Author Topic: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?  (Read 8108 times)

callan

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My husband and I have an opportunity to buy 5 beautiful acres of park-like land.  The land is perfect: close to town, public utilities, gorgeous views, the right school district.

Here's the dilemma:

The land is $150,000.  The house we want to build is $150,000.  We would have to sell our existing home, rent for a year (or two) during construction, and take on what I know will be a huge project since we want to build much of the house ourselves.

None of that scares me.  We're ready for the challenge and have the requisite badassity to make the necessary sacrifices.  The problem is I can buy a perfectly nice house, in a perfectly nice neighborhood (on much less land), in a perfectly fine school district for about $100,000 less.

So, do I build my dream for $300,000 or "settle" for a $200,000 house? 

matchewed

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What makes sense for your plan, your values, and your money?

How long would you be staying at that home? Is it your home for life? Is it worth spending the 300k? Would you get that money back if you left?

There is no one that can answer what you're asking but you and your husband. There is a clear mathematical answer for what is cheaper, but no one can put the value on your "dream" but you.

callan

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Thanks matchewed.  This is the dream, forever house.  I think it's definitely worth $300k, in the same sense that you should spend more money on a good watch that you'll have forever rather than a cheapo one that will break.  I'm just worried that I'm rationalizing the decision to spend more money because I really want this to happen. 

MooseOutFront

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For our specific situation, we could afford to spend $300,000 on a house if we needed to.  I also love land and trees.  My main trepidation would be the maintenance that I'm signing up for with 5 acres, but if I was cool with that then I would do it.  If it's in the right schools and you build smartly, it sounds like you'll have a bunch of equity in it by the day you move in.

My other concern would be the property tax situation.  If that land is in city limits then property taxes and code compliance could be an issue over time.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 09:46:02 AM by MooseOutFront »

matchewed

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There are a couple of methods to analyze the various decisions. The 10/10/10 Rule, considering what you would do if money were not part of the consideration, and truly diving deep down in yourself to determine what about the decision is the most valuable part. Don't settle for the easy answer of the dream home, what about the dream home is important to you, where is the value, how will it make your life better, and can all that be had regardless of the dream?

callan

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Thanks MooseOutFront. My husband owns a landscaping business, so we're fine with the maintenance end of things.  With our significant down payment, plus the value of the land once a house is on it, I do think we'll have a lot of Day 1 equity.

Still, I know I could live MUCH more frugally and invest the difference.  I think this is a purely mustachian conundrum: which sacrifices are worth it so that you can invest more, and conversely, which dreams are worth sacrificing your investment dollars for?

callan

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Matchewed, I had never heard of the 10/10/10 Rule.  Thanks for posting the link.

If I went the $300k route:

10 minutes from now - I'd be nervous
10 months from now - I'd be living in an apartment with my husband and three kids, trying to keep the big picture in mind
10 years from now - I'd be on my own paid off slice of heaven on earth

If I went the $200k route:

10 minutes from now - My life would be easier
10 months from now - I'd be wondering "what if?" but I'd have more money and less stress
10 years from now - I think I would regret not going for it

The value of the land for me is mustachian.  It represents freedom.  Freedom to build my own house with my own hands, plant and grow my own food, raise my children away from the Stepford Wives suburbs.  Freedom to open the back screen door, shoo my children out while saying, "Go climb some trees." 

"can all that be had regardless of the dream?" - GREAT question.  I think not, but I'm not 100% sure.

matchewed

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Matchewed, I had never heard of the 10/10/10 Rule.  Thanks for posting the link.

If I went the $300k route:

10 minutes from now - I'd be nervous
10 months from now - I'd be living in an apartment with my husband and three kids, trying to keep the big picture in mind
10 years from now - I'd be on my own paid off slice of heaven on earth

If I went the $200k route:

10 minutes from now - My life would be easier
10 months from now - I'd be wondering "what if?" but I'd have more money and less stress
10 years from now - I think I would regret not going for it

The value of the land for me is mustachian.  It represents freedom.  Freedom to build my own house with my own hands, plant and grow my own food, raise my children away from the Stepford Wives suburbs.  Freedom to open the back screen door, shoo my children out while saying, "Go climb some trees." 

"can all that be had regardless of the dream?" - GREAT question.  I think not, but I'm not 100% sure.

Take some time with these questions. Rattling off a response in five minutes is probably not giving it the depth it deserves. Talk it over with your husband, get his take on it, you are both in this together.

mak1277

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Is the land the important thing, or the house you're going to put on it? 

If you're building a house yourself (i.e., "at cost" or close to it), then $150k is a pretty sweet home.  Is it all necessary, or could you scale back on the cost of the dwelling in order to close the price gap?  And is THAT something that would be worthwhile for you?


callan

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mak1277, the land is MUCH more important to us than the house.  You're very perceptive!

I actually think we could build the house for less than $150k, but most people look at me funny when I say that.  I should have known I could be more upfront with the figures on this forum.  Materials will be about $40k.  If we had a builder do EVERYTHING, that would add another $80k.  We plan on doing or helping with the electric, plumbing, flooring, painting, cabinets installation.  We'll contract out the dry wall, foundation, tapping in.

That being said, it's quite possible I'm being naive about the true costs of building a house.  So, even though I think it could be done for about $100k, I suppose it's not unreasonable to say $150k if you factor in unintended costs.

plank

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2014, 09:32:34 AM »
What about a middle path?  Could you buy the land then stay in your current home and wait until you have the funds to build the new house? 

It might be less hectic for your family and you wouldn't have the pressure of time on you while you are in a rented apartment or when you are trying to sell your current home.

Glenstache

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2014, 09:52:54 AM »
1. Most people underestimate what it takes to build a house, both financially and in time.
2. Run some hypothetical situations where you assume that your current plan is not available (lot bought out from under you, or whatever)... is there a Plan B to get a nice piece of land at 5 years out that is more cost effective? How many parcels have you looked at? There is a tendency for people to get excited about "the one" lot. In most areas, there are other options that work well, too... and might actually be better. If anything, the process could reinforce that this is "the one" and you should jump in full force.
3. I bought a piece of land and built a cabin almost entirely by myself except for a few hours here and there from a few friends and the main power line which was much better done by excavator due to big boulders. It was deeply satisfying, and I learned a lot about construction and myself. It wasn't a financially mustachian thing to do, but it has greatly improved my quality of life and I feel that it was worth it. Plus, I have some great sweat equity should I ever need to sell.

callan

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2014, 10:42:51 AM »
Thanks Plank and Glenstache.

@Plank - I'd love to stay in the house if we could, but the bank won't consider us unless we don't have the primary mortgage.

@Glenstache - I'm pretty darn sure I'm underestimating everything about this whole process.  Everyone keeps telling me how hard it is to build, and I keep saying, "Yeah I get that, but..."

We're in the middle of an oil and gas boom right now.  I'm in SW Pennsylvania, literally sitting on the country's largest deposit of natural gas, and fracking is going on all around us.  Land prices have spiked, and this particular parcel is no exception.  One of the great things about it is it's in a developed area with no chance of a drilling anywhere around.  My water, land, and peace and quiet will be safe (from drilling anyway).

Thanks for the perspective on building your own cabin.  My husband and I, naively or not, are excited about the sweat equity of building our own darn house with our own darn hands (and the hands of friends/subcontractors we'll pay). I too think it will be a deeply satisfying experience.

Plus, it seems that a lot of the complainypants people who whine that it's so hard to build a house are the ones who buy a lot  in a development and "build", which really means they picked out the siding color and the style of flooring, and let the developer build the rest.  To each his own, but that's not our cup of tea.

MooseOutFront

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2014, 10:50:31 AM »
I would make quadruple sure there's no chance of drilling there.  Figure out the specifics of the surface rights there.  Speaking from a resident in another gas boom, 5 acres in a developed area sounds like the perfect spot to drill to me.

thd7t

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2014, 11:02:55 AM »
This is a difficult conversation to have without knowing how many square feet you're thinking about.  How do you plan on designing the house?  Two years seems like a very long time for construction given your budget, but if it's a large job and you plan on doing a lot yourself, you might still be moved in fairly quickly with a temporary C.O.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2014, 11:12:55 AM »
Definitely verify the fracking issue.

Well or city water? If well, I'd be concerned about contamination from drilling.

How much of the 5 acres gets good sun or would it need clearing to make it farmable? Keeping some of it wooded is nice, for firewood and habitat for beneficials, but you need sun for edibles.

Depending on rent prices in the area, why not park a trailer on the land instead? Would make it a lot easier to get time in on the construction. Rural did that, I know, so if she chimes in that'd be cool.

Rural

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2014, 07:29:27 PM »
Definitely verify the fracking issue.

Well or city water? If well, I'd be concerned about contamination from drilling.

How much of the 5 acres gets good sun or would it need clearing to make it farmable? Keeping some of it wooded is nice, for firewood and habitat for beneficials, but you need sun for edibles.

Depending on rent prices in the area, why not park a trailer on the land instead? Would make it a lot easier to get time in on the construction. Rural did that, I know, so if she chimes in that'd be cool.


I didn't just chime, I wrote a novel. Or perhaps a series of novels. Anyway...


Our trailer was already there, listed as uninhabitable in a rural county where I had not idea such a term even existed! It's a good route if you're allowed to put a trailer (or a "workshop" or "garage" -- that's what Spork and spouse lived in for several years). Don't get a 40-year old trailer, though. Twenty is probably reasonable, though if we hadn't had the trailer already, we might well have lived in the barn we put up to shelter building supplies. It's a pretty good model if you don't mind really roughing it, and it would be more structurally sound than our trailer was. If you can find a way to live on the property, then you can put every cent that would have gone to rent toward building supplies.


Here's a case in point about the time and effort, though: I was actually reassuring my husband this evening. We both went back to school full-time for the fall today, and he's been stewing a bit over not getting more done this summer. I told him not to worry and pointed out that this summer has been the first opportunity we've had to live since the spring of 2009. All the time in between has been building and working.


That said, we built our house for right at $80,000, which includes the purchase of a very used backhoe to dig the foundation and push in the driveway. But you get the idea there of how much we did ourselves -- even digging the foundation. Also, my father did a hell of a lot of the work, staying here on our property in a travel trailer four days a week and going home for three days for a stretch of several months -- his four days included the weekends so that he and my husband together could do the jobs that required two men.


Theres a thing i didn't fully expect: Unless you are much bigger and stronger than I am, you will also come to the humbling realization of your own physical limitations. I can't carry a truss up a ladder. Just not possible. I can't even lift up my the end to my husband once he's carried the heavy end up the ladder. That was a two-man job, given our available labor pool. The single woman around was useless in that scenario. There were many such, actually (I also couldn't reach the pedals on the backhoe). I lined up summer work for pay to buy more supplies, cooked big meals to feed men who'd been working all day when I got home, and stirred up a lot of Gatorade (the powder is much cheaper than premix).


Would I do it again? In a heartbeat, but only if we could be the age we were when we started in 2009. We're at a point where the extra five years could make the difference between getting stronger and serious injury, and my father? If he didn't come from an obscenely long-lived family, he'd have been at "way too old" when we started.


It's that sort of project. You will get older doing it, maybe faster than the years you spend doing it. But you get stronger too. It will take years. It will take twice as many years as you think it will.


Oh. A big thing. The house will never be "finished." There are still things my father needs to do on the first house he built (my parents' home), uncomfortably close to fifty  years ago now.


Check on the drilling. That's big. Be sure. Check on the water source if you don't know. Check on every damn thing. Checking now is free, and finding out when it's too late about whatever-it-is could ruin you.


Search your soul, and do soul- searching with your husband. Do you want to live in that area forever? Are you sure you can be happy with only five acres? With that many acres? If your children, assuming you have them, move far away when they grow up, are you going to want to follow them? If you can't be sure on those questions, you probably don't want to take this on.


Where will the time you need to do the work come from? My husband teaches, so summers were building time. But weekends, every weekend, were too. And summers sound nice but aren't. One particularly vivid memory is of me, my husband, and my father frantically hammering down black synthetic underlayment in 105 degree heat in the sun (sitting on black stuff, remember), trying desperately to get the roof dried in before the thunderstorm we could see approaching over the next mountain reached us (we made it, but we didn't have time at the end to stop to drink when health and sanity required it, and I didn't have time to stop to do anything about it when I broke my middle finger with a hammer blow, just used the index until we got it done, then taped it up while the rain fell).


It's mostly miserable. It's worth it if it's worth it to you, if that makes any sense.


Do you or your husband have any building experience? If you don't, you run a real risk of coming out of this, not with a life-changing experience of mostly awfulness and a dream realized on the other end. If you have no experience at all, it's frankly more likely you'll get the awful and lose the dream in the end for one reason or another.


How solid is your marriage? If there's any real point of friction, this is a stressful enough thing that it may well split you apart, which would of course be the end of building a house, too.


If you do decide to go forward, I strongly suggest designing it for accessibility and aging in place, because you won't be willing to move out when you are old and frail.


Think about it, a lot. Talk about it. Don't let this particular piece of land that's for sale force you to rush at all. More land will be for sale later, and it's much, much more important to be sure. Even if you think this is a great, one-time bargain. Maybe especially in that case.

bogart

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2014, 10:35:13 PM »
You may be in a position to pay for the land outright, in which case, no worries, but DH and I have recently been looking at buying some land (after having looked at buying some houses, and getting qualified for mortgages and such, so I had a baseline from which to compare), and I was astonished both at how much more difficult it was to find a lender willing to deal at all with unimproved land,  at the difference in interest rates (about 2% more than what we qualified for, for housing), and at the lengths of the loans offered (10 years max rather than 30).  Now if we buy the land and build on it, we can refinance it as a home loan at that point, but if you are (as I was) assuming similar terms for land as compared to houses, I'd check.  PA may be different from where I am, but it may not.  Also note that while the land is unimproved, it will not qualify for the mortgage interest deduction -- this may not be an issue for you, but in case it is. 

DarinC

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2014, 10:57:48 PM »
I'd do it, but mostly because that's exactly what I want to do. I also have family who built their own place, and it's tough. It took them a couple years of living in a trailer just to get the house up, and they had a friend who was a contractor guiding them through it. It's tough, and you need support and a lot of work to make it through.

Glenstache

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2014, 12:42:52 AM »
What Rural wrote is probably worth reading again.

Please be mindful of the fracking issues. From a technical perspective, it is a complicated issue. Done properly, and in the right geologic environment, it could be no issue at all. However, there have been issues with poor well seals, or flow through undocumented abandoned wells from historical oil production, that have led to shallow groundwater contamination issues. Quite frankly, given the technical and political issues, this may be difficult to assess at this point (and, again, it may be just fine). But, you should do what is possible and prudent to understand the issues if you would be on a private well. This may take some time, and you may also need to hire someone if there is uncertainty. I would not assume that because you are in a currently "developed" area that you are immune from energy production. There are schools in Beverly Hills (yes, that one) that have had oil derricks on the property, which, incidentally, can apparently pay for a lot of pencils.

callan

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2014, 06:24:26 AM »
Wow.  Thank you all for your thoughtful replies.  This is my first time posting on this forum, and it has been very valuable getting your unbiased thoughts.  I most definitely do not have a community of financially like-minded people in my daily life, so having this virtual community is more helpful than you know.

lifejoy

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More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #21 on: August 01, 2014, 10:08:39 PM »
I grew up on ten acres. Not all decisions are financially sound... But with that disclaimer out of the way, let me just say: it was magical :)

Weedy Acres

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2014, 05:58:15 AM »
Materials will be about $40k.  If we had a builder do EVERYTHING, that would add another $80k.  We plan on doing or helping with the electric, plumbing, flooring, painting, cabinets installation.  We'll contract out the dry wall, foundation, .....

$40k for all materials?  Unless you are building a very small house or using very cheap materials, like Particle board cabinets, there's no way.  How did you arrive at this number?  How big would this house be?

frugaliknowit

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2014, 08:09:37 AM »
My $.02:  I would not do it.  Folks often think they are going to live somewhere (in bliss or whatever) "forever".  The chances of your needing to move in the future (for unforeseen reasons) or to reduce your costs make the proposal extravagant.  I don't see anything badass about about it.  Badass would be buying something distressed and turning it around or buying something "nobody wants" and finding use for it.

BooksAreNerdy

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2014, 08:14:49 AM »
Google BYOH (build your own house) and study that website. I did the GC work on our home. We bought 20 acres for 80k, and built a $270k house ( including separate pole barn garage).

This was our dream home/forever home. Things change. Perspectives change. We have been here for two years and the commute in to town is killer. The mowing and maintenance is never ending. The list of chores is unending. The cost of upkeep (tractor, fuel for mowing, landscaping, fencing, animal feed, etc) isn't unaffordable, but we drop a solid $500/mo on farm stuff. I'm starting to wonder if that money could be better used elsewhere.

The upside is how quiet it is here. I love raising children here. This is the childhood I want for my kids. I enjoy may garden, chickens, and milk cow. I love raising my families food. I love this damn house that I designed and built from the ground up.

That being said, I know how it feels to be able to see into the future and see that my dream house will be perfect. What I didn't expect was that there is no such thing as perfect. Kitchen aside (it IS perfect) I would change a ton of things about the house.

If I had it to do over again, I would buy 5 acres closer to town (doesn't exist in our town), build a smaller house (we don't really need 1900sqft), and spend much less than the $350k we did (by moving slower and doing more of the manual labor ourselves).

I am not trying to discourage you at all. Just consider that perhaps your dreams may change. I know it feels like an impossibility. If you want, I can link you to a few blog posts I did when we were building. I'd also be happy to share my spreadsheet of costs. One of the most useful things I got from BYOH was an idea of what % of the budget should go to each category of the build project. I made up a spread sheet with each trade, entered the contractors name, their bid, and how that measured up to the projected cost based on that %. It was pretty close. I do not think you could build for $40k worth of materials. We spent more than that on lumber alone. Granted, we went luxury, maybe you don't want that. But the luxury finishes are a very small part of the project. Even doing the work yourself, you would be shocked at the sheer volume of materials you will need. Paint was a shocker for me. Bare drywall soaks up paint like you wouldn't believe. You will literally need 50-100 or more gallons of paint.

Slight topic change-
I think I read that you were interested in raising food? Use scrap from the build project to build a chicken coop. They are easy critters to care for. Brood your chicks in the summer so you won't need heat lamps on them (red bulbs suck energy to the tune of $25/wk). Starting veggie beds is not cheap. We have 15 raised beds, not bordered by lumber or anything, and the compost and straw to start them was shocking. Now that we have cows, we have a steady supply of each, but that isn't really free either. Its all very gratifying. We do save $$ on dairy products with the milk cow if you translate just the cost of feed to grocery bill costs. Add in the costs of getting bred every year, flyspray, and hay... Not so much...

So, hobby farming and home building are both incredibly gratifying. Yes. Without a doubt. Financially sound choices? Probably not. At least not how we did it.

Sorry if this is all over the place and/or an epic post. Drinking coffee and have a 3 year old running around. :)

ETA-That being said, we are currently considering moving back to town and rehabbing a foreclosure to move into with no mortgage. We would keep the chickens and garden, but that's about all a house in town would allow. We will do all work ourselves and it will have nice finishes, but we would move slowly and do it mortgage free. Just to make it relatable to the FIRE part of this blog, that move could put DH in retirement 4 years early, but we would still have to downsize lifestyles at retirement. Or DH could work 12 years more and we could live here forever. Personally, id rather have my husband back in 8 years than 20.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 08:21:36 AM by BooksAreNerdy »

Bethersonton

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Re: More badass to buy land and build or buy an existing (cheaper) house?
« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2014, 10:14:35 AM »
Everything Rural said is standing ovation-worthy truth. (And thank you, Rural, I needed to read some "me toos!" today). Physical limitations, the strength of your marriage, the whole "but WHERE will the hours come from" - these are all serious things to consider, and not just say "Oh, we get it, we understand." Unless you have built before, you really can't. Not to say you shouldn't do it, but truly, building from scratch is an absolute ton-and-a-half of work. It is more than a challenge. It's fun on paper to think about "sacrificing" by living in an apartment, but the idea of a fun challenge goes out the window when it's 15 months into the build, your bank account is dwindling, you've worked 40 hours that week at a "real" job, the car needs 2k worth of repairs, it's Saturday morning and 107 outside and you must get out and build. Oh, and someone still has to cook dinner, clean, do the laundry, pay taxes, keep in touch with friends and family, etc.

My husband and I have been building a tiny house (200 s.f.) and living with family. We went into it thinking "Oh, it will cost $10k, and be done in four months." Two years later, still living with family, and the budget has doubled (we're just now finishing up drywall). We were both self-employed, and gravely underestimated the fact that we would also have to be earning our monthly living costs in addition to endless trips to Lowe's for supplies (we had the $10k saved up front in cash).

Some tiny house build sites estimate 800 hours. We flippantly thought, "That's not a lot." Well, if you have a full time job, Monday-Friday, that means every single weekend, both Saturday and Sunday, 8 hours on each day, for an entire year, in all weather (here in Texas that means a lot of Gatorade and a lot of misery; up north it means building in the punishing cold without a heater before you have electric in). No weekends to yourselves. At all. For an entire year. And that is only for 800 hours! Which I think is a low estimate, even for a tiny house, and that's for a 200 s.f. house. That number goes up for bigger houses. Especially if you've never built before: you have to factor in "research and study" time to teach yourself how to do things, and that comes down to figuring out which books are worthy, which youtube videos know anything of substance, and then sitting down and studying it all and ordering parts and supplies. That's before the hands-on work even begins.

Even if you farm out a lot of the work: knowing who to call, getting estimates for each step of the process; just organizing the outsourcing and trusting that the people know what they are doing is a full-time job in and of itself (which is why contractors and project managers exist). Subcontractors will cancel or not show up at all. Their estimates will go up both money and time-wise as the project wears on. We tried to hire out for many parts of the house build, and as flaky as people were: it was nearly as much work as doing it ourselves. We aren't unique, either: the construction industry just runs that way.

Also consider the generosity of friends help. Just because they can help and want to help, doesn't mean they will, in practice, have the time outside of their own commitments (jobs, kids, spouses, family) to drop what they are doing and come help you build. We could not have done this without the generosity of a lot of people, but very little of it came in the form of hands on, show-up-to-build-assistance. We weren't expecting or relying on it, though. Everyone has their own lives to live, and building is a ton of work.

You might get a lot of good information out of Ana White's site. They have been building a "momplex" for both their mothers in rural Alaska. Her husband is an electrician and experienced construction worker, they had experience building an entire house themselves before, and even with all of that, the momplex project has taken over three years instead of under two as they had estimated.

I'm getting the vibe from your posts (I might be reading them wrong, it's early) that this might also be a bit of a financial strain on paper? If that's the case, then I absolutely wouldn't do it. If it's a financial strain on paper, it will be TWICE the financial strain in practice. Consider job loss, demotions, etc. Life will continue on around you in addition to the building. Cars will still break and need maintenance; people will still get sick.

I wouldn't start building unless I had saved up in CASH for the actual budget. Not your off-the-top-of-the-head estimates, real, detailed estimates. Exactly how many 2x4s you will need based off of your detailed blueprints, etc. How many pounds of screws, nails, fasteners does a similar-sized house need during a build? Rolls of Tyvek? Gallons of concrete for the foundation? Lot clearing? Driveway? Cost to run water, cable, Internet, electric from the road to where your house will sit on your lot?

Land maintenance: fencing costs? The desire of someone who runs a landscaping business to actually want to come home on days off to do more landscaping? ;-) I used to clean a 5k s.f. house as a job, and the very last thing I wanted to do when I came home was clean anything.

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer. I just wish someone had been honest with us upfront instead of painting the DIY bootstraps attitude as something as fun and clever and enjoyable. HGTV really poisons the mind with those "done in 42 minute" montages of house renovations. ;-)

To end my novel here: your off-the-cuff 10/10/10 answers were pretty telling to me. You say you "think" you might regret not doing it (and it was a hesitant "think" at that; at least that's how I read the italics). But ask yourself what part you might regret? Is it the bucolic living? Or the house building part? Or something else? If it's the country living, again, which part? The quiet? The idea of raising animals? The idea of a garden? You can do/get a lot of that not in the countryside, and you can get ALL of it without building your own house.

The "why we do this" for us has been financial security. We will have very low living costs once the house is done. Then we can hoard money for other dreams. We know it will be worth it. But we had a clear idea of "Why" from the beginning beyond "It will be fun! It will be a challenge! But what if we regret not doing it!" and that has made all the difference in this project and in our marriage.

Best of luck in your decision.