building new home from another city ?

Joe88XMarch 1, 2014

I plan to buy a wooded lot and build a new home in Oregon, but I currently live in Minnesota. Is it possible to do that without moving to Oregon until the home is built? What I mean is, can a new home be built through a contractor even though I live afar, not being in the city/state where the home is being built? I know it would be ideal to live where the home is being built, but i am in my 50s and retired and moving across states is going to be stressful. My original plan was to move MN->OR and get a hotel a week, find a home to rent for a 6-12 month lease while I build, but it would seem so much less stressful to make a few trips to Oregon to find and buy the lot/land, then if I could hire a contract to built my home there while I continue to live where I am until the home is done, so that I then move from here to my new home. Can it be done? What are the implications, what should I be wary of if doing this? I own my existing home, have plenty of cash for a down payment or to buy the land, I suppose the land once paid would work for a construction loan down payment? Any help or feedback on this greatly appreciated!!!

EDIT: I just checked, and the city in Oregon I would be building in/near has a Home Depot; there is also a Home Depot here in MN where I live. Not sure where contractors even buy their building materials, but couldn't I coordinate my choice of flooring, siding, roof shingles, faucets, lights, etc. by choosing from my local Home Depot store and then the contractor gets the chosen materials from the target city Home Depot, so we would be 'speaking the same language'?


This post was edited by Joe88X on Sat, Mar 1, 14 at 10:39

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Sophie Wheeler

With enough money to have a good architect on site to represent your interests on the build, and enough time to spec out the build in advance of the project breaking ground, then sure, it's a possibility. Without that, you'd do better to just buy an existing house. It'd be cheaper to go that route as well. I'd hope to goodness that you wouldn't buy your selections at Home Cheapo. Not for a custom build. Even a tract builder has a selection center that he uses, not a box store.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 10:51AM
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I know of two members who are doing this. Niteshadepromises and robynstamps. Check the latest How is your build going threads to check their progress and maybe ask them for advice if they don't chime in here.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 11:26AM
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i really wouldn't advise that unless you're not particularly into the details of your build, in which case i'm not sure why you would build custom in the first place. we get up to our build once or twice a week and with EVERY visit we catch things done wrong or not to our specifications. you may or may not be able to change all those things if you only get there at the end when it's all done.

also, most builders want you to make your selections at specific vendors. i would never trash talk home depot, but most builders will either use a design gallery or have direct relationships with flooring suppliers, plumbing fixture suppliers, etc. i don't think that's prohibitive to building across the country though. you could set up all your appointments for one of your visits, OR you could browse locally and choose brands that are available nation-wide.

i'd be more concerned about not having someone nearby to make sure everything is just as you want it. particularly in markets where building is booming, the trades and even builders are taking the path of least resistance instead of paying attention to the details you've requested.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 12:54PM
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This is a case where I think you need to hire an architect to oversee the project for you--not just rely on a GC. Esp, if you are going to be paying for it all yourself (and so you have no idea of the protections that would be minimal protections that a bank would require for a construction loan.) I worry you'd just be naive enough (no offense to your age or anything else) that you might find yourself with an untrustworthy GC or sub and you'd be stuck with the bill and an unfinished house...

Hiring an architect in OR would alleviate most of those problems.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 1:25PM
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How long does it take have a new home built, e.g. 1500 ft2? I ask because what if I was to live in the target city for a couple of months at a vacation rental during two critical months, visit the city for a week before construction, a week again near the end, etc.?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:00PM
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Sophie Wheeler

First things first. WHY do you want to build rather than buy existing?

Most people do so, well, because they have a bit of the control freak in them that wants what they want and are willing to go to the additional stress and expense to have their home be theirs. Frankly, you don't sound all that obsessive over the details to where a custom build would be the only considered option. If so, youd have pored over endless plans for ideas and want to be there every minute during construction to be sure that it's being done to spec. And you'd understand that it is sometimes a years long process until the right plan is created for the right piece of property. If you're not that fussy and into details, then why are you thinking of building instead of buying?

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:22PM
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My parents built in FL while living in NJ, but they had very good friends on the same street as their new house. Their friends checked the site every few days and discovered many issues that my parents were then able to correct by contacting the builder immediately.

I would not build new based on the way you have described your time and budget.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 2:31PM
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What about having a modular home built and and having it put up on site? I could easily visit the factory that builds the modular home to go over choices of kitchen cabinets, roofing, bath, flooring I would assume? And I could rent a place in the city my modular home was being delivered and finalized during the 1-2 months it was being finished off on the lot. That might be a compromise to building a stick home from scratch on site from afar.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 3:26PM
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You used the word "Stressful" twice, and you've not even scratched the surface of what it takes to build a home. You don't have a lot or even found a houseplan.

Seems to me that you'd be MUCH better off to just buy a ready-built home. And probably save lots of money doing that too.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 3:30PM
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So far our experience has not been bad doing just this. It's been slow however and I know part of that is due to the fact we aren't there pestering the GC daily.
We're building in Beaverton OR and the GC is fabulous. Did we luck out? Yes. We were pretty naive going in to this and I think if we had ended up with someone overseeing it like many gardenwebbers get on a regular basis, it could have been a disaster.

We were on site 2x during initial framing, once when electrical was going in (for nearly 2 weeks), once to check everything was done as we wanted before sheetrock. We plan to be there when sheetrock texture is going on and probably several times during the finish work.

I'd be quite careful embarking on this process, I'd recommend my GC to someone looking to do this (and you can email me on this site if you are interested in that info but there are a limited number of homesites left and he's booked a ways out), but I fully admit we were kinda nuts to do this the way we did!

Others advice here on finding a darn good architect might be sound. Our architect was lacking, maybe it was because we weren't there to work with him one on one. The good folks at gardenweb helped tweak the plan more than the architect did and the diligence of our contractor helped us get what we wanted on the fly during framing. Again I wouldn't expect that out of anyone else, I've read too many horror stories here on GW to know better now!

Feel free to contact me to ask more questions about the process so far if you like.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 4:48PM
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how involved do you want to be?

as in
buying a mobile home to live
in during construction onsite & selling
it after build is complete.

moving to the state where you are building
& renting until it is built. with site visits
at least bi-weekly

or more of let me make the decisions
from afar...& call me when it is done?

these are the questions I'd be asking
myself if I were in your situation.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 8:17PM
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That's what we are doing. We are building in Utah and live in Oklahoma. They start our build next week. We are moving out there in three months so I will be there for the last half of the build. I have been very involved and have made a few visits in the past few months to make some decisions. In fact, I just got back today after flying out for the weekend. I'll be honest⦠it is really hard to build a custom home and not be near any of the companies that my builder likes to work with. They have, however, been very easy to work with long distance so far. I will be flying out again in a few weeks when the rough framing and window choices need to be made. I want to be a part of mostly ALL of the decisions being made. That is the best part of a custom home. Good luck to you in your building process! I know it can be done long distance but it takes a little more work and planning.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 11:10PM
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Thank you everybody. The collective wisdom here seems to be to be on site during the construction phase, so I am kind of deciding to NOT build from afar. Best to go back to my original plan of renting a home 6-12 months while building.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2014 at 1:50PM
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