The Chronicle of the Horse
MagazineNewsHorse SportsHorse CareCOTH StoreVoicesThe Chronicle UntackedDirectoriesMarketplaceDates & Results
 
Results 1 to 17 of 17
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2001
    Location
    Almost Aiken
    Posts
    2,620

    Default Who's built a house?

    I hate my house. It's old, (not in a good way), it's a mish-mash of rooms, it's got serious plumbing and wiring oddities, and it's starting to fall apart faster than we can (or want to) fix it.



    So new house it will be, but I'm terrified, and I have a zillion questions. I would appreciate any input from those who've BTDT. I'm interested in why you went with what you chose, and any pros/cons, good/bad experiences, things that went well and things that in hindsight you should have done differently.




    - What kind of house?: Stick built, modular, manufactured, log, or ??


    - Plans: Did you design your own, work with an architect, use pre-made plans, or something else?


    - Site layout: again, your decision alone or help from architect/home company rep/builder?


    -How did you find & choose your architect/modular company/builder etc?


    -Did you do your own contracting? If so, how was the learning curve (assuming you knew nothing about it to begin with), and do you think it saved you anything?


    -What am I not seeing here, what am I not thinking about that I should be?




    Part of me wants to take the 'easy' way out, put down a slab and plop a doublewide on it. But I'm enough of a snob that I'm not sure I'd be happy with that, even if it did get me out of this hovel on the (relatively) cheap.


    The other wrinkle in all this is that I need to build a barn as well – not fancy, but again more than the falling-apart-sloped-tractor-shed that my poor beasties have now. I'm toying with the idea of incorporating the barn onto the house as an ell with a mudroom/laundry/dog zone in between, and constructing it in such a way that it could be easily converted to garages and workshop if we sold to non-horse people down the road. Thoughts?


    Obviously my first step is going to be to figure out what we can afford, that's this week's project... and another minor heart attack for me... gulp.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan. 25, 2009
    Location
    Rock Chalk!
    Posts
    3,090

    Default

    There are a lot of things to consider before you get to those questions.

    Are you wanting a home in a neighborhood, or something out of town? If it's the first, zoning regulations will control a lot of what you can do, down to how many trees need to be planted in your yard.

    Do you want this as a short-term house, or your dream home?

    Is this going to be an investment for you or not? Modular/manufactured homes don't appreciate. That said, there are some places in our area (and I'd assume in many) that will build a stick-built home in a factory and transport it in pieces. They're pretty nice and can count as a conventional construction for financing and resale purposes. Another trend is to have a Morton building (or something similar) with living areas in it. This might work if you wanted a barn and somewhere to live while you build a dream home, too.

    If you have not built a home before, you will likely want to work with a professional. Building a home can - and should - be a full time job. There are permits, codes, etc. that you'll have to know. That's the job of a good contractor. They can also get better prices on many supplies.

    Talk to friends in your area who have built. Go to home shows. Research online to find good builders. Interview them like you would an employee - that's really what they are.
    A proud friend of bar.ka.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2001
    Location
    Almost Aiken
    Posts
    2,620

    Default

    We own 13 acres in a part of TN that essentially has minimal zoning. The new house will go on a different part of the property so we can live in the hovel 'til the new house is occupiable.

    I want a house that I love and can live & work in, but I'm not 100% sure it will be a forever home. So I do unfortunately have to think about sales potential - and my needs and wants are not that of most of the US public. I will have to keep that in mind.

    Alas, I don't have friends who have built - that's why I'm asking here!



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 29, 2004
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,452

    Default

    I have (about 20 years ago so some details are sketchy); a complete custom home; not working from an existing floor plan that we changed.

    I agree with Hunter Mom. Building is a full time job. If you don't have experience, I'd strongly recommend a contractor. If you do your own contracting, you will want/need to be on site to supervise the subs as they work. With a contractor, you will still want to check in regularly but it will not be your problem if the sub isn't working out. With a contractor, don't expect to be an absentee owner and assume the house will be built as you envision. Still check it out daily/every few days to see if it is going as you want and progress is being made.

    You need to know building codes, permits, deal with paying the subs, insurance, materials ordering and delivery, etc. Not a job for the faint of heart.

    We worked with a single firm after discovering that they built solar homes, good reviews, looked at other homes they'd built. They coordinated the architect and all subs. We dealt with paying them, they handled everything else. We had already pretty much decided where on the 5ac the home would be located.

    If you work with a contractor, confirm who is responsible for insurance and discuss mechanics liens (which can be placed on your house if a sub is not paid).



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug. 28, 2007
    Location
    Triangle Area, NC
    Posts
    6,704

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by saje View Post
    have to think about sales potential -
    For this reason, I would scratch manufactured (double wides) off my list. Mortgage lenders will not give you a mortgage on one unless you put at least 50% down, or at least that was the case in 2009 when I was closing on one with acerage and had to back out. Insurance is triple the cost too. They are also a depreciating asset, hence why lenders are very reluctant to hand out money for one.
    Modulars come in many different levels of quality, so if you choose modular, do your homework first!

    Also, I'm sure there are tons of forums out there purely on this subject, so when OT day is over, you should be able to get more advice there.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2003
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    2,909

    Default

    We live in Murfreesboro, so some things will apply to the OP. We drove around subdivisions and looked at houses until we found one we liked. Then we contacted the builder and asked how much it would cost to build that house on our 20 acres. It wasn't too bad. We knew what the house was going to look like, and we got to pick paint colors, floors, appliances, light fixtures, etc. We lived in the existing dwelling until the house was finished.

    Now here's the bad part. The bank is going to want you to remove or demolish the old house. Or at least the bank we financed with did. Old house had to be completely gone for construction loan to close. Our builder didn't do a good job of this, finally got fed up, and started a fire that got out of hand. After the fire dept. came out and extinguished it, he had the smoldering rubble dozed into a nearby sinkhole. Which ignited again, which necessitated a follow up visit from the fire department. We eventually got the fire out, got the loan closed, got the builder out of our lives and lived happily ever after.
    It's 2014. Do you know where your old horse is?



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,116

    Default

    Since you think you know who you want to build it, then tour any open houses that they've built, and if you can talk to homeowners of houses build by that company that would be great.

    Since you know you might sell some day (I always look at resale), then you need a good kitchen (I really like 42" uppers, and either a big pantry closet or two big pantry cabinets. You need good bathrooms with an oversized master shower (many people like these, especially if they have mobility issues). Really huge master closet or closets would be great, double sinks in the master, and a decent sized guest bath. I really prefer split bedroom plan. An upstairs bonus room is good (especially with a bath so you can use it for a guest or as a fourth bedroom for resale), because most furnace/heat pumps go in the attic and that way you can put in a door, finish that part of the attic floor, and change filters and service the furnace without climbing a ladder. I love screened, covered porches for the back to shield the back entrace from rain and snow, and for an extra dining space in good weather. Many people like two living areas or else a huge great room. For the back door I prefer double french doors, or sliders that resemble french doors. Craftsman style is very popular. Log cabins have so many options, and it really depends on the builder and manufacturer that I would avoid them unless there's a great builder already in your area. Most home builders have their own stock building blueprints, and you just mod them to suit your needs. Make sure the garage is really deep to fit today's minivans and provide storage.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,116

    Default

    Part II-do a nice big laundry room to accommodate the front loaders many people get now. Mine is big enough to accommodate the washer/dryer and (it's under the stairs to the bonus room over the garage) and an ironing board, plus all of the touch up paint (I always keep mine in plastic, not metal and in the house). If you are getting septic then make sure the place you pick perks well, and the ground slope for water runoff from the house is very important. I like houses to face east (or you can do west) because much of the bad weather where I've lived goes North or South and that protects the garage doors and such, plus if you live in a snow area I have to have a South facing driveway or it never melts. I like side entry garages so you could fit both criteria this way. Make sure you have enough driveway & garage access to turn the car easily, and I would put an extra parking area across from the garage for visitors or workmen. I always do a covered front porch when I can, because of rain coming in the front door (I don't find most storm doors to be that good these days) and it will keep snow and ice buildup off the front porch and steps.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    39,959

    Default

    I moved 6 1/2 years ago and had to build a house where I was going.
    I wanted a plain farm house, large enough that a family could eventually live in it, with a bit of SW style to it, but not overwhelmingly so.
    We are on the SW edge only. A SW stucco house would be out of place in the staked plains.

    I designed it after I spent six months studying all I could.
    I wanted it energy efficient, so made the outside openings under the required 17%, the design compact, no protrusions here and there, the roof line mostly straight.
    Then I took the plans by an architect, that didn't change anything but details, like tile on a wall, one dividing wall that I had out of bookcases he wanted a regular wall, etc.
    Only cosmetic changes I really didn't like, so I thanked him and, using my old design, looked for the best builders around.

    Why the best builders? Because they also have access to the best tradesmen, best concrete man, best plumbers, best framers, best sheetrockers, best trim carpenters, best cabinet makers, roofers, etc.

    You will realize that the best builders will not really cost any more than the cheap ones, but will build you a better product, that is how they got to be the best.

    Builders will also walk you thru everything, from permits to ideas.

    I got bids from three builders, didn't go with the cheaper one, felt I liked what the one I chose had built before.
    He took me to some of the houses and I could see why his brick workers were better, why his trim carpenters finished everything neatly and what all you can't see when done, that they do well, like double 10" framing over doors, etc.

    He then took me to the best drawing company in town and we went over my plans, let the computer tweak them so there would not be waste material, changing some dimensions here and there, etc.

    The builder will bring you a contract with the bid.
    To get that bid figure, he will have run the plans for your house thru his subcontractors, that will have told him what they will do their job for.
    The trim carpenters will give him a set figure, the plumbers, the mechanicals, all involved in building will give the builder their bids and he will then add a percentage for his work overseeing the building and a bit more for unexpected expenses on his part.
    Be sure you have every detail of what you want in there.
    Any you decide as they build that you want changed, it will be a "change order" and cost extra.
    If something in the bid ends up costing more, the builder will have to pay for it, like any mistakes he doesn't catch, that have to be corrected later.

    If you don't know exactly what you want, you can go "cost plus", the contract will be for whatever every bill is, plus a percentage for the builder.
    The builder will keep bringing you bills every month, with his percentage added and you will end up with about the same as a house on a bid, but your changes will not added to an original bid.
    You may also benefit from any that costs less to build than the original, general bid included, like maybe the cabinets or tile work costs several thousands less than in the bid, etc.
    Only do that if you really trust the builder, as some take advantage and may pad the bills and so get extra money under the table.

    Whatever your bids are, today you have to figure about 1/3 more is what you will have paid for any house you build, as there are some extras you won't know you want until you are building, it is the way it goes with everyone I have talked to.

    Builders have special plans on hand they like to build.
    They know exactly what the costs there will be, their tradesmen are good at those designs, so you get a better product, experience building it makes it so and they know those houses others are happy with, have tweaked any complains over any in them.
    A bit like getting a new model car and hoping all works well, or a model that has been around for a bit and they have the bugs worked out already for you.

    There is way too much to building to write on a post.
    Hope that gives you an idea to start with.

    Above all, put aside a big, big dose of patience, because it will take long time to build and there will be glitches, some that can be fixed, some you will have to live with.

    There will be the time all is sitting there, waiting on the painters, no one can do anything else until they show up and get done, etc.

    Building is fun and yes, there will be stuff you would have done a bit different, if you just had known, no matter how many times you build a house.
    It is a learning experience, every time, every house.
    That is why an experienced, top builder will make it easier for you and build you a good house.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,116

    Default

    For the outside siding, Hardy plank (cement and fiberglass I think) is a good choice. It is very fire resistent, easy to paint (it still needs paint) and costs less than brick. I'm sure there are other brands of the same material. And for decks I like the artificial (Trex is one brand) because once you build it, there is no maintenance, they come in colors, no splinters when you walk on it, no staining or painting required, and it's easy to work with.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr. 19, 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    437

    Default

    DH and I have built 2 houses in the last 2 years, and are about to start the 3rd.


    - What kind of house?: Stick built, modular, manufactured, log, or ??

    All are 2-story wood frame cottages, though we contemplated a bungalow.

    - Plans: Did you design your own, work with an architect, use pre-made plans, or something else?

    We used pre-made plans, and did alterations to suit our needs with an architect, and a very good kitchen and bath designer. We found that the kitchen and bath layouts in the pre-made designs were pretty idiotic, and since it is easy to re-do the layout of those, we came up with something that suited us. It is totally worth doing and will help your re-sale immensely. Kitchens and baths are key to selling!

    - Site layout: again, your decision alone or help from architect/home company rep/builder?

    See above comments. We looked at a lot of houses for sale in our area, and consulted our realtor as well to find out what people like and don't like. For example, corner tubs were a fad a few years ago, but are now going out of style because people find them impractical. It's also helpful to look at what's out there in terms of finishes (counter tops, floors, fixtures, etc.). There are ways to add attractive finishes that catch buyers' eyes without going broke, e.g., a rainshower shower head, good paint colors, etc.

    -How did you find & choose your architect/modular company/builder etc?

    We asked around. Our contractor was a guy that we had brought in to make a few repairs on our first house before we sold it. We talked to some of his clients, he referred us to his kitchen and bath designer.

    -Did you do your own contracting? If so, how was the learning curve (assuming you knew nothing about it to begin with), and do you think it saved you anything?

    We technically acted as our own contractor. Our "contractor" scheduled all the trades, but we paid the subs directly, which gives you more control and peace of mind. It absolutely saved us a bundle, and we learned a ton.



    -What am I not seeing here, what am I not thinking about that I should be?

    Make sure you visit a lot of "comparable" properties so you do not over- or under-build for your area and price range. For example, if all similar properties have carpeted rooms and laminate countertops, you probably won't get your money out of wood floors and granite counters. Similarly, if most houses have ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bath, and you put in laminate, it will be a tougher sell. It is well worth the time to research this carefully and then decide on what you can do in your budget. That said, sometimes you can get a smoking deal on finishings that you just assume you can't afford. In one house we got a fantastic deal on hardwood from Home Depot just because it was a discontinued line. We also found some lovely granite and marble slabs on the "clearance" wall at a huge stone retailer, for $20 a sq ft. This is cheaper than laminate, and the were gorgeous. You can see them in the photos on the web site for the house.

    This is our current house which will go up for sale next year as we have decided to build a farmette. There is a whole section showing the build which you may find interesting.

    http://www.stlazarehome.ca/



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    39,959

    Default

    I forgot, wherever you can, insist they make it handicapped accessible.
    That means all doors 36", the middle of the main bathroom 5' so a wheelchair can turn around, as few steps as you can make it, any weather safe room, for tornado or hurricane, shower entrance open and shower head on a sliding bar, the head where it can be used independently, so it can be lowered, etc.

    You never know when you may break a leg or something more serious may happen.

    Being your own contractor will mean you have to get builder's insurance and possibly other, plus a very good contract attorney to go over the paperwork, so you don't make important mistakes.

    Our attorney is a friend and he discourages a homeowner being their own contractor, as that at times ends on his desk, when there are problems a builder would have seen coming and avoided.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2003
    Location
    St. Louis, MO USA
    Posts
    946

    Default

    As the wife of an architect, and having been a project manager for a home construction company prior to the housing crash, I can offer this advise.

    When you are ready to have the final plans drawn and your builder is ready to go for permits, make sure you have decided on all of the major things in your house. Nothing will piss off your architect and your builder faster than changing your mind about where a wall should be (or other structural changes) after the permits have been pulled.
    My new mantra - \"Life is too short not to eat ice cream.\"
    ReRiders Clique



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun. 24, 2005
    Location
    Alabama
    Posts
    8,116

    Default

    If you build more than one story then I love the first floor master. And you never know when someone might need an additional first floor bedroom and bath because they can't do stairs, or use it for a guest room or nursery or for younger kids.

    And don't do modifications or the builder/contractor will nail you for that. Have what you wanted set in stone (yes that's a bad pun), and no changes after that. Put in cable/phone jacks in every bedroom, den, kitchen, dining, and double in the living/family room to accommodate not only cable and phone, but cable modems requiring both jacks. And if you have a sun room, outside covered kitchen, or 4 season room you need phone/cable jacks there also. If you have gas consider tankless water heaters.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug. 22, 2001
    Location
    Almost Aiken
    Posts
    2,620

    Default

    Lots of good info here, thank you!

    I personally don't like a first floor master bedroom, but I know a lot of people do so I'm thinking of 2 good sized bedrooms with good closet space and nice bathrooms. That way one can be the MB and the other can be an office/library/guest room.

    I'm definitely planning a big mudroom that incorporates laundry and doggie/human washstall - ie a roomy shower with handheld spray and a crosstie at dog level. If I can, I want to have a dutch door from there to the main house, and a dog door to an outside run. That way it can be their area when they're gross or we have company.

    I have all sorts of half formed plans and ideas running through my head, and I hope I can get a handle on what the banks' idea of our financial worthiness is quickly, so I can start making some more concrete plans. I have a feeling that what I want to do and what we can afford to do may be quite a bit different... I'm not into fancy marble and echoing spaces, but I do want quality work and fittings.

    Anyway, thanks again, it's all very helpful!



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
    Location
    The rocky part of KY
    Posts
    9,121

    Default

    My neighbors did the drive around and find a nice subdivision house and call the builder, and that is exactly what they got is a house that was designed for a subdivision and sited to face the road, when they had a lovely view across the property and could have take advantage of southern exposure for passive solar. It's a nice home, very handsome, but the wife told me that the builder told them it would look better if it was facing the road, so . . .

    I've been involved in the construction of two houses and my advice is to choose your location with care. Forget the view, look for well protected southern exposure that you can put a nice driveway up to, get the water the power and the septic to. A view is always a plus but being able to go outside in comfort and not be blown off the face of the earth or frozen for weeks will be really important for a working place. You really think you'll want to go out in the winter if it is shady and frozen like a rock around your barn and house?
    Every location has it's own uniques pluses and minuses so choose the spot with care, then build to take advantage of your pluses.

    As far as the interior of the house, whatever you want, I'd try to take advantage of passive solar just because it is cheaper to heat the house, make sure to have a BIG easy to use mudroom/laundry/attached bath and LOTS of closets and storage.

    Skip the double wide. My DH calls the bathroom sinks five gallon paint buckets reformed into a sink shape - they are lightweight and cheaply made. Doublewides are too convenient to put up and stay in, so you'll be less likely to build your real house and they have a whole host of cheesy little issues.

    DH says to spend this winter in the library doing research on your own as well as asking for our opinions. By Springtime you may be able to think about getting started, and my advice is that the summer cabin we built took three years to be completed by our family working with one guy and his girlfriend part time. The next door was a painting contractor and his subdivision type home was up and being lived in in less than a year, full crew working on it. The design phase takes almost as much time, services take a long time and interior finish work takes a long time, because they are all things you can't really see.

    Good luck!
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
    Location
    TX
    Posts
    39,959

    Default

    Talking about the building process, it will go as fast as it will go, sometimes smoking, others, for a few months even, all will stand there, waiting on, say, the painters.
    Yes, your builder can get someone else to jump in and get'r done quickly, but if you want a good job, you will wait for "his best painter" to get around to your house.
    The same with all other, the tile work, the trim carpenters, all requires whoever is best for what your house demands and you may just have to wait your turn.

    Contracts have a time limit, but if you hold the builder's feet to the fire on that, he will have to cut corners, so try not to.
    My house was supposed to be done by May, I could have charged him, as per contract, for every week over the completion date, but on the attorney's advice, waived that, so he could do the best job, if it took longer.
    You may just have to take their completion date with a grain of salt and figure maybe twice as long, then be surprised if they finish close to the due date.

    I second spending several months getting your hands in all kinds of books and magazines on building houses and have pictures on hand of what you mean when you say, example, you want a kitchen with an island, so the builder knows exactly which kind do you mean.

    If you want to use an architect, you will have a great house, with architectural details that will make it stand out and every little thing the best it can be.
    The architect will charge a percentage of the bid, so it is not that expensive to use one for what you get.

    What you have to watch if you use one is that you get to build the house you want, not the one the architect likes.
    While most try to work with you, mine didn't understand "plain, minimalist, SW farmhouse" and wanted to put his stamp on it, that just didn't happen to be what I wanted, so we parted company.
    He kept bringing the house he built for his daughter in town as a model and, well, this IS a farm.
    Most architects here do big commercial buildings and really fancy, million plus dollar homes, rarely the smaller family houses.
    Some I asked would up front say if I was not building a big house, they were not interested.
    Builders are the ones that handle that market here.



Similar Threads

  1. What is this QH built to do? Conformation
    By DanishWB in forum Western
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: Feb. 15, 2013, 10:02 PM
  2. Which athlete are you built like?
    By DottieHQ in forum Off Topic
    Replies: 55
    Last Post: Aug. 8, 2012, 09:40 AM
  3. Replies: 14
    Last Post: Apr. 9, 2012, 02:43 PM
  4. Saddles for QH Built
    By ownedbyapony in forum Hunter/Jumper
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: Nov. 21, 2010, 08:37 PM
  5. Pre-built vs. pole built run in shed?
    By hoser1 in forum Around The Farm
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: May. 17, 2010, 03:35 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •