I get the question all the time: How much does it cost to build a house on my land? I've written several articles on the topic of cost to build a house, but they're related to the money cost. There are 2 other big factors that you have to consider when building:
- Time investment;
- Emotional investment.
Let's look at each one individually.
Time investment: Having a home built, especially one that's truly custom-designed for your needs and wants, requires a commitment of time. You have to meet with the builder, the house plan designer, the decorator, the lighting supplier, etc., and some of them you'll have to meet with multiple times. These people all have working hours, just like you do, which means that in many cases you'll have to take time off work to get these things done. That can be a pain.
The least painful way to get all this stuff done is to do it in blocks. Do the best you can to schedule appointments back-to-back so you can take time off from work in a bigger chunk, missing less time overall.
Also, plan to get all your decorating selections done up-front, before any work on the house actually starts. If you wait, the builder will be calling you in a panic the day before the painter starts asking you for colors, and it will NOT be a convenient time. You'll end up picking stuff in a hurry and will regret it later (and regret it for a long time).
Plan time to visit the house during construction, with the understanding that if you visit during evenings or weekends, nobody will be working, and you'll see the sausage being made without anyone there to guide you through the process. That means you'll see things that seem goofed up, and you'll see things that ARE goofed up, and you'll want to call the builder immediately to get answers. Problem is, it'll be 7pm on a Wednesday, or noon on Sunday, and there won't be anyone available to answer your questions until business hours (those guys are doing the same thing you're doing - spending time with family or just taking time off work). This is a great transition to the next topic: the emotional investment.
Emotional Investment: This is probably the hardest part for most of our clients, probably because there's not really an event in most people's lives that prepares a person for the emotional stress of having a house built. Building a one-of-a-kind, custom home, on your land, is a unique experience.
Think about it: the house has never been built, so in a sense it is a prototype. We live in a world of manufactured products that are designed and produced without our specific input. We expect to be served as "the customer", with the business doing all the work since we're the one coming up with the money. Building a house is different. Your input is required. It's your idea coming to life - you're like the engineer at Apple figuring out what the next iPad will look like. That's a lot of work, and potentially a lot of stress.
We tell our clients that building a home on their land is an emotional roller-coaster: there are highs and lows, and it is never boring. You're going to come out to see the progress sometimes and discover that nobody is working on your house that day. Frustrating. You're going to come out and discover that your house has gone from concrete slab to a structure with walls and a roof. Exciting! You're going to see that free-standing tub you've been looking forward to using get put in 6 inches off-center. Arggggh! Just know that this is part of the process, and it will all get fixed before you move in. You never saw the F-150 pickup go down the assembly line and get the big scratch in the door. Why? Because it got fixed before it went out the door. You're watching the assembly line happen outside in the cold and rain, by hand, and don't forget: it's not the F-150, it's the prototype.
So, remember: when you're having a custom, one-of-a-kind home built for you and your family, there's more than just an investment of money. You'll be investing from the two most important resources you'll ever have: Time and Emotion. Be ready. It'll be worth it in the end.
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