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Did you build your house? Would you do it again?


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I'm specifically interested those who found and bought a piece of land, chose a builder and built (vs. buying a lot in a development that was going up and then choosing your floorplan, upgrades, etc). 

 

How was it? Would you do it again? Was it more or less expensive than buying an existing home? What advice would you have for someone considering this? Did it wreak havoc on your marriage? (That last one is a bit tongue-in-cheek... but someone told me recently that building a house is SO stressful that some couples have divorced over it... sounds like a bit of an exaggeration to me, but whatever.)

 

Looking forward to hearing your stories and words of wisdom. We live in an area where there is still a good amount of land for sale. I never liked the idea of a "brand spanking new" house but I think that was based on the low quality new homes I had seen. I now realize that a good builder can create something with as much charm as an older home... but energy efficient and laid out the way I'd want. So, it's something we're considering.

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We built our home about 12 years ago. It was a wonderful experience, but the key to that was having a contractor that we trusted implicitly.

I never had to worry about something being done wrong, or in a way that was not what I'd specified. They were done on time, on budget, and were glad to see me when I'd stop in each day.

 

In my heart of hearts, what I would choose is restoring a gracious, old house, but the new one is very nice. It was surprisingly easy to make the house look nice without spending much money to do so, by choosing small touches of very nice finishes. We have a fireplace, for instance, where we used travertine for the surround. It didn't cost much, because the area is so small, but it made a really big difference in the feel of the house, since it's in a really visible place.

 

If I had it to do over again, there isn't much that I'd change, and I found the process to be fun. If quick decision making (or decision making at all) stresses you out, I'd say, don't do it. There were lots of decisions to be made in a short amount of time, some of them with only a few minutes notice.

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If you purchase an existing home, it is much easier and faster. However, you have NO idea about the quality of what you cannot see. The foundation, the plumbing, etc., etc.

 

We bought this lot early in 2003 and began construction a few months later, after we drew the floorplan and had the Engineer convert them into working documents.

 

Here, the construction is incredibly different than that of homes built in the USA of pieces of wood. Here, it is concrete and brick. It took approximately 10 or 12 months for the construction of our home. All of the concrete was mixed on site, although some of our neighbors had ready mix trucks come with concrete when they built their homes, which is much faster, if the weather and everything are perfect.

 

Expect a cost overrun. Here, there was a huge cost overrun with our home. However, a cousin in California told me that there is is common to have a 10 or 20% cost overrun.

 

We have a problem with our roof, but I would much rather have that, then a problem in the foundation.

 

We had looked at existing homes, and some of them were very nice cosmetically, but, here, we know that we have an incredibly sturdy home, that we have the best quality tubing for the plumbing and electrical and water, etc. We know what is in the foundation of our home and we know what is inside the walls of our home.

 

Yes, it is very stressful. My wife had a young child to care for and she had to give up her university studies. Building a home here is a full time job.

 

If you hire someone to build your home, you need to keep on top of them. Don't assume they will do things the way you think they are going to do it, if you are not at the construction site, frequently.

 

If you purchase a lot and you improve it by building, you will get more "bang for the buck" with regard to your investment $.  If someone else does that,  you will pay them, for their time and their work and their looking forward to do that.

 

This is our home.  My wife and I designed it and built it to last and hopefully DD will live here, with her family, when she is older.

 

Our home and our lot have greatly increased in value.  GL with your decision.

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We didn't build from the ground up, but we did a significant remodel to an existing home (adding a second floor and significantly redoing the first floor).  The process went smoothly until the last 20%.  Our contractor came highly recommended and we enjoyed working with him for the first 80%.  Then, it became a nightmare.  Apparently this is common as the money begins to dwindle and the contractor wants to move on to other jobs for cash flow.  

 

I think some things to consider as you decide whether it is worth the stress is:

1.  What will your living conditions be while you are building?

2.  Do you have a specific deadline in which you have to be in the new house, or can you manage a few delays?

3.  Do you find decision making stressful?

4.  Do you have a clear idea of what you want in a house?

5.  How do you like working with contractors, service people, etc?  Is this some you enjoy or is it something that is stressful?

6.  How much time do you have to devote to overseeing the project?

 

I would spend the money to get a real estate attorney to look over any contract before you begin working with a contractor.  Keep in mind that real estate law can vary greatly from state to state.

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We did.  With the current economic climate and the increased cost of materials, you may want to consider buying a ready built home.

 

ITA with the pps. I love living in a new house, but even though we built, we do have things that if we did it over we'd do different.

 

WE built in 2001, and costs for building materials have risen significantly.

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:bigear:

 

I'm reading the replies carefully.

 

Our current house is in a development.  We picked the lot, floor plans and upgrades, etc.

 

Before that we purchased a house that was partially built, so we got to finish picking out some things (plumbing and light fixtures, etc.).

 

Now we're considering building our retirement home from scratch.  We already own a nine-acre tract of land that we could build on, although we may look for an acre or two in a different location (a little closer to civilization).  But the land we already own is quite suitable--flat, good road frontage on a lightly traveled back road, nice area, etc.  Other than being a few miles further out than we'd like, it's tempting.

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We built 14 yrs ago, actually started a few months before we got married. We saved money but only because we did a lot of work ourselves. Around here though, especially now I think it is likely cheaper to buy in most cases, although as others mentioned you cannot customize and quality is more variable. Our first house was a very basic "starter" house, it wasn't really much stress at all. After the fire we rebuilt bigger and a bit fancier so there was more stress as there were more decisions. It was also a huge stress as we were living in a rent house had a new baby, #2, and of course the stress of the fire. My husband was working crazy hrs in addition to trying to finish the house. It was totally not fun. There are still things we would change if given a chance, although I've yet to meet anyone who wouldn't make at least some small changes, if if they've built multiple times.

 

I think it helps to have plenty of time and money of course and a personality that doesn't stress too much over every detail, otherwise you can become paralyzed with trying to pick everything. Most decisions are small and inconsequential. There are some decisions that are really important. I wish we would have had longer on somethings. In hindsight we would have went a trailer or such and stayed on our property so there wasn't as much stress to finish.

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We've only owned one home, but we built it the way you describe. We were only able to stay in it for two years before moving for work, but I have zero regrets about building instead of buying. I loved having a whole yard to create however I wanted, we were able to put the roof on ourselves and do some other work, and we were able to pick a unique floor plan and house design that was perfect for us. I'll always miss that house and it wasn't stressful at all, but it wasn't a large or fancy house, and my husband was a construction attorney at the time. :)

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I have been told you need to plan on building two houses.  The first the way you want it and the second to fix all the mistakes you made with house #1.

 

Dawn

 

 

We did.  With the current economic climate and the increased cost of materials, you may want to consider buying a ready built home.

 

ITA with the pps. I love living in a new house, but even though we built, we do have things that if we did it over we'd do different.

 

WE built in 2001, and costs for building materials have risen significantly.

 

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We built our own. It's in a custom subdivision. Hubby's brother is a contractor and he built it for us. It was a process I probably wouldn't repeat. Not because anything was bad about it... I'm just not in to picking out colors and tiles and figuring all that out. It was too much pressure. However, I like new houses. Much more energy efficient, bigger closets, lots of electrical outlets, etc. I like the idea of an older home, but it don't think I would like all the work that went with it.

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I'm specifically interested those who found and bought a piece of land, chose a builder and built (vs. buying a lot in a development that was going up and then choosing your floorplan, upgrades, etc). 

 

How was it? Would you do it again? Was it more or less expensive than buying an existing home? What advice would you have for someone considering this? Did it wreak havoc on your marriage? (That last one is a bit tongue-in-cheek... but someone told me recently that building a house is SO stressful that some couples have divorced over it... sounds like a bit of an exaggeration to me, but whatever.)

 

Looking forward to hearing your stories and words of wisdom. We live in an area where there is still a good amount of land for sale. I never liked the idea of a "brand spanking new" house but I think that was based on the low quality new homes I had seen. I now realize that a good builder can create something with as much charm as an older home... but energy efficient and laid out the way I'd want. So, it's something we're considering.

 

We have built two custom houses, but my dh was the general contractor, so that obviously makes my experience different from what your would be. However, as the secretary to a general contractor, I can offer you some thoughts on the process.

 

First, it could be more expensive than buying an existing house, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. Typically, people custom-building want specific things and/or high-end finishes, so the upgrades often are quite a bit more money than their base cost. (Think $20K-$60K, depending how fancy their tastes.) Also, when you look at home plans, the shape of the house will influence the cost significantly. A two-story house that is basically rectangular is much less expensive to build than a sprawling mediterranean with a bunch of octagonal projections and roof-line changes. A good builder can help you select the house plan that is best for your cost needs if you don't have one set in stone already. We have a couple of designs that are consistently well-liked when people are budget-conscious; the houses are pretty with a nice front porch and two stories, but essentially rectangular, which is less expensive. 

 

Second, in this economy, many people have had more difficulty securing a construction loan than they would securing a loan for an outright purchase. We have worked out unconventional financing arrangements for some couples, though, such as "Cost Plus." With Cost Plus, we are essentially the bank and the couple pays costs, plus a percentage periodically as the house is being built. 

 

Third, I'm not going to lie - it is stressful. When you're buying an existing house, there are potentially many things you don't love about the house, but you can live with those things for a while, or forever, or change them immediately if you must. When building a home, if you are a "maximizer" when making decisions, it's tough. You have to choose a tile from these standard choices OR select your own choice at possibly an upgrade expense. You can't diddle around with it. It helps if you either have simple tastes and aren't going to agonize over twelve slightly different shades of travertine OR you are very decisive and have no doubts that you want exactly this thing. I gotta tell you, I know what I'm talking about here. I've lived in my current home for ten years and we still do not have our kitchen backsplash tile in.  :laugh:  I couldn't decide at the time, so it just didn't happen. 

 

Another potential stressor is where you intend to live during the construction. Living with in-laws - this is the scenario where I've seen the most tension. If you can live somewhere on a month-by-month rental basis, and if it can be not far from the construction site, this is probably the most ideal. Or if you can live in your current place without a deadline. 

 

I consider myself very, very spoiled by having lived in custom-built homes for almost my whole married life.  :coolgleamA:  The number of things I don't love about my house are few. The layout was chosen and some changes were made to suit my wishes perfectly. That is quite marvelous! 

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This has been a really helpful thread. I don't think I'm building-a-house material. I *agonize* over decisions, researching them to death. I'm not a confident, I-know-what-I-want girl. It sounds like building might drive me to insanity. 

 

However, the next time we buy, I want to buy something affordable enough that we can make some improvements immediately. I have lived with stuff I hate for so long, thinking we'll get to it someday -- and then we only get to it before we put the house up for sale. Never again will I live with a nasty kitchen floor, mark my words!

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