possible? what challenges will we face?

maggiepie11August 22, 2012

hi everyone! i used to hang on here ALL the time when we were building our first home in new england which was about 5 years ago. We're considering a relocation to the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area and possibly building again so this is the first place I turned.

Ideally what we'd like to do is buy a 1 acre piece of land in a dallas suburb and build a 3500-4000 sf house on it. we also would want to build a small detached in-law home in the backyard somewhere as my parents would be retiring and re-locating with us. (we currently live next door to each other so that's not a concern) They only want 800-900 square feet (2 bed, 1 bath). We could call it a guest house, in-law apartment, or whatever.

Has anyone got any experience with that? Any suggestions on whether we should do it all in one swoop with the same builder on one contract v. building the main house traditionally and going modular for the in-law home? We'd like to pay off the guest house fast so that we're not lumping it all into one larger mortgage. Any reason not to do that? the key is that we want a detached space for them. yes, it'd be on the same property, but there's a lot to be said for making the decision to put shoes on to come over v. just opening the door to guest quarters under the same room. :)

We haven't even put our current homes on the market and haven't picked a town or shopped for land yet. I'm trying to get a list of considerations from the experts who are currently or have recently gone through something similar.

Thanks in advance for any advice! I'm sure I'll be frequenting this board again now. :)

PS: any thoughts on residential construction cost/sf in the dallas area would be helpful too (separate from land cost)

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The first consideration is zoning. You need to look into what is allowed in the locations that you are interested in building. Most places do not allow multiple dwellings on a single lot in order to keep the rental possibility at bay. Those that do allow this tightly control the size/amenities that such a dwelling can have. Planning a suite with separate exterior entrance doesn't usually run into as many barriers. And, it's a LOT cheaper to construct than a complete separate residence.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Don't really have an answer for you because oftentimes the particular neighborhood you choose may have a homeowners association with rules that dictate what you can and cannot build. However, I thought that the link below might give you some helpful statistics when you're trying to pick a Dallas/Ft Worth suburb to move to.

Here is a link that might be useful: DFW - Best suburbs to live in (2011)

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 6:14PM
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I agree with LWO...also a 1 acre lot isn't a very large piece of real estate to put a 3,500-4,000sq ft home and a separate building on. It would be pretty cramped imho.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 6:31PM
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khinmn92, lot size is relative! I also thought that 1 acre wasn't a large piece of real estate, until I had to move from the northeast to California. We have plenty of 4K sq.ft. homes with guest houses on 1/2 acre ... with the price of water here, you don't want to be watering an acre of lawn!

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 1:22AM
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We live in a very restictive town and a very restrictive HOA just had a build that did this on about 3/4 acre. Same size house but the guest house was a garage with a living area above it. Something to consider if zoning or HOAs are a problem. You could do an elevator if necessary.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 5:59AM
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I too was thinking lot size is so relative! They are building 18 2500sq ft houses on 3.5 acres behind me and that doesn't even require special zoning... So, keep in mind what will be "normal" in your new area whether or not that will be cramped.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2012 at 11:21AM
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thanks for all the responses! just to follow up, i spoke to a couple realtors who specialize in community lot sales. they both said that most HOAs won't have a problem with a detached in-law home, but that they'll regulate the size. for example, they'll want the second building to be no more than 25% of the square footage of the main building, so that seems reasonable to me. feeling really encouraged by this!!

and yes, lot size is definitely relative. as i said before, we currently live next to my parents. we have a 4,000 square foot home and my parents have an 1800 square foot home, and both lots combined are about an acre, and we have a very nice sized front and back yard in both houses, so i'm confident 1 acre will be plenty for us. hubby loves to take care of the yard, but if we had much more than an acre i wouldn't see him all weekend! :)

in the greater dallas fort worth area, the communities they're building have 5000 square foot houses on postage stamp size lots (10,000 square foot lots, no joke!) so compared to that, an acre feels like the great wide open.

thanks again for the responses!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:34AM
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