It’s been over three months since my last update on our plans to build our first home on the Sunshine Coast and wow, has it been an adventure. If there is one thing I have learned over the last few months it’s this – expect the unexpected. Everything that could go wrong, probably will go wrong. And even when you think you’re about to run past the finishing line, someone or something will pull you back and delay the race even further.

Whoever said building your first home was a breeze, isn’t telling you the whole truth. We’ve had delays with our engineering, neighbours stealing plants from our land, and our bank putting more road blocks up than you can imagine because I am self-employed.

With this in mind, I thought I would share a few tips about how we have handled the last few months. It’s been a huge learning experience and if I can give you some tools to better prepare yourselves for when you build your own home, then this will make me incredibly happy.

It’s almost guaranteed that when you build your first home, nothing will go as planned, or be delivered on time. Don’t even think about setting a deadline for the completion of the build, because it probably won’t be met. We learned this fairly early on! We’ve found the best approach when building our first home is to roll with the punches and be very relaxed about the outcomes. When you’re dealing with council, architects, builders and banks, the processes and systems in place are for the most part, out of your control. So there’s no point getting too worked up about it. Simply, roll with the punches.

With my blog and my other business, I have found success is best placed when I surround myself with likeminded people. The same applies to building your first home. Listen to the people around you, take in their thoughts, tips and advice and put these to good use so you build the best home possible. Jason’s parents told us to have electricity outlets on our two decks, my great aunt gave us some great advice about cabinetry from personal experience, my friend Dominic shared his top tips for laying turf properly, and my parents told us to make sure all toilets are separate from the bathrooms. By taking on board such great advice from those who have experience building, your house will be beautifully designed and built.

Working with an architect to design the house, waiting weeks for the engineer to pull together his paperwork, and dealing with banks who take a lot of time responding to calls and emails has meant we have more time to think about the interior design. We’ve created a furniture budget, we’ve been ripping out pages of magazines for inspiration and we’re keeping an eye on any sales that pop up to help us save money. We’ve been using this time wisely and not wasting a second, mostly because we don’t want to move into our house and think, “where are we going to buy a couch, what colour should it be, where should we put it…"

There will come a time in the building process where you will need to stand up for yourself. Architects will draw your plans last minute, engineers will take eight weeks (not four weeks) to do their work, and banks will make you work so hard to get a loan it’s not funny. In most instances, Jason and I are very relaxed. In other instances, we’ve really had to stand up for ourselves and put our foot down. My best advice is to choose your battles wisely and always put yourselves first. This is your design, your house, your money, your life – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.