I am going to take you through the process of how we built our first house and the things we learned in the process. As this has been a fairly big life experience for me, this post will be completed over about 4 parts. I hope you enjoy it.
Buying a house
The decision to buy a house is not something that should be entered into lightly. There are lots of things to consider, and for many people, it is the single biggest financial commitment of their lives.
In my early twenties I decided that it was time to spread my wings and leave the relative safety of my parents nest. I had a couple of options – Rent a place, share a place or go for the big step and buy a place. I decided that I didn’t want to be paying off someone else’s mortgage by renting/sharing, so that made the decision to buy a house the only option left on the table.
At this time in my life, my wife and I were only dating and weren’t living together, so I had to assume that any house I bought would have to be paid off by myself without help. This meant that I didn’t want to take on too much of a debt burden, especially considering that I was only on an average wage at work.
I started my property journey by perusing real estate websites and weekend papers, I was looking for something in the $300,000 range, as this is what I had calculated would be an acceptable amount that I would be able to afford.
I quickly found a handful of places that looked ok, so I contacted a number of the real estate agents to find property viewing times. It’s one thing to see photos of a place, but I wanted to get first hand experience and actually see the properties in person
What I found was that not only did the real estate agents not give me the time of day due to my young age, but that the houses which looked so nice on the internet, were actually fairly run down and would need quite a bit of further maintenance work – All of which would cost money on top of the 300K I was willing to spend.
After a few weekends of disappointment and not finding that diamond in the rough, I decided I would change tack. My mum had suggested that I look into buying a unit or a town house/duplex as I didn’t need anything large seeing as it was just me living there. Plus I probably wasn’t going to need any extra bedrooms any time soon.
To my surprise, most of the units and town houses in my price range were quite nice and many of them were brand new. I thought I was close to finally finding a place to move into, when I remembered just how annoying it is to share a wall with your neighbours.
I had gone to inspect one of the units that had taken my fancy, when during my visit, the people on the other side of the wall decided to switch on their TV. About the only thing I remember being impressed about was the clarity of the TV through the wall, it was so clear I could determine the play by play action of the football they were watching. Almost immediately, I was turned off the idea of town houses and units and was back at square one.
Having limited success with pre-built houses in my price range, and not liking the idea of sharing a wall with a noisy neighbour, I decided that maybe this moving out stuff wasn’t for me and so I parked the idea.
Why did I choose to build?
It was about 2 weeks after I had given up looking to move out, that I was driving to my girlfriend’s house and saw an advertisement for blocks of land. The $130,000 advertised on the sign seemed cheap and so I made a mental note to check it out within the next couple of days.
Within hours, I was in front of the loans officer at my bank signing up for a loan to buy a block of land.
Let me be 100% clear – This was dumb!
- I did no research
- I did no comparisons
- I did no negotiating
While everything ended up working out for the best and I am happy with my decision, it was more due to luck than any forward planning on my part. I had no idea about building a house or any of the costs involved.
So back to the question – Why did we decide to build? Because I now had a block of land in my name and I wanted to move out from my parent’s house.
Despite my impulsive land purchase, there are plenty of reasons why building your own house can be a better option than buying an established home:
- You get to select your own floor plan
- You can choose all the furnishings (Doors, windows, handles, light fittings, flooring, roofing)
- Less maintenance for the first couple of years of home ownership
- Normally costs about 10-20K less than an established premise (at least in Australia)
- Have to wait between 4 and 6 months to move in
- Building can be delayed due to any number of things (weather, materials Ect)
- You are paying for something you can’t live in straight away
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