Building is NOT horrible. It can be a little intimidating to get started, but building the home of your dreams, with careful, thoughtful planning in mind is a wonderful lifetime experience! So where to begin? First, is it a good time to build? When is a good time to build? What is the cost to build in 2019?
When it is subject to building codes and weather! Here in California any time can be a good time to begin. In the Sierra foothills one might want to begin the planning phase early in summertime. This gives you, your architect, and engineers lots of daylight hours to walk the property and do careful measuring so you know exactly what the land will be providing AND challenging. Some parcels are not complete, but are just raw land. Land can be very attractively priced, but be challenging to build. So be very careful when shopping. More about that later. Back to the “when”. By the fall, when days are shorter and the weather is cooler, you can be ready to dig and pour the foundation footings, septic, and well. The weather here has wild temperature swings, but it is still warm enough for concrete pours and digging septic. This part of the process can take lots of juggling, but, as we all know, the foundation is the most important part of the build, and that goes for septic, water, utilities, and exposure. Once the foundation is in, you are about one third of the way to completion, and you have no sign of a home yet.
Buying your lot is not the first step. Sitting with your experts and letting them know your “vision” is where you begin. This way you don’t waste time considering a lot that will not accommodate your vision. Some lots (raw land) can be very attractively priced, but be challenging to build. Having plenty of time to assess the type of septic system (engineered, standard gravity fed, or pressure dose self-contained systems) is important. Access to power and water are other considerations. These are issues that I strongly urge you to consider before you ever decide what type of home you would like to build. Many folks don’t, and, as a result, their building budget comes up short due to unforeseen circumstances.
Rather than get into deep consideration of these at this time, I will strongly suggest that you have a careful evaluation of the land and upgrades prior to your purchase of any lot/parcel. And, of course, I urge you contact a Realtor® who knows these ins and outs, and where to send you to find out more.
Your desire to build your home must take into consideration all of the many pieces of this complex puzzle. Do you have to be an expert? No. You just have to expect to pay for what you want, and be careful to outline a budget that includes many variables. Having a contractor, engineer and/or architect that KNOWS building in our county is really important. Being your own contractor, unless you have years of experience in this type of environment, may not be a great idea. Moreover, it can add expenses you had not counted on in the beginning. because you don’t know the ropes in our area. Most builders who come from out of area to settle here find it productive and very cost effective to work with a local builder to navigate the building permit process and pay them as an adviser.
Once you’re clear about the costs for the utilities and grading, then you are ready to consider your build. The average cost to build a home in Nevada County in 2018 is about $250 per foot. Roughly $500k for a 2000 sq. ft. home. The cost of your land is going to depend upon the type of land, soils, location location location, and of course the utilities. Does it have NID piped water? That is a plus. Does it have natural gas piped to the property? A plus. But, if you are going to be building 500 feet from the hook up, you will WANT to be sure you know the cost per foot to extend the gas line to the dwelling. The same can be said for electric power.
As you can see, affordable building is pretty tough here in our county. I have built homes in the past and remodeled existing ones. I’ve done large and small projects of my own as well as being a liaison between owners and builders. It is a fun thing to do, but it does take doing your homework. At this time, unless you can find a perfect lot ready to build, it is not as cost effective as remodeling a home that is already in place. Just the cost of permits for a new build can run you into the $40K-$50K range! In remodel dollars that could be enough money to build a beautiful new kitchen and do a cosmetic upgrade of a bathroom!
Call me, Debbie St. John, and we can discuss YOUR ideas, and I can make suggestions where you might begin your “vision” quest.