In 1992, we concocted a lease-to-own deal with a moderately desperate homeowner for our first home.

In June 1997, we signed a contract with a builder for our second home. They called it “semi-custom,” which really meant, you pick one of the three models that will fit on one of these four lots, then you pick one of two stucco color combinations that hasn't been overused by the neighbors, and then you can choose which flooring, cabinet, and counter upgrades you can afford. We closed on Halloween.

In August 2002, we began the process of our first, true custom home. We closed in July of 2003 with a home that was as close to our perfect dream as would could have imagined, with the little experience we had. And we learned a heck of a lot.

One of the things we learned was that building is a lot more involved than you imagine it to be. Not only are there dozens of subcontractors and tradesmen to manage, but there are millions of little parts that come from all over the world.

The other thing we learned is that no house is perfect. No matter what. No matter how many years you spend planning. No matter how many redesigns you do (we had three full sets of engineering plans done). No matter how many home design and decorating magazines and books you read. No matter how big your Dream Home Scrapbook is. No matter how many hours you spend on-site.

No matter what.

You'll still walk past something — while carrying in the carefully packed boxes — and say, “Oh, we should have…”

And the more involved you are in the fine details of the design and build, the more you will notice it.

So what. Building a custom home is still amazing. Realize perfection is elusive. Just get on with the dream.