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Old 04-29-2012, 07:39 PM   #1
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


Hello all! This is my first post on the DIY Chatroom forum.

I wanted to ask a few questions about building spec houses. I recently purchased a lot where I plan to build two houses. Here is a link to a plan of the first house I am thinking of building: http://www.architecturaldesigns.com/...4-5295e7157500

I purchased the lot for about $6,000 in an old neighborhood where recently (2010-2011) 4 other spec houses were built and sold very quickly. I have never built a house before, but figured the above house plan would be the perfect size for me to start with.

So what comes first? Do I buy a blueprint? What about cost? permit, pluming, concrete foundation, lumber, siding, insulation etc? Approximately how much do you think it will cost me to build this first house?

Should I purchase the blueprint from that site or should I go get a local architect and have them design a similar plan? Which would be cheaper? I have a very tight budget and want this build to be as cost effective as possible. I am even considering using recycled materials in the construction (if that is legal) and marketing it as such. I really want to build as much as I can without having to get a construction loan.

Lastly, who qualifies for a construction loan? I must admit that I am currently out of work and plan to build this house in hopes of bringing in income. Am I out of my mind for believing that this will work (building this house) with no job and very little money?

Thanks Guys!
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:51 PM   #2
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


No money, no job, never built a house before, I just see no way anyone's going to even lend you the money.
Your going to have to hire subs and there going to expect to get paid as soon as there done.
If you do not even know which way to go on a set of plans I just can not see you being able to work as your own GC. There's hundreds of things you have to know way ahead of time to make this work.
One way around this is to work with A GC and let him build a spec on your land when the house is sold you get your money for the land.
Sorry.
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Old 04-29-2012, 07:54 PM   #3
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Let me get this straight:

You have zero experience in an industry that is prone to overruns (on schedules and budgets), during a time period where the same overall risky industry (including experienced individuals, Builders, and companies) are taking a massive beating.

You have no idea how much it will cost you to build a spec house, yet, have very high hopes to come in at the lowest budget possible.

You are now implementing your business plan, which is; to attempt to gain this extremely crucial financial experience....over the internet, by soliciting free advice from novices and strangers.

This is going to come across rude; but realistically, I'd say you're pretty much doomed to fail (a serious train wreck - I've seen it many, many times)......unless, someone with a heart of gold, and lots of free time = takes you under their very experienced and proven wing(s), and holds your hand through the entire build & sale.
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Old 04-29-2012, 08:18 PM   #4
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Thanks for replying guys! You all knocked me down to reality. I believe that I should call up a local GC and ask to tag along with them for a while until I can get the hang of it.

I just figured since it was a very small house that it would be simple and cheap for me to build. I planned on doing as much as I could on my own and with the help of family and friends such as painting, site clean up, landscaping, hanging drywall, etc. I have a family member that works for a cabinet company that could get me a really great deal on kitchen cabinets I also know a plumber and I know several people that could frame it for me.

What do you all think will cost the most? framing? I had one quote for the foundation which was less than $5,000.

Yes, I know I might be jumping the gun with talks of building a house with no job, no experience and little money, but what else can I do? I can't find a job and I have over $40,000 in student loans that I owe to the government. I don't want to defer the loans because the interest will keeping adding up and I will never be able to pay the money off. What would you do if you were in my situation?
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:00 PM   #5
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


ahb: the point of the "knocking down" is that anyone proposing to build a home from scratch should be able to ANSWER these questions cold, from their own stores of knowledge and personal experience...
they shouldn't be the one ASKING them.
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Old 04-29-2012, 09:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by TarheelTerp View Post
ahb: the point of the "knocking down" is that anyone proposing to build a home from scratch should be able to ANSWER these questions cold, from their own stores of knowledge and personal experience...
they shouldn't be the one ASKING them.
TarheelTerp, I know this but you have to start at some point. There has to be a first. How can you ever get experience if you don't start at some point? Maybe the first thing that I should do is find a GC that I can go work under for a while until I can handle it on my own. I wanted to jump in right away because I feel it it a last resort and quick fix for my situation. I am a hard worker and can learn quickly though.

By the way, did I post this thread in the correct location? Is this even the correct forum to be asking these type of questions?
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Old 04-29-2012, 10:30 PM   #7
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


Ahb2012:
While your ambition is to be admired, the reality of the situation is not looking favourable for you. A construction loan for a self employed experienced builder is one of the more difficult loans to secure let alone an unemployed first timer. Even if you do get the funding, you need to be able to build and sell for more than your expenses. Sounds obvious, but not so easy.

The US economy is already starting to show signs of rapid recovery. The housing market is some areas is in full swing.
It may be prudent for you to just sit on that piece of land for a while and forget that you own it. After a while sell for a profit or revisit your plan. Maybe focus on the skills that the student loans afforded you in the first place. You're young, keep working at finding work. Things will turn around for you.

Not trying to be mean
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Old 04-29-2012, 11:47 PM   #8
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


And you know, I might do something really bizarre and crazy and hire an architect (or other competent type that can get drawings stamped), structural engineer again before trusting $30 cute internet blueprints.

Of course I go crazy and line up all the people I need for projects ahead of time too. I have a GC license myself but farm it all off to other GCs better than me.

Land, cheap blueprints, greed as motivator? Doubt this can work out for you long term. Hope your wife is an actuary or a liability insurance person if you want to construct shacks.
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:23 AM   #9
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


Quote:
Originally Posted by ahb2012 View Post
...What do you all think will cost the most? framing? I had one quote for the foundation which was less than $5,000.
FWIW - I don't know where you are, or what the rates are like on your region, but $5000 for a foundation sounds like it may not include the cost of the concrete (labor only).
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Old 04-30-2012, 07:31 AM   #10
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


Quote:
Originally Posted by ahb2012 View Post
TarheelTerp, I know this but you have to start at some point. There has to be a first. How can you ever get experience if you don't start at some point? Maybe the first thing that I should do is find a GC that I can go work under for a while until I can handle it on my own. I wanted to jump in right away because I feel it it a last resort and quick fix for my situation. I am a hard worker and can learn quickly though.

By the way, did I post this thread in the correct location? Is this even the correct forum to be asking these type of questions?
You're asking the right questions in the right place. And I think that everyone here admires your gumption, but is advising you not to do this.

I've done a lot of carpentry/construction/renovation work over the years, but I wouldn't even consider building a whole house by myself.

Any possibility you could hire on with a contractor for awhile? The income, plus experience, would be invaluable.

AtlanticWBConst. is a contractor. Listen very carefully to him.
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:43 AM   #11
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Planning to build First Spec Home, Need Advice


Hi!
What everybody else says!
We're General Contractors - before we were, we built some houses from
the ground up.

As a first time - things are going to take at least, twice as long as you think!
$5,000 for a crawl-space that size -
I don't really think so! (Thanks "AtlanticWBConst")

You should have probably, have taken the time to read through the "Pinned", posts on this site - concerning quoting costs -
There are too many fluctuations, concerning local, labor and material prices.

If you do choose to proceed -
You should consult your local Code Enforcement Authority
(For instance - how many sets of blueprints are you going to need?!?)
These days - 1 to 3 sets, may not be enough!
(Some areas around here - you need 14 to 17 copies!)

If you have a "Menards" in your area - they have a variety of house plan,
packages which will include "almost", everything in the house.
See if they have one that is close to what you propose.
That may give you an idea, of some of the costs!
Notice, I said "almost"!
Usually, no "HVAC" (furnace, duct-work, AC...)
No excavation
No concrete (foundation, driveway(s), public/private sidewalks...)
No landscaping
No site preparation
No connection for sewer and water
No permits!

Good luck!!

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Old 04-30-2012, 02:38 PM   #12
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Thanks for all of the replies guys! I am located in Texas about about 100 miles east of Austin and 100 miles northwest of Houston. Construction cost here are a lot cheaper than in many other areas, plus its growing really fast. Although the plan that I posted has a crawl space, I plan to build it on a solid foundation. I have a cousin that does HVAC work that can give me a really good price (he owes me). As I said above, much of the work I can do on my own and with the help of friends and family. I think the major cost that I will have are in the framing, foundation, brick (I can do siding myself), wall texture, roofing, electrical, cabinet installation.

Building houses is not something I just thought of to get out of debt, I have always wanted to be a home builder but it was something that I wanted to do after I got established (corporate career) in what I went to college for. Since the economy is the way it is and I can't seem to find a job, I figured it was a good time for me to create my own job (building spec homes).

rossfingal, I looked up Menards locations and they apparently only have locations in the Midwest (I live in Texas). You wouldn't happen to know of any similar stores down here would you?

Do you all think that a house flip would be a better start for me instead of a full on new construction?

Last edited by ahb2012; 04-30-2012 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 04-30-2012, 02:47 PM   #13
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Well I sure do, but you will still have the business of that pesky mortgage.

If you do decide to flip make sure you KNOW YOUR MARKET. Do not make the huge mistake of over improving. Todays Buyers are savvy and they will not pay more for something then they can reasonably get down the St.
Remember, the market sets the price not, how much you paid, or how much you need to break even, or much emotional attachment or memories you have in the home. Nobody cares.
Good luck
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Old 04-30-2012, 03:00 PM   #14
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Well I sure do, but you will still have the business of that pesky mortgage.

If you do decide to flip make sure you KNOW YOUR MARKET. Do not make the huge mistake of over improving. Todays Buyers are savvy and they will not pay more for something then they can reasonably get down the St.
Remember, the market sets the price not, how much you paid, or how much you need to break even, or much emotional attachment or memories you have in the home. Nobody cares.
Good luck
Thanks creeper! The only problems that I find with flipping is as you said the mortgage, and theft. The lot that I plan to build the two houses on are not to far from my house and I can always drive by to keep an eye on them. If I decide to flip I think I might move in the house until its complete. I just could not afford the loss of a thief stealing materials. Now that I think about it, not only would I have the mortgage to worry about paying I would also need money for the materials to fix up the flip so that may not work out as great as planned.
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Old 04-30-2012, 08:47 PM   #15
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I was looking for some info and ran across this discussion and wanted to tell you that what you paid for the lot is a good price. So u r off to a good start. if you have no construction experience, i would advise you to hold off until you find someone you trust to help you. In construction, your biggest hurdle is keep the your subcontractors or anyone else from taking advantage of you. I was once like you and i bought a lot and built a house and did good....BUT....i had construction experience. even so....i have built several more and made money on all but one....so it is still possible to lose your A### even if you know what u r doing. you will need house plans in order to secure a loan....go talk to the building dept(code enforcement) to find out if u need plans certified by an architect or not. if u do then dont buy internet plans as they are not certified. if u dont need certification then buy those internet plans....btw....dont pay more than $500-600 for plans of a house that size....just my two cents...
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