Most people buy a new or used house. I don't like new houses unless they're high end custom homes. In most new developments are no mature trees and all the houses look the same.
There is the potential for foundation problems, crappy workmanship and it's just like a new car. You drive it off the lot and lose at least 20% value. It's very difficult to sell a used house in a new development while NEW homes are abundant.
You also don't know what kind of neighborhood you'll be living in. Who will be your neighbors?
As a former California real estate broker in the late 80s and 90s, I've seen my share of new subdivisions with lots of problems and none of my clients regretted buying solid used houses in established neighborhoods instead of new homes. Most buyers expect to be in their homes for a long time, but then there is reality, job transfers and all kinds of emergencies requiring sales. A good used house in a good neighborhood is a much better investment than a new tract home.
I owned several used houses in California and I did a lot of extensive remodeling, refinished hardwood floors, replaced the entire kitchen, major bathroom remodels, landscaping, etc. I had a huge stack of DYI books and a garage full of tools. I also took numerous building inspection classes at the College of San Mateo.
Then I sold my house near San Francisco, travelled for a couple years in my truck camper and finally bought property in the Arizona high desert. In 2006, I decided to take some settlement money to buy a lot with less traffic (I was on a busy dirt road), a great view, no close neighbors and I decided to BUILD.
At the time, I only needed a little plot plan, septic unit calcs and a check to pay for my permits. The only inspection was for the septic. This changed now and I don't know what the inspectors would think about my adobe bricks.
I hired sub contractors for the septic, grading, concrete slab, framing, roof and stucco. Everything else I did mostly by myself and with the help of my nephew. He visited for a couple months in 2007 and 2008.
I'm off the grid.
Not because there's no power, but because Unisource refused to go underground. They would have ruined my view with those ugly power poles. I had planned on using solar and selling power back to them. Now I'm really happy being off the grid. It's great not to have a power bill.
Of course getting off the grid is not cheap, a solid system for a family home is at least $30k. I have about $5k in my system and it works fine as long as I'm by myself. When I have visitors, I realize the limitations and I have to run the generator a lot. I'll post about my 2 systems in more detail in another post.
My nephew gets credit for moving the solar panels on the roof and adding very cool meters. It's nice to see how many amps I'm getting from the solar panels and especially when it's windy and the wind gen is roaring.
He also did most of the electric wiring, 120v, 12v, gen to main panel, main to sub panel and mapping everything. He didn't quite get done, about 80%.
The upside to building by yourself is that it takes a long time.
At first I thought that it was better to get done quickly, but then I realized that there are PLAN CHANGES. That's especially so when you don't have a plan. And the longer I had to think about what I was doing and the less money I had, the more I changed my plans.
I moved in (kindof) in 9/07 and decided to make the temporary kitchen in the garage permanent since my addition that was supposed to be a kitchen/living room, bedroom and bath had only progressed to the forms for the slab. I only had to put up one wall in the garage and there was my kitchen. And the addition will be a greenhouse/living room, probably have a little bathroom/shower and hopefully artificial hot springs.
When it started to freeze last year, I decided to build a 5' x 24' addition on the south wall as a buffer and I figured it would get toasty warm when the sun shines during the day. An excellent plan! However, I'm just now getting close to finishing it the way I want, built mostly with adobe bricks to retain heat.
And that's why I started this new forum. I need to read up on lime plaster and finish the adobe walls before the winter rains wash away my walls. I'll post my research and some pics, maybe there are others who aren't loaded with cash and want to build sheds or greenhouses with free material like dirt.
Maybe somebody has some tips on working with lime or making scuppers and downspouts out of sheet metal. The main building roof drains partially on the new addition and I have to make some mods. The roofer charged $40 for each scupper and you can't buy that stuff at the Home Depot.
Time to learn some new skills.