Self building
From: Rob Sandelin (floriferousmsn.com)
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2010 10:04:04 -0800 (PST)
Cindy T asked:  I'm wondering if a community where each person was
responsible for building their own house, with some construction guidelines
established, would be able to avoid this problem?  Maybe communities with
experience doing this successfully could share their experiences?


In the lot development model, the community divides the property into
building lots, dividing costs like infrastructure and roads across all the
lots. Then owners design and build their own homes, usually with some sort
of community building guidelines.  This is exactly how Sharingwood operated
as we built out.   There were some surprises, mostly with financing. There
was a lender rule for construction loans that the value of the structure
could not be any less than 2.5 times the value of the lot.  So if you bought
a lot for $80,000, you had to build a structure worth at least $200,000 on
it. Some people who wanted smaller, simpler and less expensive homes used
other credit or borrowed from family to self finance, then got home equity
loans to pay back the self financing. In most cases, they were able to
negotiate a regular 30 year mortgage.  Of course, everything in the
financial market is now different so I have no idea what rules lenders have
anymore.

As a way to save money some people did not finish all of their homes at
once, and unfinished basements or upstairs areas that were just framing were
common. As the funds came in, then rooms and areas got finished. At the time
we had a couple of contractors who lived in the community who worked for
community members at a time and materials rate that was very reasonable,
several homes were built using them.

There were a few people who did quite a bit of their own work on their
homes, often hiring a framing crew to frame it, then doing most of the other
work themselves. Our local building inspector became quite used to home
owner builders and was very helpful sometimes. 

So in a nutshell, by self financing, building out over time, and doing some
of the work yourself people here got into homes at reasonably affordable
prices.  Of course, some of those homes have since been resold at market
value, in some cases two or three times and they of course lost their
original affordability.

Rob Sandelin
Sharingwood


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