Built a house? Share your experience

The main questions I would hope to see answers to:

  1. What were the worst parts of the process? Any regrets?
  2. What made this the right decision for you? Before… and after?
  3. How this compares financially to buying an existing house - if things are otherwise comparable?
  4. How this might compare to buying a “good bones” house and doing a lot of renovation to update it?

A little background if you’re curious. We have a 30 year 2.99% mortgage. But… life circumstances have changed, and there are more important things than money. We’re trying to move significantly closer to my immediate family. My in-laws were 20 minutes away, but moved to their dream retirement home hours away. We’re going the other way towards where my dad and siblings live. And as a social bonus, it’s also where I used to live, and have a mildly frozen social circle waiting there to thaw and remake. As of this post, we’ve seen (I think) 27 houses, and put offers on three, but have yet to come to terms. The houses we look at are either really nice, and accept an offer by Thursday when we plan to see it Saturday… or they sit on the market for months, and we go see them and find out why! Perhaps the biggest frugality challenge is that we’ve spent some time, money and sweat updating this house, and we don’t want to do that again immediately upon moving. We want to focus on relationships and adding a new canine family member. But we would like a “reasonably” updated home as far bathroom / kitchens are concerned.

This weekend, we’re going to start seeing some “new house” developments and see if it could be a good choice for us. Of the homes we’ve put offers on, two were very nicely updated, and the third was built 6 years ago, and great quality (but the lot itself was kind of a mowing maintenance nightmare, so I think we dodged a bullet when it didn’t work out.) We don’t know for sure what our current home will sell for, but we estimate a bottom of the barrel floor of $550k, with optimism it’ll sell close to $600k. If we spend $100k less than this sells for, our ~6.5% (ish) fixed rate 15 year mortgage will be readily doable, and we won’t be spending a great deal more in mortgage interest. The area we’re moving to is generally lower cost of living in comparison, so that’s one saving grace. But the housing market is much friendlier to sellers, unless you set your standards for housing very low. Homes in the $250k budget tend to missing all appliances and floors. $300-350k typically gets you an OK home in a mediocre neighborhood with largely old bathrooms and kitchens. $400-450k starts to approach the sweet spot, with some compromises. Once we hit $500k and above, there are occasionally some really nice houses with OK property and locations, but they also get multiple offers and sell in the opening week. There are strangely almost no houses in the $550k-700k range, and then you start to see mansions with 1+ acre lots. We kind of wish we could have a modest ranch house on 0.5 - 1.0 acres, but we’re flexible on land as long as it’s good for a dog!

Most new houses are in developments with 0.25-0.4 acres, starting at $380k-450k depending on how ideal the location is… but quickly ramping up towards $500k and beyond once you account for a sun room, granite countertops, tile showers and decent floor options. (Though I don’t know any of this for sure yet - we’ll hopefully learn a lot this weekend!)


I’ve never built a house but I am on board for this potential adventure.


Same. I want to hear more!

1 Like

We built ours, but literally ourselves, with hammers and stuff. It was much cheaper than buying anything remotely comparable, even without the acreage, but I’m not sure or experience would be helpful to you. One wants to be young when undertaking such a task …


I bought a new-build townhouse in 2018. After a year of house hunting and putting in close to 20 offers on houses we finally decided on a new-build because it was so much easier than fighting against other people.

We chose the development and the townhouse style we wanted. They had already poured the footings for the foundation but the rest of our building wasn’t built yet. We toured the model homes one day, then went back the next day to sign for one and put down our earnest money. Then no one else could take it from us! We were able to choose the layout we wanted from 4 options, and then we got to choose the flooring/cabinets/counters/paint/etc from a preselected list that the builder provided. It definitely wasn’t possible to make it super custom like the triplex that Aaron and Lilian are building.

The biggest frustration for me with the experience was the timeline. They moved our closing date multiple times and we ended up closing 6 months later than initially planned due to schedule delays.


hahaha we have a whole youtube channel about this but the house isn’t done so I have no solid information yet


We did not “fall in love” with the developments we saw. About 4 months into our house buying process, having seen maybe 55-60 total houses, we got an accepted offer on a house. (Sixth time’s a charm!!) That was a month ago, and we close next Friday, with a moving truck reserved for Saturday!

So no “new build” for us. This house was built in 2002 and recently renovated, so it has a lot of the things we want in a house!