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Posted to 7th-and-last-Home-builder by Sally in Saratoga Springs, UT on 11/2/2016

How to build for under $100 sq. ft.

Many have said that they can not figure out how to build for $100/sq. ft. or less. When building our 6 homes, we always built for $100/sq. ft or less. Being your own general contractor is a full time job in itself. If you want to really save money you have to put in a lot of time to find the deals.

Now with the rising cost of everything, and not having all our bids in, it will be interesting to see if in 2016, we are able to do it for less than $100/sq. ft. But that is my goal.

I am just going to share with you how I have saved thousands while building very nice homes. Most people could not believe the bargains I found out there.

For cabinets check out RTA cabinets online. Do your research. They sell all wood cabinets. You might not have the selection like you would with custom or other places but you get a good cabinet for the money. They have all the standard sizes and most accessories needed. They sell the Forevermark cabinet. Everything I have researched with the company has been pretty positive. Sure you get a few negative but they have all been resolved from what I have found. They have a good BBB rating as well. They are out of New Jersey, I believe. If you buy more than $3000 you get free shipping. There is one company to avoid that has a very bad BBB rating so do your homework. You can find a local dealer for this company in most cities, by contacting Forever Mark. Then you can see in person the cabinets. Also those companies might assemble the cabinets for you as well. Our company KIB direct sales in SLC will for $15 a cabinet. That sounds like a cheap price but when you have close to 50 cabinets that is an extra $750 you will be spending. Doesn't sound like a lot to you, well it all adds up. You either put up the money or put in the time. To save the money you have to put in the time.

I have been buying all my light fixtures for all of my homes either on clearance, or used. I've even gotten them at garage sales. I'm not talking cheap light fixtures either. I got more than one ceiling fan, retail cost over $200 for $25.00 each. I needed to buy 14 ceiling fans so I have saved a lot there. You can't beat those prices. Places to check out. Craig's list, ReStore (Habitat for Humanity) or clearance building supply warehouses in your area. In Utah we have a newspaper website that everyone sells tons of stuff on called Great way to get things. Also, now that Facebook has a marketplace you can check that. Many communities have FB pages that say the city+ 24/7, like Highland 24/7 garage sale. Check your area. I don't do Twitter, so I don't know if they have anything like that.

Even the contractors supply houses have scratch and dent or last year models that you can get. You should be able to set up accounts at all the supply houses since you are a builder/owner. Never and I repeat NEVER pay full price/retail.

I have bought my bathtubs and whirlpool tub used for my next house already. I have also bought my bathroom vanities for 4 of the 5 bathrooms. I have been buying a few buffets to convert to the vanity. Did that in the house I just sold and it was one of the selling points of the home that people loved. You don't even have to do vessel sinks if you don't want to. This too has saved me $100s.

I always check the clearance sales and the scratch and dent sections of any store I am in. I also would not recommend the retail stores for carpet. They are way overpriced even when they say they are giving you contractors pricing. Look around, find the carpet you like, write down as much info about it that is on the back of the sample. Then look up carpet suppliers in Georgia. Even with paying freight, I have saved at least $1000 plus got the best padding avail compared to anything local. If you ask around you should be able to find an installer. That is the cheapest part of carpet, the installation. Just make sure you get recommendations from others who have used them.

For my new house I wanted double ovens in stainless but they retail at $3500+ and so I bought them used for $250. The people were remodeling and want all the same appliances. All I cared about is that they are all stainless steel. But you need to figure out what is important to you and spend the money where it counts the most. Got my microwave for $50!

Always get a minimum of 3 bids per trade and materials. Do not count on friends when pricing out the home costs. They might have good intentions but things happen and they get busy with their own life. Another thing to remember is that if you are a novice at something, don't do it on your house. My husband is in construction and is very handy with many things. But his famous saying is, You can't beat a man at his own trade. You have to take into account the time something will take for you to do the work, and if you are not sure how to do something, it will take you that much longer. Time is money, (interest on your loan) mistakes that you make resulting in more inspections (each cost you money when they come out to look) and the stress and exhaustion you will experience trying to do something that you really can't do well. You want your house to look good, so it's worth paying for the labor on electrical, heating, plumbing, drywall and sometimes painting. Most have to pay an excavator and possibly a surveyor (although we have never had to do that). If your roof is steep, pay a roofer and pay someone to do the gutters. On insulation, figure it out both ways, with and without the labor. We did the labor on or first two houses only to find out that the labor was so minuscule that it was worth paying someone to do it. And fiberglass is itchy.

We know that we plan to build and all the prep work takes over a year to get the blueprints finalized, find the lot and so on, so I start then looking for the deals. If I think of the other ways I have saved $$$$ on, I will add to this post. Happy Hunting. I love a great bargain.
Attaching some pictures of the cabinets that we are putting in the new house, other than the vanities that I have already purchased second hand.


Main kitchen wall and base cabinets
Island for main kitchen
Master bathroom cabinets
Basement in-law Suite and a game room wet bar.

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Posted to 7th-and-last-Home-builder by Sally in Saratoga Springs, UT on 10/27/2016

Well, we finally sold our house and are renting a six-bedroom home in Highland, UT. When building one of our homes we did a bridge loan so that we didn't have to move into temporary housing but then when we went to sell the first house, issues arose and we ended up having to basically pay for two mortgages for a year till it sold. Neither of those homes were starter homes so it was a hefty mortgage to cover for that long period of time. Very stressful. So even though I hate having to move twice, it is better to have the one sold for sure and the money out of that house to put toward the construction of the next home.

Well, I met with the developer in Eagle Mountain who is willing to sell me a lot without an attached builder to it. It seems in Utah that is a very difficult thing. Since we don't want to be in an HOA again, it makes lot shopping even more difficult. Lots in Utah are a lot more expensive than in Ohio where we are from. With this developer a half-acre lot is $110K-$120K. Eagle Mountain is more of a rural community but building fast. If you move just 8-12 miles east into the main metropolis area of Utah County; American Fork or Lehi, Highland area, One-third acre lots go for $165K but really closer to $200K-$220K. That is way out of my price range. It would be nice to be able to build a million dollar home but that's just not what my budget is all about.

We will make a final decision on which lot we want to buy and then I'll post a pic. In my next post I will talk about how we have always built homes for under $100 per sq. ft. including the land!

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Posted to 7th-and-last-Home-builder by Sally in Saratoga Springs, UT on 8/17/2016

We are just beginning the process to build our seventh home. We have drawn all the home plans for our houses. My husband is a journeyman brick/stonemason so we already had a lot of knowledge about the building process. Each time we built a home we didn't go into it thinking we were going to sell and build another one, but that is what ended up happening. As our family grew to five children our needs changed so the house had to change too. We started with a 1,200 sq. ft. ranch/ramble with an unfinished 1,200 sq. ft. basement on a one-acre lot in Columbia Station, OH. We did a lot of the work ourselves on this house. We did the foundation, framing, insulation, roof, interior trim, painting, and cleanup along with being the general contractors. We hired out the electrical, plumbing, heating, and septic tank. We did this house in two steps. We did the main house. But then a year or so later we added the two-car garage and family room increasing the sq. ft. on the first level to about 1,400 sq ft. I will post pictures of the first six homes we built. Two of the homes we built were very similar, just increasing the size of sq. ft. 


Built in 1987. Sold in 1989This is our first home that we built on a one-acre lot. Sold for $80,000. Columbia Station, OH
Built 1989-90. Sold in 1991. This is our second home that we built. We had two acres. Sold for $160,000 Columbia Station, OH
Built in 1993, sold in 1996. Our third home we built in a development with a lot about .25 of an acre. Sold for $230,000 Medina, OH
Built in 1996, sold in 1997. Our fourth home we built in a development as well. We decided we didn't like that and wanted more land, so house five came about 1 1/2 years later.Sold for $260,000 North Royalton, OH
Built in 1997 sold in 2004. Our fifth home was very similar to house number four, but larger on a 3 acre wooded lot. There was a gas well on the back of the property so we got free heat. Sold for $280K Granger Township, Medina, OH
Built in 2004. House six was our dream house and the only one I cried about when we moved. We sold it in 2008 to move to Utah when the economy tanked. Sold it on Zillow in one day without a Realtor for asking price. It was about 4,100 sq. ft. Has three fireplaces and lots of upgrades. Sold for $380,000 Granger Township, Medina, OH Sold in 2008


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