If you’re in the market to purchase a new home, you may consider buying a house that it is being built, or having a house custom-built for you. My family has just moved into our basically-a-new-build remodeled house, and I’ve learned more than a few things along the way. Here are some things I would recommend that you consider before you build a house:
It Takes Longer Than It Should
We’ve all watched houses that are built in what seems like weeks. Somehow that magic illusion disappears when it is your house. I have never known a person to have their house finished on time. Never. Our actual construction was “only” two months longer than planned, but we had a seven month delay while we negotiated with the homeowner’s association. (That’s an entirely different post!) Weather, deliveries, and sub-contractors are just a few of the common causes of delays.
It Costs More Than Estimated
If you’re buying from a builder, you would be surprised at how many things are considered upgrades. When we built our first house, we were on a very strict budget and we upgraded two things: we installed two ceiling fan boxes for a whopping $50 each. I’m not sure if we just didn’t consider any other upgrades, or if the options have really expanded. Now you can upgrade nearly everything, and it is so attractive! Taller cabinets, nicer shower doors, better carpet padding, extra insulation…the list is endless.
If you’re doing a more custom project, the places to spend money increase even more. Instead of five choices of wood flooring, you can pick one of the thousands of options available at any given time. You can easily double the cost of your project just by getting a little bit nicer cabinets and a little bit nicer railing and a little bit nicer bathtub.
You May Have Higher Living Expenses While You Build
Depending on your particular situation, there are a myriad of extra expenses that you might incur during the actual build. You may need to carry homeowners insurance on the property under construction, plus homeowners or renter’s insurance on the property where you’re living. Short-term leases can be expensive, or you might have to sign a long-term lease and then pay to break it when your house is complete. On the flip side, you might find that your short-term lease ends before your house is actually done, and you’re scrambling for some place to sleep in the interim.
I estimate that I spent 20 hours a week working on this house project, and I wasn’t doing any of the actual labor. That include time visiting the site, talking with the builder and the various subs, shopping for options, visiting showrooms, comparison pricing fixtures, etc. The last two months, it was probably more like 40 hours a week. It got to a point where if it wasn’t absolutely essential, I didn’t do it.
It’s also exhausting and stressful. I’m honestly not sure why my kids even like me after months of “I don’t know what’s for dinner” and “No, I can’t help you with that.”
Move-In Expenses Grow Quickly
Moving in, and paying for the last of the building costs, doesn’t mean that the expenses will end. I have a long list of things that we need to buy, including window coverings and floor coverings. The entire yard requires landscaping work. And our sofas don’t fit in the TV room. Even dumb things like dividers to keep your kitchen drawers tidy can be more expensive than you imagine.
Obviously, everyone has a different situation, but these experiences are all fairly common amongst the people I know who have built houses. Be sure to thoroughly consider all the consequences before starting on a house-building adventure. Understanding the challenges before you start will make it a lot easier to deal with them when it happens.