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Any owner-builders in Michigan, and cost sq/ft?


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By Brian in Whitmore Lake, MI on 8/20/2006


Hello everyone,

I am new to Michigan, and we have started doing research for our new house. We plan to be our own GC, but have started getting quotes from other companies to come up with some ballparks. For our 3,100 sq. ft., 1.5-story house, we are getting quotes from $115/sq. ft. to $150/sq. ft. These are bare minimum quotes, with no special cabinets, granite, hardwood flooring, or anything else that would drive the price up. We talked to a company called Chelsea Lumber, and they estimated that we would be in the $115/sq. ft. range for our plans under their DIY program.

Maybe I am crazy, the price seems excessive. The house has 2,250 sq. ft. on the first level, 850 on the second story, and two vaulted ceilings. All the upstairs ceilings are 8' and none of the construction is that fancy. I really hoped we could do the project for $300,000. I have not given up hope yet, but I wanted to find out if anyone on this board has built their own house in Michigan, how fancy the plans were, and approximately what their costs were. I am going to be building in Washtenaw County, Michigan, about an hour west of Detroit. I don't want to spend months quoting my 3,100 sq. ft. plans if my budget only really allows for a 2,400 sq. ft. house. Can someone give me a reality check?

Thanks,

Brian


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By Melissa in Howell, MI on 12/18/2006


Hi Brian,

I hope you're still out there! I'm new to all of this, but we're going to be neighbors, so I'll give you whatever info I can come up with! First, you're building in a very affluent area (for Michigan), so you're going to find few bargains in and around Ann Arbor. I know -- I lived there for many years. My husband and I are going to be building west of you in Jackson County. We have also met with the folks at Chelsea Lumber, and their prices are, believe it or not, fairly reasonable from what I can tell.

The problem is that they sell you a package. I'm checking to see if we can break up the package. My husband has his own sawmill, so it makes no sense for us to buy lumber. If we can pick and choose what we purchase from their "kits," we might be much better off.

Do post whatever you find on here.

Best wishes! Happy holidays!


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By Kelly in Charlotte, MI on 12/26/2006


Hi Brian,

We live outside of Lansing and are just starting the process of bidding out the work for our new home.  It will be a two-story with a basement house.  Square footage will be around 3,200 sq. ft. not including the basement.  We're actually hoping to come in around $80 sq. ft.  A friend of ours asked their builder recently what their cost per sq. foot was and he gave them around $85 -- and this was the builder doing everything.   We have also been told several times in the last couple of weeks that builders are really hurting for business right now, so you might be able to negotiate more with them.  You are in a bit more affluent area, so maybe the housing market isn't as bad as in other areas of our state. 

Keep us posted!


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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 1/10/2007


Hi everyone!

I just started our journal, so some of the information about our project is online at "my construction website" (at left).

We met with a lot of builders, and we were seeing prices in the $85 - $100/sq. ft. range, but once the builders found out the subdivision we own land in has all custom homes right next to Ann Arbor, their prices went to $115 - $130. We met with Chelsea Lumber, but I was fairly unimpressed with them. It might be because we are young, sometimes people don't take us seriously.

The problem with Chelsea Lumber is the pretty high construction financing interest rates, and the fact that they make you buy things from them. Most of the reason I am going the owner-builder route is to buy my own stuff and find smoking deals. If I am penalized $10,000+ by them for not buying the best priced stuff, I lose part of my savings. I also have a problem with that system, I don't think it's really right for them to force you to use them. If they have good pricing, the customer would use them anyways, so why force it?

I asked the guy at Chelsea what their average sq. ft. price was, and they claimed around $110. We let him look at a set of plans we had, and he thought it would be $115 - $120/sq. ft. for a 3,200 sq. ft. house. The sales guy kept insisting that the reason to go with them was not to get the best price, but to get a good price for a house with more options than normal. They may be a great deal, but I've had no problem so far finding all of the trades without their help, and 5/3 bank will do the financing for me at a better rate so I had to ask myself what value they were adding. There's also a program called UBuildIt in Michigan that is a little similar.

If any of you are using ICF, I'd like to share notes on the forms we are planning, contractors, flooring system, and other details. If you have not considered ICF, you should. I don't really think it's going to be more expensive in the end for us.

Brian


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By Kelly in Charlotte, MI on 1/11/2007


Brian,

Sounds like you might be a smidge ahead of my DH and me in terms of where you are in the process -- but your situation sounds similar to ours. We live outside of Lansing and are in the final stages of finalizing our blueprints. We are hoping to start getting bids next month. We have spoken with two banks here about financing, both of them have been around 5.99% for financing, which would roll right into a regular mortgage at construction completion. We have not yet checked with 5/3.

My brother built an apt. building (four units) using ICF and swears by it. They built in Hillsdale. He said it costs about 30% more for below grade, but for first and upper floors you save money. We'll be considering it for sure.

Interesting numbers you're receiving about cost to build. From what we're hearing, builders are EXTREMELY slow right now, so we should be able to get some great prices on things. We also hope to be our own GC. We also would love to come in around $80/sq. ft. price mark.

We'd like to stay in touch with you throughout the process, since it sounds like we may have similar situations -- our home will also be around 3,200 (not including basement).

Thanks!

Kelly


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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 1/11/2007


I'd be curious what banks you talked to. I think the 5/3 loan will not automatically roll into a home loan when it's done, and I'd like to avoid paying title/closing costs twice.

Once you start bidding (and I) we should consider sharing some of that info. Maybe we can get bigger breaks if it's convenient for us to use the same window/materials companies.

Brian

 

 


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By Kelly in Charlotte, MI on 1/11/2007


We've looked at Eaton Federal (who we have our land loan with) and Independent Bank. Both offer the one-closing option (don't know the official term). Independent Bank gave us a ballpark of $5K for all of the closing costs. Independent Bank would give you 9 months to complete your home before it rolled into a regular mortgage. Eaton Federal gave us 6 months. But Independent only would give us four draws ($125 for any additional draws), Eaton would give us 8 (I think, I can't find the notes from my chat with them). Eaton gives you more if you act as your own GC -- I think a normal builder only received four or five). Also, Eaton seemed more flexible with owner-builders. With Independent, my DH is supposed to list out his experience or something like that. 

We had friends who used Greenstone Farm Credit Services and were really happy with them. I have not yet checked with them.


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By John in Benzonia, MI on 1/24/2007


Hello everyone,

I am still in the planning stage, but will be building in Benzie County. I will using the ARXX ICF forms to build the basement and first floor of our Ranch-style house. The ARXX manufacturing plant is in Owosso, so delivery charges should be low. I took the one-day training class from a distributor down-state in Auburn Hills. I plan on doing most of the work myself. I actually owner-built my current home in 1978. This was before the Internet and all of the information resources that we have today. I am retired, so I have all day every day to spend on this project. We will begin construction after we sell our current home. We have already paid cash for our five-acre lot in Benzie County. We will be using radiant floor heat with a geothermal heat pump. I am wondering why Brian has chosen not to use radiant heat?


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By Jere in Ray Twp., MI on 4/3/2008


I built my house about five years ago and it ran about $90/sq. ft.  This was total cost without the cost of property. I did my own electrical, painting, installed cabinets, and my uncle and I custom-made the countertops in the kitchen.  The rest I subcontracted out.  I built a 2,150 sq. ft. colonial, three-car garage attached garage with a bonus room, daylight basement.

Jere


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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 5/22/2008


Well, the final numbers are mostly in. The house ended up being 4,400 sq. ft., not including a 2,600 sq. ft. basement finished to drywall, a 1,000 sq. ft. garage, and two covered porches totaling 400 sq. ft. We put a lot of higher-end upgrades in, like radiant heat in the garage and basement, 16 SEER AC systems, central vac, intercoms, 10,000 ft. of CAT-5 cable, ICF to the roof, R-49 insulation, two fireplaces, Kraftmaid cabinets, Kohler tubs, Brazilian cherry 3/4"x5" floors, triple-pane windows,  front circle drive, 8' garage doors, etc, etc.

Based on the 4,400 sq. ft., we came in at about $72 per sq. ft. for just the house and landscaping. When you include the land purchase price and special soil engineering we had to do, that brings it to about $100 per sq. ft. It just appraised at near $140 which I was told is low because the economy is so poor here. From looking at past sales, it seems that similar sized houses in the subdivision are fetching $150 - $170/sq. ft.

Build time from groundbreaking to the certificate of occupancy was just under 8 months. I have a day job so I was rarely there during the day. I was even out of the country for most of the framing. I spent most of my time managing the project (doing very little actual work) until we had drywall in. After that point, I spent a lot of time doing the finish work myself, primarily in the kitchen and bathrooms.


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By Pat in Arnold, CA on 5/22/2008


Wow!  I'm so jealous of you guys!  You have built some amazing homes at fabulous prices!  Bravo!  It makes me wonder sometime why I'm staying in California to build. 

Right now our budget is at $253 a sq ft without land and with land it's $358 a sq ft.  That's O-B pricing!   Our house is small at 1,689 sq ft. with a 750 sq ft garage.  The lot is large at 2.5 acres.  Stick-built home that's highly insulated with forced air furnace and swamp cooler.   The finishings will be top notch, but then again so were your homes.

Sigh... so jealous! HA!


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By Jere in Ray Twp., MI on 5/22/2008


Brian,

That is awesome... almost too good to be true! Did the $72/sq. ft. include well, septic, driveway, utilities, etc.?  You must have gotten a smokin' deal on the land too, to be at $100/sq. ft. for everything including land.


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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 9/15/2008


Yep, I'm at $100/sq. ft. with land, including well, septic, driveway, etc. It's easier to have a lower square foot price when you build a little bigger.
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By Kelly in Charlotte, MI on 9/15/2008


Just checked out your blog and the pics - LOVE the house! Do you remember how pricey your slate was?  We're thinking of doing that in our mudroom.  I'm envious that you're all moved into your beautiful house! We're waiting to break ground on ours until we sell our current house (and we all know how the MI real estate market is right now.)

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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 9/16/2008


Kelly,

The slate was probably the priciest thing in the house. We bought from The Tile Shop. Their price is always negotiable, but I think we ended up getting them down to $5/sq. ft. for the 10x18 slate tiles and $10 for the 12x12 mosaic slate tiles. We got a much better deal on our 18x18 porcelain tiles from Lowe's at $.54/sq. ft.

As much as I love slate, I would discourage it in a mudroom. It's very nice looking, but you aren't supposed to use any chemical cleaners on it (soap/water only) and it's very porous. It's hard enough to keep clean in our master bathroom where people are always barefoot.


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By Liz in S. Lyon, AL on 9/16/2008


Brian,

My husband and I just finished building our home in S. Lyon almost a year ago.  We came out around $100/sq. ft. and have very nice quality materials and finish trim/ fixtures. This also included some landscaping.

We checked out UBuildIt, Chelsea Lumber, and Mans Lumber.  They all can raise the cost as they do make a profit and can limit your ability to price match and find better deals.

However, we did use Mans lumber and came quite close to using their owner-builder program. Anna Manns was our contact, and she was very willing to negotiate and work out a better deal for the owner-builder program.

Our biggest challenge was working out the construction loan. They are quite costly!!! My best advice is to really bid out everything, be very prepared and build as quickly as possible! The vast majority of our contractors were great to work with and very happy to have work. Almost all of them were willing to match or beat our lowest bid.

Liz

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By Kelly in Charlotte, MI on 9/16/2008


thanks Brian! I didn't realize that about slate.  We had it in our entryway in the house I grew up in and thought it wouldn't look dirty all the time b/c of it's mottled color. I'll definitely have to reconsider using it now :)

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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 9/17/2008


We tried Chelsea too, and they also were non-negotiable. We ended up using 5/3 for a construction loan and Universal Forrest Products for all of the trusses, panelized walls, and framing labor as a package. I'm not sure if the 5/3 O-B construction loans are still available in the current economic state, but it was almost exactly like a regular home loan. I think our interest rate was about 1% higher than a normal mortgage and there weren't any fees other than $50 per draw.

Brian


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By Jere in Ray Twp., MI on 9/18/2008


I also looked into U-Build It & Chelsea Lumber, along with Barden Homes and Pierson Gibbs Homes.  I agree with Brian, U-Build It's fees seemed to be a lot in my opinion for basically getting just consulting.  I went to a builder show this past weekend (it was raining and had nothing better to do) at the Palace in Auburn Hills and was surprised how few builders were there.  I use to see at least 6 different builders at these shows.  There should be one more show this fall in Novi at Rock Financial Showplace...  probably will check it out.  I like getting ideas for the next house.
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By joe on 5/9/2016


Dear Brian, I have been in the Home building business for over 30 years and I know that you can build your home for under 300,000.00 if you watch everything and deal with subcontractor fairly. Your looking at a cost of 75.00 to 85.00 sq. ft. and that is putting med. grade materials in it. We build all over the state and some of the prices we have seen are way out there. Some builders try to get rich off one project and don t realize that 10 projects are better then one. So if you need any help in direction I would be more then willing to help you. Thanks and have a great day....Joe...989-780-5122
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By Jess on 5/11/2016


Hi Joe. My name is Jess and I would be interested in talking to you and seeing some of your work if you have a website. As of right now my family has 30 acres that we plan to build our forever home on. We have spoken two several builders who told us anywhere between $125-$200 per sqft is what we can expect. When I saw you post a lower amount it has peaked my interest! We are in the process of having our plans drawn up with an architect so once those are done I'd love for you'd take a look and tell us what you'd think. 
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By David on 6/8/2016


Joe, I'm looking into building my own house again and I would like to know if those numbers are subcontracted prices or is that doing everything yourself. I built a house 10yrs ago and only subbed the foundation and drywall.
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By itm on 2/11/2017


Hi Jess, I am also is about to start, any good results of your research? anything u could share?
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By Shahin on 10/21/2017


Hi Joe, I would be interested in your services. We put a deposit on a lot in Detroit and we would like an estimate to build a house there. I will call you. Thanks!
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By sami in hamtramck, MI on 4/6/2018


Hi Joe. I am in the process of building townhouses in Hamtramck near Detroit. I got the architect work and the civil engineer thing but still need every thing else. The whole six units I am building came up to 6300 sq ft. I am trying to keep the cost at $70/ sq ft. Your comments to Brian were very encouraging. Let’s keep in touch.

Sami

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By Steve on 4/7/2018


We are starting to get quote for contractors in our area. This will be our first build in 30 years  we are in Barry county and looking for someone that has done owner builder before we can talk too  
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By Greg on 6/11/2018


How did Barden Homes and Pierson Gibbs compare?
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