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By ross in surprise, AZ on 7/4/2006


My wife and I are in the process of selling our home (which could take a while, I know), but we are in no rush.  She purchased the owner-builder book, and I am in the process of reading it.  That is why we decided to put our house on the market, is so that we could build our own home.  We have found the land, but are waiting for our house to sell before we purchase the land.  I am interested in getting feedback from people that have gone through the owner-builder process.  What should some of the first steps be once we purchase the land?  What about once we are ready to start the grading, footings, slab, etc.

I just want to get some feedback on some of the steps that need to be taken once the land is bought?

Should we buy the land now, or wait till our home sells?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

 

 


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By Allen in Morenci, AZ on 7/10/2006


Ross,

I have not succeeded yet in getting correct financing through owner builder programs, but I am still trying! :) I can tell you what not to do at least. First of all I would not purchase land or put earnest money down on land until you have had the appraisal done. (The appraisal on how much the finished house would sell for) That was my first mistake, luckily I got the earnest money back because the loan was declined due to a low appraisal. No let me reword that, the appraisal was fine. The lender over estimated the costs. He cost the home out at $120/sqft, it appraised at $100/sqft. Thus no go. I went to bigger house plans, better location, different lender. Now I am looking at a $120 appraisal and $140 building costs. In short make sure your lender is costing out your home (what it would cost to sub out all the work) for less than what it will appraise for finished. My brothernlaw builds home in Silvercity NM for around 100,000 to 120,000 and sells them for around 160,000 to 200,000 depending on size etc. These homes average 1600 sqft, so they build for $80/sqft, and sell for $120/sqft. That is really about where you should be at.

Ok I am rambling on here now, but here are a few of my mistakes. If the company cannot or will not tell you (on paper) exactly how much it will cost you / sqft to build your home, don't go with them. except no verbal estimates. They should be able to break it down practically to the nail. Also if they won't show you exactly how much they are making on the deal. forget it.

Most owner builder companies charge around 10,000. the only reason why I am not going with a construction loan is I have no down. I went through a divorce and am really tight right now. But I really feel that there needs to be a market for people that want a way out of living rent to rent. who can come up with a down with rent at 800/month etc.

I am now looking at Sutherland.com prepackaged homes. We are looking at converting their estate home to a SW style home. It dries in at $25,000 for 1750 sq ft (with garage) that is $14/sqft. This home should finish for 60,000 + lot. or 100,000 total, or $60/sqft.

otherwise I still have my original 1 1/2 story home that should build for around the same.

Hope this helps and I haven't just rambled on and on

Allen Smith


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By Chad in Mesa, AZ on 7/11/2006


Hi Ross -

Welcome to the world of owner-building. You might want to wait on selling your home if you can find a way to finance the land or even wait on buying the land. I know when we did our project we thought we'd be in the new home within a year of buying the land, but it was actually 2 1/2 years!

It can take a long time finding an architect/draftsman and nailing down plans then getting through permits and engineering. That does not even account for the 1,000 hours of prep time that the book recommends (and I think you should shoot for at least half that if you can - it is well worth it). So take a breath and allow yourself time to ramp up at whatever pace is comfortable for you. The results will be well worth it.

Once you have your lot you should think about what you want in a home (again - research), and then find an architect or draftsman and work on building your dream house on that lot. Once you have plans, send it out for bids as soon as you can. You will need those bids for budgeting and financing.

Good luck!

-Chad

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By Desmond in Los Angeles, CA on 7/13/2006


I need some help as well. I am looking to build a tri-plex from an existing structure in Phoenix. I need somebody to draw up the plans. i have a contractor already to do the work. Who should I look for?
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By Justin in Chandler, AZ on 8/6/2006


Ross,

I would definately wait until your home is at least under contract before you look seriously at a lot. We bought our lot without having sold anything and we were in a tight spot because of the soft market. Luckily we sold one of our homes which allowed us to have a down payment.

Our lot was also bigger than we could afford so we had to split and sell part of it and are finally in escrow to sell the other half. We still need to sell some property in Show Low, AZ before we will have a good idea of what our budget will be. I have seen land is still coming down so by the time you sell you home maybe the lot will be a little more affordable you are looking for.

I also have a list of lenders that are owner builder friendly that I received from an Owner Builder Consultant. I called several and many would have worked but I ended up going with M & I Bank because I needed a release clause to allow me to sell part of the lot and release it from the mortgage.

I would agree with the other posts; wait to buy, read the book, and start thinking about what you want your house to be. Ideally if you could find an investor who would buy your home and rent it back to you until the you new home is finished you wouldn't need to move twice. That's what we would like to do.

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By Kristen in Snowflake, AZ on 8/14/2006


Desmond,

This is the least expensive way I've found but I don't know if it would work in your situation.  Doesn't cost anything to call or e-mail them and find out though.

http://www.houseplandrafting.com/

Kristen


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