A First Time Homebuyer’s Experience with Spinell

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By Niki Engstrom

Buying our first home – it came with so much excitement, nerves, a little bit of stress and a lot of learning! When my husband Dan and I decided to take the leap and buy our first home, we never imagined we would end up building.

Our first step on the way to homeownership was to narrow down the neighborhoods in Anchorage we loved and then settle on a price range we could afford. However, we quickly discovered there was very limited inventory, especially because we knew we didn’t want to undertake a remodel.

We love the charm of Government Hill, and during a drive through the area we attended an open house for one of Spinell Homes’ under construction townhomes. We put in an offer, but somebody beat us to it. However, when Spinell Homes approached us about building the same floor plan on a nearby lot, we decided to go for it.

This was our first time home buying and homebuilding, so we had a lot to learn but we felt the process was really easy with Spinell. During our first meeting, we nailed down our budget and were able to make adjustments to the floor plan to fit our lifestyle. Then came the fun part – picking out all the finishes. We had accounts set up at local stores that included our measurements and plan. The companies were then able to show us options in our price range. As a graphic designer, with a budding interest in interior design, I really enjoyed the process of selecting the flooring, counters, wall colors and other finishes.

Spinell Homes was great about keeping us informed about the process but we’d been told by friends that with any new construction project there are always delays and bumps in the road, so armed with that information, we felt prepared when unexpected things happened. For example, the initial home we put an offer on, had a big, beautiful deck with a bluff view, and we planned to have the same deck built on our home. However, our lot was smaller and despite the plan, lot size constraints pushed the deck smaller.  

We encountered a few minor problems. Construction got off to a late start because of the frozen ground and it took longer than expected. But once we were in our home, designed from the ground up by Spinell and with input from us, we were in love. It’s fun to look around your home and see that everything reflects your taste and personality.

We lived, and loved, our first home for three years, until my husband got a new job in Kenai. I was really sad to say goodbye, moving on was a very difficult decision. However, luckily, because of our neighborhood, price and the newness of our home, it sold quickly, even in a tougher economy.

We learned so much about the building process with Spinell we felt confident when we put an offer on another new construction home in Kenai. Our second build didn’t go quite as smooth, but luckily with our previous homebuilding experience we were prepared and able to navigate the challenges.

I love owning new construction homes. They reflect your personality and it’s fun to know we helped make each house a home. After living in two new construction homes, with finishes hand-picked by us, I think if we ever choose to move again, we’ll build again. We’ve learned when you work with a builder and get to design the home for you, it makes any wait worth it.