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Seeking Opinions on Designing New House

dronald112's picture

Hey, everyone.  I'm a newcomer.  I've begun to consider moving out of my current house with my family.  I told a friend of mine what I was thinking of doing.  She said we should consider building a totally new home rather than buying an existing one and going through the whole remodeling process.  

Basically I'm wondering if anyone on here has ever done that.  Is it actually cost effective, cheaper than buying and remodeling?  If you've done it, tell me about your experience please.

Thanks, guys.

My wife and I built our own (post #212660, reply #1 of 24)

My wife and I built our own house when we were in our mid 20's with 2 small kids. 

100 hr work weeks (including day jobs) for almost 2 years, but we fondly remember it as the best years of our lives.

We did it all 100%, from drawing the plans to hand digging a well and clearing the road to every shovel of dirt and every nail and installing septic system.  We lived only 2 miles away from building site.

Best financial investement ever, built for 20% cost of hiring a contractor.  Am an engineer, so techical parts were 'easy', Most difficult was navigating all the codes and local zoning and  dealing with local bureaucrats.

Of course, many others may tell you you are not smart enought to learn ALL the trades and navigate the codes.  Only you can know what you can do or if you are too dumb to be able to build a house.   Obviously, you need to be physically fit - you will be more so after 2 years !

Your wife needs to be 100% in agreement with you to go this route.

 

Now, buying and remodel DIY vs. building via a contractor, obviously hte remodel route will be less of a pcketbook hit.

Also remodeled sons' house 18 ago years when he had just one kid at home, that worked well also, very cost effective. 

Built an 800 sq ft  ADU by his present house 2 years ago, again a 100% DIY effert, best fun I've had in years building and teaching 2 teenage boys and a sub teen - the 10YO sure did love driving 8d flooring nails!

If your and your wife think you can do it, go for it.  Savings compounded will pay for all your kids college bills and then some if real estate appreciates in your area.  . 

BTW, we still live in the house 45 years later. Not a shack, 5300 sq ft, property tax this year is close to $9000, MORE than it cost us to build the house in the early 1970s !!

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How did you know (post #212660, reply #12 of 24)

How did you know where to even start?  Unfortunately I don't think there's any way I can draw up the plans by myself, and I don't think my wife is too interested in that either.

We're still just starting (post #212660, reply #15 of 24)

We're still just starting the process of thinking about what we need (who am I kidding--what we want).  I found this page that seems pretty cool.  Do you guys know of any other webpages where we can just look at styles to get a basic idea of where we want to go with this?

That's a bad sign... (post #212660, reply #19 of 24)

dronald112 wrote:

How did you know where to even start?  Unfortunately I don't think there's any way I can draw up the plans by myself, and I don't think my wife is too interested in that either.

I need something clarified:

If you think you are incapable and if your wife has no interest in designing the house? It may be a sign that you as a couple may not have the fortitude to DIY-build a house. That is not meant as an insult.

You can learn all that stuff. Orienting the house to the site. Solar, wind, sloping terrain, drainage, view, etc. House design involves room flow. Work space allocation. Stacking walls as needed. Stacking plumbing as needed. Kitchen flow. Taking clean plates out of the drawer, serving food, eating then getting those dirty dishes off the table, into the dishwasher, and back into the drawers again.

In this world of computers, you can view house designs online. Or go to the store and buy one of the "200 house design" books. Leaf through the pages. You'll probably find yourself drawn to one style over another. Look at rooflines. If you're DIY-building, the simpler the better. But there is the option of contracting out the framing. Or having a contractor build the shell for you and you taking over afterwards.

Look at the flooorplans. Open spaces with vaulted ceilings sound nice, but watch for noisy rooms being located near sleeping rooms. Watch for toilet plumbing being located in a bedroom walls. If you can stack bathrooms above one another, or have the master bath share a plumbing wall with the kids' bathroom, you can save on plumbing. Watch the length of your hot water runs from the water heater to the point-of-use.

And the list goes on.

DIY-building is a huge commitment. But it pays tremendous dividends in the end.

At the other extreme of doing everything yourself is hiring a contractor to have a house built. Hire a GC, he hires the subs, you make design and finish material decisions and write a lot of checks. People find THAT stressful. 

In between the two extremes above is for you to self-contract the build. YOU are the contractor. You hire the subs yourself. You can do some of the work yourself, it's pretty easy to paint and do trim work if you're so inclined. You can tile, You can install flooring. You can save money self-contracting, but your build may take longer due to scheduling conflicts and bcause you may find yourself at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to the sub that you hired prioritizing his work. ie, he may walk off your job for a day to solve a problem for a builder who feeds him work on a regular basis.

My only construction experience was that I did some roofing and siding work when I was in college. My wife and I DIY'd our current home, we had two little kids at the time. It was busy, but satisfying. We designed the house and drew up the plans ourselves. I kept the design fairly simple so there were no complicated roof cuts. I never really felt stressed, we just went day to day. You don't think. You just "do". Focus on the task at hand, then prepare for the tasks due tomorrow. There were no days off.

It was a process. I had timelines to mark the progress of work, and I worked hard to stay on those self-imposed schedules. I didn't want any "schedule creep".

My role was to do the physical labor. My wife kept lists, made phone calls, she was the go-fer, and she helped out when needed. She did a lot of priming and painting. 

We subbed out the foundation and hired a mason to build the chimney and the two fireplace boxes. I hired a heating guy to install the oil burner and oil tank. I hired a drywall crew to rock the house. Other than that, we did everything else.

Yes, you can save money. But you need a solid family to start with or you can lose more than money.

It worked well for us. We got the house we wanted. And the layout and functionality of the house still work for us today.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.


Jim (post #212660, reply #22 of 24)

in response to your post on building your house.

 

from  " orienting the house to the site......"

to

It worked well for us. We got the house we wanted. And the layout and functionality of the house still work for us today. "

 

Were we separated at birth?

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


http://www.quittintime.com/

 


yup... (post #212660, reply #23 of 24)

"Were we separated at birth?"

Yes. For your own protection.

Missed you on your drive-by last fall, hope all is well!


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.


+1 on what Mongo said.  I (post #212660, reply #20 of 24)

+1 on what Mongo said.  I did not see your #12 post till now.   (very much dislike the way taunton orders the posts)

re:  How did you know where to even start?

 

Flippant answer:  Born with it?

Grandpa built his own house, Pop remodeled.  Figured I'd build my own house ever since I was a little kid, so had a head start in using tools since before I can remember (2 YO?).

Wife and kids and I lived in a smaller house for the first 5 years after college, the 2 in college we were married spent a lot of time discussion future plans. 

Anytime we saw a good closeout price on something we could store, we bought it in anticipation of the 'someday buld our own house".  Plus, if we knew anyone who had built their own house (very few folks do we found) we caged an invitiation to visit and discuss - everyone we asked was happy to have us visit, even the power company guy we met the first time we went to his house !

We spent the 5 years in the old house looking at magazines and library (no internet then) for ideas.  I took a drafting class and checked out the code books from the library. 

So, once we had found a piece of property we could afford, we had a head start.  Drew up the plans over 3 days off over Christmas vacation days from work, basically plagarized the way plans in magazines and library text books were shown.  

 

Good luck and enjoy yourselves.

BTW, if you REALLY want to DIY everything, we even bought a bulldozer as we had to clear 500 ft of road (large DFIr) to get to the plot we bought - were able to use the logs for beams in the house which paid for the dozer.  Wife  never drove the dozer, one of the items she did not want to do.

When considering either (post #212660, reply #2 of 24)

When considering either building or remodeling the first question is:


How strong is your marriage?


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Good point.  DIY for a (post #212660, reply #3 of 24)

Good point. 

DIY for a whole house will make a strong marriage so strong it will withstand anything in the future (we've been married near 51 years)

No idea what it would do to a weak one, but have heard horror stories.   

Hints:  SHE has the first and last say on colors, cabinet and countertop height, ANYthing to do with interior style, and she get the closest garage bay for her car <G>;   and, DO NOT argue when she says she needs a minimum of 50 linear feet of 30" deep closet space.  If she ever comments about any shower head inadequacy, replace it  immediately. 

DW could not visualize spaces from drawings perfectly - so we laid out the floor plans with poles and tape on the ground, cardboard boxes for appliances, etc., she sized from that, I used that to generate the drawings and worked the structure around that.  Her only regret is that we did not make the walk in panty twice as big (it is 'only' 15 ft by 4 ft) .  She loves her dedicated sewing room with 4 ft by 6 ft table and 12 ft of 30" deep  counter. 

I hope she's got lots of (post #212660, reply #4 of 24)

I hope she's got lots of shelf space in her sewing room, for her "stash".


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

Well, she sews all the (post #212660, reply #5 of 24)

Well, she sews all the donated scrap fabric she gets up into quilts and gives them away (Luth. World relief) so not much sitting around except when some hotel gives her 500 old sheets at a time.   

She just went past eleven Thousand quilts sewn, think the first was 1975 or so. I'd get tired of sewing them.. I finally got to ordering 2 dozen sewing machine carbon brushes at a time and 6 or so belts at a time.   

Wow!  My wife can really go (post #212660, reply #6 of 24)

Wow!  My wife can really go at it, but not nearly that much.  She's more into "artsy" quilts -- wall hangings, baby quilts, the occasional bed quilt.  Haven't seen the bed in our "spare bedroom" for at least 15 years, since it's piled high with fabrics, plus piles other places in that room and elsewhere.  But she spends a lot of time knitting, and she also plays flute in community band, church orchestra, and, occasionally, pit orchestra, so she's not 100% on the quilts.

She's got friends that moved into larger houses to have more room for their fabric stashes.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

I hope... (post #212660, reply #9 of 24)

I hope it's pretty strong.  We've been married for six years and together for another three, and we're pretty dang happy.

My wife and I have done (post #212660, reply #7 of 24)

My wife and I have done both.

Our first house I built, lived in it a few years...then the kiddos sarted coming and we moved on. A few houses in between and we are now in a 1910 double wythe brick 2 story we completly overhauled. 

It is considerablly cheaper to remodel a home vs building new. 

Building new does have its benefits though.

What do you think... (post #212660, reply #10 of 24)

What do you think is the number one benefit to building from scratch?

bump, bump, (post #212660, reply #8 of 24)

bump, bump, bump...

 

Hey, 'the Ronald',  whatcha goona doo? 

Not gettin'the confirmation of whut ya wanna do ?  Or jes' trollin' ? 

Otherwise, why shud anyones respondevous.  ?

Sorry (post #212660, reply #11 of 24)

Sorry, we've been kicking the idea around so much between the two of us that I forgot to check on the advice I'd solicited from you guys.  

"..between the 2 of (post #212660, reply #13 of 24)

"..between the 2 of us..."

 

that is the best part ! 

Double down on the part where you both have to be in full agreement !

I certainly agree (post #212660, reply #14 of 24)

I certainly agree with you guys that it has to be a joint decision where we're both 100% on board.  Thankfully she is, at least so far, but we don't want to rush into this thing.

How old are your kids? Our (post #212660, reply #16 of 24)

How old are your kids?

Our were 4 and 6 when we started building.

We have a classic photo (non digital) of them sitting in a corner of the unfinished house in the winter with some toys and a space heater, not looking very happy - but they had the promise of their very own 15 x 22 ft ROOM. 

THey were estatic when we moved in though, not having to share a bedroom any longer !

 

 

Suggest you read Sarah (post #212660, reply #17 of 24)

Suggest you read Sarah Susanka's book "The Not So Big House", and "Home by Design: Transforming Your House into Home".  There are others in the series that may appeal as well.   It will help you define your requirements for the way you live, and how the house can be configured to match your lifestyle.  More info here:  http://www.notsobighouse.com/

Once you have a clear understanding of how the house can be designed to match your lifestye, you can start going over plans and photos to better define what you want. 

http://www.homeplans.com/

http://www.houzz.com

Whether you choose to use an architect or a home plans service,  having a clear list of requirements and understanding of how the house should function, will give you a much better chance of getting a house that works for you.


Good luck

Yes, she writes some very (post #212660, reply #18 of 24)

Yes, she writes some very good stuff.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

It's unclear.  Are you (post #212660, reply #21 of 24)

It's unclear.  Are you thinking about:

  1. Hiring a contractor to build a house for you
  2. Serving as your own contractor to build a house
  3. Building the house yourself, DIY

???

Also, when you say "design", do you mean:

  1. Hire an architect, tell him what you're looking for, have him do all of the actual design work
  2. Do a lot of the preliminary design work yourself, then work with an architect or some other qualified draftsman to produce final prints for construction
  3. Do all the drawing yourself, somehow satisfying the building permit office

???

I think folks here don't have a clear understanding of what you're considering.


Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.  --Herman Melville

agree... (post #212660, reply #24 of 24)

I was looking for the same clarification.


There are 10 kinds of people in this world; those who understand binary and those who do not.