Monday, January 13, 2014

Let's build a house!

Today we're 45 days out from closing on our first home and work on the exterior is quickly coming to a close. It has been so much fun to drive by every week and see incredible progress each and every time - now it won't be as obvious from the outside, but they'll be making the skeleton of a house look like a home. So I thought it was fitting today to write a little bit about deciding to build.

I never expected to build our very first house. I grew up in a 100 year old stone/brick house with tons of character. Character = glittery, patterned 1970s wallpaper that was slowly but surely scraped and walls painted to erase all evidence of over the first few years we lived there. Character = a 6 bedroom house with one bathroom, which was shared by a family with 13 children - yes 13. Legend has it that each child had 5 minutes in the bathroom in the morning and if you had a friend over, they shared your 5 minutes. Character = a shuffleboard game painted on the basement floor. You get the point...my parents have spent 20+ years in the house adding bathrooms and making it theirs, and I had kind of imagined doing something similar. A's family on the otherhand lives in a house they built when he was little, so it was something he's very accustomed to.

The suburb we lived in outside Houston was riddled with new construction (the community started around 1975 and there are now almost 100,000 residents) and on boring weekends we'd go tour model home neighborhoods. Yes, entire streets of model homes, where you just walked from house to house to see what all of the area builders offered. We briefly considered building in TX, the prices were INCREDIBLE, and they were beautiful houses, but we waited too long to do it - we knew that TX wasn't going to be our home forever, so we stayed in our rental and appreciated the fact that as renters in TX we paid no property OR income tax.

When we first heard we'd be moving to Charlotte, I started researching houses right away. At first I was looking mostly at existing homes - but we had a hard time figuring out which part of town we wanted to be in, especially from afar. We don't anticipate moving again anytime soon, the reality of my husband's job and the company he works for is that it will probably happen at some point. So, we started looking for townhouses and other properties we could potentially rent out or sell to a new young professional couple moving to Charlotte. After searching for existing townhouses, I came across some new construction in Charlotte (probably about a year ago at this point) and started doing more research. We actually went to visit the models on our trip to Charlotte in May when we signed our lease on our current apartment. But at that point we weren't ready to commit and put it to the back of our minds.

Once we'd made the move and settled into our apartment, we went back to visit again, and decided to build. We sat on it for a week trying to decide and I remember looking over at A. a million times and saying "we're going to build a house," and he would say, "I think so." Once the papers were all signed, I felt so relieved and finally excited. I have friends all over who have real estate horror stories of losing houses they loved due to competing CASH offers way over asking, or homes selling right out from under them. My little heart (and anxious mind) just couldn't take it. It was even more perfect that it lined up almost perfectly with the end of the 8 month lease we had signed. So, while the building process can be somewhat stressful at times - at least I know that our unit is ours and no one is going to take it away! We're hoping that in addition to being our first home, it will be a good investment down the road, should we have to sell it. Plus, starting with a totally blank canvas will afford me lots of opportunities to give our home character.


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