Love a little HGTV? Consider this the Utah County equivalent. We’ve got it all — property virgins, house hunters and radical remodelers. Read our Q&A to learn their take on building, buying and remodeling.
The Property Virgins
Steve and Allie Vincent, Saratoga Springs
UV: What motivated you to build a home rather than rent?
Steve and Allie: We rented for the first three years of our marriage, and it felt like our hard-earned money was getting thrown down the drain. We decided to buy a house because we know that by building equity we’ll one day see our money again.
UV: How did you decide whether to build or buy your first home?
Steve and Allie: We looked at pre-built homes and always felt like we were compromising on something, whether it was a too-small master closet, the wrong colors or a small backyard. We finally realized that if we were going to spend that much money on a home, we wanted it to be exactly right, even if it cost us a little bit more.
UV: How did you decide what part of Utah County to build in?
Steve and Allie: We knew we could get more for our money on the west side of I-15, so we fell in love with our location in Saratoga Springs.
UV: Was the homebuilding process overwhelming or stressful at times?
Steve and Allie: It was definitely stressful at a couple of points because there are so many decisions such as tile, paint, colors, toilet sizes, lighting and thinking ahead for future upgrades. Everything starts to blend together. We built our home with Edge Homes, and they were incredibly helpful with letting us clear our minds a few times and come back when we were ready.
UV: What was fun about the process?
Steve and Allie: There is nothing quite like building a home exactly the way you want it and then watching it come to life. Once they broke ground and poured the foundation it was fun to visit every weekend and see the progress.
UV: Let’s talk upgrades. What parts of your home did you upgrade and what was your reasoning? Did you set a specific budget for upgrades?
Steve and Allie: We did quite a few upgrades — countertops, fireplace, lighting. Let’s just stay our budget expanded once we saw the options to choose from. That said, we didn’t make every upgrade we wanted to. Instead, we prioritized and did the upgrades that couldn’t be done after the house was built, such as adding a room or raising ceiling heights. We also decided to leave some upgrades for later when we could save up the money, such as expanding the deck and finishing the basement.
UV: How has becoming homeowners changed your lives?
Steve and Allie: We are constantly reminding each other of changing filters, new projects we need to complete, paying the electric bill, taking the trash out, etc. More than anything, we’ve realized that growing up requires being on the ball.
UV: How long do you plan on staying in this home?
The House Hunters
Jared and Matia Young, Spanish Fork
UV: What motivated you to buy your current home?
Jared and Matia: It fell into our lap. It was a bigger house with a bigger yard in an area we already loved, so we jumped at the chance. We also needed a basement so our older kids could have a place to hang out.
UV: How many homes have you lived in during your marriage?
Jared and Matia: We have lived in four different homes: one we rented, one we built and two of them we bought.
UV: What are the advantages of buying a home rather than building?
Jared and Matia: It’s nice to have a front yard when you move in so you aren’t tracking mud through your brand-new house. It’s also a much faster process. Building takes time, energy and can be stressful. Not to mention the fact that you have to find a temporary place to live while you build — only moving all of your junk once is definitely a bonus.
UV: What do you love about the home you bought in terms of design and layout?
Jared and Matia: We love having a front porch and a two-story house. Our main level is all about family, and all the finished bedrooms are upstairs. The vaulted ceilings are great because they make everything feel open.
UV: Are there parts of your home you don’t love? How did you come to terms with that when you bought the house?
Jared and Matia: We miss having a mudroom. This home also has fewer closets than our last house. It’s been tricky to get used to, but it has worked out fine. It’s taught us that less is sometimes more — less to pick up, worry about, sort and organize.
UV: Have you made any upgrades or updates to your home since you moved in?
Jared and Matia: Not yet. I think we will have a few big projects this summer with the basement and finishing the backyard.
UV: Are you a “do-it-yourself” family or a “hire-it-out” family?
Jared and Matia: We are DIY. Matia has a brother who is good at everything, so we are kind of cheating. We call him up and pick his brain. If we pretend to be bad enough at doing something, we can trick him into doing it for us.
UV: Describe your home’s interior style.
Jared and Matia: Did you say style? We mentioned we have five kids, right? Our interior design is homework on the table, baseball glove on the banister, princess dress laying on the stairs, One Direction blaring in the background and no knickknacks because they will get broken when the kids are wrestling. One day we might have this house beautifully decorated, but for now it’s all we can do to keep it clean and organized.
UV: What advice would you give to someone who wants to buy an existing home?
Jared and Matia: Get a home inspection done so you know what is going on with the house. Some problems can’t be seen with the naked eye. We have always had great experiences with the homes we have bought, though. Don’t worry about things like a bedroom painted flaming orange, you can change that. If it only has three bedrooms and you need five, that’s a different story. And, finally, don’t make an offer until you are absolutely comfortable with it going through. Patience is essential to getting into the right home.
The Radical Remodelers
Jody and Theron Murphy, Orem
UV: What motivated you to remodel a home rather than to build or buy new?
Jody and Theron: We loved the north Orem location with its proximity to work, shopping and local universities. There weren’t any new homes or building lots available in our desired neighborhood, so we found a home with a recently re-landscaped yard and a nice floor plan and decided to update the inside.
UV: What renovations did you tackle?
Jody and Theron: We removed and replaced cabinets and countertops in the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry room, put new tile in the laundry room and bathrooms, replaced all the carpet and light fixtures as well as raising the kitchen ceiling and removing florescent kitchen lights. We also replaced staircase posts, railings and balusters. Then we repainted the entire house, replaced finish work in the basement, put in a new gas fireplace and refinished the hardwood floors. We basically gutted the entire home and started over!
UV: What renovations did you do yourself and what did you hire out?
Jody and Theron: We were the painters and hired out the remainder.
UV: In your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages of remodeling?
Jody and Theron: The advantage of the remodel was that we got our perfect home in the perfect location. The disadvantages were that it took a lot of time, money and stress to get there.
UV: Was the process overwhelming or stressful? How did you handle that?
Jody and Theron: Yes! Our parents were extremely helpful. Theron’s mom let us live with her for a month while we were remodeling. Jody’s parents also took our kids to St. George for a week while we painted. Other than that, we just had to grin and bear it.
UV: What did you enjoy about the
Jody and Theron: Prior to remodeling this home, we built our previous home through a contractor. When we compared the two methods, remodeling was much more enjoyable because we were the contractors and controlled all aspects of the process. We didn’t have to deal with a difficult contractor.
UV: Where did you turn for advice on remodeling?
Jody and Theron: Our previous neighborhood was new construction, so I talked with neighbors and got recommendations on subcontractors.
UV: Now that all the renovation is over, what is your favorite room in your home?
Jody and Theron: Probably the kitchen because Jody designed it to be super functional with plenty of drawers in the island bar and seating for four at the bar as well.
UV: In your household, who fills which roles when it comes to maintenance, repairs, décor, paying the mortgage, etc.?
Jody and Theron: Theron is the handy man in the home and takes care of most repairs while Jody enjoys decorating.
UV: Do you have future plans for remodeling?
Jody and Theron: Yes. We will probably repaint the walls and cabinets as well as add hardwood in other areas of the home, but probably not for several years.
UV: What advice would you give to a family about to embark on a remodel?
Jody and Theron: Take your time when remodeling! Get lots of ideas from magazines, friends and other homes. You are in charge, so enjoy getting things just right!