Pat and Karn Jilek did not plan on building a custom home, but now they are settled into one at Mariposa Estates, within master-planned community Mariposa, they cannot imagine living anywhere else. “It was 100% the right decision for us, we have said to each other several times over the last few months, how in the world did we get here,” says Karn. “I can’t imagine going someplace else now.” But she also says there are some lessons they learned that can help smooth the way for others considering going custom, especially in the Rio Rancho and Albuquerque area of New Mexico.
If someone is considering whether to do a custom home or not, look at as many builder models as you can and determine what your priorities are,” says Karn. “What are those things you don’t like about those homes? Are they things that are minor changes or are they major structural elements that you need to have?” If there are minor changes, a custom home may not make sense. For example, Karn says they could have easily been happy in a Twilight home at Mariposa, but higher ceilings were a must, something Twilight could not offer in its production homes.
The Jilek’s had already pulled the plug on a production home build in Arizona, when the builder there said they could not make changes that were important to them. “Everything we wanted to do, even down to a different type of countertop, they were like ‘no we can’t do that,’ vs these are your options,” says Karn, “For us, my husband and I, we are way too opinionated to go with somebody else’s options.” So, they were delighted when Twilight Homes told them about their custom division. “Every question we had about can you do this, can you do that, came back with a simple answer,” says Karn, “yeah, whatever you want, it is your house.”
The Jilek’s second piece of advice if you are going custom, is to love where you live. Karn says after their disheartening experience in Arizona they headed to Albuquerque just to scout things out. After looking at several areas, someone suggested they visit Mariposa. “We got up here and drove around and we were like this is kind of cool, this is sort of what we are looking for,” remembers Karn.
So after hearing about the custom option from Twilight, they started looking at lots. And she says that advice about location, goes right down to the lot itself. “We had a backup lot, but I can tell you after living here, we would have been very disappointed in our backup lot. Don’t settle. We spent way more on our lot than we had planned to, but we knew it was worth it and we would figure it out.”
A key piece of advice, both to stay on budget and build a cohesive design is to choose everything up front. From faucets to flooring to finishes, Karn says making those decisions early in the process saved them both money and frustration. “It is a lot of decisions at once,” she says, “but you know the price up front when you start, and you can decide before you go any further what you want to cut or what you want to add.”
A bonus Karn says is that all the samples were there at one time, so she wasn’t trying to remember what might go with what or which style they used where.
While the Jileks did arrive in Mariposa with a floor plan they liked, they also knew it would need a few changes, so Twilight brought in an architect to help. But, Karn says it is important for custom buyers to be very clear about what exactly they want. “We made the mistake of trusting the architect in the first place and not clearly articulating what our priorities were.”
She says the first draft was far different than what they expected. She says when they were very specific about their wants, it all came together. “We went back to the architect and said take the plans we gave you and make these changes. He did that, it was back in two days exactly as we asked and that is the house we built.”
Of course, putting it all together will likely take a mortgage and Karn says your builder can help you here as well. “If your builder works with a mortgage broker and you don’t have one you already work with, go with the one your builder recommends, because they have a relationship and that will make a difference.” She says going with a broker the builder knows creates confidence for everyone involved. “It gives the builder confidence if it is approved things are going to come together. If it is a mortgage lender that they aren’t comfortable with or they don’t know, they don’t know what is going to happen, they don’t know the time constraints, or necessarily trust what they say.”
While the custom lots offered by the developer in Mariposa Estates have utility infrastructure for city services already built and in place, the Jileks say buyers should still look at grading and drainage. Depending on your lot, that could affect some plans. She also says familiarize yourself with the landscaping requirements in Mariposa Estates.
The Jileks also say remember, like with any big purchase, there may be moments of panic; but buyers should keep their eye on the prize. And they add, going custom is doable, and absolutely worth it. “We love Mariposa, love it,” says Karn. “It is the best of all worlds, you are close to the city but you get the rural feel. You’ve got neighbors, but you get the rural feel of the space. We would not live anywhere else in the Albuquerque area.”
The developer has five custom sites still available. Prices for these once-in-a-lifetime homesites range from the low $80,000 to $120,00. For more information: https://liveinmariposa.com/find-your-new-home/custom-results/ or call Martha Greenleaf at: 505-301-1191.
Looking for a new home or custom homesite near Albuquerque? Nestled among the foothills of Rio Rancho, Mariposa is a master-planned community 30 minutes north of Albuquerque. Mariposa is designed for living naturally and offers a fully equipped fitness center, resort-style indoor and outdoor pools, parks, sports courts, miles of trails, abundant open space, and endless views at the Mariposa Preserve and surrounding mountains. Learn more at https://liveinmariposa.com/
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