I began writing this series over a year ago, but Benj and I have been on this debt-free home journey for 4 years now. That’s why today’s post is an exciting one! Because of our big move to Birmingham, we’ll finally be able to stop renting and become homeowners! Around the time we decided to move, we also decided that we wanted to build instead of buy.
Today, I want to share with you why we’re choosing this path.
In this 5-part series, I’m chronicling our journey to a debt-free home. If you missed any of the previous installments, you can catch up here:
- The Plan
- The Why
- Making Debt-Free Home Ownership Happen
- Important Budget Categories
- Why We Plan to Build Instead of Buy (You are here!)
Why We Plan to Build Instead of Buy
When Benj and I first started talking about buying our first home debt-free back in 2014, we assumed that we would buy a cheap house and renovate it. And while that would still be a viable option for us, it’s not necessarily the best one.
1. A Tailor-Made Home
When you build your own home, you get to choose exactly where your money is spent. Do you want a large piece of land? A secluded office? A brick fireplace? A laundry shoot? Looming turrets and spires to frighten the neighbors?! You get to decide!
We all have different priorities that influence our decision making process when we buy or build. With purchasing an existing home—especially on a small budget—it’s a lot harder to find everything you want in a single property. Effectively, someone else has already made all of the decisions for you.
For instance, a few things that are important to our family are an open split-floor plan, a big backyard, neutral, modern finishes, and a quiet neighborhood that isn’t too far from where we do most of our shopping and go to church. We’ll be able to handpick our location and lot, design our floor plan, choose our finishes, and lay out our backyard in a way that works well for our family.
Building will allow us to check the boxes on all of the important things. That doesn’t mean we’ll get everything our hearts desire on a shoestring budget, but it does mean that we get to spend our money according to our priorities.
2. It’s a Better Investment
With our small budget and the way the Birmingham market is, it’s a actually better investment for us to build instead of buy. If things go to plan (pun intended), we should end up with a nice bit of equity once it’s finished.
If we bought a home to renovate and make our own, we would actually spend more money, not less. All things considered—the area of town, the age of the home, the surrounding houses in the neighborhood, the size and layout, etc.—we would be spending far more to get the things that are important to us.
Again, we will get to choose where our money is spent, and that’s a key factor in making our little budget work!
Plus, renovating a home can be costly, time consuming, and full of surprises (although I’d love to renovate a big ol’ farmhouse someday!). Just because you get a “deal” on a house, doesn’t mean it’s going to save you money in the long-run. Sometimes, it does—but it’s certainly not a guarantee.
The trick with building is to stick to your budget, and not to get distracted by all of the shiny objects along the way. More square footage! Heated shower floors! Marble countertops! A swimming pool with LED lights and a fountain! All of these things are super nice, of course, but they’re not always in the budget (sadly). 😉
3. We Know a Great Builder
My dad got his builder’s license back when I was about Jack’s age, and he’s been building beautiful homes ever since. So Benj and I are hiring him to build our home!
If you do decide to build instead of buy, it’s important that you trust your builder and believe that you’ll end up with a well-constructed home. Check their references and do your homework before signing any contracts!
Growing up, I heard my fair share of horror stories regarding other local builders since my dad was in the business. These companies didn’t care about their clients and did shoddy work in order to make more money. Promises were made to homebuyers that were later broken, leaving the buyers with a mess on their hands.
Sadly, these stories were more common than you might think.
Find a builder who values quality construction, is easy to communicate with, and has their clients’ best interest at heart.
Our Exciting Next Step
So where do we go from here?
Our next step is to close on a lot! We think we have one picked out, but we’re working through some final details before signing the papers. We’re hoping and praying everything works out, because there’s so much about this lot that we love!
We’re also working on our floor plan, and my dad has been bidding out costs so that we can create a detailed building budget.
I’m excited to share our home building journey with you, and all the things we’re learning along the way. I’ll probably start a new series about this process specifically, so stay tuned!