If you're at all familiar with our family, you know that we have lived in five houses within a half mile radius over the last decade. Many of our friends and family raise eyebrows and ask questions or offer general commentary: "I don't know how you do it," or "you're such a good builder's wife!" The fact is, the decision to build and move and move and build is most certainly an equal one. My husband and I both enjoy the process of designing and building our homes. It affords us the opportunity to try new processes, products, architects, and subcontractors. It's also an excellent wealth building tool for two entrepreneurs who do not rely on a regular paycheck from a corporate employer (we've both been there, done that, not going back thankyouverymuch).
Three of those houses we've built were on vacant lots. They weren't ideal (our neighborhood presents myriad challenges, mostly steep hills and rocky terrain), but with creative planning, each house worked very well for its specific topography. Looking around our streets, you wouldn't believe that there are available lots for purchase. Most of the homes were built around sixty years ago and the area is most definitely a mature setting. Part total ignorance and part "can do" mentality, we tackled each build and learned along the way. Our first ever home involved totally busting up a road to extend a sewer line, add a new manhole, and then re-pave the entire road. Yes, it was completely worth it. The second home involved hammering out six dump trucks FULL of stone to create a walk out basement that completely made sense given the topography of the lot. (looking back, I would have loved to have used all of that rock, but we just hauled it away! - see, live and learn).
The house we're building this go-around, however, is not going on a vacant lot. Instead, about a year ago, we bought the ugliest house (or at least the second ugliest!) on one of our favorite streets. We bought it the day it went on the market and feel that we got a very fair deal on the price, but we're already in it for $200k more than what we have paid for the lots in this area. We chose the house specifically for how it is situated and the overall "flatness" of the lot. It's a gentle slope up the high side of the street with Southeast facing front elevation. The backyard, with a small retaining wall, has the potential to feature a swimming pool and a level grassy play space for the children. For our family, the lot alone was worth the higher price we paid to tear down the existing house. However, we will economize by keeping the original foundation. It's a basement that will basically serve as unfinished storage space. We are also saving all of the brick to reuse for exterior hardscapes and possibly the interior fireplace. It's sixty year old Bessemer Gray brick and is really quite beautiful. It is also our hope that we can salvage much of the longleaf pine that was used to construct the home.
Stay tuned for the process of working with the existing footprint to create a home that works for our family. I hope you can glean some advice and get a better sense for the overall process. Thanks for reading along!