There are literally hundreds of potential decisions you might have to make when designing and specifying what goes in your new home built on your land.
It's easy to get so overwhelmed that the joy just gets sucked right out of the process! We've worked through this process with so many clients that we've developed strategies and processes to keep the joy in what should be a wonderfully fulfilling process.
It requires some communication and a lot of listening on the part of the builder, but we've found this helps our clients really know what to expect in their custom home.
1. Communicate about what's important and what isn't
First, decide what you really care about and what you really don't care about.
If you really don't care what brand, style, and shape your new toilets will be, then just let the builder handle that detail within the scope of your budget! Tell him the toilets aren't that important; you'll get perfectly good ones that do exactly what they're supposed to, and you won't have to kill brain cells worrying about it.
On the other hand, if the size and pattern of the base molding is important to you (maybe you love the way custom millwork looks and feels!) then bring that up and make sure your builder provides plenty of options within the scope of what you like and what your budget allows.
Make sure your builder writes down what is important to you. You can keep your own record of what's important to you, too!
2. Let your builder choose for the items you don't care about
You should receive a list of everything that's going into your house, and I mean everything. If your builder can't give you a list of everything that will go into your house, how can he really give you an accurate budget?
When I meet with clients, I have up to sixteen pages of paperwork that lists out the specifications in their house, including every detail down to the door hinges. We talk about everything that's important to them, and once we've exhausted that list, I'll finish filling out the specifications based on what I know about a client's budget, needs, and tastes.
That way, they don't have to spend energy worrying about some detail they really don't care about. But I don't make them stick with my choices!
3. Review your builder's choices and make changes as needed
After I have specifications noted for every detail of their house, I give my clients that list (yes, all sixteen pages!) to take home and review if they choose to. They might find that everything I specified on their behalf is fine.
Or they might discover that they care a little more than they thought about a particular item—maybe they hadn't ever thought about it before! I find that seeing everything written out helps my clients clarify what they really do and don't want to see in their homes.
Your builder should be responsive to your thoughts on anything they've chosen for you. They can help you figure out what's available to you within your budget, but within that, they should allow you to decide how much or how little input you want to have on your custom home.
Not sure how your builder will decide on the details that you don't specifically identify? Ask how they handle that—and if you don't like the answer, they may not be the right builder for you.