The Long Version

After meeting with two different custom home builders and finding out that what we wanted was out of budget, my husband started encouraging me to think outside the box.

We met with the builders of a house that we toured that we really liked (and put an offer on that wasn’t accepted). We had seen their work in other houses we had toured (and recognized their work!). Hubby decided that we liked everything we saw and if they could build these new houses and sell them in our budget, maybe they could just build one for us and be in budget too. So we asked our realtor to find out. 

A few days later, we had a meeting! Keep in mind, we’re now smack in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic so our meeting was a little unconventional. We met with our realtor, the builders, and their realtors at the completed house that we had put an offer on (the red one pictured above). We stood 6-10 feet apart in the large living room and kitchen space. At this point, they already had accepted another offer over ours, but we were considered their back-up offer. We went into this meeting hopeful, but honestly, we were pretty doubtful as well. We’d just hit so many roadblocks up until this point. We figured, if they could build us the exact same house they had already built, we would be happy. We had put an offer on that one and would have happily moved in if they had accepted it. But we ideally wanted to make a few small changes if it was possible. If it wasn’t possible, we’d take it as it was.

The meeting began.

“So, you just want us to build you this house?”

“Yeah, basically. I mean, if we could make a few changes and keep it under our budget, we would do that, but if not, this is great. We like what you built here.”

“Like what changes?”

“We’d love a fireplace. Wood burning or gas, whichever fits in the budget.”

“Probably gas, but I can see if we could do woodburning. What would it look like? Marble? Brick? Shiplap? How big?”

“Not shiplap. Ideally, it would be stone from floor to ceiling.”

“Ok, what else?”

“We’d love solid wood floors throughout the house. No carpet. Tile in the bathrooms like you have here, but hardwood everywhere else. This bamboo is nice, but we’d really love solid wood.”

“Ok, what else?”

“We wished the two small bedrooms at the front were a little bigger. An extra 2 feet in each room would be awesome.”

“Ok. So an extra 4 feet out the end of the house, bathroom stays the same, that makes the house… (short pause)… 1920 square feet. Your master bedroom will be bigger too, unless you want a bigger closet. And the laundry room will be bigger.”

“All that sounds perfect.

“Ok, what else?”

And the conversation continued. We named something, they nodded and paused to think, and then said, “Ok, what else?” like we weren’t asking for the moon. They asked if we liked the lighting. Yes. Still wanted porches. Yes. White trim is acceptable? Yes. Windows? More windows. Add a whole house attic fan. Create a coffee/water station in the mudroom complete with pot filler (that discussion was hilarious—they had never heard of a “pot filler” and we had to pull up pictures of one). Add electric and data lines in the basement. Get rid of half of the tv hook-ups in the main floor. Change the half bath behind the kitchen into a pantry and add a rough-in for a full bath in the basement. “Create walkways our of gravel to the front and back doors. Add wood stairs to the porches if the elevation was higher. Yes. Yes. Yes. “Ok, what else?”

Our meeting adjourned and they sent us to look at land. Read that again. THEY ALREADY HAD THE LAND. Their business is primarily building turn-key houses and then selling them, so they buy land when it’s cheap and build when they can. So we had two pieces of land to choose from. We could pick either a 2 acre lot a little further south or a 5 acre lot nearby the house we were at. We didn’t love the location of the 2 acre lot so we drove to the 5 acre lot. It was PERFECT. The road is a little busier than we would have liked, but it’s still a country road. And it was a fully wooded lot that we would get to pick how much was cleared. And it was surrounded by already established properties (not farm land that could eventually be converted into a neighborhood.) The neighbors have animals. There are trees everywhere. It was perfect.

We called the local high speed internet provider to ensure that they serviced that address and they do (important for both our jobs and my husband’s video games). We told our realtor to start writing everything up.

Via email, we changed a few more things. We asked them to add two Dutch doors to the house. An exterior Dutch door as the front door and an interior Dutch door to the basement. I will write an entire post on these doors once we have them installed so you can see why we actually went above our original budget by a little bit to have these doors included. They will be worth every penny! We also specified that we would provide some of the interior items, like the pot filler and the whole house fan, if they would install them. This gave us a little more control over the quality of the items since we wanted them to serve a particular function. We asked about things like outlet placement and width of doors (32-36”!!!) and moved the washer dryer hook-ups to a different wall in the laundry room (so I can add some cabinetry later!). We also asked them to eliminate the pocket door between the laundry room and master closet. I loved that little pocket door but without it, we gain a ton of wall space in the closet and it makes cabinetry in the laundry room possible. We also decided that we wanted that extra 4 feet split between the master bedroom and master closet.

Our realtor and their realtor got everything written into a contract, we settled on a deposit amount, we all signed, and we handed over a cashiers check. Done. This process is a little easier than a typical construction loan because our loan will actually start when they finish the house and we close on it. Til then, they are fronting all the bills instead of our mortgage company. It’s a fantastic deal for everyone!! And then, the best part…. ok, it’s all the best, but ANOTHER awesome part….. they were ready to begin building in only 3 weeks. They already had the soil tests done. They already had the excavators lined up. They were ready to go and were starting this house whether we had been their clients or not. So by the time everything was signed and ready to go (it took about two weeks), they broke ground a few days later. And they said they will be done in 5 months. So by November, this house will be ours!!! Well, not this house, but one that’s even better and more perfect for us than the one we originally offered on. AND we’re only paying $15k more than what our offer had been. We’re getting so much for that $15k!!

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