Author Topic: Built a house? Share your experience  (Read 409 times)

neo von retorch

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Built a house? Share your experience
« on: November 28, 2023, 07:29:12 AM »
There are a few related threads, like Designed & Built a House and Who has built their own house? (I mean you actually peformed most work) but I didn't see any good threads that really captured this experience.

The short version is - we are considering having a house built by a developer on a small plot of land.

The main questions I would hope to see answers to:
  • What were the worst parts of the process? Any regrets?
  • What made this the right decision for you? Before... and after?
  • How this compares financially to buying an existing house - if things are otherwise comparable?
  • How this might compare to buying a "good bones" house and doing a lot of renovation to update it?



A little background if you're curious. We have a 30 year 2.99% mortgage. But... life circumstances have changed, and there are more important things than money. We're trying to move significantly closer to my immediate family. My in-laws were 20 minutes away, but moved to their dream retirement home hours away. We're going the other way towards where my dad and siblings live. And as a social bonus, it's also where I used to live, and have a mildly frozen social circle waiting there to thaw and remake. As of this post, we've seen (I think) 27 houses, and put offers on three, but have yet to come to terms. The houses we look at are either really nice, and accept an offer by Thursday when we plan to see it Saturday... or they sit on the market for months, and we go see them and find out why! Perhaps the biggest frugality challenge is that we've spent some time, money and sweat updating this house, and we don't want to do that again immediately upon moving. We want to focus on relationships and adding a new canine family member. But we would like a "reasonably" updated home as far bathroom / kitchens are concerned.

This weekend, we're going to start seeing some "new house" developments and see if it could be a good choice for us. Of the homes we've put offers on, two were very nicely updated, and the third was built 6 years ago, and great quality (but the lot itself was kind of a mowing maintenance nightmare, so I think we dodged a bullet when it didn't work out.) We don't know for sure what our current home will sell for, but we estimate a bottom of the barrel floor of $550k, with optimism it'll sell close to $600k. If we spend $100k less than this sells for, our ~6.5% (ish) fixed rate 15 year mortgage will be readily doable, and we won't be spending a great deal more in mortgage interest. The area we're moving to is generally lower cost of living in comparison, so that's one saving grace. But the housing market is much friendlier to sellers, unless you set your standards for housing very low. Homes in the $250k budget tend to missing all appliances and floors. $300-350k typically gets you an OK home in a mediocre neighborhood with largely old bathrooms and kitchens. $400-450k starts to approach the sweet spot, with some compromises. Once we hit $500k and above, there are occasionally some really nice houses with OK property and locations, but they also get multiple offers and sell in the opening week. There are strangely almost no houses in the $550k-700k range, and then you start to see mansions with 1+ acre lots. We kind of wish we could have a modest ranch house on 0.5 - 1.0 acres, but we're flexible on land as long as it's good for a dog!

Most new houses are in developments with 0.25-0.4 acres, starting at $380k-450k depending on how ideal the location is... but quickly ramping up towards $500k and beyond once you account for a sun room, granite countertops, tile showers and decent floor options. (Though I don't know any of this for sure yet - we'll hopefully learn a lot this weekend!)
« Last Edit: November 28, 2023, 12:59:10 PM by neo von retorch »

Dreamer40

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Re: Built a house? Share your experience
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2023, 09:20:46 AM »
The 3 families I know who have recently tried building a house have all regretted it. Materials are very expensive right now so it costs them more than buying an existing house and contractors have promised them unrealistic timelines. One of the houses finished after 2 years, one has been torn apart the past 3 years and is nowhere near the completion, and the 3rd hasnít broken ground after 3 years. For the one that finished, it cost way more than anticipated and was an exhausting process having to make every tiny decision and constantly supervise the work to get things fixed that werenít being built right. Like doors being put in the wrong places and damaged materials.

uniwelder

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Re: Built a house? Share your experience
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2023, 09:38:51 AM »
Perhaps the biggest frugality challenge is that we've spent some time, money and sweat updating this house, and we don't want to do that again immediately upon moving. We want to focus on relationships and adding a new canine family member. But we would like a "reasonably" updated home as far bathroom / kitchens are concerned.

This weekend, we're going to start seeing some "new house" developments and see if it could be a good choice for us.

...But the housing market is much friendlier to sellers, unless you set your standards for housing very low. Homes in the $250k budget tend to missing all appliances and floors. $300-350k typically gets you an OK home in a mediocre neighborhood with largely old bathrooms and kitchens.

...We kind of wish we could have a modest ranch house on 0.5 - 1.0 acres, but we're flexible on land as long as it's good for a dog!

Sorry, I'm not sure what you're really trying to ask.  From the thread title and first set of home building questions, I thought the rest of the topic was going to be about how you plan to build your own house, but it sounds like you want a house that's ready to move in and decently updated.

I built a very nice 1,400 sq ft garage/shop that ended up around 50k in materials, totally gutted and renovated our small 2 bedroom home, and have done other renovations in 3 other houses we own.  I can expand on my regrets, lessons learned, etc, but from your posting I'm not sure that's actually what you're looking for.  Do you intend to just buy property and build a modest ranch house, like you wish you could find?

neo von retorch

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Re: Built a house? Share your experience
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2023, 09:40:29 AM »
Do you intend to just buy property and build a modest ranch house, like you wish you could find?

Yes, I mean buy land, build a house, as per the title! Unless you mean it's not called "building a house" unless you do the physical work all yourself?

uniwelder

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Re: Built a house? Share your experience
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2023, 09:46:43 AM »
Do you intend to just buy property and build a modest ranch house, like you wish you could find?

Yes, I mean buy land, build a house, as per the title! Unless you mean it's not called "building a house" unless you do the physical work all yourself?

I'm getting caught up on your wording.  Do you intend to hire out it all out to a general contractor or are you participating in any of the construction or design?  Have you looked at any plots of land for sale, are they in the neighborhood or area you want to live, have water/sewer/etc available?

neo von retorch

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Re: Built a house? Share your experience
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2023, 09:51:58 AM »
I'm getting caught up on your wording.  Do you intend to hire out it all out to a general contractor or are you participating in any of the construction or design?  Have you looked at any plots of land for sale, are they in the neighborhood or area you want to live, have water/sewer/etc available?

So far we have only opened ourselves to the possibility of maybe paying to have a house built. In these specific cases, they are developments, meaning the land is already divided into lots, and part of the purchase process. A known builder with a long-standing reputation in the community has several floor plans to choose from, and from there, you can make (expensive) decisions about changes and upgrades. The builder of the house (built in 2017) we put an offer on has a development with some lots not yet spoken for. Their estimate is building from February/March for 4 months (finishing in June/July). We'll have to see if there's some way to find out if their timelines are in any way realistic! Given they have some houses already built / completed within these developments, that should be somewhat obtainable.

If the timeline and overall cost including upgrade options looks to be within our budget and plans, then we might move forward. We would not be participating in construction or design, beyond the options (i.e. do you want to add a sunroom, a deck, opt for more efficient HVAC, add ductwork so your basement can be heated, etc.)

 

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