(Money Magazine) — With home ethics aerobatics and the mortgage bazaar still in crisis, you’d anticipate that Billie and Rodney Wylde would cool their affairs to body their North Carolina dream home – at atomic until the bazaar stabilizes.
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Not a chance. The thirtysomethings are set to cascade the foundation on a 2,100-square-foot farmhouse with a wraparound balustrade in East Bend, a few afar from breadth they currently live. Estimated architecture cost: $140,000.
The brace achievement to be able to move in as anon as November. “All the media allocution about is this crisis,” says Billie, an elementary academy advice counselor. “But it’s absolutely a actual acceptable time to build.”
She’s right. Behind the aphotic clouds blind over the apartment bazaar is a actual acute argent lining: The amount of architecture the home of your dreams is advancing down. “If one or two years ago it amount you $300,000 to body a custom home, today it should amount tens of bags of dollars less,” says Jim Haughey, arch economist at Reed Architecture Data.
Why? With new-home address dehydration up, the amount of some architecture abstracts has started to bore like a ailing laid foundation. Framing barge is now 18% cheaper than it was 18 months ago, while drywall is affairs for 40% less.
And because overextended developers best up too abundant acreage during the balloon – and are motivated to advertise – some lots are acceptable clay cheap. Acreage prices (often the distinct better amount for custom homes) in assertive areas accept collapsed added than 20% in the accomplished year or two.
“In agreement of award acreage you appetite at a acceptable price, this is the best bazaar that I accept apparent in my 30 years of home building,” says Carl Heldmann, artist and columnist of Be Your Own Abode Contractor.
Contractors, meanwhile, are scrambling for your business acknowledgment to a 34% abatement in new-home starts. “Because of the slowdown, we are accepting bids from subcontractors that are appropriate in band with our amount range,” says Billie, 34. “And it’s not like you accept to get on a subcontractor’s cat-and-mouse account for six months.”
Of course, architecture a home isn’t article you should access into lightly. It’s a huge charge – of both time and money. And aloof because prices are almost bargain now doesn’t beggarly you should blitz out to breach ground, abnormally aback a ailing advised dream can bound about-face into a nightmare.
On the added hand, if you’ve consistently capital a custom-designed home and are accommodating to do a lot of abundant lifting, today’s bazaar makes it easier and cheaper to apprehend your plans. Here’s your blueprint:
Put a amount tag on your dream
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When you’re affairs an absolute home, the action is simple: You amount out how abundant you can acquiesce to spend. Then you go out into the exchange to see how abundant home that account will buy. For your custom house, you ability appear at it differently. Maybe you’ve consistently capital a conservatory or a clandestine terrace off the adept suite. You may not accept a clue how big-ticket these appearance are or how abundant it costs to body a home to activate with.
So you’ll charge to get a asperous appraisal – the aboriginal footfall in addition out if you can acquiesce the affectionate of abode you’re fantasizing about. Start by talking with accepted contractors or home-building consultants in your area.
If you adjudge to go for a custom home, you’ll charge to account firms anyhow to abetment you. Ask them to appearance you projects they’ve formed on in the adjacency and to accord you altered amount options.
Also use accessible online accoutrement to help. At building-cost.net, you’ll acquisition a abundant breakdown of prices for custom homes based on dozens of factors including size, shape, features, abstracts and location.
Understand the financing
Before you absorb a dime on an artist or land, booty the abutting step: Determine how abundant you’ll be able to borrow by accepting pre-approved for a loan. It’s a ambiguous amount that can adviser your planning.
“Too abounding bodies do it backward,” says Jim Pair, carnality admiral of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers. “Then they acquisition they can’t acquiesce to body what they appetite breadth they want.”
You’ll additionally charge to apperceive how custom-home costs works. It’s a two-part process: Aboriginal you booty out a architecture accommodation that covers the costs of the acreage and building. These loans assignment like curve of credit: Money is doled out to you by your lender in alternate “draws” as you move through assorted phases of construction. These are variable-rate loans that about abatement aural about a point of the prime rate, now 6% (down from 8.25% a year ago). Then, aback you’re accessible to move into your accomplished home, you catechumen that accommodation into a abiding mortgage.
What if mortgage ante fasten by the time you’re done building? You can assure yourself by activity with a alleged construction-to-perm accommodation instead. These affairs acquiesce you to get accustomed for both loans at once. This way you can lock in an adorable amount on your abiding mortgage.
If ante fall, you could still assure yourself. Some lenders action a ancient “float down” accouterment on construction-to-perm loans. But you ability accept to pay a point or added in closing costs for this accord of mind.
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Scout out the land
Almost every community, alike in densely busy areas, has some abandoned acreage for sale. But you’re acceptable to get acceptable deals breadth there’s balance supply. This ability booty you into beneath developed areas.
While you can boutique for these lots through any realtor’s appointment – accessible accoutrements will appearance up on multiple-listing casework – ask to assignment with a abettor who has acquaintance with land. Such a abettor will advice you appraise a lot and adjudge how aggressively to bid on it.
You’ll accept two basal kinds of abandoned acreage to accept from: raw acreage and accomplished lots benumbed for residential architecture that already accept account hookups.
Raw acreage ability be cheaper, but it poses complications. For instance, the clay needs to be activated to affirm that it’s adamantine abundant to body on and that there’s not a big block of bedrock breadth the foundation needs to go. You’ll additionally charge to accomplish abiding the bindle has been benumbed for residential construction. These are things you should accept an abettor do for you – aloof accomplish abiding they accede to it in writing.
Pull calm the design
For as little as $1,000, you can buy an off-the-shelf plan accessible in books or on such sites as DreamHomeSource.com and eplans.com. While application a cookie-cutter cast to brand out your custom home may not complete appealing, these Web sites action hundreds or in some cases bags of altered architecture choices.
Want a two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath home amid 2,000 and 3,000 aboveboard anxiety with a two-car garage? A contempo chase on eplans.com elicited 1,492 altered plans. You can add to or abuse these off-the-shelf affairs – on DreamHomeSource.com, for example, the amount of abacus a broiler to your active allowance architecture starts at $90 and redoing a basal kitchen architecture plan starts at $150.
For some, this still isn’t enough. Booty Jan and Myleen Sjodin, Texans who are architecture a 2,419-square-foot home 25 afar west of Austin. Jan, 35, and Myleen, 37, started with off-the-shelf plans. But afterwards acumen their tastes were too specific – the brace appetite to body an environmentally-friendly abode – they assassin addition to architecture their “green” home.
It isn’t cheap: The Sjodins accept so far paid $20,000 in fees (architectural costs alter and can eat up about 10% or added of expenses). But “our artist has been abundant at allowance us amount out how to body cheaper after compromising quality,” Myleen says.
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For example, he appropriate alive some window placements, which will lower air-conditioning bills during hot Texas summers. He additionally recommended replacing a absolute barn with a covered carport.
Whatever you choose, remember: You’re not architecture aloof for your tastes; you’ll apparently advertise at some point in the future. So accumulate resale in mind. For instance, while abacus a home amphitheater ability access the amount of your abode – who doesn’t like a acceptable movie? – an calm basketball cloister ability not accept abundant appeal.
Assemble your team
The best important affiliate of your architecture aggregation is your accepted contractor, who oversees the activity and deals with the assured acceleration bumps that can affray fretfulness and advance to amount overruns (don’t be afraid if your account goes over by 10% – that’s typical). Ask bounded lenders for bodies they’ve formed with or analysis with the National Association of Home Builders (nahb.org) for leads.
Even if you accept to be your own GC, seek able guidance. Really. A consulting architect can serve a advantageous function: allowance you acquisition subcontractors. Amid framing carpenters, accouterments contractors, electricians, roofers, drywall installers and painters, you’ll charge all the abetment you can get.
Should you be your own accepted contractor?
You can abate your architecture costs by up to 25% if you act as your own accepted architect and booty albatross for befitting the activity on agenda – and on budget. But not anybody is cut out to be a GC. Consider these factors afore you put on the adamantine hat:
It’s a time-suck. You’ll charge to account as abundant as 15 to 20 hours a anniversary in the planning date to account assignment crews, amount raw abstracts and accomplish abiding all the appropriate permits are in place. Already architecture starts, plan to assignment at atomic an hour or two a day – advantageous bills, scheduling assignment and occasionally visiting the armpit – a boxy accomplishment to cull off for anyone who already has a full-time job.
It takes some know-how. Maybe you apperceive the aberration amid a bender valve and a alike ball. Well, aloof because you can fix a toilet doesn’t beggarly you’re necessarily able to be an able GC. True, activity administration is the better allotment of the job. But accepting some hands-on acquaintance with home architecture or advance can advice you vet and accommodate with able subcontractors.
It isn’t a abandoned pursuit. Lenders generally crave newbie owner-builders to appoint a accepted application adviser to watch your back. Alike if you’re not affected to appoint one, it’s a acceptable idea. Consultants like those that can be assassin through BuildMax or UBuildIt can advise you how to administer for permits, adjustment the appropriate abstracts and alike appoint assignment crews.
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First Published: March 12, 2008: 9:29 AM EDT
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