Designing & Building your own home?

Feb 18 '14 6 Last Comment
Feb 18, 14 10:44 pm

Wondering if anyone here has done it, and for what cost/SF? Thinking along lines of a 1800-2000 SF 3BR open concept 2-story w/ full unfinished basement. Very square, minimal angles. I'd probably hire out everything up to rough-in & drywall, do finishes & cabinetry myself.

I always hear that new construction is expensive, but judging from list price of your average new condo construction or gut & flip, I've got to think that a simply-designed box can come in under $200K.



Feb 18, 14 11:12 pm

Depends on location and the cost of labor in a particular area. Without drawings/supply schedules it's hard to guestimate how much something is going to cost.  Also the more involved you are in the process (act as own GC, ect) the more the price will come down. 

It's not really fair to compare condos to new custom construction.  That's like saying a basic sedan cost $20,000 so I'm going to build the Mediocrity, which conforms to the simplest car form, at that same cost. 

And why would you want to live in a cheaply assembled banal house? Might as well just purchase a developer house.  A lot less hassle and stress. Or renovate an existing house.

wurdan freo
Feb 19, 14 12:22 am

costs are completely dependent on location. For example you could build a mid level house in wisconsin for about $125/sq foot, but in Texas you could could build for $75/sq foot. on a 2000/sf house that's a $100,000 swing. So you really need to get a handle on costs in your location. Being your own GC could save you money if you don't screw everything up. I encourage all Archie's to do it, but do not underestimate the attention, discipline and time commitment it requires. Cost of land is a huge factor not to mention if utilities are readily present. I have rehabbed several homes and am in the planning stages of my first new build. 

Feb 19, 14 10:20 am

Wurdan is right.  Im rehabbing a house right now.  Looks completely new.  Much cheaper than building from ground up.  The most limiting factor will be the land cost in you area. An lot can range from 20k to 20 million depending on the area.  For instance, in my area a bare lot will cost around 200k.  200k + another 200K to build a cheap framed house with builder grade materials will = 400k and will be worth about 250k.  That's just not worth it.  You would be at a 150k negative equity.  Meanwhile, I bought a house for 200k, put in 20k for renovations, did all work myself, and appraisal is around 250k.  Make sure you are in the green.  Its very hard to be in the green if you are building from ground up.  The land costs in most areas have not dropped in relation to the housing costs mostly due to the glut of built inventory from the crash.  You will never be able to match the cost of a developer built house.  They but up large areas of land and subdivide it to bring land premiums down.  Its not a good measure to estimate prices.  The only way to build and be in the green zone is to buy in areas where the housing values are less governed by comps.  Its tricky. 

Feb 19, 14 9:02 pm

We're considering it mostly because we are having trouble finding the right house in the right location. We can buy a lot in our target area for $30K, and if we can get a decent house built for $200K or less, that's probably our best answer. I'm thinking fiber-cement siding, etc.

We bought our current place as a foreclosure in the dumps of the recession, updated it and it's appraised at 2x what we bought it for. Not particularly worried about losing value on the new place if it makes us happy and serves our needs for 10 years or so. We'd lose value buying a big enough house in the 'burbs anyways, at least we'd like our location.

Mar 20, 14 4:18 pm

The least expensive is a square box and it sounds like that is what you are after! Like the other posters it is really dependent on where you live plus who does the work and the materials. When you are getting quotes ensure you get some from contractors who live in a lower cost area..many often drive 30 or 40 minutes to a job so dont just interview contractors who work in your area. You can also get lower/different cost quotes by talking with design build firms and GC also try calling a company that just does foundations..have them quote then ask them for someone who does framing..then ask teh framing company if the can arrange the other trades for may get a lower price by hiring 2 companies instead of one..what flooring. roofing etc you choose makes a big difference..flooring can be $1 or $10 or more per square foot..the list goes on and on about how the decisions you make influence price. To get a rough estimate and based on your location the "whole house" remodeling cost calculator will give you a ballpark, while not intended for a new home construction project it gives pretty good rough estimates on projects and has some variables you can play with to see the impace

Mar 20, 14 5:06 pm

200k sounds really low for 2000sf, it might get you the shell, but you are going to bust your ass for months/years doing finishes and cabinetry on a house that size.  That number might even be low for the shell considering you want to do a basement and 2nd story.  Pick up a few dudes from the home depot parking lot!

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