Building my first home - Or should I say the Gangster Squad Card Room?

Mr. Cheese

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Hey everyone,

In the process of finalizing details on my first home build. I just need to decide what development/lot I want and then we get to negotiate what upgrades and packages I want with my house.

The house is a split entry with two bedrooms and a bathroom on the main level. It comes standard with a 2 car but for an extra 8k I can get a third stall so I've already opted for that (no brainer at that price lol). The basement I plan to finish myself over time much like Tommy just did which will add two more bedrooms and another full bathroom as well as a poker area and wet bar (AKA the official Gangster Squad Card Room :cool:).

My parents built a house back in 2005 so I know some of the things they went through with expenses but I'm curious to hear if anyone else has built a house and what expenses unexpected or otherwise I should be on the look out for. The house includes all appliances so I won't have that expense but I will have to get window coverings and rain gutters so I'm already planning on those expenses.

Anything in terms of things to look out for or watch during the build? Helpful tips or advice?


Here's what the house will look like:
House front.jpg
House inside.jpg
 

Chicken Rob

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Get a good inspection before you close. Hold back money at closing if there is still an active punch list. Put a urinal with a hands free flush valve in.
 

Mr. Cheese

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Are you building in Woodbury? If so, watch out for the Governor.

Haha no I'm moving out of Woodbury, I can't stand the Governors weird zombie head fetish :p

Nice, Congrats. I hope all goes well...

Thanks!

Get a good inspection before you close. Hold back money at closing if there is still an active punch list. Put a urinal with a hands free flush valve in.

Thank you for the advice, I'll definitely keep these in mind. A hands free urinal for the downstairs would be awesome!
 

Ben

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Screw developments, lots, and HOAs - buy acreage (it doesn't have to be a LOT of acreage...)

Research your builder extensively before signing on the dotted line (this is easily the MOST important factor in your long-term satisfaction with your home.) And I don't mean just what a few recent customers say on the internet - go down to your local land records office and run your builder's name (company and personal names, if available) to see if they have had any contractors' liens, IRS/state tax liens, and most especially judgments filed against them. A good builder can have a lien or two filed and probably will at some point if they are in business long enough, but they should be released quickly. ANY 5-6 figure judgments at any point are a HUGE red flag. Generally speaking having a ton of construction mortgages isn't great also (a very good builder will generally not have to hock every lot for the maximum to get things done) although there are exceptions both ways. Also how many active properties they have - some volume is good, SUPER high volume = form homes doing everything the cheapest way possible, and no attention to detail.
 
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trever

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Semi-custom builders all 'build to code' and will cheap out whenever they can. Upgrade your shingles, furnace, ac and water heater and windows but not the floors, carpets or countertops. Also have them rough in the plumbing for a basement bathroom.
 

Mr. Cheese

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Screw developments, lots, and HOAs - buy acreage (it doesn't have to be a LOT of acreage...)

Research your builder extensively before signing on the dotted line (this is easily the MOST important factor in your long-term satisfaction with your home.) And I don't mean just what a few recent customers say on the internet - go down to your local land records office and run your builder's name (company and personal names, if available) to see if they have had any contractors' liens, IRS/state tax liens, and most especially judgments filed against them. A good builder can have a lien or two filed and probably will at some point if they are in business long enough, but they should be released quickly. ANY 5-6 figure judgments at any point are a HUGE red flag. Generally speaking having a ton of construction mortgages isn't great also (a very good builder will generally not have to hock every lot for the maximum to get things done) although there are exceptions both ways. Also how many active properties they have - some volume is good, SUPER high volume = form homes doing everything the cheapest way possible, and no attention to detail.

The developments/lots I'm looking at range from 1/3 of an acre to 2.5. The 2.5 would be stretching it with my budget but I definitely do want to get a halfway decent size lot. No HOA or any of that crap this time. I live in a townhouse right now and I'm looking forward to no HOA.

Very good advice about researching the builder. I've done some research and my best friend who is also my realtor did some digging too but it certainly wouldn't hurt to do more before putting down my hard earned money :).

Semi-custom builders all 'build to code' and will cheap out whenever they can. Upgrade your shingles, furnace, ac and water heater and windows but not the floors, carpets or countertops. Also have them rough in the plumbing for a basement bathroom.

The package I'm looking at getting will have an upgraded HE furnace, hot water heater, and AC. But I didn't even think about the shingles. The nice thing with this builder is they always plumb the basement for the bathroom and they said they'd plumb it for a wet bar too being it isn't that much time or material to do it before the floor is poured.


Thanks for all the advice so far everyone!
 

BGinGA

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The basement I plan to finish myself over time much like Tommy just did which will add two more bedrooms and another full bathroom as well as a poker area and wet bar (AKA the official Gangster Squad Card Room :cool:).

Here's what the house will look like:
View attachment 8252
View attachment 8253


Looks great, Mr.Cheese. Don't forget the hard candy.
 

slisk250

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I used to be in the home building business as a journeyman union plumber. At final inspection get all of the tubs and sinks if they are white enamel wet. Then throw some dry dusty silt on it. Every miniscule crack will be exposed for them to replace or repair. If there is a garage attic, Talk to them and before the electrical comes in and drywall is installed, put a few sheets of plywood down. It's a pita to do it after especially if there are loose electrical lines on top of the trusses
 
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KingZilla

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Every area of the country is different. I don't know how homes are configured in the north as I live in the southern U.S. For example, we usually don't have basements here. I have experience in home design and building down here as well as being a former real estate agent. I'm guessing that you are working from stock plans and may be limited on what's available. I know you didn't ask for input on your plan but I'd point out a couple of things:

1) Your triple garage uses up a LOT of the total square footage of the house. That's ok, if you can afford it but IMO it shouldn't come at a cost to the living space.

2) The living space: You have to share your master bath with the guest bedroom and your guests on the main floor. Personal preference. But for re-sale value and practical use, I'd have at least a half bath (powder room) somewhere on the main floor, preferably a full second bathroom to be shared by guests and the guest bedroom occupant. I'd want an expanded master bath to include a shower and perhaps a second vanity (for you, as the wife will dominate the first one). Closet space in the master B/R is smallish as well as the size of the Master B/R itself.

Anything else about the design or living space plan would be nit-picking. All the other necessary spaces on the plan are there in some form. To do what I've suggested would require re-draw of the plan you have, or another plan altogether.

It's your house and probably your biggest expenditure/investment, so it has to be what you want and can afford. Please don't take any offense by my opinion. Just wanted to point out a couple of things that could really affect re-sale value and practical use in the future. If the basement is unfinished then I assume you'll have a blank slate to work with (a good thing).

Best of Luck

- - - - - - - - - Updated - - - - - - - - -

Looking at the plan further, a simple re-draw could be done (depending on how good your builder is). The outer wall on the bedroom side could be brought out evenly with the outer wall of the double garage. This would allow space to expand the Master suite as well as allowing a second full bath to be slid in next to the guest bedroom. I'm not sure how this would affect cost as I cannot see the other elevations of the plan (right side and rear). It may be costly if it severely affects the roof line, maybe not. It may be that the 8k from the 3rd garage stall could be used to make up the difference and just drop the 3rd garage stall. For re-sale, buyers would rather have the living space over the 3rd stall.
 
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KingZilla

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The reason I'm being a "busy body" here is that you stated this is your FIRST home. Don't make a common mistake first time buyers make (especially those building) by investing your money without future re-sale consideration. I should have tried to answer your original question: Unplanned expenses. For building a new home, you should have no worries once the plan is nailed down and the finishes are agreed upon. Adding on once the process is underway will be costly. Be sure everything is included such as: will there be a paved driveway/approach to the house, will the yard be sodded, landscaped? Will you add a deck/patio onto the back of the house now, later, or at all? Since this house has a basement, excavation and elevation of the lot should be priced in already. If you are not sure - ASK.
Really, Best of Luck - I'm excited for you - it can be a scary but very rewarding project.
 

KingZilla

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If you have a reputable builder, your worries should be limited. I see that the living room/dining room/kitchen "open area" is covered by a vaulted/cathedral ceiling. I would suggest adding additional joists to add to the structural integrity of that large span (see attachment). This helps to hold the rafters together as your drywall is going to be attached directly to them. My crude drawing shows a view looking from the left side elevation. This would create a flat ceiling space in the center of the span which comes in handy as a base for hanging ceiling fans or placing other fixtures in as well. You will probably have light fixtures mounted in the slopes anyway. The key point here is the added strength you get from an easy modification even though this may not be required from an engineering standpoint. I've built a house with a similar span and had this done for minimal expense and maximum peace of mind. Sure it takes a small bit away from the height, but with that large of a span, you shouldn't miss it.
 

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Mr. Cheese

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Awesome advice and insight everyone. I truly appreciate it and the point about the shared bathroom upstairs is definitely something I need to consider for future resale value. Having a master bath would be nice instead of a shared one.
 
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