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Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 06:07 PM   #1
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Young HomeBuying Question

I have been away from the boards for a while, but I am getting to a very exciting part of my life. I am about to graduate and get married. I am 23 and have been dating the same girl for 3 years, so we are very happy with each other. Here is my question,

We have both been offered jobs making 40-50k a year. She is a registered nurse, and I am a chemical process operator. We like in South Texas, and are thinking about building a house. We have looked up some lots that are being developed in our area, and next summer, when we plan to buy, we have found a lot that will cost around 45k to buy.

My wifes dad would be our contractor, he is a master plumber (owns a big plumbing company)and has build many houses. He won't charge us anything to be our contractor and do our plumbing for free, (we have to pay for all the materials).

This was my plan, build a 2-story house, with an unfinished upstairs. on the bottom stairs have the masters bedroom, and either 1 or 2 other bedrooms. I would like to design it where I would have 2 bedrooms downstairs, and eventually beable to knock out a wall, and make a huge masterbedroom out of it.

Sorry for getting into so many details, but this is the way I look at it, I wont build the garage right away, and I will leave the upstairs unfinished, until I have everything else paid for. I was planing on spending between 100-150 (less then 200 with the lot included).

Should I just buy a house already build, or would building my own for the same price of buying one already built be smarter? We would also do all the painting, landscaping, and as much labor that we can do ourselves.

By the way, we have no debt and have saved up 14k already.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 06:19 PM   #2
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Building a house in an enormous project, but you're young and it sounds like you've got competent help. If you're willing to put a LOT of time in doing work yourself, you'll gain tons of sweat equity and probably make out like a bandit when you sell.

Just make sure you build a house that people will want to buy, and don't end up with the most expensive house in the neighborhood.

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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 06:26 PM   #3
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

If you are going to do a partial build, be sure to check the neighborhood restrictions. Some will not allow you to build without a garage, etc.

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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 06:51 PM   #4
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Check with the county building/code inspector to see what minimums are required to get a certificate of occupancy. It may not be possible to build a house with an entire second floor unfinished. Normally on a two story home the walls are insulated as well as the attic. I guess in this case you would need to insulate between the first and second floor in order to meet code.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 08:11 PM   #5
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Start looking at new homes under construction in your area.* If you find a plan similar to what you have in mind that plan may be available from a plan shop.* It is possible that you could look at the drawings at the building department and learn who provided the drawings.

Your FIL can fill you in on load bearing walls, etc.* You can't move them around like cards.* An Architect isn't really expensive..* a straight forward design costs about the amount you would pay a full fee Realtor to sell a house (which really grates my DH).* Because you want to live in the home for many years and*finish the house in stages his/her services may be cheap in the long term.* Your FIL may know an Architect who is easy to work with.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 08:38 PM   #6
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

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Originally Posted by Brat
An Architect isn't really expensive.. a straight forward design costs about the amount you would pay a full fee Realtor to sell a house (which really grates my DH). Because you want to live in the home for many years and finish the house in stages his/her services may be cheap in the long term. Your FIL may know an Architect who is easy to work with.
Building in Texas, you can use the services of a licensed home designer rather than an architect. A home designer is likely to be a lot less expensive and based on my experience, much easier to work with than an architect. We considered buying some stock house plans and having them modified to meet our needs, then discovered a local home designer who drew plans for us from scratch for less than modifying an off the shelf design.

The home designer met with us several times after getting our initial ideas and making a trip to the property to see where the house would be placed. He designed the house we wanted rather than the house an architect wanted. (I apologize in advance to any existing or aspiring architects reading this. Just my personal experience.)

And the cost was about 40% of what an architect would have charged.

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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-23-2006, 11:54 PM   #7
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

In most states 'home designers' aren't licenced (except for a business licence) and you need to get an engineer to stamp your drawings.* If you talked to an Archtiect who wanted to build his home, not yours, you didn't find the right person.* Architects don't need an engineer to stamp single family dwelling drawings unless there are very unusual conditions.* The OP has a FIL in the construction trades, he would know if there are Architects in town who are invested in the clients needs, not in making a monument to their 'design' expertise.*
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 06:07 AM   #8
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

I bought our plans from a magazine, other than the contractor making a few changes to comply with local codes, no problems.

RESEARCH your builder, I did , no problems, some of the people around here would not listen to me, went cheap, NIGHTMARE.

They are now in court with unfinished houses a year later, they paid the contractor, he didn't pay the subtrades.

things you can do yourself include painting, remove the garbage daily, be available when needed.

ADD 20% to estimate.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 09:28 AM   #9
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by bode316
I am about to graduate and get married. I am 23 and have been dating the same girl for 3 years, so we are very happy with each other. Here is my question,

We have both been offered jobs making 40-50k a year. She is a registered nurse, and I am a chemical process operator. We like in South Texas, and are thinking about building a house. We have looked up some lots that are being developed in our area, and next summer, when we plan to buy, we have found a lot that will cost around 45k to buy.
Congratulations on your graduation & wedding! Man, if I'd had the advice of a board like this when I was your age... never mind.

New hometown, new jobs, new marriage, and building a new house together.

You guys really are gluttons for punishment, aren't you!??

It sounds like you have the right contractor (hope you and your FIL get along really really well) and the potential payback/savings are huge, but it also sounds like you guys are doing your best to remove every spare minute of your time from your lives for the next year or two. As long as you see that coming, no problem. But if both of you have to be working late and someone also needs to be at the house and the FIL is feeling like no one's spending enough time with him... well...

Are kids in the picture anytime in the next few years? Because life just may not be interesting & exciting enough.

I think there's a lot to be said for a finished garage (lockable storage) and an unfinished upstairs, occupancy code permitting. The issue with an unfinished room (or a whole floor) is that life keeps interfering with plans and the completion of that room can easily take twice as long as you expected. Friends of ours were going to turn their basement into a nice nursery and ended up finishing it as a teenage rec room.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 11:51 AM   #10
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

If you don't mind, how far South in Texas? We might live in the same area. Anyhow, 1st off, congrats on getting married and graduating and most impressively, being debt free. If my wife's father offered to build my home at no charge (with the fact that he's build homes before), I wouldn't hesistate to build on our own vs buying a built home. But on the same note, I wouldn't eliminate the idea of buying a built home; you might run into an offer you can't refuse, ie,* deal of the century*

Good luck
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 11:59 AM   #11
 
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

I did not enjoy the process of building a house. I'd never do it again. DW liked it, however.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 12:06 PM   #12
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

What is wrong with just buying an existing house...and the taxes will be lower. I dont see how you can build a new house cheaper than buying an existing house even with the FIL's help, you have to factor in your time at the home stores, etc., too. Wouldnt you rather spend time with your new wife rather than picking door knobs and trim.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 12:44 PM   #13
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

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Originally Posted by Maddy the Turbo Beagle
What is wrong with just buying an existing house...and the taxes will be lower. I dont see how you can build a new house cheaper than buying an existing house even with the FIL's help, you have to factor in your time at the home stores, etc., too. Wouldnt you rather spend time with your new wife rather than picking door knobs and trim.
Some people enjoy doing that sort of stuff. There is nothing wrong with buying an existing house, but for me personally, i'd rather build on my own and plan to. You will definately save money building your home over a comparable home purchased through a real estate agent (real estate commission, builder markup, savings on material purchases, etc).
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-24-2006, 02:24 PM   #14
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Quote:
I will leave the upstairs unfinished, until I have everything else paid for. ...

We would also do all the painting, landscaping, and as much labor that we can do ourselves.
If it looks like I did the work ... you're hurting the resale value. Your FIL should be able to get a decent job done for a decent price. Stick with the pros.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-26-2006, 02:47 AM   #15
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Build a house with a daylight walkout basement and leave the basement unfinished. This will solve almost all of your problems as far as state and county regs. Besides, Isnt their tornadoes in Texas? You'll probably be glad you had the basement. Also, Its way cheaper to add a basement than another storey, concrete vs. lumber. If you wanted to, you could also add another storey later. Good luck!!!
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-26-2006, 07:51 AM   #16
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Basement? In Texas? Ask a Texan about his basement and you will get some strange looks.

There are about as many homes with basements as there are homes with igloos. Most houses are built on concrete slabs with water lines embedded. That's protection enough from freezing in almost every part of the state.

In the southern part of the state, building codes actually permit the running of water pipes through the attic! In the mid-80's a freak winter ice storm reached all the way to Houston, knocking down power lines. With no heat, attic water pipes froze and burst, causing many millions in damage.

For tornado protection, it is much less expensive to do something like this:
http://money.cnn.com/2006/03/21/news...rooms/?cnn=yes
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-26-2006, 11:56 AM   #17
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

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Basement?* In Texas?* Ask a Texan about his basement and you will get some strange looks.

There are about as many homes with basements as there are homes with igloos.* Most houses are built on concrete slabs with water lines embedded.* That's protection enough from freezing in almost every part of the state.*

In the southern part of the state, building codes actually permit the running of water pipes through the attic!* In the mid-80's a freak winter ice storm reached all the way to Houston, knocking down power lines.* With no heat, attic water pipes froze and burst, causing many millions in damage.*
No basements here either. Too much rock & clay to make it worth the digging, I guess, but I just don't think the practice ever caught on.

We have water lines running through both the foundation and the attic. The neighborhood seems to have a problem with thin-walled copper piping in acidic concrete foundations, and I'm mystified as to what's holding together the plastic piping in the attics. I'd be happier with copper but I guess it's considered cheaper to crimp plastic, so we keep the water pressure as low as I can get away with...
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-26-2006, 12:57 PM   #18
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

A product whose name sounds like "wisbo" has been approved for domestic water use. I hear it's great stuff.. won't break when frozen, flexible, tough. Another advantage: not subject to copper 'salvage' on the jobsite.
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-26-2006, 01:42 PM   #19
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Yeah, basements dont go over big here either.

Although in some areas you could practice deep sea diving in your basement in the winter, and when the earthquake hits and wrecks the house, you'd have a convenient hole to push it into...

Hmmm...

Brat - you talking about this stuff? http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...prove/PEX.html

I looked at that when we redid the plumbing in my wifes old house (I originally typed 'my wifes old plumbing'...I think that was probably a bad way to put it). It looked interesting. Then I remembered my experiences with all the newfangled stuff that was supposed to solve all the problems the old fashioned products had, which subsequently introduced a whole raft of new problems...and we put copper in. I'll let someone else do the extended beta test.

Although, since we ended up selling the house, I guess I could have tried all sorts of funny stuff and kept driving by to see if and when any streams showed up in the sideyard, anything caught fire, stuff was falling off, etc...
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question
Old 03-26-2006, 02:18 PM   #20
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Re: Young HomeBuying Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute 'n' Fuzzy Bunny
Brat - you talking about this stuff? http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...prove/PEX.html

I looked at that when we redid the plumbing in my wifes old house (I originally typed 'my wifes old plumbing'...I think that was probably a bad way to put it).* It looked interesting.* Then I remembered my experiences with all the newfangled stuff that was supposed to solve all the problems the old fashioned products had, which subsequently introduced a whole raft of new problems...and we put copper in.* I'll let someone else do the extended beta test.
The material is now available under a variety of brand names, this looks like it but am not in a position to comment on the quality of this specific product.* Just because it is available at Lowes or Home Depot doesn't mean that it is what you should use.* This type of piping is now being used in lots of new homes, including top of the market construction.

My over-educated plumber/carpenter DH loves copper (we have a water system that Rube Goldberg would love, it is a work of art) - he must have a corner on the turn-off valve market.*
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