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I have replied to your other post about looking to build in Weston or surrounding areas. The town issues notwithstanding, we also went through the same route. Interviewed tons of Architects, GCs, so called Builders, etc. Were tempted to go on our own as we realized there was at a minimum 20% markup on everything a GC did. The architect suggested going Project manager route, where you hire a person to over see the job, has a construction license and can pull permits on your behalf, etc. You can pay these folks a fixed fee and they don't care how expensive your home is (or atleast in theory). The bank does give loan in such cases because they know you have a professional taking care of the project. You buy all the material and pay the subs. The project manager gets you the subs, etc. through an open bid process. Well, all this is good in theory. In reality, they all have connections and work with each other only. $100/sf that you quote is possibly from the RSMeans book. It would get you a shell but then there is Surveying, engineering, septic, driveway, garage, basement, landscaping, upgrades, drive you nuts kitchen cabinet pricing, roofs, flooring, etc. the list is endless. In reality, a moderate house ends up costing in $150 range with all said and done, land costs not included. Now once you have crossed that hurdle, comes the town. If it is Weston for example, you'd have to deal with their crazy bylaws and zoning issues. You could end up spending 25-30K just to hire the landscape architect, civil engineer, and other consultants they require for planning board presentations if your house is more than 3500 sqft or is on a scenic route. But wait, that 3500 includes the garage. So effectively, everyone would end up at their door step. You'd think landscaping?? Ha I could add trees and plants as I continue to live there. Right? Wrong!!!. How about not getting an Occupancy Certificate if you don't plant required trees to screen your home from neighbours? And trees of certian size like 14-16' trees that could cost you 2-3K a piece plus shrubs. Now suddenly your landscape costs have gone up by 20K. I have not even begun to talk about the Architect Fee's that you'd have to pay for planning and generating the construction drawings. There is a reason that new homes are expensive as I have mentioned in my other post.
If you have all this budget, and have a bank that can support you with a loan, then you are good. Otherwise as others have noted, you should try to get one that is already exiting. I know it is very tempting to build your own home and not pay that GC over 100K in profits, but reality is different. But look around, you might find some folks willing to do fixed price gig that I had mentioned. If you still like to do this, I would highly recommend that keep your land costs low. Look in towns where you can get land in 200-300K range and then build on it. You'd be much better of. Carlisle, Sharon, Acton are some of the towns that come to mind. But you'd have to forget Weston, Wellesley, Newton, lexington, etc.
My wife and I have been discussing whether we are up to the challenge of building a house. Our goal is to build the right structure and then update the inside as we can save and spend for the upgrades. We are against taking out over sized loans to pay for the construction and upgrades up front.
Plus with little kids in the house we rather not spend on the expensive kitchens and floors so we can be carefree with the kids. As they grow up we can save & update with less chance of anyone banging a tricycle into an appliance or leaving tire marks on the floors.
I have done a number of small to medium size projects and have access to most of the contractors but will need someone to do the foundation + outside of the house. Also very handy and should be able to finish the basement and attic myself over time as more sq footage is needed.
Can people share their experiences and give advice on how to keep the project under budget and what to watch out for? Do you actually end up saving money by being your own general contractor.
If you own the land or can get it at a real steal (from a relative/parent) is a reason to consider building. Make sure you know what you want before you build (are the rooms, including bathrooms, really going to be large enough)Subs are not cheaper or easier to manage if you are your own GC and if you are working from stock plans, it helps to have someone in case the stock plans don't quite fit the lot or there are problems in construction.
There are so many decisions to be made when you are building, you might want to decide on stuff like roofing, windows, moulding, flooring, construction (2x4 or 2x6 walls), insulation, HVAC, whole house fans, attic fans, outside color, garage doors well in advance.
A level lot is nice because of NE weather, and melting and refreezing runs downhill.
In the NE resale is tough on anything but traditional houses.
I had a small custom house built in 2001. I lived elsewhere while it was built (a huge problem, since I work third shift and have dogs).
A neighbor is a contractor, so he built and sub-contracted the house. It came out to closer to 225/sq.ft. finished. Of note, I could not get a construction loan unless was going to finish all the interior on the loan. I had thought to let the kitchen go and have someone do it for cash later on, but couldn't have gotten the construction loan that way. I had some eight draws on the loan- their choice, not mine.
I also didn't really consider the oh-and-but things that come up. Not upgrading (although I ended up doing that on the fly) but the cost of the new water line. The thing needed to get the slurry into the basement. Re-seeding over the whole area of the new septic system.
I am still thrilled with my house, primarily because I never saw a house already built with the things I wanted (and lacking those I didn't want). I had to built a new house because I had bought a beat-up tiny cottage on a beautiful lot in 1992, figuring I'd fix it up a bit for cash, and it crumbled/moldered away/fell apart over the next several years. There were some additional problems from building on a lot that had had an existing house. The town had a lot of rules about the footprint, the setbacks, the septic system (too close to wetlands for current law) etc. I had to go through all the hearings and permitting process and nonsense and it took almost a year to get a septic permit. If a septic system can be avoided, it's best!
Also, a lot has to be accessible for equipment, trucks, etc. The building site on my lot where I was required to place the house (on rough footprint of the old house) was not so accessible, and the guys had to constantly play musical chairs around moving their trucks, etc.
If I could have found a house that suited me already built, I would have preferred that, but there were no small or contemporary houses. Any small ones were all beat up. Then again, I wasn't looking at Weston...
It is a real delight to get a house that is exactly what you want, no more, no less (by this, I mean the design, not necessarily finishes). But I don't think it's a cheaper way to go.
Best wishes. A home is so important.
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