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Building a House
Many people interested in buying a home consider building their house over buying an existing one. The process of building a home includes many decisions. Some are easy, some more difficult. The amount of time, effort, and money involved in building a home will depend on whether you use a project manager or contractor, or plan to do all the footwork of hiring workers on your own. A project manager or contractor will cost more but they handle all the issues that arise such as wrong materials, late delivery, workers who do not show up, errors in design, and so on. On the other hand, by acting as your own contractor, you will save significant money but you are also on your own in handling the many challenges that come along with building a house.

When you get ready to buy a house, you will have the option of choosing from a plot of land on which your home will be built in an existing residential area or development area, or buying land in the country or somewhere as a stand-alone. Keep in mind that before getting too far into the land selection process is best to determine what your costs will be for the construction portion. This is important in that some people discover after comparing land and construction costs to that of an existing home, buying an existing home is cheaper.

Choosing the land where your home will be built is just one-step of that process. For example, you will need to apply for a building permit before the construction can even begin. Additionally, the land will need to be checked for zoning to ensure the site can be used for residential building, as not all land is zoned for residential use. Another consideration is whether the land already has sewer, water, and other utilities capabilities in place.

If you are buying in the country or on stand-alone land but working with a contractor opposed to building the home yourself, you want to find out if this research is something they handle or something you need to handle. This is so important since the cost of adding in water or septic can be expensive. For instance, wells being dug for water can run anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000 and in some cases, higher. Septic systems are not quite as costly but they too can run from $5,000 to $15,000.

If planning to build your home in the country, a special test called Perq Test is required to ensure the land can accommodate a septic system. This tests involves having a hole about 10 feet deep dug and then allowing it to settle for a few days to see if the ground water rises enough for the septic system to work. The only drawback is that this test can only be done during the rainy season.

Another important consideration when buying land is that the loan is different from a traditional mortgage loan. Whereas a home loan requires a down payment ranging from 3% to 20%, with land, you generally would be required to pay a 50% down payment. Additionally, a loan for land is shorter and typically has a higher interest rate.

Once the testing of the land is complete and the loan secure, the next step is to work with the planning office at your city hall. Here, you will meet with a planning committee that is compromised of a Planner, an Engineer, the Fire Marshall, and a Planning Technician. Together, they will go over your plan for building with the project manager, contractor, or you if you are building alone. Once completed, all necessary applications will be submitted. Some of the most common applications include Zoning Changes, General Plan Amendment, Residential Development, Ordinance application, Urban Service Area plan, Conditional Use permit, Tentative Map application, Site Reviews, and Architectural plans.

The permits are extremely important and without them, the construction of your home will be halted. A new construction permit is a requirement and if you plan to add amenities such as a swimming pool, retaining wall, fence, hot tub, solar panels, and so on, you would need additional permits. The cost for building permits is based on the total construction cost, which would include the materials used and labor. There is much to do when building a home but again, when completed, the self-gratification is unmatched.

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