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Discussion Starter #1
My husband and I are looking to move our house is fine but we have very little yard and a terrible mosquito problem we haven't been able to fix and we just want more privacy and room. My husband is dead set on buying some land and in a few years building a house. We would likley get the site ready and put our current house on the market and live in a trailer while building the house. I'm much more hesitant while I love the idea of having some land and a brand new house that's built for us I have no idea how everything works with the loans for the land and construction. I know a bunch of people who have built houses recently and it seems financing was a huge issue for them even though they could afford the house. Designing the house wouldn't be that big of an issue I'm a draftsman for an architect and feel pretty confident I could do the drawings and get my bosses to review them for a small fee. DH is a Geotech Engineer so he can handle the site issues we may have and see if it's buildable before we purchase it and help inspect work being done during the building process. I'm also wary of finding a good contractor most of the people I know that have built had one heck of a time getting the job finished they would get it most of the way done but leave little things unfinished and it would take forever to finish them.

Anyway I know a few of you have built recently any insight that might help. I really like our realtor so I'm sure she can answer some questions too but I really don't like going into something like this without a good understanding of the process.
TIA
 

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I have a friend in Alabama that is doing this. They are doing the trailer thing on the land while they build. Have been at it now for a few years but they are doing it themselves. Sounds wonderful to me!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
My cousin and her husband are doing this now only they are renting a house but they ar actually doing about 80% of the work themselves. They had the concrete poured and the outside framed and roofed and are doing everything else themselves. While they are saving a ton of money there is no way we could do that my husband is just not that handy or patient.
I also don't like having to make all the little nit picky decisions I'm not a decorator by any means so having to pick out light fixtures and everything seems very daunting to me.
 

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We custom built but in a neighborhood, so we didn't need a construction loan. Everything was handled by the builder until we closed. I think the most important thing is to have a significant down payment...a lot of banks now want to see 20% down for conventional.

Usually when you buy land the seller will indicate if it has been perk tested, septic dug or septic ready, utlities mapped out, etc. A lot of times the seller wants to make the land homesite ready to be more appealing to a buyer.

You will have to pick out everything....we did, and even with a limited number of choices, I was surprised at how much we had to choose. No matter how much you think about it, too, there will be things you'd wished you'd done a little differently or added. It helps to see a similar house before you go with a certain plan, too. Some builders already have plans you can use, or modify, rather than starting your own from scratch. An experienced builder can guide you through this process.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Midwestgirl - I would love that house too!

Thanks Allie we are going to see a site tomorrow it says it will need to be prec tested and various septic systems allowed (not already in place). Luckily DH knows all about grading and the testing to see if the site is stable and such. This site is mostly wooded 16.7 acres and part of it is pretty much a mountain. I don't mind that as long as it has enough of a fairly level spot for a house and some type of yard. The rest we would make some trails where we could safley for us to walk or maybe get a 4 wheeler or something. Here is the listing http://www.mlsfinder.com/ky_msmls/patriciasegrest/index.cfm?action=email_listing_detail&property_id=1202071&domain=segrestgroup.yourkwagent.com
 

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Make sure utilities are at the end of the road or able to be run to your homesite, too. I've heard from other people that that can be an issue. Also copper lines for a telephone (or DSL internet, unless you want to do satellite internet--big pain!).
 

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I know a bunch of people who have built houses recently and it seems financing was a huge issue for them even though they could afford the house. .... I'm a draftsman for an architect and feel pretty confident I could do the drawings and get my bosses to review them for a small fee. .... I'm also wary of finding a good contractor most of the people I know that have built had one heck of a time getting the job finished they would get it most of the way done but leave little things unfinished and it would take forever to finish them.... I really don't like going into something like this without a good understanding of the process.
I think the architects you work for would also be able to give you excellent advice about those builders better to avoid and those you can trust -- and probably also financing sources, too.

 

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Midwestgirl - I would love that house too!

Thanks Allie we are going to see a site tomorrow it says it will need to be prec tested and various septic systems allowed (not already in place). Luckily DH knows all about grading and the testing to see if the site is stable and such. This site is mostly wooded 16.7 acres and part of it is pretty much a mountain. I don't mind that as long as it has enough of a fairly level spot for a house and some type of yard. The rest we would make some trails where we could safley for us to walk or maybe get a 4 wheeler or something. Here is the listing http://www.mlsfinder.com/ky_msmls/patriciasegrest/index.cfm?action=email_listing_detail&property_id=1202071&domain=segrestgroup.yourkwagent.com
We had to pay $350 for a perc test, only to find out that the township we were looking to build in never approved standard septic systems. Before paying for a perc test, find out how many standard systems they have allowed in the past 5 years. That particular township took money to test, but told everyone that they needed an engineered septic system ($12,000 more than a standard system). We found land in the adjacent township, and were allowed a standard system.

Generally the contractor will have standard packages and upgrades for the stuff you want. You will still have to pick stuff out, but usually from a limited assortment (not as overwhelming as starting from scratch). I remember the contractor calling and saying, "Your husband said that you had decided on the white 6-panel interior doors. What color door knobs do you want? You can choose brushed nickel, brass, antique brass . . . " :eek:

Good luck, a lot of people talk about how stressful it is to build . . . but we had a lot of fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Actually one of my bosses just finished a custom house for himself last summer so I will talk to him if this goes much further but he did it in Indiana not in the city so I'm sure some regulations will be different. This site does have a house on it (a parcal was sold to an individual some time ago) so there are utilities close to the one area that from the topo survey looks like you could build. I'll definatly check on the perc test though. Another thing we'll have to look into is it's in a different county the county line is just past this property so we will have to check into their taxes and regulations.
 

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Might want to see what the zoning laws are, too. Even with 16 acres, how would you feel if your neighbors are a trailer park? In my county, we have no zoning laws outside the city limits. You could build your dream home, and then the next day a commercial property buys up the adjacent land and suddenly you're neighbors with a McDonalds or Dollar General.

Your realtor can help you determine the comps and values of the land in that area, too. Generally a home with acreage is not going to decrease in value, but if you're in a very rural area, home values might increase more slowly. If you build a 2000+ sq ft nice new modern home in an area full of old country homes, you probably won't see a short term return on your investment vs. building in a neighborhood in the suburbs. Even if you think you'll never sell, still think about how appealing your home would be to a buyer, location wise, home wise, etc.
 

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The first order of business is to pay a visit to the authority having jurisdiction (town hall, district office, county office, whatever the case may be) and have a sit down, face to face meeting with the person in charge of planning and development. Find out what is permitted to be built. There may be restrictions on size, number of floors, proximity to property lines, roads, etc. You want to know about any unknowns that may be on record with this office, such as covenants, easements, etc. This person will be able to tell you all of the requirements for permits as well. Gather as much information as you can from this person so that you minimize the chance for any surprises down the road. Trust me, there will be surprises.

I'm nearing completion of my own house. I had to go through a rezoning approval process, which meant presenting my design to various committees as well as City council. Then there were neighborhood open houses let everyone come look at my plans. Then public hearings and votes by council. It took about a year of hard work before I got my building permit and another year of construction. It can be a very long and expensive process, so hopefully you don't have to go through rezoning. But be sure to find out what uses on the land are allowable.

As for finding a contractor, be very selective. Phone Architects who design houses in that area and ask them for recommendations. Also talk to people who have had homes built or renovated. Get recommendations and then from those, select three to interview. If you like them, then give them copies of the plans and ask for preliminary pricing complete with an itemized budget. While they are doing that, check their references. Are they licensed? Do the belong to the Better Business Bureau? Are they members of the local home builders association? Again, check their references. Talk to people who have had them do work and try to see that work. If you don't like the three you've selected, start over. A good contractor will make the whole process a little bit easier. A bad one will make life a living hell for the duration of the build and afterwards. Don't get this part wrong. Seriously. I recommend that you do go the trailer on site route. It means that you'll be there every day to make sure things are going the way you want it to.

Do you do any site supervision as part of your duties with the firm you work for? If not, I recommend you approach you boss and talk to him about adding that role to your job description. Ask to tag along with your office site supervisor for a project that is under construction, then see if they would allow you to start doing supervision work on other jobs that you are involved with as a draughtsman. This will give you a very solid understanding of how the construction process works. Information that you will be able to put to use during the construction of your own home. You'll become familiar with contracts, change orders, field review and reports, etc. You'll learn what to look for and how to correct errors and omissions. You'll learn how to deal with tradespeople and project managers. All of this is very important, as it will help you to move forward on this with confidence and competence.

The first house is tough. The learning curve is steep. But once it's done there is a great amount of satisfaction earned from seeing something you have designed through to completion. You may even decide to do another once the first is done.
 

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As for financing, I can tell you that it isn't that difficult. It may be different where you are, but I can't imagine it would be too different. You will get financing for the cost of construction after you have gone through the hoops to get you building permits, etc. The bank will want to see your drawings to determine if the amount of the loan you are requesting is in line with what the drawings show. You won't go into a regular mortgage right away. You'll get that amount as a construction loan and this will provide you with progress draws during the course of construction. The bank will establish milestones that determine when the draws can be made. An appraiser from the bank will come to inspect the home at these milestones and will determine a percentage of completion and you'll receive money from the bank that corresponds to that level of completion. During the course of the construction loan, you pay interest only until a set time period or percentage of completion. In my case, it was 9 months or 85% complete. After this, you start paying interest and principal. At the end of construction, the construction loan then converts to a standard mortgage based upon whatever rates you negotiated at the beginning of this process. The construction loan and the mortgage are actually the same loan. It just is managed closely by the bank during the course of construction and payments are interest only until it converts to the regular mortgage where you make your monthly principal and interest payments. At least that's how mine works. I would talk to your bank and ask them how it works where you are. Also, shop around for the best rates as well as the most flexibility in paying the loan down (i.e. paying it down faster).
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What about the part in the ad for the land that says a small piece of that property was sold to a individual????
The corner of the property has been sectioned off and sold to an individual and looks to have a house and garage on it. I'm not sure why they did that concidering it looks to be the most buildable area on the site and will make the rest harder to sell.

Thanks Kiasdad that is very helpful. I do some site visits on my jobs but not much normally just as a stand in for my boss for a construction meeting if he's on another project. My husband oversee's the sites but mainly during the intial phases of construction. At least he's farmiliar with the change orders and such. My boss that just built really liked his contractor from the way he talks so that would be a great lead as far as that goes. I'll have to talk with him further if we decide to try to pursue this.
 
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