Home Repair

housing update- finding land...

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Well.. for those who are curious, our house building adventure continues. Right now Mike and I are looking for land. The housing market here in the twin cities is soooo awful, that I feel like I'm Don Quixote- dreaming the impossible dream, trying to find a lot. There is NO land to be had here in MN in our price range(everything is bought up by developers, and they have no interest whatsoever in selling to an outside builder!)- and the ones across the border are either too far, or don't have utilities.

Did anyone buy the lot for their home themselves? How did you do it? I've looked in local papers, the interenet, mls, FSBO sites, driven around neighborhoods, everything I can think of!

anyone have any ideas to share with me? Right now it looks like we may end up buying an acreage lot over the border in WI, and just putting in a septic system/well (but that gets so expensive!).

I'd appreciate any ideas!!!

Karen Smile
We did buy our lot individually, but that was 29 years ago! Even here, people looking to buy just lots are running into the same problem you are. Everything is bought up by developers who won't sell a lot to someone who wants to build themselves. It definitely isn't fair, because the prices of lots with new houses on them around here can easily go for over $300K!!

We also have a well and septic system and have never had any problems with it. There are pros and cons, of course. If you get a dry spell, you try to curb your water usage so your well doesn't run dry, but even in the driest of summers, we've been okay. We've replaced 2 well pumps - both were hit by lightning, and the house insurance paid for it. We've also replaced the holding tank in the house, our expense. We bought a water softener, but I think there are many houses that have city water that buy softeners, too, so I don't think that can be viewed as a cost only to well owners. All in all, when I see what people around us are paying either monthly or quarterly for water/septic, we've gotten off FAR cheaper over the years.

As for the septic system, we've never had a problem with that either. Our ground is mostly shale, so things absorb into the ground quickly. We've gotten it pumped out routinely. Regular maintenance is important.

Good luck in your land search!

WoW! 300k and that includes a house!?!?!
Just land around here goes for 325K no house! Now that's only for a buildable lot like 1/4 - 1/3 acre too!
Then add a house and the builders get 700K. I don't live near any big city either...
Yeah- similar situation here. We're a new family, don't have a lot of income. There isn't such a thing as abuilder who builds reasonable, pretty single family homes, so we thought we'd build through a custom builder/sweat equity program. Which has been wonderful, up until the trying to find a spot to build on part! Any ideas Guru? BTW- how much should we expect to pay to install a well and septic? The lot we're thinking of is 48k for 3 acres- an awesome deal, except that the only utilities are phone and electricity!

Karen Smile
$48K for 3 acres????? Snap it up quick, kid!! That's a STEAL!! At least, for my neck of the woods it would be.

Guru - yikes!! $700K for the lot and house??? The $300K I quoted for my area is an average price for an average size house of 3100-3200 sq ft on a lot no bigger than 1/4 acre. I just shake my head when I see them. They go up so fast that you really have to question the quality of the work that goes in them, and since the building lots are so small with such big houses on them, you can almost literally spit out your side window and hit your neighbor's house! We call them "suburban cities."

When we bought our land (1.67 acres) in 1976, we paid a whopping $9K! Being just kids, married only a year and mostly broke, we thought to ourselves - how would we EVER be able to pay off the land so that we could afford to build a house?? 29 years later, we're still there.

I have no idea what the cost is today to install a well and septic system. You should also get some kind of idea what the surrounding people who have city water/sewer pay for that privilege, to compare. It will be more expensive at first because you'll have the cost upfront, but it will even out over time.

I've often said - I wouldn't want to be a young married couple starting out today! Good luck, Karen!

I thought it was a good deal too. It is out in the country- a very rural area, so city water and sewer isn't even an option. the commute isn't ideal, but also not as bad as some of the other areas we've been looking at... I'm just worried that things like utility easements and installing the septic system might eat up all the money we were planning to use to build the house. I'm just not sure what these things cost?

Karen Smile
Try contacting your local health department. Sometimes they can give you all kinds of info. For an estimate to put ina septic look under septic tanks & systems-contractors and dealers. We have septics at home and at our cottage and never had a problem. We have 2 tanks at home and have them cleaned every 2 years for about $300.00. Have you considered subcontracting? If you can do some of the work yourselves that may be an option.
We are also planning on going the land buying route in a few years. We are on the edge of OKC, the largest city in Oklahoma. We live in Yukon which is buiding up fast!! Our plan is to head a little further west, where the land is still cheaper, but the only direction left for Yukon to grow is West, they have went as far as they can go in all other directions. I think if we can buy say 10 acres, we can keep 5 and build our home on it, and as the city builds up and further West, we should be able to sale the other 5 acres for more than we paid for it.
I have been searching Realtor.com for our land searches, as well as checking the paper, but it is very hard to find where and what we want.
We have found one lot, that we like. It is 5 acres, in a upcoming beautiful neighborhood. I wanted a wooded lot and it has one poor scrawny little tree on it. They want 50,000 for it. Plus, we also wanted to live in maybe a trailor while we build, but I don't think this neighborhood will allow that. I am not sure I could do it either, living in tornado alley. I would have to have a storm shelter built first....LOL

Good luck on finding land, and a builder. I have only done minimal research, but from what I have read, finding a builder that you can trust is essential. I don't know what criteria to look at, but that should be something that you spend more time on, and even ask for referrals of houses that have been standing for a few years, and see what problems arose, as the house settled....ect.
We are thinking in about 3 years, going forward, we want to buy the land now though, and try and it get it paid off before we start building. The home we live in now we bought from Mcdonalds corp. We thought it was a good deal, but we have replaced everything inside and out almost from just low grade building materials. We found out that this home and 3 others were the first built in the neighborhood, they started out to be the show homes, but the builder went bancrupt and didn't even nail the roof on, they just stapled it. Oklahoma wind and the tail end of a tornado fixed that though when it took a lot of the shingles with it....LOL
The market has went up and since we have done most of the work ourselves we think that the way our town is growing, that in a few years we can sell and make a good amount to go down on our next home.
Basements also arent' common here, so I have to do my research on that, because we really want a finished basement for a family room and I want a room totally devoted to litter pans and food and kitty toys.....LOL Yes, I am a crazy cat lady. Very Happy
I have rambled too long now....LOL

Stormi and co.

In MI basements are very common. We also are looking for a new house and would like one with a walkout basement. Since you will be building that may be something you would be interested in. Our reason for moving is just for a w/o because Beau can't handle steps anymore. We were looking at Lake Michigan property near Traverse City but we would have had to win the $200,000,000 lottery Laughing
Don't forget to build a room for me to come and visit Stormi! LOL Laughing
We want to buy soon as well, but I hadn't even considered the option of buying land and building our own. I'm curious now as to the cost of that... I'll have to look into it.
Good luck Karen! Smile
Well- as for costs, the way we're going can't be beat- if you want to put in the blood, sweat, and tears!! So far, I'm doing good on the tears (of frustration) part! Since we're going through this sweat equity "we frame it, you finish it" program, we're saving a lot of $ by doing the finishing work ourselves. I'm getting a house style I adore, we get to choose the materials (hellloooo salvage yard!!!) to keep costs down, and we save big on labor- because a lot of it we're doing ourselves. We're planning on doing the siding, painting, and flooring ourselves. There is still a lot up in the air as far as what else we may/may not do. It's a great deal though. Builders just aren't making the small single family homes anymore- it's a town home, or a monstrosity! Those are your choices!

This way we get to say what we build, how big, a lot of it is up to us.

Just one problem... the *&$*#* land!!!! My newest idea is to contact people who are selling their hobby/small farms in the area, and see if they would be willing to sell off a small portion of it seperate from the rest. I've contacted a really nice realtor- hopefully he can help us out! Otherwise, it's off across the border to cheese-head land (and I mean that in the nicest possible sense) and I'll never live it down in my family. Sigh!

It's a challenge, that's for sure!

Karen Smile

I wish you a boatload of luck with this endeavor! It's the same way we built our house 29 yrs ago. Takes a LOT longer, but at least you know you're getting just what you want. And you have more control over the cost.

How far away from where you are now is that land in WI you were thinking about?

From my husbands work- the one lot is about 13 miles- not bad at all, since you have pretty traffic free roads all the way. From my work though... about 35 miles, through heavy rush hour traffic. The other lot is about 18 miles from Mike, and about 40 miles from me- I'd probably end up needing to find another job... Is it the end of the world, no... but Geez, I'd prefer to stay in the T.C. metro!

Karen Smile
Oh, to only drive 40 miles. I drive 2 hours each way,longer in winter. I don't mind the drive but I did hit 2 deer this year so now my employees call me the deer slayer Sad
2 hours each way?! You're not just saying that to make me feel better, are you? That is a haul! I hate road trips.... I don't think I'd want to make one every day to go to work! Wooooowwwww! I bow down to the commute master!

Oh- today we're going to H.D. to learn how to tile ceramic floors!!! I'm very excited, and it'll get my mind off the whole predicament.

Karen Smile
That should be fun! I like to drive and am used to going by myself to shows so I just load up the CD player with audiobooks and off I go.


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