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Old 08-06-2015, 10:31 AM
2 posts, read 1,909 times
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I'm considering buying a home in The Crossing in the Glacier Ridge neighborhood. I really like the layout of the house, the sizes of the rooms, the yard, and that it is right by that big nature area/park with the ice age trail going through it. The house was built in 2003 by Midland. It is kind of a cookie cutter type neighborhood, which I am a little wary of. I'm also a little nervous about the build quality of the house because I've heard Midland was below average.

I'd like a quality built house that I'm not going to have to spend a ton of time and money on maintenance and upkeep. I live by myself so I don't need anything huge.

I also like the idea of building a custom home, but I wouldn't be able to spend over 300,000. (Including lot, appliances, landscaping, etc.). If I were to build, I would consider Mount Horeb, because I think it would be more affordable than Madison. But I don't know if a custom built home is even possible with my budget.

I work on the west side, so I don't want anything east of the isthmus.

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Old 08-11-2015, 09:18 AM
Location: Verona, WI
1,201 posts, read 1,917,785 times
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Midland does have a reputation of building less than solid houses, but as long as the previous owners have kept up with maintenance it shouldn't be too bad. It also really depends on the design of the house, like is there an overhang over the back patio door, or is it flush with the outside wall? An overhang generally protects the door (and floor inside) better against water and weathering, etc. Also a 2003 home may be getting to the point where it's time to update the AC and/or furnace, so make sure the major utility items are inspected/maintained properly, and their condition is priced into your offer. Also make sure to have an emergency fund of 3-6 months of expenses set aside to address any repairs that would arise (This is true for any home purchase).

As far as building custom/new, it will be really tough to stay under $300k in Madison, unless you go with Veridian (the newest version of Midland / Don Simon). Many other new builds are in the $375k+ range, and the lot itself generally will be $80-120k+ of that. Maybe you could get by with building a smaller home with less upgrades, leaving the basement unfinished, etc. You may have better luck building under $300k in the surrounding West-ish communities like Belleville, Mt. Horeb, Blue Mounds, Cross Plains, Black Earth, Oregon, etc.. With that said, if your budget is up to $300k, you should be able to find a decent home in many of Madison's west side neighborhoods, some less cookie cutter than the Crossing / Glacier Ridge. A closer location will greatly decrease your commute time too.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:12 AM
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I lived in a cookie cutter Midland neighborhood on the east side, IIRC it was also built in 2003. Quality was OK. The fit and finish was consistent with a low end starter home. We didn't have any major maintenance issues during the time we owned it, but it was relatively new then.

I think a lot depends on your definition of quality, when you mention you want a quality built home. They are certainly serviceable and fit their starter home type niche, but don't expect any bells and whistles. They were built to a price point, and used lowest cost materials. And as mentioned, the mechanicals are starting to get old.
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Old 08-11-2015, 03:40 PM
Location: Verona, WI
1,201 posts, read 1,917,785 times
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Agree with the above. One likely example is that most entry-level homes have 4" exterior walls whereas a custom home may have 6" exterior walls. The extra thickness/insulation helps with seasonal temperature extremes and can also make the home quieter.

Midland homes likely would use vinyl siding in a limited color palette, whereas a custom home may have fiberboard or cement board siding available in a variety of colors.

Midland homes may use mostly carpet, vinyl or laminate for flooring whereas a custom home would use more wood, tile, etc.

Same could be said for countertops, fixtures, doors, windows, mechanicals, gutters, etc..
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Old 08-22-2015, 01:34 PM
2 posts, read 1,909 times
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Thank you very much for your replies and thoughts.

I feel better about the Midland home after reading your responses. Although, the one I was thinking of is probably not available now! The market is moving very quickly, and I don't think I have the personality to make, what for me, is a huge decision in a very short time frame. I keep seeing places I'm interested in, and I ask my realtor if we can look at them, and he tells me that they have already accepted an offer.

I've expanded my search to include town homes with private entrances and their own garages. I have a Golden Retriever, so I need something that allows large dogs, so if I don't have my own yard, I would prefer something near a park.

As far as what I meant by quality built home...to be honest... I'm not really sure. In the spring of 2008 my ex-husband and I bought a $190,000 house in Black Earth. Nothing fancy, but a nice, solid house. 1800 square feet with a 2 car garage and BIG yard. Hardwood floors underneath the carpeting (which we ripped out). I had a couple of people look at it who are more knowledgeable than me and look at more than just the appliances, counters, and cabinets, and they thought it was a really good, solid house. The floor joists seemed thick and tall, and actual wood boards that were really close together. They look a heck of a lot studier than those plywood sheets with 1x2s stuck on the edges. But what do I know. I don't even know what else... but it I think it was a nice, solid house. It felt good to be in it and the windows and lighting and flow were really nice. It was built in 1940. I can't find anything now that is seems as nice for under 350,000. Which I can't afford. Maybe I just need to be patient and wait until I find the right place.

I have gotten in touch with a couple of architects, and they seem to think it is possible to build a really sweet, SMALLER place within my budget. But they haven't actually talked to the builders yet. I don't need a 3 bedroom, 2.5+ home, with a finished basement. There is a dearth of nice 2 bedroom homes in Madison. That's basically what I want. I really nice 2 bedroom home.
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