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Old 07-18-2012, 10:45 AM
517 posts, read 1,091,728 times
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I've noticed a lot of people on this forum are knowledgeable about real estate and home building. Does anyone know what the minimum size new house that can be built in Charlotte county (and Sarasota/North Post, if it's different) would be and what the price per square foot would be (no pool or custom touches, just very basic)? Would price vary for block versus frame?

I see that some of the oldest homes in Port Charlotte and North Port are very small (some even under 900 square feet). I'm guessing that these were allowed at the time but would not be allowed now (or possibly are only allowed in those older neighborhoods)--is that right?

As far as buying one of these existing small houses, my initial impression of these neighborhoods is that I might have to be more concerned about crime/safety and quality-of-life issues than in other areas. (I don't mean to offend anyone, and please correct me if I'm wrong--I would love to find out I'm wrong since the prices on these resale homes are so low, and they are typically concrete block with public water and sewer.)

In the short run, an inexpensive condo would probably best suit my needs, but the more I look into that option, the more I feel it's a risky investment (especially since I'm trying to find a permanent home).

I was reading the posts in this forum about how much new roofs cost just for a single family house and am imagining the cost to replace all the roofs eventually in a condo complex with many buildings, and even if the financials of a complex are in good shape now, will they still be years down the line when it's time to replace the roofs? (And in a condo, when some people don't have the money to pay a big assessment, everybody else's bills go up, possibly to a level where even if you could afford the initial special assessment, you're unable to pay the eventual higher assessment because you weren't planning on paying other owners' shares too, and if units are foreclosed on because the owners can't pay, the foreclosures can take years and no dues are being paid on those units in the meantime...).

I posted in more detail on the risks of condos (yet the practicality of this type of ownership for many people, and the affordability if/when it works the way it's supposed to) in the Florida forum, and the one very helpful response I got basically said what I feared was true--that condos in the higher price ranges (not necessarily super high, but getting closer to 100K rather than half that) are less of a risk.

I did get one encouraging response on this forum about a lower-cost condo that the owner is happy with, which I appreciated, so I haven't completely ruled out buying a lower-cost condo. But since I'm still a bit unsure about condos, I'm wondering if instead you could build a very small new house in Charlotte county for, say, under $100K? (I know that even an 1100-1300 square foot home would cost more than that, but is 850 square feet with a one-car garage and no lanai still possible under present building codes?)

Or, if anyone has bought a modest resale single family house (say, under $80K) in Charlotte county or North Port recently, do you feel safe in your neighborhood (like you have nice neighbors and they would call the police if they saw someone robbing your house or stealing your AC)?

Also does any one know if it's possible to buy a duplex and change it into a condo and sell the other unit as a condo?

Thanks in advance for any info/advice!
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:11 AM
Location: Port Charlotte, FL
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You can contact the Charlotte County Building Division or the Charlotte DeSoto Building Industry and ask to see if there is a minimum size square footage requirement for building in Charotte County. I know there are size limits in communities. It depends on where you are planning to build.

Charlotte County Building Division - Building
Charlotte DeSoto Building Industry Association - Charlotte Desoto Building Industry Association - CDBIA

As far as changing a duplex into a condo and selling one side. I don't think you can do that. It depends on the zoning of the property itself. You would have to contact the Charlotte County Zoning Department - Growth Management
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:02 PM
Location: sittin happy in the sun :-)
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bear in mind also that some HOAs have a minimum. in rotonda sands its 1600 sq ft. Inside the circle it may be 1800 not too sure. so check thorughly wherever you buy.

as regards price per sq ft. this can be a piece of string. the guide is approx 80-100 bucks per sq ft. bear in midn the law of dimisnishing returns , as it gets bigger it gets slightly less psf as some items can remain static. similarly as it gets smaller it can be slightly more.
next is your spec, granitte, stainless, custom cabinets etc will add more than laminate, white goods, stock cabinets

it can be a minefield _ I know I have been in the home building game 30+ years.

will you be using a builders model or having custom ?

there are so many questions, my initial interview of a client to actually establish a) what they want and b) what they can afford (and there is often a HUGE difference) can take 2-3 hours. simple questions about lifestyle can suddenly open a can of worms...................
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Old 07-18-2012, 03:04 PM
Location: sittin happy in the sun :-)
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BTW an 850 square foot house is VERY small and would be a hard resale. my advice would be look for a cheaper fixer-upper , get a bit more space and a better resale chance
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Old 07-19-2012, 12:01 AM
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Thank you TamRE and Mr&MrsSunshine--I appreciate the helpful replies!

I do realize a smaller house is not everyone's cup of tea, but I thought of it because obviously in a lower price range I have to trade off something, and space I don't really need anyway seemed like an easy thing to give up!

An 850-square-foot house would offer the same living space as some two-bedroom condos without the liabilities of the condo form of ownership, as well as having a brand new roof, AC, electrical, plumbing, and septic (so no big-ticket repairs for quite a while). Also utilities would be relatively low because of the small size, and insurance would be low (for Florida...) because of both the small size and being built to the latest codes.

It's just one of a few possibilities I'm thinking about. I had tried looking at the Charlotte county site before, but there is so much info there that I couldn't find the specific info on minimum size. Maybe I'll call them because I am curious about whether this is even a possibility.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-19-2012, 04:54 AM
Location: sittin happy in the sun :-)
3,645 posts, read 7,146,653 times
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you are welcome. whilst I can see your thinking, i would recommend trying to find a home the size you are looking at and seeing just how 'compact' it is.

also maybe take to a couple of realtors about value and resale....you may not think it important now but what if an emergency came along ?

most of the condo 'costs' you quote would most likely be shared ones so proportionatley less than a home.
for example if you bought in a 3 level block your roof is 1/3 if you get my drift
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Old 07-19-2012, 04:44 PM
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Thanks again for the helpful advice!

I know in my price range there are going to be trade-offs, so you're giving me great food for thought.

I have looked at homes as small as 850 square feet, and I've found that spaciousness is really subjective.

To someone who lives in a spacious house, 850 square feet might seem unlivable. On the other hand, a college student moving out of sharing a dorm room might pinch him or herself to make sure he or she wasn't dreaming to have such a luxury of space for just one person!

I found myself (when commuting to a job for a while and spending several nights a week in a large house with vaulted ceilings and several in a small apartment with drop ceilings) that the small apartment seemed claustrophobic when I was coming from several days' stay in the house (even though in the house I was sharing, but in the apartment I had it all to myself), but not so once I was living only in the apartment, then it seemed like more than enough space for one person. So I think we adapt (not just in an "Oh, I guess I just have to adapt" kind of way but that it really does subjectively start to feel perfectly fine).

But you're right to point out that what suits my needs might be much harder to sell than a more "normal" sized home if I ever needed to--so definitely something to consider.
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Old 08-20-2015, 08:38 AM
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Just called Charlotte County Building dept, 600 Sq ft is minimum size.
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Old 08-20-2015, 11:38 AM
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Still my dream . . . might be too late for me given how much prices have skyrocketed since I started this thread three years ago. But still, this type of home captures my imagination in a way that my choices among existing homes don't (as I still have a low budget), so I think I need to look into this further and see if anything is possible.

Thanks for posting this info.
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Old 08-20-2015, 12:25 PM
Location: Punta Gorda and Maryland
6,103 posts, read 15,081,815 times
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Some HUD standards allow effiency units to be as small as 550 square foot for affordable and subsidized housing. But, you do need to confirm with the local jurisdiction what is allowed. Plus, if your getting a loan it would have to be appraised out. If you do decide to build something that small you'd need to hire an architect and have the layout designed to make sense. Other factors would be the land cost, and proximity to utilities. All these things are effect the cost. If you are serious, you ought to contact an architect, and they can and will confirm the jurisdiction requirements during the design process.

Good Luck!
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