Does anyone have experience with building a custom home?


By Kevin   Follow   Sun, 18 Nov 2012, 12:46am   11,151 views   171 comments
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I've decided that since I have to live out in the 'burbs anyway, I might as well live in the perfect house. 9 out of 10 builders around here just slap together the same old generic qasi-craftsman style homes with awful layouts and pointless features like tiny unusable porches and formal living rooms.

We have a crap ton of money and I'm overpaid.

We're looking to buy a few acres of land and then spend ~$800k to build the thing (architecture, land prep, construction, etc.)

Does anyone have experience with having a custom home built (particularly modern design; no shingles or crown molding here)? Was it worth it compared to what you could have bought for the same amount of money? How was the financing?

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  1. unstoppable


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    132   7:08am Thu 22 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    I'm running conduit from the utility room to the attac of my place in preparation for the moment at which solar makes sense in Oregon. I'm excited about some of the thin film products that are designed to install on raised seamed metal roofing.

    For now it makes more sense to spend my money on insulation and a really effient hydronic radiant heating system.

    I'm intrigued by grey water reuse, I'm set up to divert my kitchen drains and washing machine for reuse, but that won't happen until I figure out the landscaping which is way down the road.

    In general I'm punting allot in the whole process. Running an extra circuit here and there, installing an additional tee or valve for future use, putting up a ceramic bare bulb fixture until I can figure out what overpriced minimalist eurotrash thing looks best.

  2. TechGromit


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    133   8:10am Thu 22 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Once again you have an opportunity to substantiate your claim of estimating, bidding and contracting work.

    Go ahead.

    Well obviously if you using better building material, such as good marble tile instead of linoleum and real plywood instead of pressed wood are going to push the cost of construction higher per sq. ft. It's more than labor that pushes construction costs up.

    Since you obviously add nothing positive to this thread, I consider your input worthless and worthy of the 3rd person I ignore on this site.

  3. David Losh


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    134   8:37am Thu 22 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Would you like to revist those posts my realtor friend?

    Yeah, do something, do anything, make some small contribution in any post thread anywhere.

  4. David Losh


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    135   3:03pm Thu 22 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    So why did you delete your posts?

    The posts are there for everyone to see, obviously, because you were able to cut, and paste.

  5. David Losh


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    136   3:07pm Thu 22 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    You went out on a limb and made farfetched statements like you realtors always do and you got caught.

    Let me correct this for you, because I am a Real Estate agent. I am not a Realtor. I don't pay the dues, and have had several run ins with the Board of Realtors.

    My main concerns are erosion, water quality, wetlands, and building code. There should be much more transparency in the lobby efforts of these groups.

  6. David Losh


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    137   3:09pm Thu 22 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    YOU misrepresented the truth to the public once again.

    Prove my statement is inaccurate. I'm very comfortable with the assertion.

    You're the only one here having difficulting substantiating claims.

  7. David Losh


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    138   7:46am Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    You stated you were in the construction biz

    That has been your claim all along.

  8. David Losh


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    139   7:49am Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    No. You deleted the posts. You got caught lying and pretending.

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Sure you are. You're FOS just like them.

    You found a produced a quote, I guess from your secret files where you keep your data that you refuse to share.

    BTW you should learn the difference between Real Estate agent, and Realtor if you want to comment on the subject.

  9. David Losh


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    140   7:50am Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

  10. David Losh


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    141   1:12pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    This is your bid estimate?

    I know this is foriegn for you, it's data.

    You made claims about my assertions, without data to support your claims, so I thought I'd provide you with some.

    You keep forgetting you are the big time contractor who has never provided any data about your ability to build for less than $120 per square foot.

  11. Kevin


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    142   1:31pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    You should probably stop responding to him. Just ignore him.

    The fact of the matter is that every reputable builder I've contacted has given me a range of $150-250 to build the house that I want. No, I haven't been soliciting formal bids yet, because I still don't have a design.

    If Darrel is able to build the same quality home for "a fraction" of the $150, he should really set up shop in Seattle because I can just about guarantee that he'd have a never ending stream of clients.

    More likely than not, he's the kind of person who would claim some low number and then "forget" to include things like labor costs, floor coverings, windows, or a kitchen.

  12. David Losh


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    143   1:40pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    We have plenty of business.... in WA state too.

    Is we the multiple personalities you troll with here on Patrick.net?

  13. David Losh


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    144   1:41pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    They're your "assertions" that YOU deleted.

    You're so nutty!

  14. David Losh


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    145   1:45pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    So why did you delete your posts?

    So, you claimed I deleted my post, but you were able to find it, and repost it. I don't think I can do any better with that.

    You also posted the part about the price per square foot sales price of the era we purchased our home. You fixated on that, for some reason of your own, then tried to tie it to construction costs.

    It's a troll trick to direct the discussion.

  15. David Losh


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    146   1:48pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    Just ignore him.

    You can not ignore the troll.

    He's cornered, battered, bruised, and beaten.

    He has not been able to produce anything.

    Now you can for sure ignore him. You beat the stuffing out of him, or her.

  16. David Losh


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    147   1:50pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    So why did you delete your posts? You went out on a limb and made farfetched statements like you realtors always do and you got caught.
    YOU misrepresented the truth to the public once again.

    You're so nutty, is this from the secret Darrel in Phoenix bat cave?

    You already posted it.

  17. nw888


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    148   1:56pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    YDavid Losh says

    Kevin says

    Just ignore him.

    You can not ignore the troll.

    He's cornered, battered, bruised, and beaten.

    He has not been able to produce anything.

    Now you can for sure ignore him. You beat the stuffing out of him, or her.

    You guys won't win with him. He's one of a bunch of losers on here that have made this site a pain to even deal with anymore. Sad people that hate their lives and themselves, and they lash out in a public and anonymous forum because it makes them feel good to be an ass.

    Successful contractor? That trolls on the internet being an asshole to everyone he talks to? Haha, what a dope.

    Don't hate us because you hate yourself Darrell. Loser.

  18. David Losh


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    149   2:59pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Don't be a coward and hide behind another username.

    That's your game.

    Turning a comment around is another troll trick.

  19. David Losh


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    150   3:11pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Then post the link that you're denying you deleted.

    It's in my comment section dated November 5th, along with all the other Darrel, Stop Lying, and War comments.

    Now there was a time when Patrick kick me off of this site for going after a Real Estate agent that was making obsurd claims, but he let me back in.

    @Patrick BTW I did get your book for being a Premium Member. I'm thinking it may be more valuable if I don't open it, so I may have to buy a copy online.

  20. Bap33


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    151   3:11pm Fri 23 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    the way I did it, when I did it, was to give a solid bid on the stuff that was locked in stone (foundation, well, septic, dry utilities, site prep, flat work, rough framing, roof, mechanical, rough plumbing, rough electrical, gutters, windows, exterior siding, doors, exterior prime and paint, backing where needed, insulation, sheet rock, interior prime and paint) Right about there is the last of the solid stuff on a true custom build.

    Most of the rest of the job has so many variables that most builders try to use "allowances". That pretty much sucks. After 3 or 4 times of having to explain why the appliances, or cabinets, or fixtures, or tile, that were "allowed" for cost $2,000 less than the ones the customer picked, I changed my system and it worked better for everyone. The solid bid was for the solid parts. The finish was bid as T&M. That removed all mark-up for materials, and allowed the customer to just go buy whatever they wanted. It removed me from having to warranty the product, only the workmanship. It also made it easier than going through a change order each and every time the design resulted in a conflict.

    Just my $0.02

    And, to be honest, if I were you Kevin, I would not use a general contractor, I would do the project as an owner/builder and have the subs work directly for me(you).

    I bet Kevin could do it.

  21. Kevin


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    152   1:01am Sat 24 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Bap33 says

    That removed all mark-up for materials, and allowed the customer to just go buy whatever they wanted.

    Did the customer actually have to go to the store and buy it though? That seems like it'd be a real problem for most people who don't know how much of what to get.

    Bap33 says

    It removed me from having to warranty the product, only the workmanship.

    That one also seems tricky. What if the manufacturer claims that the problem is how something was installed, but the builder claims it's the product?

    Bap33 says

    And, to be honest, if I were you Kevin, I would not use a general contractor, I would do the project as an owner/builder and have the subs work directly for me(you).

    Banks won't give loans for owner/builder anymore; only commercial lending, which is a whole other ball of wax.

    Aside from that, I already have a full-time job. Being the GC would be a job in itself.

  22. David Losh


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    153   8:10am Sat 24 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrel, you're done.

  23. TechGromit


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    154   6:10pm Sat 24 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Kevin says

    Did the customer actually have to go to the store and buy it though? That seems like it'd be a real problem for most people who don't know how much of what to get.

    A good set of blueprints will have a supply list to what materials you need to buy.

    Kevin says

    Aside from that, I already have a full-time job. Being the GC would be a job in itself.

    Your right about that, but it can be done, even with a full time job, but it will take you a little longer than normal to complete Be prepared to give up every weekend and use every vacation day until your completed.

    Kevin says

    Banks won't give loans for owner/builder anymore; only commercial lending, which is a whole other ball of wax.

    I find that difficult to believe, but you do have to have some money to start with. At least enough to purchase the loan without borrowing money and cover 20% of the construction costs. You'll also need to have the blueprints and perhaps building permits approved before you apply for a construction loan.

  24. Kevin


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    155   9:43pm Sat 24 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    The three banks around here that do construction loans only lend to owner builders through commercial lending. I've asked. 10 year loans or 30% down.

    Darrel, its clear you've never actually built or owned a home. Go away.

  25. Kevin


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    156   11:16pm Sat 24 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    You'll have to elaborate. What have I misrepresented?

    So far you've made claims that you can build a house for $60/sf. You've also claimed that you can build homes for $20,000, which would either be 350/sf or much less than $60/sf. You've also claimed that people pay you $400/sf, even though there's basically nowhere that construction costs that much. You've claimed that there are 48 states, which is bizarre. You claim that house sales are down in places where they are up, that you can rent for half the cost of buying, and that rents are in a steep decline.

    The only conclusions that I can draw are that you are one of:

    - Some dumb kid trolling for fun.
    - Some truly clueless person who thinks whatever piddly bullshit he's worked on is the same as what goes on everywhere else.
    - A complete moron

  26. upisdown


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    157   7:12am Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    HeadSet says

    My whole post was "for amusement." Geeze.
    However, not everything on that list is "marketing" or "useless." I made most of that list from what I remember seeing in actual homes I have visited.

    Solar is very ineffiecent, and that doesn't include the efficiency losses to convert from DC to Ac. And the cost of that efficiency is ridiulous too, even after the drop in solar PV prices the last few years. A simple change is usage patterns and targeted spending to buy better efficiency in high consumption appliances pays off better. And, most electricity rates are relatively stable throughout the year(nuclear), as opposed to nat gas prices that flucuate, although those prices are now on the decline too. Heating and cooling space and water is expensive and eats up a lot of resources and disposable income. Then there's the loading issues(d+l+s?) that run up costs for solar PV for the pathetic rate of return. There are better and more effective solutions that are cheaper.

    A green roof? Again, loading issues and design versus gain makes that a pipedream, compared to a cool roof(to include white and reflective roofing material).

    I always like the "sustainable" label that environmentalists use, because it usually depends upon fossil fuels to transport those "sustainable" materials to the end point of use.

  27. Bap33


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    158   9:45am Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Kevin,
    The customer would pay for the materials/products directly - as they choose them. Design, style, model, color, these things are not normally set when the plans go out for bid. For example, when the design is getting done you have no idea what style of cabinet faces and hardware you want in the poweder room. You know you want a cabenit, but the actual detail of the thing will not be in you mind (just example). So, some buildrs will give an "allowance" for a commonly available finish item. When you pick an item that is not that item, then there is either a credit or a charge, and if any extra plumbing or electrical or backing or rough framing changes are part of accomidating the new piece (yep, almost every time) - then the builder hits you with a "change order" that will have the cost of the item you picked plus the labor hours (padded), plus mark up (allowed becasue as the others said a GC must stand behind the parts he supplies). Now, if you order and buy and bring in (get delivered) the finish material/product that you want, the warranty of the product is between you and the manufaturer - but, doing it the way I suggest removes the bent-over-a-barrel shit that builder pull when a project hits the 80% done mark and the final draw is about to happen, and a permit final is "waiting for you to make these final choices".

    But, it can be done where the details are exact. It is possible if you and the designer and draftsman are extreemly detailed people and can get manufacturer part numbers for each item you want used in your home. Like, for example, electric finish items. They have a HUGE price swing from worst to first. Huge. So, when you spec out an extreem detail of what you want, then you had better see the empty boxes that match what you speced. Just go through Lowes and see the swing in price on monkeyfaces from crap to top-grade. A tract home uses the $5 for 10 version of an item, but in my home that I remodeled I used the $5 a piece item (prices for example, not exact, so nobody freak out).

    This will/may really piss off some subs that have working relationships with Company X, or alot of extra stock of Item XZ, that they would hope to use on your home.

    You can operate as an owner builder, I am pretty sure, but you may have to get a loan with enough "contigencey" added to the top of the build cost (lets say 20%) inorder for the lender to be sure they could take the funds that are set aside and complete the project should something happen to you before final inspection. This was told to me by a lender when I was getting a loan to build. ( I was at this step when I found and bought the home I am in).

    I will put it this way, you can do it, it only takes time and money. The more of one you have, the less of the other you need.

    What area is the project in?

  28. Bap33


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    159   9:59am Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    p.s.,
    RE: getting a bid from Darrel. I think that until your plans have a red stamp from the building department and local fire marshal, any bids you get should be viewed as just estimates. When you hand out copies of the final-stamped set of plans, the bids are more rock solid.

    The details I mention, like being super exact, help hold the draftsman's feet to the fire to catch any conflicts between spec and design.

    The bank will look at and listen to estimates, but when you walk in with a stamped set of plans and bids, they react different. I spent about $7K just on plans and copies. The design was my own, I only paid to produce correct blueprints and details. If I remeber correctly, just the energy calc detail cert from Certifiec Enviro Super Engineer was almost $1,000, thanks to EPA rat bastards. (maybe it aint their fault, but I enjoy blaming them)

  29. upisdown


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    160   10:05am Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Bap33 says

    When you hand out copies of the final-stamped set of plans, the bids are more rock solid.

    What do you expect them to bid on, if not a detailed and precise structure, to include the materials to be used to build it?

    LOL

  30. Bap33


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    161   10:21am Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    if you missed it, in my original post, I said the finish materials/ products. Not talking about studs and hold downs.

    If you see a bid set that shows the exact part number of kitchen faucet, that is a rare bid set.

    at any rate, I was talikng about detailed finished product and material stuff, not just normal stuff. lol

  31. Kevin


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    162   11:39am Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Bap33 says

    if you missed it, in my original post, I said the finish materials/ products. Not talking about studs and hold downs.

    If you see a bid set that shows the exact part number of kitchen faucet, that is a rare bid set.

    at any rate, I was talikng about detailed finished product and material stuff, not just normal stuff. lol

    Oh sure. But even flooring and sinks have warranties. It seems dicey. I'd rather pay a GC for peace of mind.

  32. Bap33


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    163   2:46pm Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Darrell In Phoenix says

    Bap.... it's a goddamn house not a skyscraper.

    I just had a flashback to my apprentice days!!! lol

  33. Bap33


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    164   2:49pm Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Kevin says

    Oh sure. But even flooring and sinks have warranties. It seems dicey. I'd rather pay a GC for peace of mind.

    You are correct. That peace of mind will cost you 20% of the total cost of the build. It's time vs money, no doubt.

    Where is the project?

  34. Kevin


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    165   5:16pm Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Seattle area (east side).

    I'd love to save GC costs but I have 4 kids and a full time job. There is no way.

  35. David Losh


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    166   6:18pm Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Bap33 says

    That peace of mind will cost you 20%

    The concept of design / build can save you some of the General Contracting costs by having the sub contractors directed by the people who put the project together.

    You're never going to get out of all of the costs so you might as well bite the bullet and let others direct the installations.

    After all that is all the manufacturer will warrant, that the installation is done to spec.

    It's kind of a slippery slope, but here in Seattle some of the builders, or design groups, are pretty flexible.

    My contractor will be doing some work for me in the slow month of December at $45 per hour. Back a few years he would have been a good guy rate of $60 and retail at $120 per hour.

    It's a good time to build, and take advantage of General Contractors.

  36. David Losh


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    167   6:55pm Sun 25 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Darrel!

    In God we trust, all others bring data.

    You never have any data.

  37. Bap33


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    168   6:28pm Mon 26 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    I have no idea what Wash. GC rules and laws are. I have studies the Cal GC rules and laws, but that was 25 years ago.

    Step 1: Find a lot and get the APN plot map (gives prop line demensions)
    Step 2: Get the design you want, and get some detailed plans of that house fitting on your lot.

    IMHO, hip roofs are the best way to go. Limited cuts in the roof reduce possible leaks. It rains alot there so put shallow gutters and lots of downspouts. Doormer windows are friggin stupid. 8 foot high walls inside is perfect, more just means higher energy costs and cob webs. Solid doors are normally just exterior, but think about them inside too for their sound killing abilities. Whole house fans work well. Gas stoves make better tortillias. Hot water circ units are a good idea if it's 50 feet from tank to shower head, but instant hot units are better. Never use flat paint on anything. Raised foundations are better, use TJI's, 1-1/8 sub ply, Liquid Nail, ringshanked nails, and have a fat dude nail it off. Double front doors are nice for moving. Speaking of that, leave the inside doors off the hinges until you get moved in. Put the wall protector spring things in the very instant you set the doors. Put access panels in the area where the shower mixing valve is, or at least try to put the shower valve opposite a closet .... they will leak and need fixing. May be better to go old-school two handle and avoid the crappy non-scalding stuff they sell now. I'm just rambling now ... lol

    I have lots of flat work input, when you ask.

  38. Kevin


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    169   12:18am Tue 27 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    Bap, I know we've disagreed on a lot of stuff in the past, but I appreciate your experience.

    We're thinking about scaling this project down a bit after actually measuring some of the rooms in our existing house. I'm thinking 2700 is the sweet spot for us now. My wife actually wants to go smaller so that there's less to clean, but I don't want to have to give up my exercise room or TV room :)

  39. Bap33


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    170   9:02am Tue 27 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)  

    Kevin,
    That's what's cool about this site. I have asked for opinions about real-life stuff and that same folks that bust my chops put out good info. It's all good here on PatNet.

  40. ordertaker


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    171   5:34am Thu 29 Nov 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike  

    My brother in-law is a custom builder in Seattle. Greywolf Construction 360-620-2484. He has remained very steady throughout the recession, apparently doing very good work. His name is Todd. It can't hurt to get a bid and look at some of his other jobs.

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