Building Your “Dream” Home. Stop Dreaming and Get Going

Many of my land clients begin searching for an existing home for quite some time and realize they can’t seem to find what they’re looking for. When shopping for a home we usually spend countless hours on the internet first trying to locate a home in our price range with all the features we want in a particular location we desire. We probably also spend weekends going from open house to open house to get some further ideas about the look and feel of the home we want and to educate ourselves about the relative cost of homes in different neighborhoods. Typical comments I hear from new clients are,” I can’t believe how little you get for your money” or “ all the homes seem so dated and need lots of work”, “the rooms and closet space seem too small”, “the layout just isn’t open enough” or “I really need a 3 car garage” or “the homes are on such small lots and I really want some privacy and a big yard for the kids” and the like. If a certain level of frustration sets in, many people start wondering if building their own home from the ground up is a viable option. Well things have definitely changed.
In the past, building a home from scratch was available to a relatively few, “well heeled” buyers with substantial, six figure incomes and lots of time to spare to shepherd the process of purchasing the lot, identifying and vetting the right custom builder, designing the home with an architect, making myriad choices of house finishes, components and features, regularly visiting the construction site and responding to unanticipated, on-site issues and in many cases making lifestyle driven changes that were not anticipated and only became apparent when your home progressed from the paper plans to the “sticks and bricks” stage. Perhaps enlarging a picture window to capture mountain views; moving a wall to make room for a beloved piece of furniture; adding a little more counter or closet space; adding some additional can lights to a dark corner; expanding the size of the rear patio or yard; etc., etc., you get the idea. Unless you had a budget of at least $500,000 for land and home( and at that your options would be pretty limited) it just wasn’t realistic to expect that you could build a custom home on your own lot.
In 2016, answering the “Should I Build” question is vastly different than in years past. Prices for custom lots are dramatically lower, interest rates for land and home construction loans are at all time lows, many builders who in the past have developed tract and semi-custom home subdivisions have pivoted and created what they refer to as “Build on Your Lot” programs, and custom builders have trimmed profit margins to increase their market share and opportunities for new clients as we continue to work our way out of the real estate recession of 2008. All this adds up to many new and more affordable options for the buyer who is comparing the cost of buying a resale home versus building a new one. In today’s market, a couple who can afford and qualify for a $350,000-$375,000 home may now be able to find a 1 acre lot, buy it and build a 2000-2200 square foot home that they can customize to their particular lifestyle needs and choices. The number of potential build from scratch buyers has just gone up exponentially.
In my blogs in the coming weeks and months, I’m going to explore this new and expanded building trend in much greater detail by inviting a variety of Architects, Designers, Semi-Custom Builders and Custom Builders, to share their expertise, thoughts and insights into the building process. I’ll encourage them to tell you what they do ,how and why they do it and how much it will cost you, by sharing, down to earth, practical information. We’ll demystify the building process so that you can determine if this is an option that is right for you.

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