Building in stages- Any/All Advice Welcome!

FrenchtsJanuary 27, 2014

Hello all,

My wife and I have approximately 7 acres that were passed down through family. Through the last few years we have gone through the process of planning. Since we are younger in age, we decided we will build our home in stages, allowing for expansion as our income allows and family expands.

A few relatives have built an "earth home", essentially the lower level with a walkout first (with kitchen etc..). They lived in it for 5-7 years until they decided to build up. We love this idea as it allows us to keep costs down, and gives us the possibility to really perfect our main level floor plan and not sacrifice any design ideas based on our budget at the moment.

We have however come to a crossroads where we have to make a decision to bring it closer to financial feasibility. Our architect has our current lower level plan at 2400 sq ft. We are doing the finishing work all ourselves and subbing our some work ourselves so this has cut down the costs but we are still about 10-15000 off budget, and 2400 is simply too large even for a live-in lower level.

With this we have two options, and with all the expertise and experience here, I hope you don't mind if I pose these options to you to get your thoughts.

1. Cut down the lower level to perhaps 1800-2000 sq ft.
This was my initial idea but I keep getting mixed responses about whether cutting this square footage will actually save significant costs since some of is "empty" square footage.

2. Build up in two smaller levels (cut in half with 1200 basement and 1200 first floor) and expand out the main level through slab foundation later. This would of course cut costs but removes the time to save and plan/perfect our main level floor plan.

Thank you all for your thoughts and if you need further info to get a better understanding feel free to ask. We appreciate you taking the time to share your insight.

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mrspete

The biggest questions are, Are you able to pay cash for what you want to build now, and Will it be a complete house? Banks are awfully conservative with their funds and won't lend if, say, you're looking at building a one-bedroom house -- they'll look at it as a house that'd be difficult for them to resell if you should fail to pay. If you're building a berm house or an earth house, the bank may not be willing to fund that either.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 6:18PM
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Frenchts

It would be a complete house with full kitchen, two bedrooms, one bath, etc. The only difference would be it would be dug into a hillside and the exterior would be foundation walls except of the side of the walkout. And there would be a subfloor already above if/when we build above.

I agree with the concerns with the bank, and we are even speaking to an appraiser at the moment to get some consultation about this concern. The builder explained it would not be an issue as long as we clearly present it as a complete home.

As I said, that is why we have also been looking into costs/feasibility of simply building both levels smaller for now. On the negative, it reduces our design flexibility in the future but perhaps increasing our value and chances of loan approval.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 6:39PM
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