T Nation

Having a House Built?

Anyone know the difference in cost of having a house built and buying the land to put it on vs. buying an existing one?

Any websites to find prices or tips on?

I’m looking to get a house outside of Albany, preferably on the East side of it, in a rural area. 30-40 minute drive from the city.

I’m thinking it would be cheaper because we plan on living in a rural area, but more expensive because we might want a house built.

1500 sq. feet would probably be big enough for us, even for the future. We had a 1700 sq. foot ranch house in VA and it was good for us.

Any suggestions?

Thanks.

Here are a couple sites I found so far:

http://www.constructiondeal.com/showJobCategory.pub?categoryId=6&rid=5

Okay, just one site so far. The others I was going to paste were just selling a book or something.

Australian experience here…

The properties that we’ve built on vacant land have given us far greater capital gains than the house and land packages we’ve bought.

Be warned though, my experience is that building is an enormous pain in the arse and creates headaches throughout the ordeal. If you can deal with that, then building on vacant land is the most profitable, in my opinion.

My family business is construction (land development, custom home construction and commercial construction) If you can purchase raw land and get it approved for a single family home, you’ll most likely come out ahead.

I just bought a 5 acre lot (in the country) and will be putting up a modular home. (not a manufactured or double wide home, but a true modular). It?s almost 3000 sq. ft, cape cod. It?s going to be about 10% to 15% cheaper that having it stick built. And it will be completed in about half the time. (less financing to carry).

If you want more detailed insight, feel free to PM me. I?m in the Rochester area and have done work in your neck of the woods in the past.

Just moved into a house in July that I built with my girlfriend. We started looking at plans last Feb, and actually broke ground early last October.

Many people told us it would be a test of the relationship. It was, and we are both glad we did it. It was a major pain in the ass, but we were lucky enough to have her uncle be the General Contractor (GC). Having him there, made it a little easier.

We decided to go stick built because he would be the GC for a discount of the typical 15-20% of the price of the house the GC gets for being the GC. Before that offer from her uncle, we were looking at Modular and HIGHLY suggest them. If we were to build again, we would go with them.

Modulars arent trailers, or double wides. They are homes built indoors in sections and then assembled on site and finish work is completed.

Overall cost would have been a little cheaper for us with the modular, but by not having to pay the GC fees it allowed us to do some nice upgrades to the house we had built.

The down side was we had to wait a good 10 months to get in the house, and had to pay on a construction loan while it was being built. With a modular, you can be in in less time. Take a look at what you like and run the numbers. Then make sure you leave some room in your budget, cause stuff will pop up that you never thought of.

Hope this helps. Feel free to send a PM if you want some more info.

Be forewarned, every – and I mean EVERY – person I know who’s either built a house from scratch or had a major addition/renovation project done on their house has ended up suing the contractor. EVERY single one. Even one who had his cousin do the work! (His cousin had a construction business). They WILL: cut corners, go way, way, WAAAY over the predicted time (take this part for granted – add months to their estimate), do things wrong, make mistakes and not admit it, not come back to fix them, and sometimes just stop short of finishing the last touches of the project. Leaving you to sue them for what they left undone and not finishing (or making right) what they were CONTRACTED to do.

Have fun! It can be done, and I’m sure some have had ok experiences with it . . . but not many.

[quote]Damici wrote:
Be forewarned, every – and I mean EVERY – person I know who’s either built a house from scratch or had a major addition/renovation project done on their house has ended up suing the contractor. EVERY single one. Even one who had his cousin do the work! (His cousin had a construction business). They WILL: cut corners, go way, way, WAAAY over the predicted time (take this part for granted – add months to their estimate), do things wrong, make mistakes and not admit it, not come back to fix them, and sometimes just stop short of finishing the last touches of the project. Leaving you to sue them for what they left undone and not finishing (or making right) what they were CONTRACTED to do.

Have fun! It can be done, and I’m sure some have had ok experiences with it . . . but not many.[/quote]

He’s right contractor nightmares seem to be the rule and not the exception anymore. Much easier to buy existing if you can find something you like.

[quote]Damici wrote:
Be forewarned, every – and I mean EVERY – person I know who’s either built a house from scratch or had a major addition/renovation project done on their house has ended up suing the contractor. EVERY single one. Even one who had his cousin do the work! (His cousin had a construction business). They WILL: cut corners, go way, way, WAAAY over the predicted time (take this part for granted – add months to their estimate), do things wrong, make mistakes and not admit it, not come back to fix them, and sometimes just stop short of finishing the last touches of the project. Leaving you to sue them for what they left undone and not finishing (or making right) what they were CONTRACTED to do.

Have fun! It can be done, and I’m sure some have had ok experiences with it . . . but not many.[/quote]

Go with a trac home. Pick the lot and away you go. Custom homes are just as expensive, and a BIG BIG hassle. Worrying about permits, water, gas, electric, sewer etc is not worth it.

Go cheap on the trac add-ons, rip it out when you move in add the granite tops, wood floor etc.

[quote]SWR-1240 wrote:
Anyone know the difference in cost of having a house built and buying the land to put it on vs. buying an existing one?

Thanks.[/quote]

Roughly speaking one third of the cost of a newbuild is represented by the land, the second third goes on the materials and labour and the final third is the profit of the contractor.

Therefore I dont think there will be much difference in the cost of buying the land and having a house built and buying an existing house.

If you can get a good deal on a piece of land then it may be worth doing. Or if youre feeling really brave you could try managing the project yourself and save a third of the cost… good luck with that one.

The main benefit of having a house built is that you get to design your ideal home. There isnt much of an economic incentive unless you are in the trade yourself or have been lucky enough to get hold of some cheap land.

If you do decide to have a house built then please, please find a reputable builder. I’ve seen peoples lives devastated as a result of hiring cowboy builders and often had to go and put right their handiwork.

A reputable firm will give you references and invite you to visit recent jobs and speak to previous customers. Look for membership of recognised trade bodies as well and enquire about guarantees of workmanship.

Basically do your research, its a hell of a lot of money at stake. Oh and by the way, you get what you pay for so dont just go with the cheapest quote (youd be amazed by how many people do this and are then surprised when the finished job looks like shit).

My experience lies in the UK building industry but the basic principles probably still apply. Good luck!

My wife and I are buying a track home right now and we are happy with the process. There have been lots of headaches with the city and supplies but all that is not our problem. The builder is the one who stresses out and seems to be pulling their hair out.

We still were able to pick out options and customize the house the way we wanted it but without the headache of contractors and everything else that can go wrong. We just pick what we want in the house and wait for it to finish. Seems like the way to go for me. I have heard too many horror stories of just a simple remodel…no thanks.

Thanks for the replies.

I don’t want anything custom, that sounds expensive.

The thing I don’t want, is to have to deal with other people’s problems like water damage, or nests of bugs, various smells/stains that are hidden when the house is looked at etc.

I also forgot to mention that the house it’s self is secondary to the location.

As long as it’s 1500+ sq. feet, and doesn’t leak, we’re happy.

I’d like to have enough land to build onto the house later (years), and not to have any neighbors, but not have to travel 10 miles to find a store.

[quote]Damici wrote:
Be forewarned, every – and I mean EVERY – person I know who’s either built a house from scratch or had a major addition/renovation project done on their house has ended up suing the contractor. EVERY single one. Even one who had his cousin do the work! (His cousin had a construction business). They WILL: cut corners, go way, way, WAAAY over the predicted time (take this part for granted – add months to their estimate), do things wrong, make mistakes and not admit it, not come back to fix them, and sometimes just stop short of finishing the last touches of the project. Leaving you to sue them for what they left undone and not finishing (or making right) what they were CONTRACTED to do.

Have fun! It can be done, and I’m sure some have had ok experiences with it . . . but not many.[/quote]

Has all of these people hired their contractor from a bar stool? You don’t have to offer the job to the lowest bidder. If a guy is desperate enough, he will just tell you what you want to hear so you will give him beer money.

Nobody, not a SINGLE ONE person I know who has built a house from scratch or had serious work done has sued the contractor or even wanted to. If a homeowner has unrealistic expectations, be it financial, schedule, or other, and refuses to pay for legitimate increases to the scope of work, or changes agreed upon materials or methods midstream, it is disruptive and costly. A lot of contractors actually lose substantial amounts of money trying to make asshole clients happy.

Sometimes the contractors have to sue the homeowner to get the money owed them as well.

I’m just telling you what I know, man. I’m not saying all contractors are like that, just that it’s DEFINATELY a recurring theme.

And aside from what I’ve heard, the industry overall does have a pretty crappy reputation. Ask around.

No offense if you’re a contractor yourself; if you are, I assume you’re a standup guy. I’m just reporting what I’ve heard.

[quote]human743 wrote:
Damici wrote:
Be forewarned, every – and I mean EVERY – person I know who’s either built a house from scratch or had a major addition/renovation project done on their house has ended up suing the contractor. EVERY single one. Even one who had his cousin do the work! (His cousin had a construction business). They WILL: cut corners, go way, way, WAAAY over the predicted time (take this part for granted – add months to their estimate), do things wrong, make mistakes and not admit it, not come back to fix them, and sometimes just stop short of finishing the last touches of the project. Leaving you to sue them for what they left undone and not finishing (or making right) what they were CONTRACTED to do.

Have fun! It can be done, and I’m sure some have had ok experiences with it . . . but not many.

Has all of these people hired their contractor from a bar stool? You don’t have to offer the job to the lowest bidder. If a guy is desperate enough, he will just tell you what you want to hear so you will give him beer money.

Nobody, not a SINGLE ONE person I know who has built a house from scratch or had serious work done has sued the contractor or even wanted to. If a homeowner has unrealistic expectations, be it financial, schedule, or other, and refuses to pay for legitimate increases to the scope of work, or changes agreed upon materials or methods midstream, it is disruptive and costly. A lot of contractors actually lose substantial amounts of money trying to make asshole clients happy.

Sometimes the contractors have to sue the homeowner to get the money owed them as well.[/quote]

[quote]
Damici wrote:
Be forewarned, every – and I mean EVERY – person I know who’s either built a house from scratch or had a major addition/renovation project done on their house has ended up suing the contractor. EVERY single one. Even one who had his cousin do the work! (His cousin had a construction business). They WILL: cut corners, go way, way, WAAAY over the predicted time (take this part for granted – add months to their estimate), do things wrong, make mistakes and not admit it, not come back to fix them, and sometimes just stop short of finishing the last touches of the project. Leaving you to sue them for what they left undone and not finishing (or making right) what they were CONTRACTED to do.

Have fun! It can be done, and I’m sure some have had ok experiences with it . . . but not many.

human743 wrote:
Has all of these people hired their contractor from a bar stool? You don’t have to offer the job to the lowest bidder. If a guy is desperate enough, he will just tell you what you want to hear so you will give him beer money.

Nobody, not a SINGLE ONE person I know who has built a house from scratch or had serious work done has sued the contractor or even wanted to. If a homeowner has unrealistic expectations, be it financial, schedule, or other, and refuses to pay for legitimate increases to the scope of work, or changes agreed upon materials or methods midstream, it is disruptive and costly. A lot of contractors actually lose substantial amounts of money trying to make asshole clients happy.

Sometimes the contractors have to sue the homeowner to get the money owed them as well.[/quote]

This is probably a regional thing. I don’t know anyone who has sued a contractor, either.

I was a contractor for a little while. I am in industrial construction now as an estimator. The main reason I am where I am now is a homeowner screwed me so bad by not paying me that I couldn’t even afford to sue him. Commercial clients are better as they have been around the block and know that these things cost money, but contractors are still left swinging in the breeze regularly.

I know that contractors have a crappy reputation. It will continue that way as long as people try to cut corners when hiring a contractor by hiring one that has to cut corners to do it cheaper than the next guy.

Most residential clients are so price conscious that they ignore the realities of the market and hire the biggest liar they can find because he is the only one unscrupulous enough to write a small number on a piece of paper knowing it is bullshit.

The guy that screwed me hired me to add a sunroom to his house for $20,000.00. Halfway through the job he added about $5000 worth of extra work. When we got to the end of the job he didn’t even pay me what the original contract was for, much less the extra work. I spent more on that job than what he gave me. When I first gave him my price, he said he wanted to pay $15,000.00. The materials alone cost over $14,000.00! Completely ignoring reality and wanting the impossible. If he looked hard enough, I am confident he could find a con-man who would claim to be able to do it for $14K as long as you fronted him some of the money.

You usually don’t hear stories about when everything came off without a hitch, just the horror stories.
(I didn’t tell you anything about the clients who were prompt with payment, grateful for a good job, and bought lunch; only the story about the one jackass)

[quote]Damici wrote:
I’m just telling you what I know, man. I’m not saying all contractors are like that, just that it’s DEFINATELY a recurring theme.

And aside from what I’ve heard, the industry overall does have a pretty crappy reputation. Ask around.

No offense if you’re a contractor yourself; if you are, I assume you’re a standup guy. I’m just reporting what I’ve heard.