This is part 1 of a series I'm calling How to Build a House. This post has been 7 years in the making. Years of planning. Years of saving. Years of meetings and payments and excitement (and my God... the Pinning!). 7 years ago my husband and I started the process of our forever home. Of course, depending on where you live, the process may vary slightly. This is what we did. Just a regular couple in the burbs/country (we're kind of a mix of the two) in Florida building a house from scratch. No model home to look at, no planned community... we just bought some dirt and started. Ready to come along? This is How to Build a House.
We began our process with a realtor. Our realtor helped us find the land for our house. Honestly, I didn't think we needed a realtor. Anyone with an internet connection can search Realtor.com and find land, right? And we did that for a little while but weren't having luck. Everything was either out of our price range or not in the area we wanted. Our realtor found properties that we did not know were for sale. After looking at maybe 5 lots, we put an offer in on one. This goes just like the process of buying a house. We negotiated and got the price down a little bit.
To make sure our land was buildable, we went to our local county office and filled out some paperwork to have a "wetlands study" done. Basically a man from the county came out, walked around, and gave us a paper that said yep, you can knock these trees down and you won't be killing any turtles. Go to your local county office and see if your area has anything special going on that would prevent you from building on the land you purchase. Protect yourself.
After that, the bank that was giving us the loan for the land, sent out someone to do a survey of the property... we were buying 1 acre. They needed that for their records to know exactly what we wanted to buy. After all of that, it was time for the closing (we got a copy of the survey in the closing documents). Same process as buying a house. All of this happened while we still owned the house we lived in. The land payment was essentially an expensive car payment.... or at least that's how I looked at it. Everything was moving along.
Then baby #1 came along and the housing market crashed, in Florida especially. Guess what, we could not sell our house. We would have lost way too much money. We were stuck. This is why we had to wait 7 years! We waited out the market and continued to pay for our property every month until we could sell our house. We paid as much as we could towards it every month. A couple of things happened in that time. Baby #2 came along and we managed to pay off the land. Yay us!
Those 7 years were at times painful. We'd joke that we were going go visit our trees some days. That the house was just a pipe dream and all we were ever going to have were some trees and dirt. It seemed like forever.... kind of like this blog post. Go ahead, take a pee break, get a snack... I'll wait.
Better? Okay, good. Let's keep going.
So finally, last summer, we were able to sell our house. We did and moved into a rental close to our land. This seemed most logical to us. Close to the build and free of a mortgage. All set... but yes, we'd have to move twice.
Last pic of our old house as we left. *sniffle, sniffle*
The kids exploring mid clearing.
This day was an uneasy feeling. Really, I wanted to puke when we pulled up this day. Like there was no going back... it looked pretty awful. I had to keep telling myself "it's going to get worse before it gets better".
Timber truck on site taking the cut trees to be used elsewhere.
Another thing to note is architects charge per square foot. That's total square footage including any garage space and porch space. Not just the inside living area. (Not sure about basements, we don't have those in Florida) So if your plan is to have a 2000 sq ft house + 500 sq ft of porch + 500 sq ft of garage... you'll be paying the architect for 3000 sq ft of space. This cost, most likely, will also come out of pocket since you will need the completed plan to submit to the bank to apply for your building loan.
So did you make it to the end?! It's quite the process and definitely requires the "marathoner" mindset. In the past year I've flipped between really excited, to really nervous, to really overwhelmed, to excited again. At the moment I'm excited to be on this journey. I hope this post (and series) helps someone out there unsure about the process. I'll be your guinea pig... it's cool. Next post will be all about the plans!
This is our completely cleared lot. We left as many trees as we could in the back and on the sides.
And this is what it looks like as of this week.... much better.