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Has anyone built a custom home?
Old 08-03-2017, 03:41 PM   #1
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Has anyone built a custom home?

We are planning to build a custom home in Florida. If anyone has built their own home from scratch, are there any particular features that you incorporated that have added convenience or functionality that you would recommend and would do again if you were to build another home? Also, any tips, lessons learned or word-to-the-wise would be appreciated.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:49 PM   #2
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All tile floors are heated, bidet & wish I had one in the other 3 bathrooms,, water hose fittings on all sides of the house. house pre-wired for all media/alarms(no unsightly wires exposed), bathroom on every level. The only thing about pre wiring the house, Make sure you know what wall location the tv is going on. Out of all of these things I just mentioned that we had build into our new home the bidet is top of the list.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:51 PM   #3
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We are planning to build a custom home in Florida. If anyone has built their own home from scratch, are there any particular features that you incorporated that have added convenience or functionality that you would recommend and would do again if you were to build another home?
Do you really have any clue what you are getting into?? If my late DW were still alive, I am sure she would now be my ex DW. I started building so long ago I can't remember when. That does not include the 2 years of planning before I started.

BTW - I am actually enjoying building my own house, but I would not recommend it for someone who is married. There are pictures of my efforts in a thread called "Pikes Peak or Bust" and in the "What did you do today?" threads.
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:52 PM   #4
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Found this old thread that might be helpful to the OP.

http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...use-79514.html

And Hermit, I think that the OP is referring to paying to have a house built, not building it himself as you chose to do....two totally different things IMO. Our ~2,000 sf build was about 6 months from demolition to move in... since we were replacing we had the advantage of a foundation, well and septic in place so we were able to hit the ground running after demolition (which was all of 6 hours... started at 7am and broom clean at 1pm).
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Old 08-03-2017, 03:56 PM   #5
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I've never built my own house, partly due to shared experiences from those that did. What I gathered was that it was more expensive than estimated, took longer than estimated and was extremely stressful. Then once it is done you have to do all the landscaping or pay to have it done.

That said, a central vacuum system is a lot easier to install as the house is built.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:01 PM   #6
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Found this old thread that might be helpful to the OP.

http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...use-79514.html

And Hermit, I think that the OP is referring to paying to have a house built, not building it himself as you chose to do....two totally different things IMO. Our ~2,000 sf build was about 6 months from demolition to move in... since we were replacing we had the advantage of a foundation, well and septic in place so we were able to hit the ground running after demolition (which was all of 6 hours... started at 7am and broom clean at 1pm).
I hope your are right!
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:11 PM   #7
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I've never built my own house, partly due to shared experiences from those that did. What I gathered was that it was more expensive than estimated, took longer than estimated and was extremely stressful. Then once it is done you have to do all the landscaping or pay to have it done.

That said, a central vacuum system is a lot easier to install as the house is built.
+1 to everything you said. we talked about central vac, the bride vetoed the idea.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:14 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by pb4uski View Post
Found this old thread that might be helpful to the OP.

http://www.early-retirement.org/foru...use-79514.html
Thanks for this thread.

Quote:
And Hermit, I think that the OP is referring to paying to have a house built, not building it himself as you chose to do....two totally different things IMO. Our ~2,000 sf build was about 6 months from demolition to move in... since we were replacing we had the advantage of a foundation, well and septic in place so we were able to hit the ground running after demolition (which was all of 6 hours... started at 7am and broom clean at 1pm).
Yes, that's correct. We would work through with a builder for this, not building ourselves.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:19 PM   #9
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One "oh, crap" moment that I had was shortly after we moved in and the propane tank on our propane grill went empty.... I could have easily run black iron pipe with propane to the corner of the deck/house where we normally grill but the idea never entered my mind.

No big deal... we only go through a couple or 3 tanks a year and we also move the grill around some and could not do that if we had it piped so I'm just as glad that I didn't think of it.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:24 PM   #10
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All tile floors are heated, bidet & wish I had one in the other 3 bathrooms,, water hose fittings on all sides of the house. house pre-wired for all media/alarms(no unsightly wires exposed), bathroom on every level. The only thing about pre wiring the house, Make sure you know what wall location the tv is going on. Out of all of these things I just mentioned that we had build into our new home the bidet is top of the list.
We've stayed in many European hotels with bidets. I've just never seen any instructions on how to use the things. My wife's knees are a little weak and I don't know if they'd be of much use to her.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:27 PM   #11
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We built a granny flat from scratch. (MIL and FIL lived in it for several years - now we rent it out.) The scale is smaller - only 700sf. But we had to fit in everything and deal with all the issues. DH is an architect - but we still had some regrets.

#1 regret - even though we thought we'd put in plenty of power outlets - we wanted more, or in different places, when we were done.

2nd regret - it's got a gorgeous covered porch with a view over the canyon... wish we'd wired it for a ceiling fan.

Things we know we did right:
1) made sure there was no wasted space - any "dead spaces" we figured out access. With only 700 sf it's nice to have nooks to put stuff like wrapping paper or christmas lights.
2) energy efficiency. No regrets on going well above code on insulation and efficient windows.
3) as mentioned - hose bibs on multiple sides of the house.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:29 PM   #12
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A couple of thoughts. My Dad had his custom built house built a little over 40 years ago. Has central vac, but has had issues with it...worse thing was termite folks drilled through the foundation and busted the line. Second is that the big long hose is a huge pain in the arse. Another thought on gas grills with a dedicated gas line. His house also had that, but a number of years ago, the line started leaking gas and the patio had to be dug up to repair it.

At any rate, it is possible that DW and I will build in the near future. A couple of things we are planning on are: pocket doors in some rooms, no stairs and most important for me...the laundry will be attached to the master closet. Every place I have lived, I have had to go back and forth all over hell's half acre to deal with laundry and I ain't doing that anymore.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:30 PM   #13
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We've stayed in many European hotels with bidets. I've just never seen any instructions on how to use the things. My wife's knees are a little weak and I don't know if they'd be of much use to her.
If DW can sit on the toilet, she should not have a problem using a bidet.

How to Use a Bidet: 10 Steps (with Pictures) - wikiHow
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:32 PM   #14
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My best advice is don't build a house from scratch.
That is something that tests the strength of any marriage.

Every time I go to Lowes/Home Depot to buy a piece or two of wood, I just think how expensive the stuff is and how I'd hate to build a house from scratch.

And houses in much of Florida have to be built like tanks to withstand hurricanes.

Have you checked on the cost of property taxes in Florida? How about HOA fees? They're simply frightening. Only thing scarier is the cost of homeowners' insurance.

My wife's last home search was strictly for a large foreclosure home. We really, really got our money's worth last year. Just about every housing market will have a few foreclosed homes--some of which will be in good shape.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:32 PM   #15
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We did (our vacation home soon to be our retirement home). It wasn't awful, but I spent a LOT of my time at the build site (2 hours away) - just making sure things progressed as planned. I took the crew out for lunch a lot and always brought water and soft drinks with me.


In 10 years of retrospect:


1) Don't skimp on windows and doors. Overspend on high quality windows and doors. I did this and pat myself on the back often.


2) Think carefully about sound insulation. If in FL, I assume all on one floor. The time to do more with sound insulation is during original construction. Afterwards is nearly impossible.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:46 PM   #16
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My experience was building a house in 1987 in FL, and did all but framing, roof, and drywall myself with help of friend who we did his together (tip: be the first to do house, hard to get equal effort on #2). House was ~3,000 sf.

Think long and hard about features that just seem so nice. Heated tile? yes. Central vac? We did it but hated the long hose and would never do again. It was 1987 so did an intercom system. Nope. Did alarm system then with about a mile and a half of phone wire to all windows and doors. See a pattern here? Obsolescence. Also assumed we'd be there a long time so did 6" studs for insulation; poor investment as sold about 6 years later.

One big problem was that since we were "saving money with sweat equity" we spent it on upgrades like marble in foyer instead of tile, Corian with seamless sink, swanky woodwork. Also did a 90 degree curved oak staircase, that was quite an endeavor, like building a boat. In the end when sold much of this was not really recouped. But, if it's what ya want, go for it.
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Old 08-03-2017, 04:50 PM   #17
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I've never built my own house, partly due to shared experiences from those that did. What I gathered was that it was more expensive than estimated, took longer than estimated and was extremely stressful. Then once it is done you have to do all the landscaping or pay to have it done.
^-- What he said. All true. I've had several homes built over the years. It cost more than estimated, took longer, and was really stressful. The only way I would do this again is to find a really, really good contractor, with impeccable references, and pay him what he asks. And be ready to pay more than expected for the house.
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:13 PM   #18
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find a really, really good contractor, with impeccable references, and pay him what he asks. And be ready to pay more than expected for the house.
We did this, and were very happy. We had plans from a house we liked, so that was the starting point. In our case, there were NO extras. Builder gave a fair price, and had everything included (including a couple of simple upgrades he recommended, at no charge).

That said,
What worked:
- big walk in closet
- big master bath with tub and shower
- Lots of windows, and get the good ones as suggested
- open floor plan
- big kitchen

Things I would do different:
- Heated tile Floors in all bath rooms, as suggested above.
- You can never have enough electrical outlets, particularly outside (Xmas lights, etc)
- upgraded counter tops
- Zoned cooling, more for comfort than energy savings
- if you can afford it, don't save anything for later (decks, finished basement, well not in Florida)

Good luck. The key is to pick a well referenced contractor, preferably one that has built in your neighborhood.
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:18 PM   #19
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Yep.
Located plans, modified plans, went to lots of open houses for ideas, endless topics for wife and I to discuss, wrote up specifications, solicited bids, interviewed previous builder clients, chose finish details, signed contract, approved payments (or disapproved, another story).
When builder wanted to give "allowances" for finish details (plumbing, flooring, electrical) already had done shopping, selecting, pricing).

Would not even attempt to do this with kids as you will be robbing time with them to handle all the details.

My best words of advice is to minimize any change orders and agree to the price and scope of the change prior to work on change commencing. I want to MINIMIZE surprises.

Of course, you could just accept a builder's standard package and just select a few finishing touches, but not really a custom home. Ours was one of a kind.
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:24 PM   #20
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We've stayed in many European hotels with bidets. I've just never seen any instructions on how to use the things. My wife's knees are a little weak and I don't know if they'd be of much use to her.
Its great for guys too, The bride had to show me how to use it to "cleanse" after using the bowl. It is just fantastic, like taking a mini shower , you start out all fresh all over again. Just clean up like you regularly do, then transfer seats to this thing. Sit forward like on the bowl, have the water on full blast hot and cold together. turn the valve so the water shoots up like fountain(remember you are already sitting). the water does most of the work. About 2 minutes later, turn the valve diverter back to the position so it runs just into the bidet, get some toilet paper wipe dry. Man your good to go.
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