5 telephone sockets (b)
  • 2 boxes and empty tube for antenna
  • electricity for 1 washing machine
  • electricity to 1 dryer
  • electricity to 1 hob
  • electricity to 1 oven
  • electricity for 1 dishwasher
  • electricity for 1 fridge & freezer
  • 1 bench lighting (b)
  • 1 luminaire in kitchen ceiling (b)
  • 1 faucet in laundry room (b)
  • 1 luminaire in dressing room (b)
  • 3 luminaires in garage
  • 2 luminaires in bathroom (b)
  • 4 pipe outlets for external lighting
  • 2 external sockets
  • 1 bell (we bought our own bell)
  • electricity for 1 central vacuum cleaner

We chose to:

  • electricity to micro
  • electricity for drying cabinets
  • electricity in dressers
  • more electrical outlets and lamp buttons inside and outside
  • electrical outlet in kitchen island
  • dimmer for several lamp sockets
  • Schneider electric socket “Renova” instead of standard
  • 2 network sockets
  • spotlights in all the window sills
  • spotlights in display cabinets
  • spotlights in bathroom
  • spotlights under kitchen cabinets
  • spotlights under cabinets in laundry room
  • spotlights in the porch roof
  • astronomical clock for exterior lighting that makes it turn on and off automatically
  • 7 exterior lighting “Paris” from Norlys and 2 “Cone” from Hide-a-lite
  • sensor-controlled lighting in the garage (soooo happy with this choice!)

Had we had a higher budget for electricity, we would have chosen a smart system with displays where you can control the lighting, recessed speakers, more network sockets and dimmers on 100% of all lamps. 

Here are 12 quick tips for those of you who are planning electricity!

1) Go from room to room physically in the house and visualize everyday life. How do you walk in the house, what exactly do you do in the rooms: charge your mobile phone, iron, whip with an electric whisk, brew coffee, charge your toothbrush, blow dry your hair, put lighting in a Christmas tree, put up a christmas window star, watch TV, etc

2) Think about what the interior will look like. For example, should there be a bookshelf, wardrobe or display cabinet that needs light inside?

3) Spotlights in the window sills instead of window lamps. We have chosen it in all our windows and window doors because we think it gives a pleasant and wonderful light. You also do not have to set up window lamps to get a stylish window.

4) “Hide” sockets under the kitchen island and in the chest of drawers in the bathrooms.

5) Keep in mind that not all sockets have to be placed by the floor, it can be both practical and nice to have them in line with windows. Many people think that it is practical to have above windows, personally I do not think it is that nice, but if you know that you will have window lamps, it is smart.

6) It may feel far away, but think about where the Christmas tree will be and where you will want to put up advent candelabra and christmas window stars.

7) Dimmer, dimmer, dimmer. Best of all, I would like to have dimmers on all lamps. But be realistic and think about which lamps you really need to dim. Also keep in mind that it is a fairly simple thing to install afterwards.

8) Astronomical clock makes it possible to get exterior lighting that is controlled by the rising and setting of the sun. You do not have to come home to a dark house.

9) If you are unsure about the exterior lighting, go to the house with a flashlight when it is dark and shine where you plan to put the lights.

10) Put electrical outlets outside the house as well, if you want to connect a light loop over the terrace, a pergola or similar. Or if you are planning for awnings.

11) Should you have a robotic lawnmower – plan for an outlet for it in a good place on the plot.

12) The garage. A smart thing is to have a lamp that is sensor controlled in the garage. Then you do not have to be in the dark when you step out of the parked car. 


Once things started to happen, it went really fast and it was so exciting to follow all the steps from when the foundation was laid until the slab was cast. It was really possible to imagine how the garden would feel in terms of size and in relation to the house, which felt incredibly good!

The plot is ready and ready to start casting
The plate has been cast - here you see the plate to the house straight from the front
The scaffolding is up and ready for the house parts to arrive.

The best of the week  was when our contact at JB Villan emailed and asked if we had thought of that the hinges for our exterior doors are in chrome? (we had brass handles). Eh, no we had not thought of that. So thanks to his attention-grabbing eye (he is beginning to understand that we are careful with the details), we now get brass hinges. Thank you Patrik, you are the best!

The worst of the week  was that we decided which of the double doors’ left and right door to the garden should be opened first and then changed our minds a couple of hours later on the double door in the kitchen, but then it was already too late and the cost to change was SEK 2,500. We thought it was really bad, so now we have to live with the right side instead of the left one being opened first. Not the end of the world but annoying.


The construction of the house went quickly once it started and it was so exciting to follow everything new that happened all the time. As a developer, you are responsible for transporting away rubbish that is left on the site.

First house parts in place 🙂
Here the house parts are in place and the facade is being completed
House and facade on site


Once the scaffolding was in place, we thought it was easy to take the opportunity to paint the upper part of the house. The house is very high so it would have been difficult to arrange your own scaffolding to paint later.

Tip! How to paint a facade: Here is a good step-by-step guide on how to paint a wooden facade!

Here we are ready to start the facade painting at the top of the house
Invaluable help from our parents! Without them, we would not have come as far as we did with the painting so quickly. Matia's parents who had come here from Katrineholm and worked for three days now, my father who feels like a natural part of the construction team and my mother who takes care of the children
The eaves - the hardest, most difficult and most inaccessible part of the whole house

What shade of white was it then ?! So it was the hardest choice of all for the house. I’m still pensive to all the different white shades that should fit together. It would have been much easier to choose a house with contrasting colors… but if you want white, you want it! In any case, it was Jotun Eggvit 0502-y, a soft white tone with a little yellow in it so as not to become dazzling white. 

Tip!  Keep in mind that the nsc code 0502-y and S0502-y are two completely different colors. S stands for second edition and it is much more yellow than the one without s which is more pure white. S0502-y is usually the shade (unfortunately) that interior doors and moldings come in. 

The deck

Now it went fast – when the painting was finished and the scaffolding was gone, our balcony construction started! We could barely keep up but when the weather turned out for the best and we got the opportunity to help with the work, it was just best to keep on going! We dug out and leveled to the ground where the patio should be, measured out where the plinths would sit, dug holes and started placing them. It was a tiring job and it really ached in my body afterwards!

The ground prepared for patio construction
This is where the terrace construction starts
The terrace construction is almost complete

Final inspection

The final sprint was intense! Our fantastic craftsmen worked hard and worked late several evenings to finish everything before the final consultation. I have to admit that we were extremely hesitant that they would make it but you know – they did !! We were there Matias, me, mom and dad and cleaned the house before inspection so that it would be nice and easy for the inspector to go through the house.

Early in the morning, we met with JB Villan’s complaint manager for a review of insurance on the house and the various products (such as exhaust air heat pump, windows, doors, floors, etc.) and care advice for them. After that our inspector came and for two hours he walked around with a flashlight in the inside and outside of the house and garage and looked at every detail. Good arrangement by JB Villan to at the same time have carpenters on site who could adjust things that needed to be adjusted, a kitchen door, a door, a handle on a chest of drawers etc. Not everything was enough so they booked a time at a later time when they would come and fix the last things.

When the inspection was completed, the building inspector came from the municipality and our control manager also came to go through the house. When everything was ready, we were told that everything was approved for moving in, a completely unreal feeling that the house was now ours!

The final inspection - funny that the inspector liked our white color on the walls so much that he asked to get the color, as he is just about to repaint at home. Guess if I was happy about that question! As we struggled with all these white shades !! Jotun Egg White 0502-Y is the color we used on the walls both on the outside and inside of the house.

Tip!  Here  you can read more about how a final inspection takes place and what happens afterwards. 


It is impossible to describe in words how this journey to build a house has been, it feels like a life before and a life after. We’ve learned so much about things we had no idea about before, and it’s been so FUN! But of course also stressful, anxious and super exciting. We are not really quite there yet, our next project this spring and summer in 2020 is garden planning and final painting of the porch. But right now we are looking forward to landing in our dream house and to not have to make a lot of decisions for a little while.

Now the house is approved and we can move in, hooray !! 😊


When we had lived in the house for just over a month and a half, a protocol came from our final consultation, our inspector wrote of various small things that had to be fixed. On that list were the following items left that JB villa would arrange:

  • Replacement of windows upstairs that were not tight (it whistled and howled throughout the house when it blew).
  • A switchboard in the garage was to be set up.
  • Part of downpipe on the front would be attached.
  • The boiler was to be built in at the top of the roof.
  • Moldings at the sliding wardrobe in the hall were to be painted.
  • The mirror cabinet in the small bathroom was too high and had to be lowered.
  • The heat pump (NIBE F730) had been in trouble from time to time since we moved in.

How do you feel today in the house now that you have landed a little more?

Today we fully enjoy our nice house and terrace where we alternate country life with big city life as my husband still works in Stockholm. We alos have an apartment there and a lot of our close relatives and friends.

Here are some pictures of the house and the outdoor environment as it looks completed.

The house finished with terrace and lawn.
Our terrace which is a total of about 107 sqm. From the house wall towards the lawn, it runs 7 m on each side of the angle. From the angle in the middle it goes 4.6 m and out on the short side from the guest room it goes about 2 m and is 15 m long. We have chosen 145 mm wide wooden planks.
Photo: Hanna Maxstad. We are so happy with the house today and happy about the decision to move here to Lidköping.
Main Entrance
Our main entrance where you look straight through the house and out to the back.
Entrance hall where hall meets living room.
The kitchen with the kitchen island in the middle, we are happy with all the storage we have built in.
We wanted a kitchen with a lot of light and here you see windows and doors in several different angles.
Bedroom upstairs.
Children's room on the upper floor with built-in storage.

Feel free to follow my blog: http://www.johannawalden.se and / or Instagram at @villawalden

Here are some of our top tips for those of you who are thinking of building a house:

Are you a novice in the housing industry and facing the choice to build? Here are my 8 best tips!

  • Even if you do not know anything about houses, dare to hop on the train! You learn gradually, and EVERYTHING can be googled!
  • Talk to people who built before!
  • Build ONLY with a well-known and established house supplier.
  • Walk around and feel the area where you are going to build, talk to neighbors and review what the price picture for houses nearby looks like.
  • When choosing a plot, be aware of how the sun moves and where the house can be placed on the plot. And which house model is right for your particular plot.
  • Make a clear calculation, count at the top and add 5-10% as a buffer.
  • Expect more budget for electricity than you think.
  • Do a lot of research, especially if you are careful with the details. Read on and visit as many houses as you can in the same style as you are going to build. It is one thing to see a house on a drawing and quite another to experience it in real life.

5 tips when placing a house on a plot

  1. Look at the detailed plan for the area. What are the regulations on how to place a house and garage on the plot.
  2. Find out how the light from the sun falls on the plot. You can do this, for example, on  solar info.  Then you see where around the house you will spend most time and where you, for example, want to build the terrace.
  3. Mark out the house on your plot. Use sticks to mark the shape of the house, think about the placement of rooms, windows, entrance so that you get a picture of the house in place on the plot. In our case, we want as much garden in the back (south) and in the southwest as possible, this is where the sun is most of the day. Therefore, we have, for example, placed a patio door in the guest room facing the garden to the west, to be able to easily get out in the evening sun.
  4. Look at existing houses and garages how they are located on the plot and in relation to each other. We went around and watched a lot!
  5. Measure, measure, measure! Borrow a friend’s plot with house and garage (thanks Eva and Erik!) And MEASURE. Mark out exactly what your garden will look like. This is unbeatable, you really get a sense of how big the garden will feel in relation to the house.

 Other tips!

  • Here you can read more about building credit.
  • Negotiating the interest rate is important. Here is some help along the way.
  • To keep up with all new words can be a jungle, Here you will find 20 words that are good to know.
  • Here you will find, and can compare, the banks’ current list interest rates and average interest rates.

20 things I did not know I cared about until I built a house

  • How wide a threshold is.
  • If the floorboards are laid horizontally or vertically.
  • What color is the joint between the tiles in the bathroom.
  • How wide the panel is on a house.
  • Where the break boards sit on a house.
  • What kind of raw glass is it in a bathroom window.
  • What a window lining looks like.
  • Which door you open first in a double door.
  • What kind of wood is it in a staircase.
  • How close to the wall a toilet seat is located.
  • Where wall valves are located.
  • How many degrees a roof slopes.
  • Where the lamp buttons are located.
  • What insulation is in the walls.
  • What a garage can look like.
  • How wide a house knot is.
  • Which way a balcony door opens.
  • How high a bathtub mixer is.
  • How far into a plot a house is located.
  • What the bottom valve in a sink looks like.

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Our house building journey continues with a new garage

Residence Journeyes has been selected by a panelist of Feedspot as one of the Top 40 Custom Home Blogs on the web. Se the entire list at  Top 40 Custom Home Blogs.

Our garage project

We are building a garage and a carport with a small apartment on top of about 25 sqm. We will asphalt the driveway and continue to lay natural stone walls all the way from the stairs down to the road. 

This is what the floor plan looks like for the garage, the carport, and the apartment on top
This is the sketch we have done on the floor plan for the apartment of about 25 sqm
It is a long driveway we have and there will be a natural stone wall that will frame this whole side
Retaining walls on the side facing the neighbor

In order to gain land space and cope with the load of vehicles, we needed to plan the construction of retaining walls on the side facing the neighbor. To be able to build a retaining wall, you need to start by digging out and preparing the ground. Just at the end of the excavation, we discovered a big boulder, but it could be solved by placing a lower L-support right there.  

Preparations to be able to build retaining walls, the boulder comes down right at the end of the excavation as seen in the picture
This is what it looks like with the L-support in place
Work is underway here to prepare the ground for a garage slab
Mountains in the way of piping

When the driveway was excavated to be able to prepare for piping of water and sewage it was quickly discovered that the mountain went just below the surface. Fortunately it was still possible to solve the problem by using insulated culvert boxes for water and sewage pipes. Together with a heating cable, the box can be laid superficially just below the ground. 

The insulating box is usually used when the ground conditions are difficult, such as mountainous environment. If you can avoid blasting, thats what you want to do it as it is very expensive and can be complicated depending on what the mountain looks like. Our mountain turned out, during our house construction (in 2016), to be full of cracks and cavities. This created a lot of problems as the blasting did not give full effect as it otherwise does when the rock is solid. The blasting work became complicated and took time. We are very happy that we now did not have to go thru that again this time.

This is what our insulation box looks like
Stones for the natural stone wall

There were a lot of large boulders under the ground, which was great as we need all the stone later on for the construction of the continued natural stone wall.

All boulders were saved and will be used later
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This week our garage projekt continues and I frequently post here on my blog about our progress. Make sure you get the latest updates about our garage construction directly to your e-mail.

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Our garden design and exterior work

Our garden and house exterior

After we had finished our house building project it was time to plan the house exterior and our garden. We took our time to make a plan over the entire area and had some really good help from our family. My father-in-law knows alot about plants and gardens so we had good help and advice from him when deciding which plants, flowers and trees to buy. 

Planning pool and terrace

All work with the terrace and garden has taken time to plan and build. Now, 3 years later, we are finally starting to see the end result and it is so exciting to see how everything we have planned has turned out. 

We have taken the work with stone walls, terrace and gardening step by step and it started already during the construction of our house where we prepared for the pool at the same time. We poured the foundation and a pipe was dug under the house that runs between the rock heat exchanger and the rock heat pump.

Cast foundation for the pool
Cast foundation for the pool
Stone terrace and natural walls

When we moved into the house, the plot consisted of a ski slope full of blasted stone. To be able to build a terrace and garden, we needed to support with walls in two levels and to do this we used all the blasted stone on the plot.  

For the terrace, we ordered light gray granite stones that fit well with the wall and stone stairs.

All the blasted stone that is left over and that we used to build all the walls
Pool is being build at the same time as the stone wall
The foundation is prepared to begin the work of laying the stone terrace
Natural stone wall around the house
Front of the house were the ground work is prepared
Stone terrace is being laid
The lawn

It took many days of hard work to get a nice lawn. The toughest job was to get the groundwork under the lawn in good shape. We ordered several large truckloads of soil and then there were a lot of boulders left that we had to move to get the ground leveled. 

Once the groundwork was done, we could start rolling out the grass. This took us about 9 hours on two people. When we were done we had some grass left but luckily the neighbor needed some grass so it was not wasted🙂

It was a tough job getting all the soil out
The soil spread out
The soil flattened ready for grass to be rolled out
Newly rolled grass, it took a week or so before all the parts had grown together
This is how nice the lawn became after a few months
The pond

One thing we decided from the beginning we would do was to keep the pond which was quite overgrown when we bought the plot. We dug it out and planted some new plants around the pond. Today, plants and animals thrive abundantly around the pond and it is a pleasure to just look at it. We also have salamanders that live in the pond and are very active in the spring.  In Sweden Salamanders are protected.

Many different plants around the pond, both older plants and new plants
Aquatic plant Kaveldun can be seen to the right in the pond
Dew cover - a type of perennial that does not require much care
Snare wind that we have both around the pond and in other places in the garden, very beautiful but unfortunately it occurs on other bushes and trees nearby so I need to go and pull regularly
Hornbean from Germany

When we were going to build the plot, we ordered a lot of trees and bushes from Baumschule eggert in Germany as it was much cheaper. However, it is only worth it if you order alot. The hornbean we got was very nice and today it has become big and plump.

Hornbeam directly from Germany
Newly planted hornbeam
Hornbeam today, 3 years later
Path in natural stone

Behind the house we have laid tiles in natural stone as a path in the gravel. Fits perfectly in the forest and mountain environment that surrounds the house.

The path on the short side of the house towards the forest

The stone terrace 

We finished the stone terrace a few years ago and light gray granit stones stretches around 3 sides of the house. It fits well with the stone wall and stairs in granite stones.

Natural stone wall around the house
The entrance at the front of the house
Stone terrace at the back of the house
Stone terrace at the back of the house with level differences
Granite stone terrace goes around most of the house
Nice view over neighborhood from the pool
At the other corner you will see a ledge that we chose to build instead of a ladder - perfect hanging place on a hot summer day 🙂
Finished pool on stone areas that go around the house
The yard is right below the edge of the pool
Granite stone stairs leading up to the terrace at the front of the house
Granite stone stairs leading up to the terrace at the back of the house
Bushes and plants we chose to keep

On the plot there were some old apple trees which unfortunately were in too bad condition to keep so they went with the plot clearing. There was also a really beautiful old rhododendron that we chose to keep. As they like shady environments, we were a little worried that it would not work when we felled the trees on the plot, but it has done very well and is so beautiful now! We also managed to preserve some really old lilies that were in the forest part of the plot. They had to live temporarily with my father-in-law during the construction period, but then when we moved in we replanted them in the mountain pocket by the driveway. They smell really good (as very old lilies do) and thrive in the mountain pocket together with some other lilies we have planted. 

The old lilies that were on the plot
Purple Iris
Beautiful iris close up
Rhododendron with deep roots, probably the reason why it did so well even though it is now exposed to more sun
Beautiful old lilac bushes, there were some on the plot when we bought it
More old lilac bushes in a different color
A large beautiful golden rain bush
Yellow fat buds, fits perfectly in a mountain environment
Full of rose bushes growing around the pond
Flowers, bushes and trees we have planted ourselves

We have planted a lot of new things in the garden and received a lot of help from my father-in-law to plan and plant the garden with beautiful trees, bushes and flowers that suit the seasons.

In the old house there were old margarine, egg and sugar boxes. Perfect for planting colorful flowers in🙂
Seasons and flowering

We have tried to think through how different plants bloom during the year so that we often have something that blooms in early spring to late autumn. 

We have a lot of mountains with pockets and cracks so we have planted small sweet mountain plants
Shrubby Cinquefoil in different colors
Spiraea japonica froebelii - very nice and full-bodied. Begins to bloom in mid-July
Purple petunia, so beautiful!
Lovely hydrangea that I finally got in a good shape this year, now it is nice and full
The hydrangea is located at the front of the terrace
The hydrangea also grows in the backyard
Squash plant
This beautiful lily blooms for a long time and starts in the middle of summer
Purple prakttry
Walkers low that fits perfectly between the walls
Walkers low spreads out nicely
Rosehip shrubs
Our cherry tree is growing bigger each year
Colorful red tulip
A bee on a hydrangea
Magic sunset

Our future projects

Soon we will start another project of building a new driveway and a garage with a little flat on top. Make sure to follow our continued journey by subscribing to blog posts and you will get all the latest on our new adventures.

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Our house building story

My name is Magdalena and together with my husband Claes and my two children Mikaela and Max we found our dream location for building a house ia few years ago and this is our house building story. 

This is me and my family on a vacation to Puerto Rico, Spain


Täby Kyrkby is a small town close to Stockholm city and is a beautiful place known for its rich history which goes back all the way to the bronze age. The Vikings had, during the 1000s, a strong grip of Täby which back then was a prosperous countryside. Through the 37 known rune carvings that exist in Täby today, we know alot about the Viking Age and the people from back then. The most talked about Viking of runic carvings was Jarla Banke – a viking who was the head of Täby and who lived in Täby Kyrkby.

We first moved to Täby Kyrkby in 2006 when Mikaela was born. Much of what we were looking for we found here such as close to nature, water, god public transportations, restaurants, a small town center with a bakery, grocery store, pharmacy, flower shop, and more. In addition, the environment was picturesque and gave a small town feel in the middle of the Stockholm area.

Highlights of the area:


Just nearby is Lake Vallentuna which offers beautiful natural paths to walk in and is a popular skating area in the winter.


Vallentunasjön which is beautifully situated in Täby municipality and Vallentuna municipality.

Nygårds Värdshus

In the countryside in Täby Kyrkby there is a small 19th century cottage called Skänkstugan  and next to it is the manor – Nygårds Värdshus . The food is fantastic and the staff welcoming and friendly.  We have a 10 minute walk to this lovely place!

Nygårds Värdshus and Skänkstugan

Täby Church

Dating back to the 13th century, this beautiful church is located in the middle of Täby Kyrkby. Extensions took place during the 14th and 15th centuries. During the 1480s, the interior of the church was decorated with frescoes by the famous master Albertus Pictor and his associates.

The church dating back to the 13th century

Charming environments

All around Kyrkbyn are old beautiful buildings and nice small country roads with natural stone walls.

Nice benches right next to the belfry
Pond beautifylly situated
Country road


In the autumn of 2014, we found a plot of 2,760 sqm in our dream location i Täby Kyrkby. We used to live in the southern part of Täby Kyrkby and now we wanted to find something closer to the center and schools. The plot had exactly everything we wanted, situated in a high and free location in the center of Täby Kyrkby. However, the plot was very overgrown and it was difficult to see any view, but when we climbed up to the attic of the old house on the plot we could get a feeling of what the view would be.

View to the west from the attic window of the old house

The dwelling house

On the plot there was a dwelling house that we chose to demolish as the condition of the house was in far too poor condition. 

Picture on the back of the old house
Picture of the front of the old house

Little cottage

On the plot there was also a cute little cottage that we have chosen to keep. We currently use it as storage, but later on there are plans to renovate it and turn it into a guest house.

Picture before we cut down the trees on the plot

The last outdoor toilet in Täby Kyrkby?

There was also an outhouse on the plot that was used into the last of the uncle who lived in the house earlier. We think it must have been Täby’s last outdoor toilet that was located almost at the top of the mountain 😂

Nicely decorated outdoor toilet

Charming paintings

Inside the old house there were paintings on the walls just inside the entrance. Very charming paintings of what we think would represent a painting of the dwelling house and a troll on the mountain 😊

Paintings inside the entrance - the mountain troll?

Diary entries about animal and bird life

In the house we found a huge collection of diary entries with documentation from animal and bird life in the nature around the mountain from the 60s onwards. We chose to submit all these books to the Ornithological Society so that they can preserve the work for the future. We also had a flea market before we demolished the house which was well visited by friends, neighbors and others.

Pictures inside the old house
The day before we were to demolish the house, we had a burglary in the house and they stole, among other things, the wall clock you see at the top right. We were not particularly upset about that burglary since we had already cleared out the things we thought were special 😂🙂


Early house sketches

House proposal designed by our son Max, then 7 years old
The first sketch of our dream house that we drew Claes and I before we had met any companies

Great freedom to control the process

As the site was not linked to any developer, we could control the entire process ourselves and choose what suited us best. We invited several pieces, including Myresjöhus, Götenehus, A-hus, Trivselhus and an independent free builder.

We showed our own sketch and said that we wanted something similar to what we had sketched ourselves, but where the architect from the builder was happy to come up with his own ideas and suggestions. The choice fell on Götenehus, who were responsive and listened to our wishes while contributing their own ideas and expertise.

The floor plan developed by Götenehus architect
Götenehus came up with a proposal for a single-storey villa we liked


That first time when the work finally starts is a very special time! Now, finally, everything you have longed for for so long should begin.

The children are excited - the machines are ready to start work on the site
The blasting work on the site was extensive

The surface is prepared and ready

When the work of building the house was finally to begin, it had become winter and very cold.

Beautiful winter picture of the plot that we got sent to us from a future neighbor - much appreciated

The plate in place

So fun to follow all the steps in the process. There are really many steps and a lot of basic work before the first parts of the house start to take shape.

A great deal of basic work before the slab could be cast
The plate in place
Here you can see all the pipes and wires in the plate and the level difference where the small mini staircase should be
Pre-cast plate
Claes and the children on the plot on a nice winter day
Me and two happy children who follow the journey with great anticipation
The scaffolding is ready to wait for the body parts to arrive

The house parts arrive

This part was so exciting to follow! The house parts arrive and are put in place and the whole thing only took a few days. It is unbelievable that an entire house can be assembled so quickly.

Great teamwork to get all the parts in the right place
A giant crane lifted the house parts
Lifting crane with long arms
A craftsman makes sure that the house parts end up right
The whole house in place and the first time we get to see our house in real life 🙂

The interior work begins

Once the house is in place, the interior work can begin. Many people involved in various parts of the work – carpentry, electrical and plumbing, painting work, tile and tile replacement, etc. The interior work took a total of just over 4 months to complete.

A future kitchen island
New material arrives


The floor plan

The floor plan is divided into three parts, a social part with large areas of living room, dining room and kitchen and a bedroom part with walk-in closet and associated bathroom with sauna and finally a separate part for children with social room, 3 bedrooms and a bathroom.

The children’s part

Another thing we did was to build in an insulating inner wall against the children’s part where the main reason was to make the house less sensitive, which is otherwise a risk for single-storey houses. There was also an idea that the children would soon be teenagers with all that entails of loud music, friends and a greater need for personal space. In the children’s bathroom part there is also a terrace door where they and friends can go in and out themselves.

Walkin-in closet

One thing we really liked about the walk-in closet was that it is open from both sides and just as the sketch on the floor plan shows, it is appropriate to have the bed in the middle and open on both sides towards the wardrobe.

The bedroom with walk-in closet behind

Get a living feeling in the house in a single-storey villa

Some things that we thought were important to keep in mind to get a living feeling in the single-storey villa were to build two steps into the living / dining room towards the kitchen. We have not regretted that choice for a second as it makes the whole house feel cozier and more alive. 

Level difference down to living room and dining area

Color – 2 shades lighter

A tip we got regarding the color choice was to choose 2 shades lighter than what we wanted and when you paint it on a large surface, it will be the color you have in mind. We had a very hard time deciding the color, especially in the bedroom. We had decided which shade we wanted on the samples and it was really difficult to take two shades lighter from the color we saw. But we did it and the result painted then became exactly the color we wanted🙂

Painting test on bedroom wall

Electricity, technology and VA gathered centrally

In the middle of the house we have gathered all the technology, electricity and water and sewerage. Everything is hidden away in a sliding door wardrobe where there is also plenty of space for storage. 

The entire house is controlled from this location including the sound system to the speakers which are located in the roof in central parts of the house and on the terrace outside. 

Easy to access all technology and electricity in the house while there is space for storage

Painted walls instead of wallpaper

We were first fully aware that we would have wallpaper set up in the rooms but it is very difficult to choose the wallpaper before seeing the house. So we decided to have the walls painted instead. If we later want wallpaper, it is much easier to put up on painted walls. 

Painting work in progress


One Thursday at the end of May 2016, we took over the house, what a lucky day The 😀feeling of stepping into your own dream house where no one has ever lived before is indescribable! Seeing everything you had previously only seen in catalogs and on drawings put together into a whole was fantastic and at the same time a little scary. Had we really made the right choice? Did everything fit together? 

View from inside the dining area and outside you see the plot which so far consists of blasted stone
We start furnishing with
Getting all the paintings up was a project that took a little longer

First year

The first time we had most focus on getting order inside the house. Furniture, furnishings and paintings would be set up. We quickly realized that it would take time and money to fill all the rooms and spaces with the furnishings we wanted as the house was much larger than our previous house. Even today we are not quite ready but it does not matter that it takes time. Better that it will be the way we want it than that it must go fast. 

The plot is filled with blasted stone and gravel paths

The first year it was barely possible to be outside, especially on the back which consisted of the filling masses from all the explosives. The children were allowed to have the forest as a playground for the time being. 

In the beginning, the whole plot was just filled with large masses of stone
A gravel path outside the entrance

Our house today

A few years later we have know gotten settled in and had some time to work on interior design. Below are some recent pictures from our house interior. 

Nice view from the kitchen island

The dream of a kitchen island

I have always had a dream of a kitchen island and now that we built the house, that dream could come true. We like to cook a lot and this surface really becomes a social gathering place where family and friends gather when the food is prepared.

Convenient with sink at the stove

Choice of materials in the kitchen

It becomes expensive when you have to build a house and make all the choices where everything you want to change costs more. We therefore chose to make some compromises that we thought would be easier to change in the future. One such compromise was to choose wooden benches instead of stone that we really wanted. Wooden benches are also very nice, even though we may one day choose to replace them with stone. 

Properly with cabinets and drawers
Small stairway leading up to the kitchen
Stairway seperates the dining room from the kitchen
Dining table
Dining room overlooking living room
Nice light when the sun sets
Entrance to the porch
Living room

Ceiling height

To get a feeling of space, we chose to have a little extra high ceilings, it is consistently 2.70 m in ceiling height with the exception of the living room where it is up to 4 m in the ridge. When you have such a high ceiling height, we thought it was nice to have extra high floor moldings and we also chose ceiling moldings as we thought it looked more stylish without.

Big avocado tree brought up from a seed 25 years ago
Big fig tree in the corner
View from the living room the the dining room and kitchen


A real cosiness factor in the middle of the living room is the fireplace with a nice granite countertop in black that becomes a decorative piece of furniture. We placed the stove so that you can enjoy it both from the living room and the dining table.

Open fire place, so nice when it gets cold
Plenty of room to decorate by the window sill
Terrace doors from the kids living room
Kids living room
Guest room with an old radio from my husbands grandmother

The hall with Öland sandstone as clinker

In the hall, we chose Öland sandstone with the associated molding stone molding. It is a very durable material and looks like new a number of years later.

Hallway entrance with a bureau from my grandparents

Large laundry room

I have never had a large laundry room and always wanted a larger one where there is plenty of room to handle the laundry. Now we chose to build a large laundry room of about 10 sqm with plenty of space and plenty of storage and benches. Feels so nice to finally have plenty of space to wash and fold laundry!

Big laundry room with both a dryer and a dryer cabinet
Nice light in the laundry room
Our master bathroom with dimmable spotlights

Choice of tiles

We chose for a long time between different tiles, but in the end the choice fell on light sandstone-colored tones on both the floor and the walls.

In the bathroom thera are two doors, one leading to our bedroom and the other leading to the dining rom

Choice of dresser 

We chose the series flow from Vedum for the chests of drawers in the bathroom. Very happy with the choice as it gives a harmonious feeling in the bathroom.

The other door leading to the dining room
Door leading to sauna
Bathroom in the kids section
Our bedroom
Blackout curtains
Color of the wall is bluegrey and the curtains are grey
Walk-in closet in the back with a big wardrobe

House exterior and garden

If you are curious to know what we have done just outside of our house and in the garden. Please continue our journey here!

Our future projects

Soon we will start another project of building a new driveway and a garage with a little flat on top. Make sure to follow our continued journey by subscribing to blog posts and you will get all the latest on our new adventures 🙂

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A Swedish family’s house project with roof lifting

The Sundsjöö family’s house project with roof lifting

We moved into an older existing house in February 2016 and had many ideas and thoughts about what we wanted to do with the house. In the existing older house there was one top floor and a small half staircase down to a lower floor. We wanted to lift another floor and get a house with three floors. It was a rather complex construction that required a lot of planning and thought. We sketched together on all the details and how we would proceed to get to the dream house according to our vision. 

This is what the house looked like from the beginning

The house is growing
We did a large part of the work ourselves and took external help from local suppliers for, among other things, major elements such as the addition of a completely new floor. We were able to live in the house during the whole time that the construction work was going on, which was a great advantage, even if it got a little messy at times. 

We have begun preparations for the construction of the house where we extended the ground slab. The house will also be expanded.

The house completed
Below is the house completed and you no longer recognize the original house as it has been redesigned in both shape, appearance and size.

The house from the side
The house from the front

The three choices we are most satisfied with
Two large and important interior design choices we had a long decision-making process about were the stairs that are in the middle of the whole house and the white-glazed floor that would match the stairs. We are happy that we let this take its time because now we are really happy with the end result. We are also very pleased with the construction of the house as a whole.

The stairs go between all three floors
The white glazed floor is located in all central parts of the house. We considered different types of floors for a long time and we are very happy today with the choice we finally made now that we see the whole floor layed out
The white glazed floor is also on the top floor

Our best tips for others who are planning to build a new house

  • Be sure to know the plot and the surroundings and plan the house based on these conditions.
  • Think about how the flow of light should flow through the house. If you have a lot of light flow and light colors on floors and walls, it is important to break with dark colors in other interiors, see the pictures below where we have broken off some parts with dark colors. We think it looks very stylish.
  • Build maintenance-free with a good choice of materials
Dining room part with strong light flow requires dark furniture
Beautiful light flow at the dining table
In the kitchen we break off with a blue background wall and kitchen doors in gray
We thrive in our cozy conservatory that we built at the back of the house

What 3 things do you like best about the place where you live

  • The location in Täby Kyrkby where we are close to everything – communications, shops, wildlife, etc.
  • The charm of the surroundings – old historic buildings, park-like environments, Lake Vallentuna a 10 min walk away, the hilly landscape and much more.
  • Our nice neighbors and where our children are the same ages as several of the children on the street.

If you could have done everything over from the beginning, is there anything you would have done differently?
We would have made a much larger laundry room! It is nice to have plenty of space when sorting and folding laundry. Then we would probably also have changed the windows, larger size and placed them differently.

Our bathroom on the top floor
The glossy tile on the walls fits well with the matte tile on the floor
A lovely skylight makes the bathroom feel bigger

Finally – how do you like your home today?
On a scale from 1 to 5 where 1 is the lowest rating and 5 the highest, it will be a clear 5 – we simply thrive!😀

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