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#1 MikkiStreak

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    Posted 16 March 2008 - 10:15 PM

    Frank and I are starting to research home building in anticipation of actually beginning the process later fall/winter. Even tho I've been a homeowner before, I've never built, and I'd like to "smarten up" about this and see what this has been like for other people.

    1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?

    2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?

    3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?

    4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad)

    5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?

    6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?

    7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?

    What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)

    9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?

    10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?


    Any input you feel like sharing is definitely appreciated!!! This is new, exciting, but also where I have a huge learning curve to address and your input will definitely help us! :)

    #2 Saraha

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      Posted 16 March 2008 - 10:33 PM

      I dont know how much help/unhelp I will be. But we pretty much did everything into buying a new home and got out of it three months before it was done... so heres what I got from it.

      Quote:
      Originally Posted by MikkiStreak
      Frank and I are starting to research home building in anticipation of actually beginning the process later fall/winter. Even tho I've been a homeowner before, I've never built, and I'd like to "smarten up" about this and see what this has been like for other people.

      1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?
      We used trend homes because at the time many of our friends bought homes from them. SOme of them bought multiple for the investment. We loved the style and at the time thought it was a great deal and in th price range of what we were looking for in a new home.

      2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?
      We went to get out "quote" or whatever you wanna call it and they were giving us a HORRIBLE deal. My aunt was a mortgage broker at the time and because of that we were going to get a great deal through her. She also said NOT to go through them. This was just rend homes mind you, many new home builders offer great ones. Just not ours.

      3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?
      Hmmm never moved in....

      4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad)
      The whole process was very easy, almost too easy I felt like I should have been doing something/signing papers/ something but we just waited and did nothing

      5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?
      Definietely research around as much as you can. I know thats a given, but seriously I feel like my FI and I kinda jumped into it because of the price and the market at the time andwere afraid we couldnt find anything else. Also the reason why we did not get the house was because of the market. At the time here it was at a point were people thought the prices were going to get higher (mind you it took 9 month to build the house) since the market here was soooo crazy it ended up dropping and the builder would not negotiated a price with us. If we would have moved into the house we would have been down about 40k. I know ridiculus. It ended up the builder is now out of business. So I guess what I am trying to tell you in this long drawn out story is try to predict the market. If it is crazy there like it was here you will have to really consider if it is a good idea or not.

      6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?
      Not done it. LOL

      7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?
      That was the other issue. NOTHING was standard... we didnt ever get doornobs I mean WTF!

      What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)
      Our base price was aroun $200k and $40k in upgrades (we did the BARE MINIMUM in upgrades too... crazy)
      9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?
      It was about nine months (we told them we didnt want to do it about 6 months into is.

      10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?
      Easiest would be the upgrades, the funnest part picking it all out.... hardest the upgrades figuring out how much everything is you want LOL

      Any input you feel like sharing is definitely appreciated!!! This is new, exciting, but also where I have a huge learning curve to address and your input will definitely help us! :)


      #3 A10CalGal

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        Posted 16 March 2008 - 10:52 PM


        We aren't quite finished yet, but I thought I would answer what I can...with only 3 weeks to go, we've been through a lot!
        Quote:
        Originally Posted by MikkiStreak
        Frank and I are starting to research home building in anticipation of actually beginning the process later fall/winter. Even tho I've been a homeowner before, I've never built, and I'd like to "smarten up" about this and see what this has been like for other people.

        1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?
        We didn't actually "choose" our home builder. We choose our community & found a lot we loved. Turned out the home builder has been excellent.

        2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?
        We found our own financing. The builder financing offer was appealing, however we did not want to commit to their financing 6 months prior to build out, which was required. We ended up taking a credit toward our upgrades instead. They were offering a 3-2-1 buy down on the interest rate, which they valued at like $13K. I felt like the closing fees were excessive with their program. I did run it past a few lenders & got comp's at the time, so I felt best about not taking their financing package.

        3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?
        That even though they say it takes X days to build the house, it always takes longer. They don't count any of the time for building permits or upgrade selection or "non-scheduled non-work days."

        4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad)
        Thus far (prior to closing) things have gone as expected. I have been pleasantly surprised by the efficiency of the building process and compliance with the construction schedule. The only part that sucked was waiting for the permits.

        5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?
        Make sure there isn't an already built house out there for you. We really intended on purchasing a resale home. Which meant our initial timeline was like 60 days max. We couldn't find the right scenario for us, which is what led us to build. Waiting 9 months has been hard, I would have much rather been able to move in 7 months ago.

        Keep all documentation. And always check the math on the contracts! The sales reps that fill those things out aren't really "math people." I caught a lot of math errors during the purchase process - I'm sure they would have come to light at some point, but I"m glad I caught them early.

        6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?
        At this point, we're neutral on this...

        7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?
        With our home builder standard is pretty low grade. We upgraded flooring, wood work (molding, doors, window sills), counters, cabinets, etc.

        What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)

        10% of the final price was spent in upgrades - we did get $5500 toward the upgrades.

        9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?
        We started looking for homes/home sites in September and signed a purchase agreement in the end of Sept. We will move in mid April...so 7 months.

        10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?
        The lot selection was easiest. Everything else was hard for me! YOu realize that you are totally responsible for all choices you make. So if something turns out lame, it's totally your fault! That's a little crazy making.

        Any input you feel like sharing is definitely appreciated!!! This is new, exciting, but also where I have a huge learning curve to address and your input will definitely help us! :)
        How exciting Maria! I can't wait to hear what you guys decide to do...

        #4 sunnydaes

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          Posted 16 March 2008 - 11:32 PM

          Quote:
          Originally Posted by MikkiStreak
          Frank and I are starting to research home building in anticipation of actually beginning the process later fall/winter. Even tho I've been a homeowner before, I've never built, and I'd like to "smarten up" about this and see what this has been like for other people.


          It's been about 2 years since we added on to our house and I would like to forget most of the process as it was one of the most stressful things I have ever been through, but i will try to help with what i can remember. I also didn't build from scratch, it was an add on, but hopefully I can help.

          1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?
          he came and did a design for us, which was I think about $3,000 or 5, i can't remember. But if we decided to go with him, the money went toward our house, and if not we had to pay just for the design, which worked out well. He did an incrediable design and thats why we ultimatly chose him. And he let us use some of our own people to do certain things (electric).
          2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?


          3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?

          That we we would go over budget! everyone told me that we would go at least 30,000 over, which i thought was insane, so we gave ourself a cushion but it still was more than expected. so expect the unexpected! Also, we built a retaining wall that ended up taking a year to get the permits signed off on, had i known that before we started that process, I probably wouldn't have done it as it added a year to the construction process, however now that its over, i'm glad we did the retaining wall.

          4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad) Greedy contracters. TRUST NO ONE

          5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?
          know what you want, do your research for the best quaility and price, settle for nothing, some contractors are flakey and don't stand by thier word. Also wire your house with things you might want in the future (i.e. flat screen). its cheaper and less complicated to do it when you walls are open.
          6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?
          As much as it was stressful my house turned out perfect. i wouldn't change a thing.
          7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?
          not sure?

          What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)

          9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?
          hmmm, I guess all together it took about 2 years.
          10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?
          easiest: what kind of door knobs to buy
          hardest: paint colors, floor colors, bathroom fixtures (painted 1 room 6 times entirely)



          Any input you feel like sharing is definitely appreciated!!! This is new, exciting, but also where I have a huge learning curve to address and your input will definitely help us! :)
          Just stay strong, know your stuff, breathe, and drink lots of wine and you will be fine!!

          #5 *JillD*

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            Posted 17 March 2008 - 10:12 AM

            we didn't build a house, but I just want to make one comment.

            Friends of ours built a house. They found a lot they loved and the lots were owned by a builder, so he was the builder they had to use.

            They started this whole process in May of 2005, they just moved in, in August of 2007.

            Yep, over 2 years they waited for that house. They had SOOO many issues with their builder!! He was never working on the house, they heard he was foreclosing on a bunch of his houses, where there house is, he was building 3 other houses, the bank was going to foreclose on all 4 of them (mind you they had paid upfront for upgrades so they had about 20k already into this house) and they managed to get to keep their house, but the other 3 were all sold, right out from under the people that already had a LOT of money invested in them.

            So, the moral of my long drawn out story, is really, really research your builder, make sure they are reputable, that they do good work, talk to some people that have used them, and check into as much of their financial situation as you possibly can.

            Good luck!

            #6 PaulaV

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              Posted 17 March 2008 - 10:15 AM

              Hey Maria! I owe you an email... it was getting long :)

              We built the house we are in now, see my comments below:

              Quote:
              Originally Posted by MikkiStreak
              Frank and I are starting to research home building in anticipation of actually beginning the process later fall/winter. Even tho I've been a homeowner before, I've never built, and I'd like to "smarten up" about this and see what this has been like for other people.

              1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?
              There were only two builders in the subdivision where we wanted to build. The one we chose allowed for more customizations.
              I believe we had an 8% discount when we signed as well. We had friends that built with them that had positive experiences (but didn't get the discount), so we went with them.


              2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?
              We did not use theirs since their rate was a lot higher than the company we finally used.

              3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?
              That their sound-proofing (extra insulation between the floors) doesn't really work. Especially with DH's new sub-woofer!
              It will never be ready when they say it will be.
              I cannot think of much more right this second. I can say we are pretty pleased.


              4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad)
              We paid a bit out of pocket, so take that into account.
              For example, the builder had us go to the lighting store they deal with to pick out our standard lighting. We ended up paying more since we didn't like some of the standard fixtures and just knew we wouldn't change them ourselves.
              Same with the electric we spent about $1500 extra. We added a fan outlet in our bedroom, overhead lights in the spare rooms, outlets in the kitchen cabinet banks, some spotlights in areas that didn't have it, also other cabling around the house. I am sure there was more there I cannot remember.

              Our bedroom was supposed to have a slanted ceiling with a shelf, but once they built it, it was different, one of the small changes in that model we didn't pay attention to well enough.

              A plus was the 13 block basement which was standard with their newer builds. I don't think you have basements in TX though do you?

              We were in phase 2 of the development. The window configuration in our great room was only on one other house and they were in phase one, no where near us. The builders make sure not to allow the same house next door to where you build, so they alternate the builder. However, when they started building the house directly behind us... they have the same configuration! We were hoping they didn't choose same stucco we had, luckily the chose siding but it's just about the same colour. So out of 3 phases, I think we are still the only 3 houses with those windows in the back.

              I was also mad that we moved in before them and they got sod before we did... apparently it was a mistake and it had to be ripped out later since they were not graded before laying it down. We are friends with them and can laugh about it now, but didn't know what the builders were up to. We didn't have sod for almost 6 months after moving in and have a rather large dog that had to do his business out there. That was the most frustrating thing to deal with. Think snow and mud. Yuck. They even knew the sod was one of the most important things to us. They had all of those good months to put it in... the only reason they have told us why we didn't get it was, 'There was a sod shortage'. So that money remained in escrow for 6 months.

              It was hard to get a hold of the building supervisor, you had to leave messages at the model office to have things fixed or changed, but once we did reach him, things were addressed very quickly.


              5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?
              Negotiate with them as much as possible. We asked them to remove one thing (if they could), but give us something somewhere else instead of a money credit. We had a couple of doors added, a wide frame were room opening was wide open, changed a bathroom entrance, had a tile pathway added where there would have been carpet, had half walls added where there would have been wrought iron spindles and a banister (Yikes! Looking down 2.5 stories... I prefer the wall).
              If you have an idea, ask them if they can do it... The kitchen bar was straight in their floor plans, but we thought it would be nicer if it curved around. They actually could do that at no charge, just wasn't in their floor options.
              Keep in mind if you plan to resale eventually how some of the changes/upgrades will affect the value. Ex: We didn't care for the jacuzzi tub, but we got it for resale.

              If you can, stop by often to see the progress and make sure you take pictures so you can refer to them later on. We have used them several times to see where joists are in the walls.

              The blinds would have been a seperate item as well. They sent us to the design center to pick out the carpeting, the tile, paint, front door, granite, etc. The blinds there were decently priced, but we found a store that had a a sale in March, we put down a deposit with them and they installed all our blinds in Decemeber for $59 a window any size. That was a deal!


              6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?
              Our floor plan is a five-level split. Love it, but if someone is up in the house you can hear them as all the rooms kind of come out to the great room. It is only the two of us and a dog, but when you have visitors, you cannot be too loud in the great room.

              We didn't need an extra standard door on the garage. We have yet to use it.
              Hmmm... we love our house!
              We have fun neighbours too!


              7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?
              We actually had quite a few standards in this type of house which would have been upgrades, but I cannot remember.

              We did upgrade the carpeting throughout the house except for the spare bedrooms. Upgraded the padding throughout.
              Oh we upgraded the appliances to stainless steel which we really like. We looked at Sears, Lowe's, etc. to see if we would just purchase them and have them installed, but it would have left us with little cash to work with once we moved in.

              We upgraded the kitchen counters to granite, it love them.

              We upgraded to the jack-and-jill bathroom between the third and fourth bedrooms which cost almost as much as the granite kitchen counters, ha!


              What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)
              Cannot remember, I tried my best to forget :)
              Seriously I don't think it was a whole lot since this level home already had upgraded items standard.


              9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?
              We signed the contract on Jan 31st. They broke ground sometime in April. They were supposed to have it ready in November, even tried to have the walk-through the last day of Nov, to be able to say it was ready... it still had a few things left to be completed. So we told them once they were done completely, we would set up the appt. We did so the following week, moved in Dec 6th.

              10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?
              We visted the design center to see all the options before we even signed the contract to make sure we liked what they had to offer. We actually went two times before actually picking out our options. They only gave us two weeks to make those decisions and it was during the times we worked.
              The hardest part for me was picking these items. The house colour, the granite since they only give you a little block to look at unless you choose what is in their kitchens already, which we didn't like.

              I think the easiest thing for us was choosing the location of the house, the way it sat on the lot and the model. We already lived in the area and had looked at several models before getting serious about it. Once we decided we should go ahead and build instead of waiting a year, we knew what we wanted.


              Any input you feel like sharing is definitely appreciated!!! This is new, exciting, but also where I have a huge learning curve to address and your input will definitely help us! :)
              It can be frustrating at times, but well worth it in the end.
              Let me know if you have any other questions, I can try to answer.
              Good luck Maria and Frank!



              #7 lucy106

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                Posted 17 March 2008 - 10:45 AM

                Quote:
                Originally Posted by MikkiStreak
                Frank and I are starting to research home building in anticipation of actually beginning the process later fall/winter. Even tho I've been a homeowner before, I've never built, and I'd like to "smarten up" about this and see what this has been like for other people.

                1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?
                Remington Builders, we fell in love with a certain model/layout and kept coming back to it no matter how many other builders we looked at

                2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?
                We used the builders mortgage company. At the time there were a lot of incentives, I think $15000 in upgrades. Didnt really have any cons actually.
                3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?
                It takes longer then they tell you it will, the process is very stressful, but in the end it is worth it because you get exactly what you want, a custom home

                4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad)
                Didnt expect it to take so long, and didnt expect every extra we were asking for to be such a pain (for example we wanted listello in the bathroom around the shower and tub, had to go to design center to pick it out, then get it quoted, then get approved, blah blah blah)

                5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?
                Stay organized, stay on top of the builder, ask questions, decide what is important to you (for us a nice kitchen and master bathroom so we spent more monety there), and paint before you move in (we did and are SO VERY glad we did)

                6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?
                You know we ask ourselves this a lot, and the only thing we would've done is upgrade the carpeting more both the pad and the carpet

                7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?
                We upgraded to hardwood floors on first floor, Zodiaq (quartz countertop), fancy tile in master bath, tile in second bath, upgraded kitchen faucet, got the taller (42") kitchen cabinets, stainless steel appliances, had a fireplace installed, built in entertainment center,vaulted ceiling in master, whirlpool tub, wider shower and bumped out bay type window leading to deck. Standard was rounded corners, arches, vinyl in the laundry room, the carpeting, the washer and dryer, and thats all I can think of now.

                What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)
                Apx $50,000



                9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?
                We started researching about 6 month for we put a down payment down Dec 2006 and moved in Aug 2007

                10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?
                The biggest thing was to deicde weather or not to spend the money on the upgrades, but we plan on being in this home for 10 years plus so in the long run we got most upgrades we wanted for that reason. Once we got in that mindset the decisions were fairly easy. Although the kitchen sink was a little bit of a decision (we went with a new material called silgarnite, love it!!)

                Any input you feel like sharing is definitely appreciated!!! This is new, exciting, but also where I have a huge learning curve to address and your input will definitely help us! :)
                Try to have fun with it!!! Some days it will be so stressful you may want to cry but in the end it is so worth it! At least once a week one of us says "I just love our home". By building, you really do get to make it yours!! If you have any questions please let me know I would be happy to answer them!! Good luck and enjoy!!

                #8 MikkiStreak

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                  Posted 17 March 2008 - 11:01 AM

                  Love reading all the answers---- it is incredibly helpful--- thank you everyone!!!

                  I'm at work, so I don't have much time to respond to all of them right now (but will later)....

                  Lucy---- you guys asked for one thing that we really are dying to do: the build-in entertainment area. Did you do a full wall of shelving with the entertainment area in it? Or focus on just adding the build-in entertainment cabinet? If you don't mind my asking- was it terribly expensive to add this? Frank and I are *huge* reading freaks and have a wall of bookshelves in our apartment already. So we're really interested in adding a wall of built-in's, but have no idea what kind of pricing this would be like.

                  #9 TATrisha

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                  Posted 17 March 2008 - 11:05 AM

                  1) Whom did you choose for your home builder and why?
                  Belinski Builders... simply because we liked the land in their neighborhood, they were affordable, and we liked the house
                  2) Did you finance using your home builders mortgage company? Any pros/cons to using theirs instead of your own?
                  Went with acunet mortgage. MUCH better rate
                  3) What do you know now (that the building is finished), that you wished you knew then (before starting the building process)?
                  What we'd really want in a house! It was a first house for both of us, and we missed somethings along the way!
                  4) What didn't you expect in the process? (or, what "surprises" did you have in the process- both good and/or bad)
                  The cost of upgrades! And how many we'd need to do!
                  5) What advice would you give to someone starting the process?
                  Be patiant!
                  6) What would you have done differently if you did it all over again?
                  We would have double checked the location going into our basement. Where our stairs are located we can't get any furniture down there!
                  7) What did your builder consider "standard" options? And what did you choose for "upgrades"?
                  Ha, yeah... we had to upgrade everything. We upgraded to maple trim/solid doors/cabinets, hard wood flooring, carpeting that didn't feel like sand paper on the tootsies, better flooring in the 3rd bath, tile in master bath, we had to add A LOT of outlets and cable jacks, ceiling fans, upgraded light fixtures, stainless steel appliances... the list goes on... and on... and on...
                  What percentage of your final price was due to upgrades? (example: if the home was $200,000 and you spent $25K on upgrades...)
                  we spent around 20% on upgrades
                  9) What kind of timeframe did you have for this---- from starting to research, making a decision, then actually building and finally moving in?
                  We "bought" the house in September and moved in March 24th... so less than a year
                  10) What was the easiest decisions you had to make? What were the hardest things to decide on?
                  Easiest decision was the lot. Hardest decision was the upgrades. There are just SO many options and they were all thrown at us at once, with out prices!!! it was really hard to choose!

                  ~Trisha~

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                  #10 abileneway

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                    Posted 17 March 2008 - 11:34 AM

                    I built my home 4 years ago. I love it! Very personalized. But, the one thing I still wish I would have done is put more electrical outlets in the garage. I know it may sound like a small thing but I have one and my deep freezer is on that one. Thank God I'm with Mr. Handyman now and that's the top of his ToDo list for this spring




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