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!
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!
ABOUT THE PLOT
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.
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
LOCATION OF HOUSE
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.
Tips when placing a house on a plot
- Look at the detailed plan for the area. What are the regulations on how to place a house and garage on the plot.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
CHOICE OF HOUSE SUPPLIER
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
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.
CHOICE OF HOUSE MODEL
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.
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.
CHOICE OF HOUSE FACADE
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.
FLOOR PLAN AND BUILDING PERMIT APPLICATION
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!
Tip! Gar-bo has a good page here about everything you need to think about when it comes to building permit applications.
OUR FURNISHING CHOICE
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 prints. Ours is called A9685.
Kitchen faucet with sensor
For our kitchen, we chose Mora Cera Duo Miniprofi from Mora Armatur. The 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 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 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 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.
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!
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.
HOUSE BUDGET AND COMPROMISES
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.
LIGHTING AND ELECTRICITY
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.
The basic package that was included in our house contract contained (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 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.
HOUSE UNDER CONSTRACTION
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.
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!
COLOR CHOICE ON THE FACADE
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.
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 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!
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.
SOME TIME AFTER MOVING IN
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.
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
- Look at the detailed plan for the area. What are the regulations on how to place a house and garage on the plot.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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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