Should I Build?

          Building your own custom home on raw land requires a person who pushes life’s envelope, but the rewards for this special effort are noteworthy.  Under the right conditions and with proper research, you can have a custom, brand new home on property that calls your name.   

          Buying land to build a home is as close as you get to starting with a blank slate – a canvass to create your living environment.  The possibilities are endless, and the result is your masterpiece, not a remake from the past, nor the product of mass production.  It is not cookie cutter.  It is a unique reflection inward of your desire and outward of who you are.  

          Sounds exciting, right?  Yes, but . . . as with all things worthwhile, there is a cost.  The good news is that money is not the biggest cost.  The most substantial bite in the rear end is going to be time and mental anguish.  Maybe “anguish” is a bit harsh, so we will go with the softer “angst”. 

          It is true.  It is not easy.  Neither is completing the New York City Marathon, reaching the VP level at your company or raising smart, healthy kids.  Some people need to extend the limits of what is possible.  Others are okay rolling along.

          Don’t get me wrong.  Creating a living environment from the dirt up is not as hard as most of your other accomplishments in life.  It requires about as much time and energy as two back-to-back graduate courses or being the head coach of a fall and spring competitive soccer team.  It is substantial, but just a blip in a lifetime.

          Our living space begins as we arrive close to our home and surrounds us as we eat, spend time with family and sleep.  Accordingly, it is not just the inside four corners, though that is important.   It is what encompasses as far as the eye can see, outside the windows and down the street.

          We hinted about money above.  Doing your own legwork on buying land and building a home can be cheaper than buying the same product from a house builder.  They need to pay employees and sales commissions and make a profit for the bosses.  You can be your own boss, and pay yourself with a better house, a larger piece of land or by smaller mortgage.

          In the late 1990’s and early to mid-2000’s, the rule of thumb for developers was 50 percent to build, 25 percent for the land and 25 percent for the developer.  Those percentages may not exactly hold true today, but you can save yourself some serious paper – if you are the right kind of person.

          The goal should be a brand new, high quality, semi-custom house on a site of your choosing for about the same price as a 25-year-old house somewhere else.  Remember, roofs, heaters and windows all start to fail long before the 30-year mark.