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Seeking Housing Advice!

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Our goal for 2022 was to settle in Texas, decide which city we want to move to, and purchase a fixer-upper house. We learned so much remodeling our San Diego house and considering that we can do almost all the work ourselves, it seems like the best decision financially. We can build a lot of sweat equity and may be able to pay completely in cash.

We’ve started preemptively looking so we can identify a good deal. We sit at the computer a couple times a week and have fun finding houses that look absolutely terrible. While we are open to cosmetic disasters, we are not open to structural disasters. We found a house that was barely standing and determined it would need to be completely torn down. The property was beautiful and it made us think…are we open to building a new house?

We started looking at land and discovered Texas is loaded with 1-2 acre parcels (our dream size) in predesigned neighborhoods for custom homes. The problem? We’ve never built a home from scratch. Sure, my husband has expertise in commercial new construction but residential? It’s a whole new world. We would need to hire subcontractors for the slab, framing, drywall, and roofing but everything else could be done by my husband if we are patient…and we’re really patient. We would live on the property in our trailer during construction.

I’m missing something, I’m sure of it. But I don’t know what I don’t know. Have you built your own house? Share your wisdom! Extra points if you have remodeled AND built from scratch and can compare the experience.


12 Comments

  • Reply Christopher |

    Building homes right now is very challenging and you can expect delays in receiving materials, higher costs, and difficulty in finding skilled laborers. If you have time and aren’t in a rush , I say go for it, which will allow you to get exactly what you want.

  • Reply Gayla |

    Is the property in an HOA? Will the HOA allow you to live in the trailer on the property?

    Also, in our area, the best subcontractors are already spoken for by contractors. Subbing out to an individual would be unlikely, and if they did, they would drop the individual timelines in order to keep a contractor happy.

  • Reply Katie |

    Sounds like you’re suggesting that you act as your own GC. I do not recommend this at all. You have to start from scratch w finding all the subcontractors, vetting them and trying to time and schedule everything. They also know that your job is a one-off, rather than part of an established relationship where more jobs will be coming their way (or not, if they mess up). Hire a design/build firm if you want to go this route. You won’t save enough money the other way to make it worthwhile. Also, really look at prices. New construction where I live is very expensive right now.

  • Reply Kristina |

    Building from scratch is fun and stressing. You get the layout you want, materials etc. Except everything costs an arm and a leg right now. And Gayla is right, will they let you keep a trailer on the property to stay or no? When I was looking for land, that’s what I ran into, whether it was no trailers, had to build by such and such time, minimum square footage over 2k, or had to use a specific builder (all to which I said NO). I eventually found the property I own now (where the only thing is my house has be at least 1600 sq feet and no mobile homes), the problem I have is cost. It annoys the hell out of me. Very much so.

    Having done a bit of a remodel, I’d totally do that with a cheaper house with good bones if I could. The only problem, central Texas doesn’t do cheap at the moment, and I don’t feel like paying 350k to live in a trailer house, even if it’s on a couple of acres.

  • Reply Marzy-d |

    You might look into prefabricated homes. Costs are controlled and they can be very nice.

  • Reply Valencia Canales |

    Yeah good luck! I have lived in Texas my whole life and we are currently being priced out in Houston. I am actually moving to your previous state because my partner doesn’t want to move to Texas. Lol! I am doing the opposite. But Texas is getting very very expensive. Here in Houston homes are getting like 400k to 800k in working class neighborhoods. It is crazy and wages don’t go up.

  • Reply Shauna |

    I would say with the subcontractors you are looking to hire plus costs for housing plans, you won’t be saving much or any money in the long run. We’ve rehabbed a few homes now and assisted my parents building one from scratch. You can lose years to getting plans approved and getting a certificate of occupancy, and I would image those neighborhoods won’t look kindly on a trailer on the lot.

    However, in your area I’m not sure what the availability of decent homes to fix up is. If you are willing to wait 2 years+ and can find a willing HOA it is nice building from scratch, it’s just a much different experience.

  • Reply Honey Smith |

    Many subdivisions will require you to use their builder and allow you to choose from a limited number of floor plans and finishes.

    In addition to not offering what you want and not saving you any money, I’m not impressed with new construction. My 1947 home has concrete block and 4×6 framing. I swear modern homes are made of cardboard and a prayer.

  • Reply Shanna |

    We had several friends move to Texas and go the route it sounds like you are asking about. Basically it is a track home, but you get to choose from a design list and customize your interior finishes, etc. They had to choose from a builder list out of a few offered as well. So you really wouldn’t be acting as GC if it is the same set up. You may want to do some digging about how much leeway you have to really make it your own if that is important to you.

  • Reply Kate |

    One thing I just thought of – this is in MA, not TX, so may not apply. But friends had an idea to live in a trailer on the lot while their house in a similar subdivision was built and they weren’t allowed to. The builder still had ownership of the land while the house was going to be built so insurance, etc. it couldn’t happen.

So, what do you think ?