We picked a builder! We’re happy to announce we’ve selected Custom Builders of WNY to build our home. May was largely spent on two points – talking to our potential builders and contractors on site development thoughts and working to bring down our cost estimates. Both of these things led us towards picking CBWNY. That’s a big decision that we were glad to finally make yesterday so we can get moving now on the construction.
The site development costs were still a big variable in our total build cost, so now that the house design revisions were down to minor tweaks we dodged raindrops to get some stakes in the ground, shoot grades, and figure out where the house should be situated. Our build site is about 500′ off the road and up a hill 100′ or so, meaning there’s a pretty good slope to deal with. Adding to that, we have limited width to work with since there’s a stream and ravine (The Glen) that bisects the frontage. Jon, the owner of CBWNY, has quite a bit of site development work under his belt, and one of the site developers he works with used to build motocross tracks. Ultimately, the plan they came up with to utilize the work that’s been done on the land previously and tame some of the more challenging spots came in cheaper than the competing plan. I also felt that they put way more thought into it to ensure that it was going to work. With our other potential builder, I met with the site development contractor separately, and in the end handed over a rougher estimate back to the builder to work into their budget. There were still costs that weren’t included and we just didn’t feel as confident in what was being presented.
We also started meeting with lenders to validate how the construction loan and mortgage were going to work out. I’ve been using my own spreadsheets since before we put our Holland house on the market to estimate this, and it turns out they were pretty accurate. The biggest challenge is the closing costs are higher than what you see on a typical mortgage. We’re only looking at single-close loans, which means you close your construction loan with the bank once at the beginning of the process, and it automatically converts to a mortgage when construction is complete. This saves you over having two separate closings for the construction loan and the mortgage so the total costs are lower, but they’re still higher than a home purchase mortgage. Frankly, that means tapping into some sources we didn’t expect to need to (like family) as we’re going to need more cash up front than we have [easy] access to at the moment. Let that be a lesson that you can never have too much money saved when you go to build a house!
Also, even though we have and continue to make some cost cutting decisions, we reached a point where we couldn’t easily cut anything else that would make a significant impact. In a couple cases we rethought some things that we cut and put them back in. And yes, we will do a bit of painting and deck installation ourselves to save some labor costs.
So next up we sign our contract, take that to the bank, and get started on the permitting, surveying, and perc test. I expect things will be picking up speed quite a bit now so there may even be more frequent updates here. Who knows – we might even throw in some pics or videos just for fun!