what comes first?

oaktree_35April 28, 2012

We closed on a property a few weeks ago and have a year to get plans and hire a builder. I am terrified and suddenly have no idea where to begin! Should we start with an architect, finalize plans, and then get bids from general contractors? Or do we start with finding a builder? We have a general idea of what we want for a floorplan.

A little about the project... it is an 1150 sq foot bungalow built in 1940 that is more or less condemned. The foundation is solid and can support 2 stories, and some of the exterior walls can be saved, so we plan to keep the footprint but completely change the floorplan. We'd like to add a 2nd story and a garage, and get the house to about 2500 sq feet. Our budget is $250k, and we are located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I've been reading other posts and realize this is a very tiny budget... I want an open floorplan, a big bright kitchen with a farmhouse sink and wood countertops, hardwood floors throughout, wood windows, 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. Can I do all of that with my little budget? I am having nightmares of being laughed out of architects' offices! Thanks for any advice.

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That will be tough but I think you can do it, but you will have to find a creative architect and a flexible builder.

You may have to source a lot of the items yourself and talk the builder into using your choices instead of his normal stuff. You may have trouble getting wood windows into the mix, and if you have to have masonry exterior that will be tough also.

Let everyone you are working with know what you are trying to achieve.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 9:07PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Start with city hall and find out what type of permits your project will need and what changes for remodel vs. new construction. In most cases, keeping any part of the old on a teardown will only hamper you in finding creative solutions for the new space. Talk to some builders about the general cost per square foot that their projects have come in at. You're going to be shocked at the prices. 250K won't be nearly enough for the project unless you choose a very simple box of a plan and go with builder grade finishes. Or, plan to create something that can have an addition at a later time so that you are doing the project in stages.

Unless there is really something special about this location or you have unusual requirements for your build, your money will go further to buy something existing that isn't a teardown.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:10AM
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